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This blog is for sharing interesting information about yoga, pregnancy, birth, parenting and anything else I think you might be interested in!


I will also post related local events here.

By Tessa of, Nov 10 2017 02:27PM

Dear women, this guest blog comes from Tracey Montford of Cake Maternity: a company who sells gorgeous maternity bras with lovely photos of real sized women! She says...

Can exercising affect my breast milk?

The short answer is no [Tessa's edit: but please make sure breastfeeding is established first]. It was commonly thought that lactic acid builds up in breast milk after strenuous exercise. Women were advised to wait up to 90 minutes before breastfeeding.

This theory is now being questioned, as there is no real evidence to support it. As long as mother and baby are comfortable feeding immediately after exercise, it is perfectly fine.

TIP: It is advised to breastfeed or pump before exercise to help reduce the weight of your breasts to ensure greater comfort levels and less bounce.

Feeding baby before exercise will also mean you’d be less likely to be disturbed by a hungry baby part way through your workout.

What are the benefits of wearing a sports bra?

Sports bras are designed for a purpose – to limit movement. Their construction is unique and often complicated.

Avoid wearing your regular bras while exercising. They are not designed in the same way and will not provide the much needed support your breasts need.

You breasts will bounce more and ligament damage is more likely to occur, not to mention the pain and discomfort you could experience.

Nursing sports bra vs Normal sports bra

The benefit of wearing a nursing sports bra over a regular sports bra is that they have been purposefully designed to avoid compression, whilst providing support. The top cups are also designed to avoid cutting into the breast tissue.

One-hand drop down cups also allow you to breastfeed discretely and effectively without removing half your gear. If you are out and about this is super convenient and will help to avoid stress and anxiety.

Choosing the right one for you?

There are a number of different types of sports bras in the market place. It is important to wear the correct type for the type of exercise you are doing.

Low impact sports bra

Low impact exercise includes, Yoga, Pilates, stretching, weights and walking.

Related: Helping women to exercise safely postnatally

A low impact sports bra is commonly wire free and is made from a seamless type fabric. It has lower levels of support and is usually a simple crop top design with a racer back.

A low impact sports bra should be comfortable and should allow for ease of movement.

Whilst it is not super supportive it should hold your breasts in position and provide some lift.

Medium to High impact sports bra

High impact exercise includes, aerobic classes, boxing or martial arts, running or any other form of exercise that includes bouncing and vigorous amounts of movement.

High impact sports bras are highly constructed and are designed to support and hold the bust in place.

A minimal amount of bounce is achieved through the fabrications, wide padded straps, flexible wire, J hook back strap support, wide back bands, bounce minimizing panels and high center front support.

High Impact sports bras will feel firm and supportive and will not be comfortable for all day wear.

Finding the right fit

Selecting the right high impact sports bra will mean you will no longer need to wear more than one bra at the time.

Take your time in choosing as not all bras will suit your body type.

Visit your local maternity bra specialist and get fitted for your bra. Wait until you are at least 6 weeks postpartum before purchasing the bra. By this stage your body will have learnt to regulate your milk supply. This will help to achieve the optimum fit.

TIP: You get what you pay for. Invest in a good quality bra. It is less likely to stretch and will provide you with an extended period of use.

The competition is to win a Tea Non Wire Bra ( Please like and share the post on FB (, and email [email protected] with COMPETITION in the title so I can contact the winner. Competition deadline is 10th December 2017. Please note the bra can only be posted to an address in the UK.

By Tessa of, Oct 16 2017 10:28AM

In previous blogs, I have written about how we can prevent tears in the perineum (and deeper) through perineal massage, positioning, squats to keep the perineal tissue elastic, asking the midwife for a warm compress as your baby's head emerges and more.

However, sometimesdepsite everyone's best efforts a mum will sustain a tear (of different magnitudes). In this short blog, I list the suggestions I received for a mum struggling with healing an episiotomy from a specialist antenatal and postnatal group of professionals that I belong to. However, many of the suggestions will also be useful for those who healed from a minor tear and some also for those with a casearean scar.

