Darlo – A Little Giving

 

IMG_8132In India, 1 in every 3 children is malnourished according to Unicef. When you grow up in India, it is very easy to become indifferent and unaffected with all the poverty around you. But not to a new pair of eyes from a different country.

In 2012, when Chloe went on her holiday to India, she was shocked by the lack of basic sustenance available to children. On her return back to the UK, she spoke to her partner (now husband) Jim and decided to give birth to her brainchild. Every purchase from Darlo contribute’s to a week’s worth of school meal for a child in India. Darlo works in partnership with The Akshaya Patra Foundation who organise and run mid-day meal scheme in schools. For some families, meals might be a good & only excuse to send their kids to school than leave them to beg on the streets. Children, invariably also get education which will only benefit them in their future.

Bubble 438Set up in 2014, Darlo has already contributed over 1000 weeks of meals in India. When I went to the Baby Show in early 2016 with my 7 months old pregnant belly, my husband met Jim and was completely inspired by their little enterprise. My husband knew that here’s a company I would totally like to associate myself with. We brought a few clothes for our baby and Chloe also sent us some goodies to try on. Ever since I learnt about Darlo, I knew I was going to spread the word about their good work and so here I am!

Darlo makes clothing for babies. All their clothing is organic and ethically made. Even the cotton used has no pesticides, insecticides or chemicals. Did you know that cotton farming uses 16% of world’s insecticides, pesticides and herbicides? By choosing organic, we contribute to cleaner air and water to the farmers and their surrounding areas.

Darlo made it to the beach in Margate

Darlo made it to the beach in Margate

We received a set of coral and mint coloured joggers and a matching t-shirt. The material is so soft to touch and the bright colours only brightens up my baby’s features.  We often struggle with high street brands when it comes to trousers as they don’t fit very well around cloth nappies. But Darlo joggers are very wide, perfect for a cloth nappy bum. The drawstrings (not the fake ones as many high street joggers have) make it easier to achieve the perfect fit. The t-shirts have two poppers on the shoulders making the neck wide enough to put on the baby without gagging him.

We received so many compliments when Baby Roshan was wearing this set. This set is our go to apparel for Roshan. Everytime someone came to see him, I think I have dressed him in this set just because he looks extra scrumptious in it. Roshan seems so comfortable in it. Because it is made out of organic cotton, it is not only good as a summer wear; but also good for those cooler nights due to the long sleeves. I am about to order more of these for the winter coming up.

I love supporting small companies like Darlo. For me, it is an easy way to making a difference. In today’s time when money is tight, like many, I often find reasons to spend my money on MY needs than to put some cash aside for charity. With a new baby, every disposable cash I would have I’d want to spend it on cute baby stuff. I know it is selfish, but I am sure everyone would know the feeling. Hence, Darlo is my saviour. I can buy organic and ethical stuff for my baby knowing that it is not only keeping my baby comfortable but also keeping hundreds of children well-fed and nourished!

To find out more about Darlo’s ethical babywear and one feed one philosophy checkout their website: http://www.alittlegiving.com/

p.S: All my readers will get a whopping 50% off their purchases with the code “alittlegiving”.

 

Irene’s 8th Birthday

Irene was 8 years old on 14th of August. We decided to have a family birthday this year. Her birthday falls in the middle of summer holidays, hence if we aren’t super organised it is usually very hard to assemble and gather any of her friends together as most of them tend to be on their holidays away. Luckily, for Irene little is more and she always finds happiness is whatever she is given. She is one grateful child and ofcourse we are grateful for them!

It has been 6 glorious years that I have been her mother. I have enjoyed every bit of it. I still remember the tiny little 2 year old, who was waiting at the railway station on a very cold winters day at Stourbridge with her 4 year old over excited brother to see “daddy’s friend”. We DID NOT hit it off right away unlike with her brother, who thought I was a princess and loved me right away.

Irene was shy (she still is), slightly nervous which came across as being grumpy and the only few phrases she loved saying in Korean was, “Sheeroh” or something like that which meant, “I hate it” or “I don’t like it”. And “Aneeyah” meaning “No” and ofcourse, “Anaajoh” meaning “pick me up and cuddle me”. It took a good few days before she gave us a smile and a hearty laugh and I was pleased that it was me who got it out of her. Ever since that day onwards, it has always been a not such a straightforward journey with Irene. We always get through things eventually but can never be on top of things. She is although very sociable, she is also an introvert. Today, when I think of all those six years that we have been together, I wish for a future full of immense confidence and strength in her. I hope she can always find a way to express herself openly and realise her dreams because I know she has an enormous amount of will and determination to make them all come true. As a parent, I hope we can provide her with tools to grow into a strong woman who can stand for herself and many others.

