Looking After Your Pregnant Self

If you are pregnant, or have been pregnant (as a matter of fact – if you are a woman), it is highly likely that you are aware of the amount of controversy and pressure surrounding pregnant and post-pregnant bodies. The media is laden with photos of celebrity before and afters, even social media dictates what is acceptable via Likes and not acceptable via (often mean) comments.

Each pregnancy is different, as I found out first hand. And every woman is different. Be it you’re the health nut or not, genetics play a huge part in determining our body shapes and the shapes we may become (pregnant or otherwise). I’ve spoken to moms who, during pregnancy, succumbed to their naughty cravings and highly condone indulging; and also those who walk, practice yoga, eat super well and who are determined to go back to their pre-pregnancy size ASAP. There certainly is no right or wrong. After all.. you can still do the latter and have stretch marks or a large baby. You can do the former and have a small baby and no stretch marks. We don’t all have a personal trainer or nutritionist and we can’t cherry pick our genes. But we all have power over our Pregnant Self – we can control the affects of our changing body during this precious time by maintaining it to the best it can possibly become. Chocolate fudge or not!

1. Beauty comes from the inside

This is often in the form of vitamins and healthy eating. Admittedly, I was not an uber fit single woman who lived at the gym and health food shops. I was more “Okay, I will train for this charity run but I will not refuse my midweek cocktails ritual with the girls (which often involved quite a bit of cocktail)!” However I do believe that eating well and taking vitamin supplements contribute to an overall wellbeing. This habit should bide well into to our Pregnant Self. Taking specialised pregnancy supplements in accordance with your doc is a must – your bub will be sucking a lot of energy and goodness out of you and both of you need the extra vitamins and minerals. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet will also benefit both you and bub. Most doctors will give great advice on what to eat to get the most of what but it’s a lot of common sense anyway. It’s okay to have that second slice of mud cake that you’re craving, after all you are pregnant, but perhaps not on a daily basis. Bub does not need the sugar for a myriad of reasons, gestational diabetes being one of them. Healthy mum equals healthy bub (and hopefully grows up a healthy adult)!

2. Keep moving

Not an exercise type of gal? I hear you! Here’s a tip: overcome this mentality by thinking about what you don’t like about exercising and find an exercise that suit you. For me, I did not enjoy being hot and sweaty and detested the outdoors. So I tried yoga and pilates and.. loved it! Both are fabulous for the pregnant mind and body and can ready baby into the right delivery position. If these are not for you, try walking. Any kind of walking.. the mall, outside, around the house.. Basically anything is better than nothing and believe it or not, you will feel energised afterwards. Half an hour of pregnancy pilates 3-5 times a week helped me get back into my favourite pre-baby jeans in no time so I highly recommend it.

3. Pamper yourself

After all that exercise, it’s time to go to the day spa! Find a reputable day spa who specialise in pregnancy massage and go for it! Carrying extra weight around your belly adds pressure to your back. 30-60 minutes of gentle massage will soothe and encourage blood flow. Don’t forget to get a pedicure while you’re there!

It’s easy to look after your Pregnant Self at home too – light a candle, put on a face mask and soak in the tub for as long as you want! Once or twice a week, exfoliate your body with a good scrub or exfoliating gloves. Concentrate on your tummy, hips and thighs to encourage cell renewal around these areas that will stretch as your pregnancy progresses. Work in a circular motion and be gentle! After each shower, oil up with either Kora’s Rosehip Oil or Bio-Oil, both have been proven amazing for preventing stretch marks.

4. Relax

Try not to stress or dwell on things that you cannot control. My second pregnancy is proving to be a lot different to my first and it was easy to dwell on the pros of my first pregnancy. But I’ve found ways of enjoying the second pregnancy in different ways – for example, I’m allowing myself to have a cup of tea once a day.. it’s not a major faux pas and the doc gave me the OK. It’s fabulous what a short tea break can do!

Most of all, enjoy this moment – you’re creating a life inside of you. Nothing is more amazing than that. This may be an old wives’ tale but I strongly believe that the calmer you are, the more calm your baby is and will be. Go and light that candle!

Pregnancy Must-Haves

LoveS

Bye Bye Pacifier (be brave!)