The suggestions are in no particular order. I suggest you read through and see what you are most drawn to as the list is quite long and could feel overwhelming for a new mum struggling with physical challenges. I have given suggestions for specialists local to Reading, Berkshire, if you are elsewhere please ask your peers for recommendations.

- Lots of suggestions for healing herbs. I recommend Sarah Smith ( as she is a doula as well

-Push for a referral to an obstetric physiotherapist or recommended postnatal physio or chiropractor (e.g. Kelly at Dynamic Family Chiropractic)

- Get a valley cushion (e.g. through NCT - they hire them out) to make sitting more comfy

-This type of healing is very slow - months rather than weeks - take pain relief e.g. diclofenic / voltarol (PR) suppository can be prescribed

- Sitz bath in oat straw (Sarah above could help with where to source)

- Apply a compress with recommended Naturally Birthing Company's Pure Bliss Soothing Postnatal Compress Solution.

- Castor oil packs on the tummy (there is lots of advice online for these - start with only a short amount of time)

- Yoni (womb) steam once stitches healed and lochia stopped - again Sarah call help with the right herbs to use to aid healing

- Once stitches have healed, massaging scar tissue (Sophie is trained to do myofascial release for the pelvic floor muscles and to release tension around episitomy scars, and to massage casearean scars

- Once stitches have healed, visiting Holistic Pelvic Care practitioner (I recommend and have visited with Rachel - see 

- For more complicated healing issues after episiotomy, or prolapse or incontinence, please contact me for signposting to a well recommended professional. Please don't put up with a situation that is getting you down or physically stopping you getting out the house.

- Nourishing food - get family to prepare meals

- Lots of rest (I know this is difficult with a small baby, but stay in your nest as long as possible getting friends to come to you when you need to see a friendly face).

- Go through notes with consultant midwife or independent midwife if it was a challenging birth and you need to understand why you are in the situation you are in (e.g. Kathryn Weymouth)

Hopefully there are some suggestions there for whatever level of healing is required. PLEASE do not put up with something if it is not feeling right, just because it is 'down there'. Incontinence, prolapse, excess scar tissue etc are common but not normal so please seek help. Do get in touch if you have a suggestion to add or need further signposting at [email protected]

By Tessa of, Aug 2 2017 10:49AM

Short version: When a baby appears needier than others, it may be that they are a ‘highly sensitive person’ (HSP), which can have many benefits in later life. It can mean that as a parent your role is to protect your little one from being easily overstimulated and as they grow older help them to explore new situations from a place of safety. Living with highly sensitive babies can feel exhausting and make you wonder if you did something wrong, so this article explores some ways to do this and hopefully gives a sense that your instinctive way to react is exactly right. Most of all you need to know you are not alone.

In-depth version:

You may not label your baby as needy, but perhaps other have. Does your baby seem to need more cuddles? Not sleep well, either in the day or at night (or exhaustingly during neither)? Does s/he appear to cry more than others in your mama circle? What about pumping and flexing their limbs vigorously or arching their backs as if trying to get away from something? Even if not, I ask you to read on for those that do have a baby like this so you can support them through the first difficult year. My first daughter was like this, and having felt like a zombie for the first 11 months and felt at times so overwhelmed, I empathise deeply with the mums going through this who come to my Mother & Baby Yoga classes.

You may not have come across the term ‘highly sensitive person’ (HSP), but there is increasing research about this trait both in adults and children (and animals). Elaine Aron was a pioneer in writing about this trait (and I thoroughly recommend her book), which is estimated to affect 20% of the population, equally amongst males and females. That means that out of your meet up with nine other mamas, potentially two of you and two of your babies could be highly sensitive. It is most likely inherited from one or both parents, or may be enhanced through circumstance, such as being born prematurely.

What is meant by highly sensitive? It might be that you, or your baby, are sensitive to noise or too many people in a room, or that you pick up on everyone’s emotion and are so busy digesting what you are feeling that you are tired afterwards. Essentially, an HSP is more easily aroused by anything around them, especially new stimulation, and their nervous system is likely to be overloaded more quickly.

