The UK has the Lowest Rate of Breastfeeding in the World. (This one thing could help.)

There was much to-do last year when world breastfeeding rates were published in the media and the UK ranked as the lowest in the world.

Here are some of the figures released:

  • As of 2010, 81% of babies in the UK were breastfed at birth
  • At three months, the number of mothers in the UK breastfeeding exclusively was 17% and at four months, it was 12%
  • Exclusive breastfeeding at six months remains at around 1%
  • After one year, 0.5% of UK women is still doing any degree of breastfeeding. This compares with 23% in Germany, 56% in Brazil and 99% in Senegal

As you can see, it seems that the issue is not that women don’t want or try to breastfeed – there is a huge percentage starting off with breast. But the continuation rate for breastfeeding is shockingly low.

I’m currently on an extended trip to Taiwan – I’m here for about three months here in total where my baby will be 4-7 months – and I was amazed to learn how good the breastfeeding rates are here.

Rates in Taiwan:

  • In 2016, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months was 45.5%
  • This is above the global average of 38% and just short of the WHO’s 2025 goal of 50%.

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What has driven this high breastfeeding rate?

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Is an “Almost” Pain-free Birth Possible? Yes.

Like many women, I’m fascinated by reading and hearing others’ birth experiences. I want to know all the juicy details and absorb every second from the very beginning to the very  end.

However, whilst I’ve listened or read a gazillion negative ones, I’ve only ever heard three positive ones in my 30+ years on this earth. JUST. THREE. POSITIVE. ONES. (One was from my next day neighbour who told me she popped out her four kids “like peas”. That was a new one.)

positiveI’ve also watched far too many dramatic episodes of One Born Every Minute  and gawd do I wish I could erase those from memory. I’m adding my story to the mix to hopefully encourage any anxious mums-to-be, or anyone hoping to have children at any point, that giving birth doesn’t need to be feared – labour can and should be a beautiful thing.

It’s not always going to be of course, and complications are very real and sometimes uncontrollable, but there is a very real possibility that your experience could be a good one and you should know that.

*Spoiler alert*: mine was.

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Celebrating Baby’s First 100 Days

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G has made it to 100 days!

Perhaps more to the point, we have made it to 100 days!

In certain parts of Asia, namely China and Korea, the milestone of reaching 100 days is celebrated much like a child’s 1st birthday. It’s said that celebrating the first 100 days of life can lead to a 100 year lifespan. We decided to mark the occasion by going to Cambridge’s best Chinese restaurant with some friends who were visiting from Taiwan.

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Ok. So I totally failed to take a photo of the food to due to wayyyyy too much excitement and drooling over said food. But it was as greasy and delicious-looking as this beaut.

After stuffing our faces with a Chinese feast, we headed over to some friends’ for afternoon tea. Their daughter is 3 days older than G and born in the same hospital. We were complete pigs – all in the name of baby – and we devoured scones, macarons and ginger baby-shaped biscuits (only just realised the weirdness of that bit).

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A List of Very Useful Things to Do on Your Maternity Leave / In the Last Month of Pregnancy

10 (3)Ahh, the final month. It’s here! I’m finding that whilst I have plenty I want to do, I’m just not capable of doing it all (energy levels, lack of sleep, that whale of a bump). I’ve come to realise that I should listen to all the people telling me I should “rest”, and then I use the times when  I do have more energy to be productive. I hope you can find this balance, too.

Taking this time is really important to set yourself up for success in the first few weeks / months after the birth, and ready yourself mentally, as well as physically and practically, for all the changes ahead.

Here’s a list of things to shop for, along with things to do in these last few weeks before you get to meet your little one and life changes for the crazy better!

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Product Review: Freida’s Pantry Breastfeeding Bars

Yes, you read thfreidas barsat right: breastfeeding bars, not breastfeeding bras! Both staples in every new Mum’s arsenal, but perhaps you didn’t know about the former yet?

Well I’m here to show you the way, dear busy and tired and energy-less new Mummy! All courtesy of these yummy snacks from Freida’s Pantry.

Sometimes, you have to take in more calories than you feel like eating to stay healthy, whether it’s during pregnancy or afterwards. Sharon, the founder of Freida’s Pantry breastfeeding bars, had what she describes as a “traumatic birth experience” whereby she was left not being able to consume the necessary calories needed to breastfeed after birth. Breastfeeding can require up to 500 extra calories a day, and for those Mums like me who have smaller appetites and find big meals, erm, difficult to swallow, getting those extra cals can be a challenge.

nuts and seed barsBecause her under eating meant that she wasn’t producing enough milk, her midwives recommended that she top up her breastfeeding with formula milk, which is something Sharon didn’t want to do.