After months of deliberating about whether to use or not, we decided to give the paci a go. At around two months old, our daughter, like most, needed that little extra comforting at night. As we discovered.. WOW! The pacifier did live up to its name! The results were unbelievable, daughter slept well and woke up happy. It wasn’t long before we were addicted to the paci, using it at every nap time.

I have read and re-read the pros and cons of using a paci and was aware of the possible consequences such as delayed speech, buck tooth, depends on who you consult really. But I figured if we controlled its use (for sleep times only), we should be okay. As a mother, we do anything in our power to comfort our baby. Some of us offer the breast, others rock and sway, some brave mums cuddle their little ones until they fall asleep. The paci was just another method of comfort.

Throughout the last few months the thought of weaning our toddler off the paci has crossed my mind several times. Not that her speech is delayed, or her teeth are getting ruined, it’s just the fact that she is growing up and we felt it was time to move on. The paci played a large part of her sleeping routine, and naturally I procrastinated whether or not this may affect that.

The light bulb moment was when I discovered her favorite dummy had cracked. At this stage, I said to myself “Well, I can either replace it and continue to encourage the paci, or I can wean her off now.” I decided to wean her off. I hid all the pacifiers in the house and opened the cupboard doors to show her that there are none left. I had expected her to give a little wail but.. nothing! So far so good.

Coincidentally, the day we started was right after a morning when little miss had gotten into trouble. She had not been listening and mom’s boundaries went up loud and clear. By nap time, she was tired and knew that another tantrum would put her back onto mommy’s stern side. So.. we continued our usual day nap routine – we read, we got her blankie (another comforter she can’t live without), tucked her in and I explained to her that there would be no more dummy. She looked at me and repeated “no dum dum”. And fell straight asleep!

That night was also a breeze, she went to sleep without protest AND without waking us up in the middle of the night to retrieve it when it fell out. WOW WOW! Husband and I just could not believe it.

On the second day, although she was just as compliant for the day nap, she protested for 20 minutes at bedtime. After we repeated in a soothing voice that there is no dummy, as we had given it to the baby next door, it did not seem to be working. So I told her in a slightly stern voice that meant ‘there is no point in arguing because there is no dummy”. We gave her a big hug and said “you can do it, big girl”.. Low and behold, she slept through the night again!

The third day nap was at grandma’s – probably not the best idea to do this so soon as she protested for 45 minutes. Well, I did not pack a paci so there was no way grandma would have one. She ended up sleeping her usual 2 hours and bedtime that night was smooth sailing.

I guess one of the biggest hurdles about change is action. It’s easy to say “just do it” but it’s often not that simple. If your toddler is happy, why change anything? Admittedly I felt a twinge of losing my baby to a big girl but it is our job as parents to decide what’s best for him/her and the results can astound even yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – our toddler is capable of so much more than we think.

Moving forward, there is no way we will give her the paci again. I am standing firm, so is hubby. Out of sight, out of mind. As the days and nights go by, the request will dwindle and she will continue to sleep like a big girl! Next challenge – moving to a new room and a new bed!

LoveS

It’s My Pregnancy and I Will Bottle Feed if I Want to.

During my first pregnancy, I was overwhelmed by advice from family, friends, medical bodies, magazines and forums. Overwhelmed, I ended my subscription to the last two halfway along. But it was hard to turn a deaf ear to family and friends who meant well. The big surprise was the conflicting advice given to me from certain medical bodies (hospital brochures, my doctor, and some nurses) about everything from giving birth to breast feeding to what is and is not a good reason to put a newborn in the hospital nursery. Sure they all meant well, but surely I have some say in what and how I wanted to handle my pregnancy and baby?

Cherry picked info in hand, I decided to have an elective caesarean, and bottle feed. The reasons for these are personal, which all mums to be are entitled to have. One of them being that I was simply not maternal and cannot for the life of me imagine pushing a baby out! I couldn’t even watch the video of the woman giving birth naturally in our ante-natal class. Eek!

I ran my elective caesar plan with my OB who immediately tried to talk me out of it, much to my dismay. “Do you realise that a C-Section is major surgery? Major.” Okay.. I suppose OB knows best. Let’s make a birth plan that consisted of little plan and an early epidural. I thought I saw a glimpse of rolling of my OB’s eyes.