Being highly sensitive can have both drawbacks and benefits. Some HSPs may be labelled “shy”, “introverted”, “slow to get going”, a “cry baby”, but often what is happening is that they are deeply processing what is going on and more likely to feel overwhelmed. (Boy, did I get so fed up of being told I was shy as a child when I really felt I wasn’t, I was just thinking about things before I was ready to speak.) The positives include that they can be extremely creative, good leaders because they understand what others are feeling, empathetic, and deep thinkers.

You might recognise some of this for yourself, or for someone you know, but what does it mean for a baby? If you imagine in the first weeks of life outside the womb, a baby is in a totally new environment. If you are genetically programmed as highly sensitive this can be an even more intense experience. Since you cannot talk to your parents, you can only express any overwhelm through ‘negative’ expressions such as increased crying, irritability or discomfort.

Newborns cannot distinguish between sensations from inside the body and those outside. So a feeling of hunger could be experienced as a pain or unknown danger. Elaine Aron uses the analogy of a storm brewing where the newborn is taken out on a trip. Just imagine your baby starts to feel a sensation building and intensifying (hunger), then noise from the people outside the pram is added, bumping over the curb is added, the jiggling of the pram toy over their eyes, the glinting of the sun, a siren, an uncomfortable fold of coat under the back, a child pulling your hand….. it all becomes too much and the overstimulated and overtired baby cannot be soothed by any means.

As your child gets older, the reaction may change, partly depending on the parents’ reactions. By two months old the behavioural-activation system is functional so if you highly sensitive baby with high activation you’ll have an easily angered baby, but if you have highly sensitive with low activation you may appear to have a placid and ‘good’ baby at this age, but they may be withdrawing as a way of protecting themselves from overstimulation.

At six months old, the automatic ‘pause-to-check system’ comes online. Your child will be able to feel fear if past upsetting experiences matches what is happening currently. This may make him more hesitant about new situations, but if the parent can provide a buffer (e.g. limiting the time with this new stimulation, ready with a big familiar hug, ready to leave early) your child will be able to find ways to work with their enhanced pause-to-check system. If a sensitive child is constantly pushed beyond their capacity, it may be that the system becomes too dominant and it leads to pause-to-do-nothing-new reaction and your child appears withdrawn.

By ten months, a child has the ability to decide how to experience something or to stop a behaviour, for example, to override caution to join in with something (e.g. banging an instrument at noisy rhymetime). This is helped by social support, that is, your child has learnt to imitate what others have done to manage their sensitivity. Those with sensitive boys may need to work extra hard at this because our culture expects boys not to be ‘cry babies’, to ‘fight your own fight’, to ‘man up’ etc – you get the picture. By the time of pre-school and particularly starting school, a parent may feel under pressure to get their child ‘school ready’ and worry that they have been overprotective. I think that if 20% of a class are highly sensitive we need to be having conversations with staff to make them aware of this trait and how to support those children (purely not labelling them as shy would be a big support).

Unfortunately, when you have a so called ‘needy’ baby you are likely to get all sorts of unsolicited advice about “not making a rod to break your back” (whether it’s cuddling or feeding them to sleep), “leaving my baby to cry never did my child any harm” etc etc. The research shows that if we can be aware of this potential for overstimulation and provide a buffer, the baby will grow into a child and then an adult who can do this for themselves and enjoy the gifts of being highly sensitive. If, however, we push babies and children to withdraw themselves in order to protect themselves from overstimulation, they may at best appear introverted and at the worst be set up for a lifetime of not feeling that they fit in or that there is something wrong with them, perhaps leading to anxiety and depression. (Obviously, this is an oversimplification since there are so many environmental and social factors affecting the adult that they will become.)

