Birth Health Life

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Thursday, 3 December 2015

Among the Grandmothers


Last night I went to a Christmas dinner organised by the hospital trust where I volunteer in the breastfeeding drop-in clinic. It was an amazing occasion, with awards for long service going to lots of people for their various work.  Two of the women there, one sitting next to me, had received MBEs for their contributions.  I was in awe of these folk who felt moved by something other than money to devote a portion of their time regularly to do what mattered to them.

Around me were several women in their late sixties, seventies and eighties.  We introduced ourselves to one another and talked about what we did at the hospital.  And then that thing that always happens when I tell women that I work with breastfeeding mums and their babies happened.  There's a little pause, then one will ask me a little more about the work.  Then their stories start.  What always strikes me is that their stories are so fresh, some so raw still.  If I saw them written, I might think that this mum was recalling difficulties she had feeding a baby still in her in arms, not a baby who is now her 50 year old daughter.

Two things I take away from last night.  One, women feel their birth and breastfeeding stories for the length of their lives.  Two, Annie Kennedy and Penny Simkin were so right when they noted that women's strongest feelings in relation to their birthing experiences, negative or positive, focus on the way they were treated by their caregivers.

These helplines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor in the UK:

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212 
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918
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Monday, 30 November 2015

Buttersoft Italian full grain leather! Mmmmmmm!!!

Oh the smell and feel of this one! So soft and fat in my hands! My long-suffering Midori Travellers Notebook, otherwise known as Coco, has been relived of her huge burden of books and now looks slim and neat with just a notebook for listing (to do, shopping and meals) and my diary. My sweet narrow sparrow now houses my daily journal and watercolours, and this baby, made by me!(!!!!) in size Grande, is packed with Moleskine large cahiers and is for when I need to write out ideas, plans, thoughts, dreams in much more length and detail.
I've made a few more out of the stunning hide of full grain vegetable tanned Italian leather which I got from my local leather dealer.  He has 40 years of experience in the leather trade, and gave me full run of his warehouse to find a hide of the perfect colour, finish and thickness to make my fauxdoris.  Visit my etsy shop here if you'd like to see the full range and buy yourself or someone you love a gift that smells and feels amazing!
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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Shop excitement!!

Click on MamaStretchy has hit the shop!! to see my new bracelets.  Here's a quick look at my lush new stock!!  maaan look at that gorgeous citrine! So clear and beautiful, citrine is a very special gemstone and one of my favourites to work with! Citrine is a really upbeat, joyful stone which is also known as the 'merchant's stone' because it is connected with smooth transactions and successful and prosperous transactions in business.  I can feel it clearing negative energies as I work with it. Citrine connects with the yellow solar plexus area of personal power, and magnifies your personal magnetism and power!  It is great for meditation and dream recall, spiritual and personal growth in general, as well as psychic cleanliness.


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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Enquiry



I took this photo yesterday morning whilst Ernie took me for my walk.  I love the softness and silky-looking texture of the fungus and the drop in the foreground, just waiting to happen.  It was a difficult and painful little walk because my back problem has resurfaced recently and I'm in quite a bit of pain.

Every step was deliberate and careful, not at all how I normally love to go charging up that lane with Ernie scampering along with me.  As I inched along the road, my mind was chewing over some photographs that I'd seen on facebook, showing some friends enjoying time with someone I no longer consider a friend.  All sorts of emotions and thoughts had arisen as a result of this picture, and a lot of what I was telling myself about it was not new stuff at all, but the usual diet of negative crap that I say to myself in my head, like a very old tape, recorded years ago and never updated.

Something about being in so much pain and being able to move only very slowly, gave me the space to think about how strong, and strange, were my reactions to this innocent photograph, and the work of Byron Katie popped into my mind, so I began with some enquiry.  I challenged every thought I was having about this person; was it true?  Could I really know that what I was telling myself was true?  How was I reacting when I believed those thoughts?  How did believing those thoughts make me feel?  Who would I be without this feeling? Enquiry is so powerful, enabling me to suspend my beliefs for a moment and consider other beliefs for a change.

