Three Things You Need to Know About Weaning in a Low Sugar Family

Posted on 15/06/2017 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment


At the start of 2015, my husband and I decided to give the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program a try. After reading Sarah Wilsonís book, I felt that it couldnít hurt to attempt the detox, and experiment with the idea of giving up sugar. 8 weeks later, I felt amazing. After weeks of nasty withdrawal symptoms, I had to admit that my supposedly uber-healthy diet was anything but, and the amount of sugar I was consuming in the form of fruit juice, dried fruit, dates, honey, agave, raw sugar and maple syrup was excessive.


2 and a half years on, I havenít looked back. The longer Iíve been off sugar, the easier it has become. Shop-bought and even most home-baked sugary bakes are far far too sweet to me now and are often accompanied with stomach pains and nausea that simply are not worth it. Eating low sugar has lifted my mood, energised me, and cleared up my skin.


The number 1 motivation for me in giving up sugar was my daughter. I was just starting to wean her when we did the program, and I realised I needed (and wanted) to model better food choices for her. And I wanted to start her off on the right foot. When my son was born at the end of that year, I felt much better equipped to deal with weaning as a low sugar family, and the difference was palpable: while initially my daughterís favourite foods had all been fruits, my sonís was broccoli. Why? Well, I put it down to three main reasons:


1.    I ate better in pregnancy


I used pregnancy as an excuse with my first. In morning sickness, I lived off Cheerios and fruit juice, and I figured pregnancy meant I could eat pretty much anything I wanted. But the old adage of ďeating for twoĒ has long been put to bed (we only need about an extra 300 calories in the 3rd trimester and while breastfeeding), and in truth, pregnancy is a time in our lives where eating healthily is even more important than ever before, because what we eat, our baby eats. Now, donít get me wrong, thereís nothing wrong (in life in general), with an occasional sweet treat (I include all free sugars - fruit juice, honey, syrups, etc - in this). But I was eating these things almost daily, so they werenít treats, they were habits. With my son, I made far better choices, which I found surprisingly easy. Morning sickness struck, but I reached for homemade bread, bananas and ginger tea (and felt better for it!). And once I reached the 2nd trimester, I made sure to include lots of vegetables, particularly leafy greens, in my daily diet. I made a big batch of low sugar snacks to keep in my fridge and freezer for when hunger struck, and my extra 300 calories came from eggs, vegetables, a piece of fruit or organic full-fat milk.


2. I ate better while breastfeeding


Initially I wasnít amazing at this. We moved to a new house in a new city and had a newborn all around the sugary Christmas season, and although it wasnít as bad as it used to be, my diet had slipped into some bad habits. But after a mini-detox got me back on track, I ate as well as I could while breastfeeding to encourage my sonís tastebuds to form according to what I ate.


3. We weaned with vegetables first.


My daughterís first food was banana. She moved on to fruit purees and rice cereal as recommended. My sonís first food was spinach. He loved it. And we moved him on to asparagus, broccoli, beetroot and sweet potato (all steamed and pureed at home, served with a tiny bit of oil or butter to help absorb the vitamins) before bringing in any fruit at all. We skipped the rice cereal entirely with him and gave him wholegrains and good-quality protein when he was able to stomach them. Before he was one he had enjoyed chomping through mostly vegetables, a selection of whole fresh (unsweetened) fruits, oily fish and organic meat, organic full-fat dairy and eggs, and a selection of wholegrains. He still eats like this to this day, as we all do.


My children occasionally have a small amount of sugar, but on the whole, we are a very low sugar family and they do not feel at all deprived. They eat well, enjoy their food (particularly their vegetables!), and have been known to choose fruit over cake on occasion. Parties and holidays can be tough (for me, not so much for them), but we have really learned from our experiences, which is why I put together a 7-day e-course on Party Survival for low sugar families based on what we have learned from our own experience and other low sugar familiesí.


But the truth is, although it is never too late to come off sugar, I do believe that the work we put in in the earliest days of pregnancy, breastfeeding and weaning really made a difference, and laid a solid foundation that made it far easier for us later on!


If you are interested in finding out more about cutting back on or quitting sugar as a family, head over to for information, tips & tricks and recipes.