Another surprise was when I had a guided tour of the hospital and it was full of posters of pacifiers with a big red cross on them. I could almost hear the speakers chanting “Say no to dummies. Say no to dummies”. The reasons were obvious I guess, but this would become one of those decisions you would make when the time comes.

I was then given a “Why Breast is Best” brochure, along with one on mastitis and other nasty looking photos. Yipes..

At the hospital, 10 days late and waiting to be induced, my body seem to just know what my mind and my heart wanted all along. It seem like they were conspiring for me to go through this as easy as possible, as it had meant to be. I went through 0 hours of labour, which I was 0 hours of pain.. and ended up having an emergency caesar anyway!

Contrary to what I had read and heard from other women who have had a C-Sect, I recovered well, walking around the next day. Of course this is different for all women, but as I’m sure as long as you’re in a good hospital, you’ll be in good hands.

The nurses and midwives were lovely at the hospital. They did encourage breast feeding and we did try to feed colostrum to our baby. However after trying for 15-20 minutes with lots of wailing and screaming, I put my foot down and demanded we give her formula. Well… this certainly worked as she was sound asleep within 2 minutes! She was on formula until the end of stage 2 – she has never had health issues, skin issues, allergens, etc. She is the healthiest baby I know and is now growing at such a rapid pace!

This time round, I found myself seeing a more understanding and supportive OB. We are booked for a C-Sect next March and am looking forward to a newborn BOY!

My message to all mums-to-be : stick to what you are comfortable with. As I experienced, the professionals are not always right, even though they mean well. At the end of the day it’s your pregnancy, your baby and you should make your experience the way YOU want it. Being in 10 hours of labour will not make you a better or worse parent. Your baby will love you no matter what!

LoveS

Can Anyone Else Relate…?

Being a stay at home mum is a demanding job, full of ups and downs. Like all careers, you need to LOVE what you’re doing, otherwise it’s pointless to do. My daughter has recently arrived at Terrible Two. Recently… So the affect is still in its early stages. One thing for certain – she loves to play on our bed. I make the bed every morning, along with other housely duties. But there is me making the bed, and then there’s how Ava made the bed..

One morning I noticed a lot of muffled giggling happening from the main bedroom. It turned out to be a small unrecognisable being covered in white quilt wriggling on my bed, having a joyous time. The room looked a wreck! Another time en route to putting laundry away, there was a line up of all our bed pillows and cushions on the floor in the hallway. Apparently that was a snowman. There was also the time when she got stuck in the quilt covers, fell off the bed and ripped the seams. There goes my 1500TC Egyptian cover.. Luckily I needed a new one anyway.

It’s these little things that make my mind go “AAGH” but my heart go =). I cannot imagine how I would have handled this as a non-mum babysitting another child. I love my chosen career and although it doesn’t give me financial benefits, it fulfills me in so many more ways. Especially when I get to anticipate a revenge…

My Dearest Ava
One day, when you have grown up and moved into your beautiful home, I will visit each morning to jump on your perfectly made bed and throw your perfectly fluffed pillows on the floor.
Then I will leave and repeat in the afternoon.
I do hope it will be as fun for me as it was for you ♥

LoveS

Pregnancy craving #3: Coconut

This is hands down the easiest and yummiest loaf you will ever make. EVER! If you have an easier loaf recipe, please share!

Sticky Pear and Coconut Loaf

1 ripe pear, peeled and sliced into chunks
1c desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
1c white sugar (I tend to take a little bit out when baking for my toddler)
1c self raising flour, sifted
1 1/2c milk

Preheat oven to 170C.

Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

Mix coconut, sugar and flour in a large bowl.
Pour in the milk and stir until well combined.
Gently fold the pear into the mixture and transfer into prepared pan.
Sprinkle with extra coconut.
Give the pan a couple of taps on kitchen bench and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

This loaf is beautiful served as is with a cup of tea, or with a spread of butter for extra naughtiness.