As easily as that drop fell from that blade of grass, making it spring back up from the tension, the burden of that sad sack of stale emotions and rotting old thoughts fell away from me, as I came to the realisation that it just isn't relevant to allow space for that voice in my head any more.  It's like seeing that same scenario but from a different angle. I'm seeing it for what it really is, which is...none of my business!  And those old tapes, recorded decades ago of voices long dead?  It's time to replace them with something kinder, and true, and helpful to me.

What old tapes do you play that could do with replacing? What beliefs are fuelling your negative emotions?   How would they stand up to a bit of enquiry?  The time is now!
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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Common Breastfeeding Challenges: Breastfeeding and thrush

Porridge Oats


Thrush is the name for a yeast infection usually caused by the strain Candida albicans.  This is a fungal organism commonly found in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina of healthy women.
The presence of your gut bacteria keeps the growth of Candida in check, so anything that disturbs your body's normal flora like diabetes, illness, antibiotic therapy, can allow this fungal fiend to thrive.

This is why have I put this picture of my breakfast porridge (in its very beautiful blue bowl) in a blog about breastfeeding and thrush...oat bran is blooming brilliant at supporting hormonal situations like breastfeeding and also at feeding one's natural gut flora and fauna which help to keep thrush at bay.

Thrush often manifests after a course of antibiotics, which kill the protective gut bacteria.  Oral contraceptives and steroids can also predispose you to thrush, as can cracked or damaged nipples.

Every week in the drop-in clinics, I will see mums who wonder if the cause of their nipple pain might be thrush.  Some mention deep breast sensations and pain.  Especially in the early days when thrush is uncommon, I always ask about antibiotic use in her or her baby, and whether she has suffered cracked or damaged nipples, or if she is a regular sufferer.  Some mums feel the filling of their breasts with milk quite strongly, and wonder if this indicates thrush, or if it's just a normal thing.  Sudden, intense nipple pain in a mum who has been feeding for months without pain might make me suspect thrush.  Sore nipples, pain whilst feeding, will first make me suspect that the latch could be better, and I will want to check positioning and attachment to see if we can get a deeper latch.

Signs and symptoms on you:

  • Usually both breasts will be painful, particularly after feeding, with a deep shooting pain 
  •  persistently sore nipples where the latch is fine. You might suspect thrush when breastfeeding has been going well before a sudden bout of unexplained soreness. 
  • Red, shiny nipples
  • Flaky, itchy sore nipples
  • Blistery rash around nipples and areola. 
Signs on your baby:

  • White patches in the mouth that can't be wiped off, unlike milk
  • Nappy rash with a very red, raised area with a sharply defined border
  • Gassy, fussy, unhappy baby.  Thrush in the mouth will make feeding uncomfortable and unpleasant for your little one.

The most common cause of sore nipples is position and latch, so get along to a drop-in clinic, breastfeeding counsellor or IBCLC can observe a feed and check your latch.  Knowledgeable, experienced help is key here.

If you suspect that you may have thrush, you need to make an appointment to see your GP, and you should expect that they will treat both of you as a preventative measure, even if your baby has no signs of the infection.  Once you have a diagnosis and medication, make sure you take the medication regularly and finish the course, even if your symptoms have gone.


Practical measures to use alongside your meds are:
  1. Rinse and air dry nipples after feeding, you can rinse in vinegar and water, too. One tablespoon vinegar to a cup of water, applied with a fresh cotton bud for each breast.
  2. Exposure to artificial or natural light for a spell every day...thrush is a fungal infection which thrives in moist dark conditions.
  3. Hot/boil wash and air dry clothes
  4. Don't share towels and flannels with other family members
  5. Anything that comes into contact with your breast - breast shells, bra, breast pump parts - needs boiling once a day for 20 minutes.
  6. Anything in contact with your baby's mouth - pacifier, bottle nipple, teething ring - needs boiling once a day for 20 minutes
  7. Discard bottle nipples after a week
  8. Lower your consumption of yeast and sugar
  9. Increase your consumption of oat bran porridge to support gut bacteria, garlic, and acidophilus.
  10. Take more time with careful hand washing during this time.
The La Leche League website has some useful tips for managing this alongside medication your GP prescribes, as will your local breastfeeding drop in clinic, so seek out knowledgeable support in your area.  If you're in Britain, you can phone one of these helplines:


  • Association of Breastfeeding Mothers - 0300 330 5453
  • National Breastfeeding Helpline - 0300 100 0212
  • Natural Childbirth Trust - 0300 3300771
  • La Leche League - 0845 120 2918










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Monday, 21 September 2015

Journaling

a selection of what I'm using at the moment


These three are one half (YES) of my current journals.  There, I said it, its out.  I have used multiple journals for years, but I've never really been comfortable with that, because it felt kind of excessive, and obsessive, and, well, verging on being a lil cray-cray.