Let's not talk about sex

Posted on 23/02/2017 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment


My parents did not mention either a bird or a bee to me. They decided to stay quiet on the issue of periods, puberty and the like, but this was the North in the 70ís. Iím sure I wasnít alone in my ignorance. Everything I knew about sex was gleaned from reading a Judy Blume book. It was a confusing time. But then growing up is confusing generally. My husband still guffaws at his dadís birds and bees chat but at least he got one. Though really was the embarrassment of `The Chatí more scarring than the ignorance caused by a wall of silence? I had Judy after all, which was far less awful than having to listen to my mother say the word penis.

Times have changed and consequently I have been far more open with my own offspring. They are fully aware of tampons and why mummy has them in the bathroom. They have both been told the correct name for their bits. Though harry thinks his sister has a `dinerí down below rather than a vagina and Evie will not tolerate Harryís penis under any circumstances. The question of sex has not reared its head. And therein lies my dilemma.

I have always vowed to answer questions about growing up honestly. The issue is however that, although Evie has just turned 9, the questions have not been forthcoming!

She was 4 when I was pregnant with Harry and I did think she might question how the baby had got in there but all she asked was how it was getting out and did it hurt. I told her it would exit through her diner and did smart a bit and she moved on, unconcerned.

A recent article in the Times instructed that after the age of 8, if a child asks about how babies are made we have to actually say that daddy puts his penis into mummy.  This has horrified me a little.

Yesterday she informed Harry that if he married his friend Jay they couldnít have a baby because Jay was a boy but if he married Sienna they would definitely have a baby. I held my breath. Surely now one of them will ask how?  Or why? But no. I exhaled, relieved that I would not have to tell her about daddyís penis.

I am still clinging on to her innocence. Until recently she was going to marry Harry but seems to have now realised this isnít the societal norm. Every new realisation makes me grieve for her childhood. I donít want to tell her Santa is a lie, the tooth fairy was me, oh and sit down darling, I need to tell you what Daddy also does with his penis.

But how long can this continue? I have always thought that she would ask when she was ready, but time is marching on and the older children at school lurk. If I donít get there first what kind of pieced-together account will filter through?

At the end of the day sex is a natural thing and she does need to know. Itís important that she gets the whole story and knows that I am there to answer her questions Ė should she ever think of any!

Rationally I know this but itís hard. She still believes in unicorns and carries a stuffed monkey around with her long past the age when most kids have abandoned them. She canít conceive of a day when she wonít want to be with me even though I can see that day hurtling towards me with alarming speed.

I need to accept that my little girl is not so little anymore. Maybe I will grab the bull by the horns. I just hope that when the time does come, I do not merely mumble `special cuddleí and throw her the Judy Blume.



Top Tips for a Great Labour

Posted on 28/12/2016 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment

Pregnancy is an exciting time but even if you are overjoyed about your impending new arrival there may still be that niggling worry at the back of your mind about how you will cope with labour when the baby decides to make its exit.

There is no doubt that, for first time mums and dads-to-be especially, the thought of labour can be daunting, but believe it or not childbirth can be a wonderful experience if you approach it with a positive mindset and are as prepared as you can be for the big event. With that in mind, here are ten tips to help you have the best birth possible!

  • As soon as you become pregnant you will encounter women with a birth horror story that they are all too keen to share. Do yourself a favour and politely tell them that you would rather not hear about it! Their labour and birth may not have been the best but it doesnít mean that yours will be bad. There will be mums out there who had a great birth and those are the people you need to hear. This site is great for positive birth stories and teams mums-to-be up with a birth buddy which is worth considering Ė
  • Labour and birth can be unpredictable but it can still help to have some idea as to how you would like your experience to be. If you and your birth partner spend some time thinking about the kind of birth you want it will help you feel a bit more prepared. Who, for example, do you want in the room with you when you give birth? Do you want your partner to cut the cord? Do you want the midwife to tell you the sex of your baby? All of this can be recorded in your birth preferences;
  • Although it appears to be a commonly held belief that walking for miles is a good way to get labour started it really is best that you take it relatively easy in the last few days of your pregnancy. Too much exercise will only wear you out and you need to preserve your strength for labour;
  • During labour remember that each contraction is taking you one step closer to meeting your baby;
  • You also need to make sure you eat - even if you donít feel like it. First time labour can take a while and the last thing you want to do is run out of steam so making sure you eat little and often can really help. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks though, tempting as it may be to stuff down a cake;
  • You may think that you donít need or want pain relief and that is great. However no one knows how they will react during labour and if you feel overwhelmed and opt for drugs having wanted a natural birth, donít beat yourself up! The birth is just one day out of your life. Donít waste any of your time with your new baby feeling like you have already failed. You havenít;
  • Think about your birth position! Adopting a more upright position can help your labour for a number of reasons one of which is that it gives the baby more space resulting in less pressure on pelvic joints and nerves and less pain;
  • You can feel vulnerable in labour but try not to let that stop you from speaking up if you donít understand what is being said or done. If you donít feel comfortable then your birth partner can help or you could consider using a doula who will attend your labour and offer support;
  • Consider a water birth. It is a great form of natural pain relief and is a lovely calm way for your baby to enter the world;
  • Finally, a positive mindset really can help you have a better birth so believe in your bodyís ability to have your baby and remember that women have been giving birth for thousands of years and if they can do it so can you! A good antenatal class will help you understand how your body is designed to give birth and will help dispel some of the fear you may have around labour;