This has been a very special year for Irene. She became a big sister, and what a good one she is! She made us so proud with all her endeavour towards cross – country runs wherein she came 23rd amongst hundreds. She is taking her violin lessons and practices religiously. She makes us so proud. She is beautiful, charming and very kind at heart. What more could I want as a mother of an 8 year old.

For her birthday, we simply had a family breakfast, walk with the dogs, visit to the air show in Herne Bay and a meal together. It was a very good day and she was so content (or so it seemed)!

IMG_8330

When she arrived downstairs to clean her teeth, she heard us singing and was totally taken aback by the preparations. Her face, bless her!

 

IMG_8337

 

IMG_8351

Hoola Hoop expert

 

IMG_8356

Grandma trying the hoola hoop

 

IMG_8378

Hoola Hoop was pretty popular and family friendly present

IMG_8370

My three babies – complete family!

 

IMG_8390

We do pancakes every weekend, but not American style with Berry compote. This went down a treat!

 

IMG_8414

Air Show – Herne Bay

 

IMG_8419

Rudy Warmar and the Heavy Weather

 

IMG_8424

Air Show – Herne Bay

 

IMG_8439

Air Show – Herne Bay

 

IMG_8453

Air Show – Herne Bay

 

IMG_8456

Irene wanted a banana cake for her birthday. I told you, she is an easy kid!

LANA Care For Mummy And Baby

lana care

The very first garment that touched my baby after he was born was made of organic merino wool by Lana Care.

When I was pregnant, Lana Care asked me if they could send me some woollen breast pads to try on. Now anyone who knows me will very well know that I am very careful about which brands I associate myself with and that I try my best to survive on products manufactured with a very high ethical value and are sustainable. I am in short a nature loving person and I like things to be as eco-friendly as possible. So when Lana Care offered me goodies, I simply couldn’t resist.

Lana Care is a small Danish company manufacturing a range of products for mothers and babies. Their product is made of world class organic merino wool

Lana Care, sent me a pair of breast pads, little booties and a bonnet for my little bub. I thought that was extremely generous of them. I was not expecting goodies for the baby at all. So that was a very pleasant surprise. On arrival, I was so impressed with the products. They were so soft and smelt so clean and pure. It basically smelt of nothing, not even of new fabric out of the factory (if you know what I mean). I could not wait to try them on my baby and myself. Infact, I was so desperate to use the breastpads, I was secretly hoping to leak a little as a lot of pregnant women apparently do.

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about wool before. And, that is because I had no idea about this exquisite breed of sheep called Merino. I was also a little apprehensive about wool in general because I was having a spring baby. Somehow, when you think of spring you think cotton and linen NOT wool. But on doing further research, I learnt that wool especially a high quality wool like Merino has a unique quality of controlling body temperature in such a way that it keeps you warm in cold weather (as we all know) but it also keeps you cool in warm weather. So it is like having an in-built air-conditioning in your clothing.

Why Lana Care?

Pure:

Because they love and care for their sheep. They do not use any pesticides on the pastures on which the sheep graze, they don’t spray any harsh chemicals on the wool nor do they treat the wool. The merino wool is as pure and natural as can be.

Mulesing Free:

For those who aren’t aware (I wasn’t),  mulesing is a very crude way of vaccinating the sheep to prevent them from a fly strike. Lana Care is strictly against this procedure, which I love!

Soft and Comfortable:

Merino Wool itself is very soft and fine. But Lana Care stitches the seams of it’s products on the outside, preventing them to rub directly on to the skin making it very soft on baby skin or sore boobs. Unlike other wool, merino wool is very soft and does not cause any itchiness to the skin, perfect for sensitive or eczema prone skin!

Let’s have a look at the products:

Bonnet:

IMG_6922These little caps/bonnets are the cutest things I have in my baby’s wardrobe. I am a very big fan of bonnets on babies. Lana Care’s bonnet was the first thing my baby wore to keep him warm. My baby was born very small. He needed to be kept extra warm, and although I was skeptical about using wool on him before, I was actually thankful that I had them handy. They kept my baby nice and warm.

Over the next few weeks, I noticed how well my baby slept when wearing them. I think that was because it helped regulate his body temperature better. It kept him cool when too hot and vice-versa.

I was also very happy with the choice of colour – pale yellow. It was a soothing reminder of spring in it’s glory awaiting the summer.

Booties:

lanaThese booties make me go ‘awww’ everytime. The soft green colour reminds me of the clean pastures on which the sheep graze on. These booties were my baby’s sock alternative. Newborn babies tend to have very cold feet and hands. As a new mother, no matter how many times the midwives reassure you that it is normal you want to make sure that they remain warm like yours. The risk is over-heating them by covering them up too much especially if you have a spring/summer baby. This is when these booties came handy. I used to pop them on everytime he wasn’t being swaddled to keep those little toes warm. I did it confidently even on a relatively warm day because I knew there was no risk of over-heating as they would keep him cool if his body temperature sore up.