I discovered via various social media platforms that I am not alone.  Once I realised that using more than one journal is ok, I really settled into it and now I embrace my multiple journal personality!

Here we have my Midori Travellers Notebook, open on some of the cover pages which I've enjoyed decorating with inspirational quotes and pretty pictures that I've glued on.  My Midori is used everyday to write in, generally in bed before I go to sleep, pouring my heart out and also scribbling down ideas and intentions, as well as referring to the diary. I brain dump in it almost every  day.  It also contains permanent information that I use in my work.

I don't always take my Midori everywhere. The little leather journal in the picture that I call my mini-mi is just that, and goes everywhere that my phone goes.  They travel together in a silky little bag that protects them both from the rigours of being in my handbag or rucksack! That's more shopping lists, ideas, bullet points, and work stuff.

The retired A5 Domino filofax is now my at-home planner, and no longer contains a bought diary. Now I make my own weekly pages and plan out meals and blogging schedules in this big lump.  It used to be my workhorse, until it literally did my back in carrying it around.  That's a bit of a fib, I was dancing in a club with my work bag slung around my neck and this big old diary in the bag, as I had just come from a client to a Friday night out with friends.  It is much better suited to life on my desk, containing the detailed break-down of my ideas and plans.

I love journalling.  It makes me feel clearer, I can brain dump and move on without all those thoughts swirling around my head.  I use my work journal specifically to help me manifest the things I want for my working life, and I am constantly astounded and surprised by how well that actually works!  
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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Bonfire. And so it begins.

So this is a close-up of my Sunday mornings. Hessian, wooden sticks, and wire, the raw materials for making flaming torches for bonfire processions that take place all over Sussex during the months of September, October and November.

The only other raw material needed at this stage is a willing body to assemble these items and a small child to collect the finished ones and carry them to the shed for stacking. Children generally don't have the strength required in their hands for wrapping the wire and securing the head of the torch, and it is important that one's torch heads do not fall off. Collecting torches is a great introduction to bonfire life for the young ones who are the future of bonfire.

Am I going to show you the yard?  The other activities going on and all the people and stuff assembled in the early morning light to prepare for the 5th of November?  No, actually.  I feel that it's right to preserve the mystery so that if your curiosity gets the better of you, you might feel moved to join in next year.  But I will be giving you tantalising glimpses over the coming weeks of this fascinating Sussex tradition.
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Saturday, 8 August 2015

Common Breastfeeding challenges: Blocked milk ducts

Lecithin in my local health food shop

If milk gets stuck in the breast because you missed a feed or pressure on part of the breast trapped the milk, it can block one of the tiny milk ducts, and cause a painful lump.

Milk that thickens inside the tiny ducts in the breast can block that duct and cause a backlog of milk, which in turn sets off the inflammatory response of the body, if you don't get that blockage cleared pronto.

The plug of cells and milk components within the duct causes a localised soreness, swelling and pain.  These plugs can be reabsorbed by the body, or can be released into the milk.  The plug may be greenish or brown in colour, as well as thick and stringy..these are harmless and quite common, although your baby might not like the taste.  Get on top of the blocked duct situation as quickly as you can...it can escalate to a larger area of blockage or to mastitis.

The inflammatory response makes the breast where the duct is blocked get hard, red and hot, and incredibly painful to massage, but that is just what you have to do, as well as applying warm compresses whilst feeding/expressing, and I would recommend cooler compresses if that feels right in between feeding.  Remember to also avoid bras, and anything constricting any area of the breast, feed and express to keep the milk moving and keep the breast soft.  Nurse your baby from above, looming over him on the bed to get gravity to assist with draining all the ducts.