I think there are few that would argue that labour isnít challenging but it can also be an empowering experience and is of course worth all the effort once your baby is in your arms. Good luck and remember, you can do it!



Ouch! is it possible to avoid tearing in labour?

Posted on 12/10/2016 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment

When I was 12 I silently vowed that I would NEVER have children following a particularly shocking childbirth video shown to us in Religious Education. My concern was that having a baby would in fact split my difference and I couldnít be having that.  I fainted in the middle of the class. Humiliation ensued. As an adult this fear of tearing and what it would feel like stayed with me until one day I found I was pregnant - eek.  I quickly realised that I only had a vague notion of what it was that was actually at risk of tearing and needed information fast!

Should any of you find yourself similarly traumatised by nuns, here our midwife, Nina, tells you some useful stuff about tearing and how you might avoid it:

Letís start with the basics Ė what is tearing? There are different types of tears or trauma that might be experienced during a vaginal birth. You may spontaneously tear during the delivery of your babyís head or the midwife or doctor attending your delivery may recommend an episiotomy Ė a left lateral cut to your perineum. Your perineum is the area between your vagina and your anus and is made up of tissue and muscle. This is the most common place to experience trauma during a vaginal birth. It is also possible, but less likely, to have an anterior tear, which impacts on the tissue around your urethra and/or your clitoris. You may also experience lacerations to your labia Ė the folds of tissue (vulva) either side of your vagina.

The extent of tear can vary and you may experience more than one tear at the point of delivery. Tears are more common in women having their first vaginal birth and range from small abrasions to deep lacerations affecting several pelvic floor muscles.

Will I feel it? Whilst you wonít necessarily experience a tearing sensation, as the babyís head crowns (the largest diameter of the babyís head is being delivered) you will feel a burning/smarting sensation as your vagina stretches to accommodate your baby. A warm compress (flannel) can help soothe the burning and reduce the urgency to give an almighty push at this stage and your midwife will encourage you breathe or pant your babyís head out gently to allow the perineum to stretch. This stage will take a matter of seconds but can feel longer due to the intensity of it all.

How can I avoid tearing? The truth is that there may be no way to avoid tearing - according to research most of the risk factors for a perineal tear are out of your control and the control of the midwife. These are:

  • A big baby
  • High weight gain in pregnancy
  • Older and younger maternal age
  • Ethnicity (Caucasian and Asian)
  • First vaginal birth

That said there are some things that might help and are certainly worth trying if tearing is something that you worry about:

  • You're less likely to tear if you have a slow, controlled delivery that allows plenty of time for your perineum to stretch to allow room for your baby. This can mean breathing or panting through the urge to push for a while when the baby's head is crowning, for example.
  • In a recent study, the use of warm compresses on the perineum during the second (pushing) stage of labour was linked to a reduction in more severe tears.
  • Perineal massage in pregnancy can be started from 34 weeks and has been linked with reducing the incidence of tearing. Try having a warm, bath which will help relax your muscles of any tension. Use a natural oil such as almond, olive or coconut oil. Lie down propped up by pillows and place your thumbs about 3 cm inside your vagina. Press your thumbs downwards and sideways until it tingles, then hold for approximately 2 minutes. Gently massage the lower part of the entrance to you vagina for about 3 minutes. If you continue this on a daily basis until baby arrives, you will notice a difference in the tissue stretchiness after the first 2 weeks.
  • There is a device on the market designed to use during pregnancy to stretch the perineum. There is limited research regarding the effectiveness of the device and its safety is inconclusive.
  • Adopting a left lateral or kneeling position during the pushing stage can help reduce the chance of tearing, and any tears that do happen are usually labial as oppose to perineal.