LoveS

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Pregnancy Craving #2 : GINGER

Well this is a craving I would welcome anytime! I certainly did not have ginger cravings with pregnancy number one.. definitely could not be better! As we all know, ginger has a myriad of health and pregnancy benefits. Ginger is a good fighter of nausea and morning sickness, and is a proven remedy for upset tummies. Ginger also contain zinc to assist in blood flow and improve skin clarity.

I tend to use ginger in soup broths, add some to my home made dumplings, or finely shred them into a stir fry. So full of flavour and goodness!

Here are some easy ginger recipes. They are all packed with protein, fiber and really nailed my craving! Pregnant or not, do give them a go!

Ginger Tea

Add a thick slice of peeled ginger to a drinking cup of fresh boiled water. Let it brew for a few minutes (depending on how strong you like it). If you wish, add a squirt of honey and/or lemon for a natural way to combat colds and flu!

Ginger and Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

200g sliced chicken breast
100g sugar snap peas
100g cauliflower florettes
Vegetable oil
1 finely diced onion
1 clove garlic
5cm piece of finely shredded ginger

Sauce:
50ml honey
2tsp sesame oil
1Tbs dark soy sauce
1tsp cornstarch, diluted with 2tsp water
60ml chicken or vegetable stock

*You can use other vegetables such as corn, broccoli or bell peppers.

Heat vegetable oil in wok or large skillet and cook chicken in batches until brown. Remove and set aside.

To make the sauce – combine diluted cornstarch with stock. Add honey, sesame oil and soy sauce and stir well.

In the same skillet, heat a bit more oil and slightly brown the onion. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes. Put the chicken back in to the skillet and stir in the sauce. Add the vegetables and cover for 1-2 minutes.

Serve with rice, and garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Chicken and Egg Donburi with Ginger

200g cubed chicken breast
1c chicken or vegetable stock
1 finely sliced onion
3cm piece of finely shredded ginger
2Tbs sugar
60ml Kikkoman soy sauce
50ml mirin or Chinese cooking wine (optional)
100g corn kernels
100g broccoli florets
50g shiitake or button mushrooms
2 eggs, whisked

Combine stock, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a saucepan. Heat on low until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, stir in the onions and ginger and the chicken. Reduce the heat again, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and cook (covered) for a further 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and slowly pour into the pot, over the entire mixture. Cover again and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Ps.. this dish is very popular with my 2 year old. We would often make it for lunch and have left over for her dinner that night.

Asian Broth with Ginger (serve with meat, vegetable and/or noodles)

1L good quality stock
3cm piece of sliced ginger
5 coriander roots
3Tbs Kikkoman soy sauce
3Tbs oyster sauce
A good dash of fish sauce
A good dash of Chinese cooking wine (optional)
1tsp of sugar

Combine stock, ginger and coriander roots in a pot, bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a further 3 minutes. Strain into another pot and add your vegetables or finely cubed meat, or simply ladle over cooked noodles.

Serve with fresh chilli, spring onion, coriander leaves and/or a squeeze of lime!

Chicken Egg & Ginger Donburi

Chicken Egg & Ginger Donburi

LoveS

Super Simple Choco Brownie. Pregnancy Craving #1.

So.. it has been a couple of weeks since my last blog. I have a good reason though – we are pregnant again! It’s been an interesting few weeks, figuring out the similarities and differences between my 2 pregnancies. Like the first, I crave chocolate and sweets even though I’m not a massive chocolate eater. Unlike the first, I am feeling tired ALL THE TIME! And hungry and thirsty constantly. Well, any excuse for an afternoon nap or snack I say!

Here is a foolproof super easy brownie of mine. It is so foolproof that I once left it in the oven too long and it still came out moist on the inside!

Super Simple Choco Brownie

125g butter at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
1cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2cup good quality cocoa powder (preferably one without added sugar), sifted
1/2cup plain flour, sifted
50g slivered almonds (optional)

*Sifting is optional but it does give a smoother result

Pre-heat oven to 170C. Grease and line a brownie pan or large, rectangular oven dish.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly add eggs. Mix thoroughly then fold in the cocoa, flour and nuts and combine well.

Transfer into pre-prepared pan and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.

Allow brownie to cool in pan before cutting them into squares.

Especially yummy served warm with vanilla ice cream!

photo 1

Smells amazing!

Smells amazing!

photo 3LoveS