If you don't get on top of a blocked duct, mastitis can follow on.  Basically, the body is responding to that blockage with an inflammatory reaction, and it can feel just like 'flu.  It comes in and hits you like a train, but fear not, it is possible to manage mastitis conservatively if no infection is present, and it can go as quickly as it arrived.  You will be surprised at how bad it can make you feel though, with shivers, and hot and cold.

Treat mastitis by getting that duct unplugged, see above, (massage, hot and cold, keep the milk moving) and use an anti inflammatory like ibuprofen to bring down the inflammation and make you feel better. Lots of TLC, rest, food, fluids and feeding baby.  Getting worse, or no better within 24 hours?  See your  doctor for antibiotics to head off infection.


Check out:
  •  your bra, (underwires, padding, wrong size) 
  • clothes (bunched up shirt under your arm whilst you feed...areas that feel tight)
  •  baby slings...hand bag straps compressing the ducts.
  •  your sleeping position...if you sleep on your side, are you squashing your breast?
  •  holding your baby in the same position for prolonged periods of time
  • are you holding your breast whilst feeding? 

Do you hold your breast during feeds? Some mums do, some feel they can't get latched unless they do. It might be an idea to go along to your local drop-in clinic and see the breastfeeding peer supporters, infant feeding adviser, breastfeeding counsellor (try the La Leche League for a local referral to knowledgeable free volunteer support) or IBCLC .  These women will be trained to help you latch your baby in a way that brings your baby to you, rather than breast to baby.  There are other techniques to making the breast and nipple easier to access too, such as rolling up a muslin into a sausage and putting it under your breast to bring the nipple into view or into a position where you can more easily bring your baby to you. All this said, there's nothing wrong with holding your breast...unless you're causing plugged ducts.  Holding your breast during latching can mean that you are loathe to disturb your baby once latched, and then have to maintain the hold all through the feed, which can be uncomfortable...and cause blocked ducts.


 Things that can help:

  • Make sure you feed on demand, and don't make your baby wait for a feed.
  • Avoid missing a feed, or pump or express to remove the milk
  • Pump or express if your baby isn't removing the milk adequately.
  • Make sure you are getting enough fluids and adequate rest where possible.
  • Massage in the direction of the plug, towards your nipple.  Do this whilst feeding, and in a warm shower.
  • Hot flannels over the area will cause the tissue in the breast to expand gently and enable the plug to move along the duct
  • change feeding positions so that your baby is draining different areas of the breast.  
  • Feed with the baby's chin pointing towards the blocked duct.  Try laying your baby on your bed and feeding her from above, looming over her to dangle your breast into her mouth.
  • Feed on the side with the plugged duct first. Babies have a stronger suck early on in the feeding, and you can take advantage of this to help shift the blockage.
  • Lecithin and reducing saturated fats in the diet...only if the problem keeps coming back.  You'll find it in the local health food  shop, and also in the pharmacy.  Lecithin is found in egg yolk, and is what helps to smooth out mayonnaise, as it breaks down fat particles, and stops them from clumping together.


Blocked ducts can be related to blebs.  These are blocked nipple pores, and where the skin closes over a pore it is called a milk blister.  What came first, the bleb or the blocked duct?  Some specialists believe that blocked ducts cause blebs, some that blebs cause blocked ducts.  More about blebs here.



These phone lines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor (UK)

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918
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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Raw black and blue


This is a custom-made necklace for a dear friend, who suffers from chronic illness with inflammation and pain.  I added the lapiz because it is his favourite colour and his favourite number is five, hence the number combinations.  I usually only work in multiples of three.  The raw black cherry amber and raw lapiz lazuli contrast with the polished cognac amber and turquoise chips to give the necklace a feeling of contrasting but complementary textures and colours.

The succinic acid in amber is released when amber is worn next to the skin and thus heated gently to body temperature.  Lapiz is the stone of inner peace, and stress release, bringing objectivity and clarity to the mind and enabling connection with the higher conciousness, and spirituality.

Turquoise is the stone of protection.

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Communion

Not all mothers wish, or are able to breastfeed their babies. If this is you, you'll find no judgement on your circumstances or choices here. This is simply a comment on how I feel when I'm supporting mums and babies to breastfeed.