So what if you think your baby or child could be highly sensitive? Attachment parenting makes sense because you are keeping your infant close, where they can feel safe with what is familiar to them. As they grow, you provide the safety from which to explore without becoming overstimulated. Perhaps you know half an hour at rhymetime is enough stimulation for your baby and you leave slightly early, or as they get older stay only an hour at soft play with quiet time afterwards, or a big encompassing hug if it all starts to get too much. The basic need is that your infant is held and protected from overstimulation.

Practical suggestions would be:

*baby wearing (following the TICKS rule for safety)

*learning what is overstimulating for your specific child

*limiting stimulating environments (or at least new stimulating environments) without being overprotecting

*walking in nature

*recognising the overstimulation cues for your baby (e.g. breaking eye contact after holding it)

*talking in a low, soothing voice with familiar phrases or singing familiar lullabies

*explaining to others that more stimulation (jiggling your baby around) will not ‘cheer’ her up

*if a baby won’t sleep, staying with them in a darkened room with less stimulation and resting yourself! (NB. often sensitive children find theatres and cinemas overwhelming places)

*use blankets to cover the crib (making sure that they are safely secured) to cut out stimulation

*co-sleep so they have your physical presence (see ISIS online for co-sleeping research and guidance)

*breastfeeding to sleep (NB it is not safe to leave a sleepy baby alone with a bottle)

You may well have done those things instinctively, but the important thing is not to feel that you are pandering to your baby’s needs or that you have caused the sensitivity by doing something wrong: you are responding in a nurturing and appropriate way. However, this extra care can be tiring, so what is also important is how you look after yourself when caring for a sensitive child, especially if you realise you are highly sensitive too. I soon learnt not to pack too much into a day. One activity (visiting a friend OR going food shopping OR attending a playgroup) meant that we both did not get overstimulated (me by a fractious baby!).

With a subsequent child, this can be harder to manage because you have their schedule to work around too. It is totally ok to not attend a planned event if you have had an exhausting night – catching up on sleep is a priority if you are to be able to protect your infant from overstimulation. Find a buddy that has a similar experience with their child so you know there is someone just a text away who can truly empathise. If you don’t have family at hand who can lend support, perhaps think about finding someone nurturing and trusted who can become a regular babysitter. Maybe once a week they come to your home where your baby is in familiar surroundings so you can do something to nurture yourself – attend a yoga class, go for a walk in nature, or simply a quiet tea in a café while you breathe out slowly. (Perhaps you can do this with your buddy – looking after your two six month olds one week, and having your turn to care for yourself the next week.)

Be reassured that as your child grows, a sound and nurturing home environment encourages your little person to express their sensitivity and the more difficult aspects of their personality as they learn to manage them, but this will be rewarded with a deeply thinking child who will surprise you at every turn. Of course, we need a mixture of people in a family so those that are not highly sensitive provide important stability and other qualities to be cherished. Using Compassionate Communication (or Non-Violent Communication) can help different types of personalities understand each other, but that’s another blog…

Other suggestions if you are highly sensitive or are parting a highly sensitive child

Treat yourself to a subscription to Juno magazine, where there are lots of parents using a gentle approach and feel that you are part of a wonderful community.

Join an Attachment Parenting group on Facebook and/or attend local meetings

Watch the film Sensitive: An Untold Story

Read Elaine Aron’s books e.g. The Highly Sensitive Person (also available as an audiobook for while you’re feeding your baby!)

By Tessa of, Jul 8 2017 05:20PM

Many congratulations to Jennie and Craig on the arrival of their baby son! Here is his birth story, which beautifully illustrates how when you know all the options availabe to you, you can make positive decisions as birth takes a very different direction than planned and still feel in control. Make sure to read the tips that Jennie has given you at the end of the story. There are lots of organisations out there that will support you in getting the best care for you and your baby.

Jennie says "After having made all the arrangements to have a home birth for our first baby, inevitably our 'plans' went out the window when at 36 weeks we established Noah was in the Frank breech postion (folded like a V shape). The home birth team were no longer able to support me and RBH more generally would only offer me an elective caesarean due to their staff's lack of experience and confidence in delivering breech babies naturally. 

