Postpartum: a time to rest

Tending to baby, for now, is more than enough.
— Heng Ou
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We usually get a lot of information about pregnancy and birth. There are so many prenatal classes, courses and sessions you can attend to prepare for the birth of your baby. But who tells you about the postnatal period? How do you prepare yourself for life with a baby? How do you manage with little or no help during the first weeks postpartum? Who cares for the mother during that time of transition to allow her to rest and heal after giving birth? 

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother, written by Heng Ou in collaboration with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger, is a wonderful guide to help every mum prepare for the early days of motherhood. Filled with ancestral traditions from all over the world that share light on how to look after both mother and baby, and with nourishing recipes to replenish the new mother's energy and promote milk production, Ou's book is a calling not only to mums-to-be, but also to their partners and circle of family and close friends. Adapted to our modern lifestyle, Ou gives practical tips to help parents prepare for the first forty days. From stocking up the pantry and cooking nutrient-rich meals that can be stored in the freezer for those early weeks, to creating a support team that you can count on when you're feeling lonely and depleted. Ou looks deep into old traditions, not only from China, her home-country, but from all around the world to share the one thing they all have in common: the need to pamper the mother so that she can recover and bond with her baby during the postpartum period. 

The heart of The First Forty Days is to nourish the mother physically, emotionally and spiritually through home-cooked food, gentle massage, loving touch and rituals that honour the woman's transition into motherhood. The book is also filled with healing tea recipes and home-made body lotions, tips to address the changes in your relationship with your partner, herbs and essential oils to support pregnancy and birth, some notes on placenta consumption, a simple but nutritious guide on what to eat and much more.

As Ou suggests, you don't have to confine yourself for 40 days or follow a strict programme if that's not what feels right for you, but instead you can choose what resonates with you and your lifestyle and bring as much or as little of what she offers into your postpartum period. So read, enjoy and create your own pampering pack during the last weeks of pregnancy so that you can share it with your "community". Remember, "it takes a village to raise a child" and you deserve to be loved and cared for during those special but vulnerable weeks with your newborn baby.

Sicilian Pesto

You probably have tried the classical pesto, but in Italy there are many variations depending on where you go. In Sicily they add some cherry tomatoes, which gives it a sweeter taste, and sometimes substitute the pine nuts with almonds.

 Linguine al pesto

Linguine al pesto

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:
100g fresh basil
50ml extra virgin olive oil (extra to serve)
A handful of pine nuts (or almonds)
1 clove of garlic
8 cherry tomatoes
Salt (if necessary)
50g pecorino or parmesan cheese (extra to serve)

Put all the ingredients (except salt) in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. (Pecorino cheese is quite salty so you might not need to add any salt). 

Boil 200g of pasta (linguine or fusilli work well with pesto). Add some extra olive oil and cheese to serve.

If you're not using the pesto straight away, you can store it in a jar in the fridge.

* For a vegan pesto, don't add the cheese or add a vegan alternative.

ENJOY!!!

 

Home-made chocolate granola

I normally have a smoothy for breakfast, but inspired by my friend Emmy, I decided to make my own granola today. Simple, healthy and very chocolaty! Here’s my recipe for you to try. Feel free to add any nuts, seeds & dried fruits you like to make it your very own.

 Chocolate granola

Chocolate granola

INGREDIENTS:
250g of oats
100ml of agave syrup (or maple syrup)
2 tbsp of coconut oil
1 tbsp of cocoa nibs
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
1 tsp of chia seeds
50g of almonds
A pinch of cinnamon

Preheat the oven at 120ºC. Combine the coconut oil, maple syrup and cocoa powder in a big bowl and mix well. Add all the other ingredients and mix until the oats are coated in chocolate. Spread the mixture over a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes or until the oats are golden and crispy. Make sure to stir the granola every 5-10 minutes so it doesn't burn. Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool down before storing in an airtight container. Serve with yogurt, milk or fruit and enjoy!
 

Why Breastfeeding?

“There is almost nothing you can do for your child in his whole life that will affect him both emotionally and physically as profoundly as breastfeeding.” – La Leche League International, from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

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Let’s forget for a moment about the benefits of breastfeeding, and let’s look at breastfeeding from a biological point of view.  Your baby, like any other mammal, is born expecting to breastfeed, and as nature intended your body is designed to fulfil all your baby’s needs. When you breastfeed, you’re not only satisfying your baby’s need for food, but also his need for love, warmth, comfort and security. 

During pregnancy your body starts producing colostrum, rich in immunological properties to help protect your newborn´s vulnerable intestinal tract. This will be your baby’s “first milk”. Although low in volume, colostrum has a high nutritional value and is full of antibodies to keep your baby healthy. A few days after the birth of your baby, mature milk will start to come in, which provides everything your baby needs for the first six months of her life. What’s amazing about breast milk is that during the course of a feeding, your milk changes from foremilk (high in water and lactose) to hindmilk (high in fat), giving your baby the perfect combination of nutrients.

The nurturing of an infant is a combination of mother instincts, knowledge and common sense. Breastfeeding your baby requires a lot of patience, self-awareness and compassion. For some mothers breastfeeding their baby will be an easy process. For others, establishing their breastfeeding relationship will take a little longer and a lot more effort. Let yourself be guided by your baby’s cues and remember that there is no book that can teach you how to be a mother.

If you're still unsure about wanting to breastfeed, consider its many benefits. Breastfeeding not only reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), allergies, type 1&2 diabetes, asthma, obesity, gastroenteritis and heart disease in your child, but also helps your uterus contract after giving birth, protects you from breast, uterine and cervical cancer and helps you bond with your baby. Have faith in yourself, trust the natural process of breastfeeding and let your inner wisdom guide you through this amazing journey.

 

Strawberry Milk, not just for kids

Just as I got back home from teaching a Pregnancy Yoga class I felt inspired to make strawberry milk. Here's my recipe for you to try! Simple, healthy and so pretty! 

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Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:
100g of strawberries
400ml milk (whole or plant-based)
2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup)
Raw cacao nibs 

Place the strawberries, milk and honey in a blender and blend for about 1 minute. Strain as you pour it into a glass and sprinkle with cacao nibs. You can cool the strawberry milk in the fridge... if you manage to wait!

Cucumber & Avocado Soup

Although summer hasn't officially started, it feels like we're already in the midst of this dreamy season full of light and sunny days. The heat brings a sense of drowsiness that invites for lighter and fresher meals like this nourishing cucumber & avocado soup sprinkled with pistachios and coriander. Easy, wholesome and plentiful.

 Cucumber & Avocado Soup

Cucumber & Avocado Soup

Serves 1-2

INGREDIENTS
½ cucumber
1 avocado
Juice of a lemon
Handful of fresh coriander
1 teaspoon of almond butter
200ml plant-based milk (or whole milk)
Salt & pepper
Small handful of pistachios (optional)

Peel the cucumber and the avocado, cut into pieces and place into a blender with all the other ingredients, except the pistachios and a leave or two of coriander. Add salt and pepper to taste and blend for 1-2 minutes until smooth. 

Place into bowls and cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the pistachios and coriander when it's ready to serve. Enjoy!