There is something about sitting with a mum who is happily nursing her baby, especially when just a short time before she had been doubting her abilities and her body.  Maybe its her feeling of pride and wonder; relief that her determination has paid off. Maybe we are all drunk on the oxytocin pervading the room. It feels to me like being in the presence of the most holy of communions, the most pure and giving form of love that there is.

When I'm with a mum who is breastfeeding her baby, I feel the same as I do when I'm peacefully walking in nature, or sitting in a beautiful old church. When the milk is flowing, we don't need words. We are sitting together as women, mothers, will have done since the dawn of time.  Do I imagine a connection to something ethereal? Something greater than the mundane which is present during that physical, the biological, mammalian behaviour? I think I am literally feeling the love.

 If you can sit still for a short while, and just be with them, you will feel it.  Those around the mother and baby are nurtured too, blessed by the power, the urgency, the determination and wonder of this act.  Its the total antidote to all the crap, evil, and negativity encountered in life, drip-fed through the media.

So much around us is destructive; we are destructive to our earth, whether we mean to be or not. So much out there can threaten us, and we are ourselves a threat to our world.  A mother nurturing and nourishing her baby is transferring a magical, eco-friendly, sustainable and free substance, which is itself a living force, actually alive. Breastfeeding is a complex communication, physical, physiological, emotional, hormonal.

And spiritual? [spir-i-choo-uh l] ? Something delicately refined, devotional, sacred, loving, selfless giving? I think so.

Nursing a baby is the complete opposite of so much that makes up our world. Its a force for good, for all that is positive and healthy, a force that is actively protecting the human race, its full of hope. It means that we can go forward.

These helplines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor in the UK:

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212 
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918
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Favourite reading corner!





This little corner is right by my back door, its where I crash with a cuppa in between clinics or at the end of a busy day of breastfeeding support.  Whilst the day is still fresh in my mind, I go over all the challenges that the women I support were facing on that day, and make sure that I said and did all the right things, and remembered everything.

One of the best things about the world of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, is that there's just so much to learn.  I could live to a very old age and still never know it all, and I love that feeling!  I'm really so grateful to the mothers who come in to the clinics, as as they, and their babies, are my greatest teachers.  It is just awesome to sit with someone who is maybe in some pain, still in that shell-shock of the first weeks with a first baby, who is being given advice left, right and centre about what she should and shouldn't be doing, but who is despite all that simply and determinedly focused on doing the best she can for her baby.

Women are just pretty awesome really.

These helplines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor in the UK:

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212 
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918
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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Graduation

My course started Monday morning.  Sunday lunchtime 'flu hit the household.  I couldn't believe that I was going miss my first day of the course.  Despite feeling like absolute death and being dosed up on every potion possible, I went in for my first day.  I don't remember too much as I really was quite poorly...a jumble of faces, babies crawling around the room, little ones in arms, two or three tutors introducing themselves and handing out forms.

The 'flu lasted three horrible weeks, but I didn't miss a class.  Suddenly one morning I was there without being full of lemsip and ibuprofen, spring was round the corner, and I was making new friends and learning some wonderful stuff.

There were low points again...the course was aimed at young mums, and was quite disparaging us oldies and 'our' outdated ideas.  I did chuckle when I thought about the giants' shoulders upon which we were standing; the likes of Ina May Gaskin and Michel Odent, both well into their 70's and 80's, but it made me feel out of place and I wondered  if I would fit in at the clinics.  This notion was quickly dispelled by my doula colleagues who assured me that the clinics would be heaving with mums who just needed support, and may even like the fact that I was a bit more mature.

We graduated amid a party of our friends and families, full of hope and excitement for the future.  I was interested to see if my expectations of how it would feel in clinic would be accurate.  I still couldn't really imagine it being anything other than tears, pain, difficulty, frustration.

In just under six weeks' time, I would find out. If you want to find out, click here

These helplines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor in the UK:

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212 
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918


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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Journey




A few years ago, at the start of my job as a doula, I registered my interest in doing the breastfeeding peer supporters' course run by my local community trust.  Lots doulas do this, because it's a great way to give to your community whilst at the same time learning about breastfeeding and how to support mothers with young babies. Other than doulas, the other supporters are usually mums who have had support in their breastfeeding journeys and felt moved to give something back.