I tried everything (spinning babies, moxibustion, acupuncture, ECV, visualisation) between 36 weeks and his birth to get Noah to turn but he is clearly stubborn like his mum and lazy like his dad as he didn't budge a centimetre. 

Being the dog with a bone that I am, I researched all our options and quickly established there was no reason we could not attempt for a vaginal breech birth (it was as safe, Noah was in best position, etc) except finding the care provider with the right experience to support us. After a 3 week battle with NHS trusts we got the agreement that the John Radcliffe would accept the transfer of our care to their specialist breech team who support VBBs.

I met a couple of their amazing staff for my transfer appointment on 29th June and clarified our plan, and I strongly suspect that it was after this meeting and knowing things were sorted out that my body relaxed enough for Noah to feel safe enough to make his way.

So, Saturday early hours of the morning i began to have 'tightenings' that were like strong period pains. I noticed them but assumed that it was just Braxton Hicks upping their anti. I attended yoga and a baby first aid course that day without any real issue. Then by 9pm Saturday I was getting suspicious as the tightenings were coming regularly (approx every 6 minutes for 40 secs) and were a bit stronger so I used some breathing techniques at times. I began to time them, and then accepted I was perhaps in early stages of labour (and had been all Saturday).

Sunday morning I suspected things had died off a bit, as tightenings were more sporadic. However low and behold at 8.30am I felt a pop whilst laying in bed and when I stood up my waters had broken! By 9.30am contractions were every 5 mins and stronger so I put my TENS machine on and we set off for Oxford (midwives didnt want to delay me coming in with him being breech).

When I arrived at the John Radcliffe contractions were every 2-3 minutes, and a continued to labour for approx another 8 hours. I only ever used the TENS machine and a birth pool for pain relief and I put this down to the breathing techniques, birth affirmations and education I had learnt and practised during pregnancy both at yoga and antenatal classes. The midwives made comments throughout my labour about how calm and in control I was, just breathing through contractions. I was very quiet and 'in the zone'.

It was funny as at various points in labour I could hear Tessa reminding me to keep breathing, imagine the golden thread/rope/chain, to keep jaw lose, and commenting things like "I trust my body and my baby to work together", which I really believed. I stayed mostly kneeling or on all fours, as it helped reserve energy but also meant I could do a lot of rocking, swaying and almost 'dancing' with my hips.

I had a really hands off labour with no examinations or interventions until the very end, when it was confirmed I was 10cm dilated but despite everyone's best efforts (and all my energy) Noah would just not come down into the birth canal. They could see his buttocks appearing when i contracted but then he would disappear again. After over an hour of my body pushing for him, we all agreed that something was stopping him from coming down and that a c-section was the right option (assisted delivery not an option with breech babies). 

I was lucky to have an amazing consultant and midwives who respected and advocated for all my wishes for a more gentle c-section, so Noah was eventually born at 7.39pm with delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin (where he stayed for the whole op), no cleaning, minimal noise, lowered screen so we saw his sex for ourselves, and not being taken to be weighed until I was all stitched up. 

Noah is gorgeous and I have absolutely no regrets about the way his birth ended up. The fight at the end of pregnancy was worth it as the whole labour was an amazing, positive experience and not one to be scared of.

The morals of this (very long) birth story that I wanted to share are:

-do your research.

-fight for your wishes as it's your body, your birth and your baby.

-accept that there is no 'right' way to birth your baby.

-your baby and body know what they are doing, and sometimes it is not aligned with what you may want! However, trust them.

-put in serious commitment to learning and practicing breathing techniques if you want to avoid other types of pain relief.

-listen to Tessa, she knows her stuff!! Keep breathing, keep calm and keep moving."

What an amazing story. 'Gentle caesarean' is increasingly being recognised as a mum- and baby-friendly approach, including the practice of seeding the microbiome (see article in the Guardian here, an article by the Positive Birth Movement here, and in Huffington Post with links to the Microbiome movie here) .

I can't wait to meet Noah! What a super cutie :)

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