Luckily her Mum came to the rescue with a great post-birth and nutrient-rich recipe to help her recover from the birth, produce more milk and stay nourished for both her and her newborn.

That recipe, using ingredients and wisdom from Asian cuisine, would form the basis of the nut and seed bars she sells today. The varieties available are designed to encourage a healthy pregnancy, help women recover from birth, replenish energy levels and help establish breastfeeding and milk supplies afterwards.

My review of the bars + ingredients & nutritional info

I’m writing this from a more unusual perspective; at 36 weeks I’ve not popped the babe out yet, so I’m obviously not breastfeeding and can’t comment on the bars’ ability to help mothers lactate. (For testimonials on the bars increasing milk flow, see here.)

But I am enjoying the ‘Tasty & Nutritious Super Charged Bars‘ that are one of three products available, and I’m enjoying them on a regular basis! This one is specifically designed for pregnancy, and as any preggo knows, any help increasing energy during pregnancy is much appreciated!

At almost 200 calories a pop and with 10 grams of healthy fats (i.e. the kind you and your baby want not the kind you find in chips and cake), they are also a great way to up my nutritional requirements without having to resort to nutrition-less food or giving myself a poorly tummy from eating too big a meal.

The taste test

The bars have a great texture – not too chewy, not too crunchy, just a good mix of both which makes for a satisfying munch. They are also healthy tasting without being boring – i.e. the sweetness level is just right and satisfies the mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack attacks that I tend to suffer from 😉

The Feeding Food bars have fennel in them, which is quite a strong taste and one that I know some people don’t prefer. I will lap up anything licoricey and like the unusual flavour, but it’s something to think about it you don’t  particularly like that taste.

Ingredients + Nutritional info

All ingredients are ethically sourced, and are organic where possible.

Super Charged Food Bars – A mix of oats, seeds, almonds, oil, quinoa, pistachios, raisins and goji berries. 186 calories, 9.7g fat (0.9g saturated), 4.4g protein per bar.

Feeding Food – Oats, nuts, raisins, linseeds, oil, quinoa, sunflower kernels, chia and fennel seeds. 186 calories, 9.4g fat (0.8g saturated), 4.2g protein per bar.

Overall Verdict

I love the philosophy behind Freida’s Pantry, and definitely see a market for a nutrition-packed product that is nourishing whilst also filling and especially crafted for Mums-to-be and new Mums. My go-to snack is usually a cereal bar, but I know that most on the market are really just glorified biscuits, with very little in the way of nourishment or sustenance.

BREASTFEEDING BARS (2)These bars, on the other hand, are packed full of ingredients that both Mum and baby can benefit from, and I’m really excited to try the breastfeeding bars once baby is born and I need an extra boost to help encourage healthy milk supplies. I think these bars will go far!

Whatever stage of the journey you’re at, there’s a bar for you – Fertility, Super Charged (for pregnancy and beyond) and Breastfeeding. You can shop the range – or order a monthly subscription – here. 

Disclaimer: I was sent a box of Freida’s bars in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own; I only endorse products and companies I like. 

Dear baby (a letter to my unborn child)

Hi baby. Are you ok in there? You’re certainly wriggling around and letting me know when you’re not comfortable. I’ve learned not to rest my book on my belly when I’m reading, or stand too close to the saucepan when I cook, because you don’t seem to like that. You do seem to like loud music and when I work out in the mornings. Perhaps you’ll be a dancer or a musician.

Dear baby, I’m still calling you “baby” because we don’t know whether you’re a sweet little girl or boy yet. If you’re a boy, I need you to help me choose your name. You have no idea the number of hours I have struggled with this. Give me a sign when I meet you, ok? But if you’re a girl, I know exactly what I want to call you, though I know all that might change when I see your face. When I see your face! I absolutely can’t wait. Every day is one step closer to cuddling with you.

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Your daddy is especially excited about the cuddling part – he keeps making space for a fictional you when we’re curled up in bed. He held another baby girl last weekend at a wedding, and he looked equal parts delighted and terrified. I know he’ll be great though, if not a little nervous at times about your safety. I’ll make sure he doesn’t completely cover you in bubble wrap though. My wish for you is a life full of adventure and experiences.

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