Embarking on the journey to becoming a doula usually begins with a Doula UK approved course which takes around a week of intensive study with a tutor and handful of students, with additional reading and study modules to be completed at home. It's as much about the journey of understanding yourself and your experiences, as it is about grasping the physiology and biology of birth. This inner journeying and reflection continues throughout the doula's working life, as does the gathering of experience and knowledge and the connections with doula friends who will support and debrief her as she will for them. Becoming a recognised doula is a bit like mentored self-directed study and apprenticeship, that finishes when you reach a certain level of knowledge and confidence, but really the learning and growing never finishes.

I found out that I had missed that year's intake for new peer supporters by a hair's breadth, and there was no indication of when the course would run again.  It was a 10 week course, over 5 months, and my obligation at the end of it was to volunteer in the drop-in clinics for a six month period.

A year went by.  I supported mums before, during and after birth, and marvelled at how different and diverse were the families I worked for. There were common themes though, and one thing stood out; the fact that no birth or postnatal job went by without a question about breastfeeding and nappies, input and output.  In my preparation sessions, I talked to couples about the 'golden hour' after birth and its importance for the start of the nurturing relationship.  I realised that, although I had fed five babies of my own, and done a brilliant doula course given by a passionate advocate of breastfeeding, this was still my weak area, the part I couldn't talk confidently about, the part of doula-ing which seemed to scramble my brain and tie my thoughts up in knots.  I knew that I needed to strengthen my knowledge, but I was beginning to dread the possibility of getting a place on the course and having to do the clinics.  I realised that breastfeeding, to me, was a jumble of memories of conflicting feelings and struggle, overwhelming joy once, but mainly struggle, pain, desperation, and (as was the way decades ago) an almost total lack of knowledgeable support.

It was during one of those times in life when business was quiet and I was wondering if I was on the right path at all, considering tearing down my doula website and jacking it all in, in the dismal dark and cold of mid-February, that the call came.  A nice voice on the end of the phone, reminding me that I had applied for the breastfeeding peer support training, and telling me that there was a course starting in the next few weeks. Was I still interested?

No, I wasn't.  I was scared.  I dreaded the clinic work which was my obligation after the course.  I imagined the tears, pain, frustration...being the person to support women through that...why would I want to put myself through this?

So against everything my head was saying, my heart said yes, so I did it anyway.

Here's how I got on.

These helplines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor in the UK:

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212 
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918
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Monday, 27 July 2015

Mama and baby amber necklace set

I had a repair in today, which made  me get my bead board out and finish something I started ages ago but put away in favour of doing outdoors, summer-type stuff, rather than sitting indoors beading.

It is part and parcel of selling amber teething jewellery that you expect to get pieces sent back for repair now and then.  I always clearly state that necklaces should be removed for bathing and swimming, because the silk gets stretched and ruined by water, even though amber is fine in water, as it is harvested from the sea. Of course, amber will be damaged by detergents in bath water, like bubble bath, shampoo and soap, as well as chlorine in swimming pool water.  So if you've wrecked your necklace by wetting it, I will be able to tell and won't be offering you a free repair!  Amber teething necklaces are made by knotting each bead separately so that if the necklace breaks, you won't loose more than one bead.  I get my clasps from Lithuania, they are specially made to break easily for safety, so that if the necklace is put under pressure, it comes apart.

So, with my beading board out I set about making my first Mama and baby set.  Traditionally, these would have been given to the mother to wear during pregnancy, as a necklace for her, and a bracelet. she would wear them both, impregnating them with her vibrations.  Then, when her baby was born, she would wrap the bracelet around the baby's ankle, and later, his or her neck.  As the amber had taken on the mother's vibration, they were thought to be uniquely placed to comfort the baby.

I chose the gemstones for this one, for their calming properties, and for the quality of letting go.  Some mums and babies have a need to release their birth experience for well-being, and this necklace was made especially with this in mind. If you know anyone who might like this, do go to the shop and buy it for her!
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Saturday, 25 July 2015

Why did you do that?


 I know, its a pretty drastic change, and I should probably have expected some questions from those around me, but I honestly didn't expect the amount of attention that this change generated.

I had my long curly dark brown hair cut in May 2015. The photograph on the left shows me in December 2015, the middle one is March 2016, and the last one is June 2016.