If you had a tear in your previous delivery it does not necessarily mean you are more likely to tear the second time round, research has shown that one of the risk factors for tearing is first vaginal birth. However, if you have had a previous 3rd/4th degree tear you are at an increased risk of this happening again.

It is worth noting that perineal tears are normal in vaginal birth and about 50% of women will experience a tear but getting to know your anatomy in the form of perineal massage or using a compress will not cause you any harm.



Have I got news for you?

Posted on 13/07/2016 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment

Walking home from school yesterday I was surprised to learn that a friend doesnít allow her 8 year old girls to watch TV during the week, apart from the news while they eat their breakfast. Now I applaud the fact that TV is limited and I am impressed that they are expanding their horizons over their Cocopops while my two sit transfixed, slack jawed, by various kinds of crap. I must admit however that the thought of allowing my 8 year old to watch the actual grown up news brings me out in a rash. But now Iím questioning myself. Am I actually doing her any favours by protecting her from the world?

In my experience things rarely pan out as you thought they might pre-childbirth. Take, for example, this:

Fantasy: we sit nicely around a breakfast table munching thoughtfully on fruit and other healthy breakfast items, hair combed, teeth brushed, uniforms on, engaged in thought provoking discussion about our day/the world/life in general. The children finish eating, wash up their dishes and put their shoes on without me having to raise my voice even a tiny weeny bit;

Grim reality: I question why I never got round to buying a breakfast table as I stuff porridge into my mouth, while simultaneously making packed lunches and repeatedly yelling at the children to locate their shoes, pick up their breakfast plates from the arm of sofa and/or get dressed. Periodically I implore them to stop hitting each other whilst following them round with their respective toothbrushes. Sometimes I am to be found frantically waving Evieís homework in front of her face at 8.26am.

Which only serves to emphasise the fact that I need TV in the morning. I appear to be rubbish. I need to be able to run round and do all the things that more organised mothers apparently do the night before and therefore I donít have time to sit with them and make sure they havenít seen some dead children that they might want to discuss.

Which brings me nicely to my second objection to the grown up news plan: it seems to me that news has become a lot more graphic since I was 8. Murder, rape, terrorism, Nigel Farage Ė can an 8 year old really gain anything from knowing that these things are lurking?  She is already an anxious child so can it possibly do her any good to realise that there is actually way more stuff to worry about than she first thought?

She will one day learn that the world can be a scary place but do I want that day to be now? As it is I frequently feel compelled to tell my in-laws to pipe down as they lament the state of the world in her earshot. Before we left for our most recent holiday they urged us to keep ALL THE DOORS AND THE BOOT LOCKED because it was guaranteed that IMMIGRANTS would attempt to jump into our car as we left Calais. Sigh.

And yet my friendís position has made me wonder if I am being a little over-protective. Evie is starting to take an interest in the world - What is Brexit? Will I buy her a Fairtrade banana? Did I know that she is going to adopt a snow leopard? And yes, of course I want her to be well informed, curious and engaged but the problem is you canít really filter out the death and horror and unfortunately Newsround isnít on at breakfast!

I guess I could let her watch and see it as an opportunity to help her understand that bad things happen relatively infrequently. I could highlight all the good stuff that goes on. I could help her develop some understanding of world issues, a sense of injustice and passion which will propel her to get involved in things she believes in, outside of her own small world.

I could. But maybe first I will try baby steps. There are newspapers for kids after all. Or maybe I can at least stop turning the radio down when the news comes on in case she hears that someone has been hacked to death. Maybe. Or maybe I will wait a bit longer. Ultimately I value her childhood too much - itís short and precious. After all she will have plenty of time to live in the real world. Until John Craven triumphantly returns Newsround to breakfast, I think weíll stick to Ben and Holly.

Louise x



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