When I originally had it cut, I changed my profile pictures on social media to keep up with my new look, and the most common reactions to this were:

"Why did you do that?"

Why did I do what? Visit the hairdresser? Get a haircut? Get a new style? Actually get a style for a change?  Well believe it or not it was for the same reason every other woman visits the hairdressers I should think...to look good and feel better.

"Will you grow it back?"

Well it will keep growing, and for now, I imagine I will keep having it cut.  Because I can't think of a single reason to grow it long again. Except that actually now I am bored again and growing it again

"What have you done??!!"

I've freed myself, that's what I've done.

I've freed myself from being 'that woman with all the hair'.  I've freed myself from 5.30am starts when I don't have to actually leave the house until 8am but I need the time to wash, condition, rinse, dry and style the monster. Add another 40 minutes if I'm going to straighten it, which I need to do in order for it to look neat. But which I can't do if it's misty, humid, too hot, or raining.  Or if I'm going to the gym, or to swim.  And finally, I have freed myself from starting every shopping list with 'hair grips' and 'hair ties'. Oh, and last of all, constant, nagging neck ache.  That's what I've done.

Some people were actually annoyed at me for doing it!  Which I find curiously touching, that someone should actually be so moved by something I've done to myself, for my own reasons, and my own ends.  Bless their hearts!  My hairdresser nodded sagely when I told her about this, and said simply,

"People don't like change."

Well I'm loving it!

Footnote: (June 2016) Bit bored with it now and growing it back!


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Goodbye, 10 inches of hair!


from this.....
to this!
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Microbiome Documentary: Crowdfunding Pitch

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Getting my creativity on!



I love rainy afternoons where you have to stay in and do creative stuff!  I've had an extensive essential oil collection since my children were small, and I would use aromatherapy instead of conventional medicine for the usual childhood and family ailments.  I have a very sensitive and keen sense of smell, and perfume is my weakness.  I find some of the oils profoundly comforting and evocative...some I can pinpoint where that comes from, but others are just mysteriously alluring for no particular reason.  Lavender reminds me of my mum, who had lavender bags in drawers, and grew lavender by her front step.  As a little girl I would play right by these bushes, and the smell reminds me of a very fundamental part of my being, a simple and comforting memory.  Vetiver is my absolute favourite oil, deep and complex, a very distinctive smell.
I'm blending some oils for a local reflexologist, and to sell on my market stall.  This afternoon I finished up by making my very first balm, for my daughter.  It has sedative, hypnotic oils to help her sleep, and is a solid perfume balm made with beeswax and shea butter.  It's solidifying in the fridge right now, and I had better clear up and get on with dinner!
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Thursday, 26 February 2015

16 8 diet cheating with a cheeky juice



This juice is a bit of a cheat because I am supposed to be following the 16.8 diet, and I made it at 9am this morning, and my 8 hour eating window is from midday to 8pm!  It's working really well for me.
 I guess I could have put it in the fridge for later, but there is something about breaking out all that juicy goodness from where it's being stored in the vegetables and fruits and roots, which makes me want to take advantage of the freshness and drink it straight away.
 I'm sure the essential goodness would survive a few hours in the fridge, but there's nothing like the vibrant energy of freshly masticated juice!
The little roots with the orange middle are turmeric.  There's a bit of kale, some broccoli (not shown in the picture - I forgot it!) apples, spinach, a little slice of lemon, and a carrot, also in here.
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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mjolnir



I just finished this piece, made with the new chunky fat butterscotch Lithuanian beads that arrived on Friday.  The turquoise has been sitting around for ages just waiting for something suitably manly and fierce to complement its uncompromising form...I'm so glad I saved it.

This has been a satisfying project to spend the weekend working on, a perfect complement to my birth work, which has actually been a sore trial this week...not down to any one mum or baby, rather down to a strange person who keeps trying to make trouble for my placenta business...but that's another story!!!
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Friday, 6 February 2015

It's ok, sometimes you just need to take time to be.



It's been a full on week!  Starting on Monday, with a drop in clinic, that I just couldn't attend.  I very rarely miss one, and I do often think about the mums who I support there, and wonder how they are doing.  So when my clinic days come round I am anticipating seeing various repeat clients and finding out about their progress and challenges, and having baby cuddles sometimes too.

This week was different.  Monday was the 27th anniversary of my dad's very sudden and shocking death.  I still miss him, and some years on the anniversary I will have a day of illness, or sadness, or just a day that needs to be for me, where I would be no good giving to others.  Hence I bowed out of Monday's clinic and went out to town for a day by myself, and had a rose tattoo I've been planning with EJ from Angelic Hell for a while.  The rose reminds me of my job as a little one in my dad's rose garden, dead-heading the roses.  It feels like a present from him...even though he will, where ever he now is, be utterly horrified by a few aspects of my life, but none more than me sporting tattoos.

The feeling of being exhausted on a deep level continued until Friday morning.  I went with it, I laid around and did not a lot.  Ernie and I walked for miles.  I gave thanks for my self-employment which supports my dips and surges in energy.  So Friday, after a good, deep dreaming sleep, I finally felt rested, refreshed, and ready to be up and at em.

Being not doing.  As in doulaing, so in life.
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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Raw black cherry with Amazonite

Latest batch of amber took an incredibly looooong time to arrive, and now it has I'm more than ready to be making up all the designs that have been buzzing around my head since I ordered it.   

This raw cherry amber is absolutely gorgeous in a very dark sort of way. The camera doesn't capture the true nature of the colour of this amber...it has a real dark redness in the black which seems to emanate from within it!  

All colours of amber have the same healing property, but for some reason this particular colour feels even more ancient and powerful than the rest.  I've added just one gemstone to this one, as I feel the cherry is powerful enough on its own, and doesn't need any distractions from it's beauty, just one contrasting gem.  Amazonite is powerful and beautiful in its own right, the perfect accompaniment.  It is reputed to help with eczema, stress, and colic.



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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Green Baltic Amber knotted on green silk. Looking forward to Spring!

Custom-made 10 inch teething necklace




This photograph is  a close-up of a simple teething necklace  made yesterday for my friend's grandson.

It is a ten inch necklace, made from green amber polished baroque beads, knotted onto German green silk.  The clasp is a traditional Lithuanian baby teething necklace barrel clasp, made to break under pressure, for safety.

The variety of green amber is what makes it probably my favourite colour.  Green also seems to come with the highest number of natural inclusions...ancient bits of insect and plant life from the time before this plant resin was fossilized.

Green amber can be clear or opaque, with tiny dark or large milky butterscotch and white inclusions.  Beautiful!
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Sunday, 11 January 2015

Unpolished

New design in the making



This is the design I've been wanting to make for ages, but the problem has been sourcing the sea glass.

I knew as soon as I started working with raw (unpolished) amber, that I wanted to combine it with sea glass, because the texure is almost identical.  I just knew that the combination would be a marriage made in heaven!

Sea glass, as you probably know, is fragments of glass bottles left on the beach and worn evenly by the relentless tide, from jagged broken shiny clear glass, into soft nuggets of opaque, mysterious sea treasures for the taking.

Or the purchasing, when it comes to a beading enthusiast like me, wanting glass nuggets with holes drilled in them.  I've been searching for drilled sea glass beads with much success, but the only part I haven't liked is the price, at around a GB pound a piece.  Too much for a skin-flint like myself, so I was ultra-chuffed to find these pieces in another incarnation, just waiting to be dismantled and bought back to life in one of my amber necklaces.  Bit of a shock to find that they weren't drilled either, but have a groove worn into either side to accommodate jewellery wire.  A very fortuitous find, and I am enjoying creating a unique necklace from a couple of the sea glass beads.  Such a lovely colour too, really perfect contrast to my light cognac raw amber.  Like the sunshine and sand against the blue of the sea and sky of a perfect beach day.
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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Juicy New Year!

Beet Blood Heart Starter


I've left the apples out of this picture, I realised when I uploaded it!  Apples add sweetness, otherwise this would be a very earthy tasting juice...nothing wrong with that, but I do need a little sweetness!

The ginger gives a real kick, very zingy and healthy-tasting, especially when you balance it with a little lemon or lime, zest still on.  Make sure you buy unwaxed fruit!

I keep everything in the fridge so its nice and cold and refreshing to drink.

Carrot or pineapple would be a great addition instead of apple if you, like me, like a sweeter flavour.  Enjoy!
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