Sizing of these boots are very practical. My baby was born small and hence had very tiny feet. None of the clothes we brought for him fit him. But these booties were a great fit. Although the boots had a lot of space in them to be filled, the woollen strings helped keep the booties on his feet nice and snug without coming off. Another miraculous thing about Merino wool I found was that they have a natural elasticity to them. So even now at week 16, when my baby should have grown out of these booties, these boots have enough give in them to last him for another few weeks (bear in mind my baby has stayed in these longer partly due to his small stature).

BreastPads:

Copyrights: woolykids.com

Copyrights: woolykids.com

Breast pads were my breast-friends for a while, I have to say. They are super soft, completely breatheable, extremely absorbent and totally reusable.

The sizing of the breast pads are on the larger side I would say. I was sent a size small, and they fit charmingly on my C sized cups.

Although extremely absorbent (of sweat in my case), these breast pads do a lot more than simply absorbing moisture. I had/have no problems with leaking yet but I suffered badly with soreness on my nips nonetheless. I had cracked nipples for a while, then a recurring bleb and sore lumps from engorgement in the first few weeks.

The soft wool helped sooth my sore boobs a lot. A lot of nursing mothers would relate to hard nipples. Double it up with a crack or a bleb, have it rubbing against your t-shirt or a bra? Even worse your disposable paper/plastic breast pads = OUCH! Not with Lana Care’s BreastPads!

These reusable breast pads have natural lanolin in them. it means that you don’t necessarily have to apply additional lanolin on your nips to heal and sooth your soreness.

All the products are very easy to wash and requires minimum maintenance. I can’t wait to try them out in autumn/winter now. I am an absolute wool convert and a merino snob !

My Breastfeeding Journey

20160622_182703 (1)

My breastfeeding journey started long before I found out that I was pregnant. I have two step-children who have been with me since they were toddlers. Although, we bonded very closely and we have unconditional love for each other; there was always this empty feeling inside of me as I am sure is in them when we think and talk of their infancy. There are no memories or pictures of me holding them close as babies, or of those early days of breastfeeding, cuddling up and connecting at a very different spiritual level. We have worked very hard to establish an unbreakable relationship nonetheless.

I knew the joys of breastfeeding from a perspective of a child too. I was breastfed for 8 years of my early life and my bond with my mother is something that is desired by many. Apart from my bond with my mother, my immune system is (touchwood) also something to be desired by many. It was very important for me to breastfeed my baby due to the above two reasons.

I did a lot of reading on breastfeeding when I was pregnant. One of the books that I read page to page was Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding. I found it very very helpful in preparing me for those early days of breastfeeding when you haven’t established the feeding completely.

It was the need for achieving perfect breastfeeding experience that I chose to try and have an unmedicated birth (read about it here), and I feel extremely lucky that my labour went smoothly and baby Roshan was born safely without any medical intervention of any kind. Soon after the birth, we had skin to skin with both my husband and myself and within the first 1 hour, he was latched on to my breasts like a pro. It was magical. I was amazed at this newborn spirits ability to feed so naturally. With every tingle of his suck, I felt an overwhelming joy running through my body.

We had a homebirth and so it was easier to establish breastfeeding because as soon as the midwives left, I was left alone with the baby to feed him and bond with him in my own comfort zone. At this point, I would also like to tell people about the importance of having a very supportive partner. My husband was always very supportive of my approach towards everything natural, whether it was my choice to have a homebirth, delayed cord-cutting, freezing the placenta, skin to skin with both parents to breastfeeding. He was happy to run up to the pharmacy at 10pm in the night to get me some breast pads, youtube latching techniques etc. Having my mother also helped me a lot get through a lot of hurdles. Her years of experience paved way for my healthy breastfeeding journey.

Hurdles, although not many, were there in the early days of my breastfeeding journey. My baby was small at 2.5kgs at birth. His mouth was small and so although it seemed like he had the perfect latch, it was a perfect latch for his size which was still small for my breasts. Also, he was so so sleepy (he could have stayed in for another 2 weeks or so to be fair) his latch would get a bit lazy from time to time. Hence, I ended up with cracked nipples. My friend Ashleigh brought me some Lanolin, which was supposed to help. But in all honesty, Lanolin only made things worse as it would glue the fabric of my clothing on my skin, thereby peeling off the scab and making it raw all over again. What helped me the most were Lana Care’s BreastPads. These breast pads are made out of organic merino wool. They are so soft and soothing. So although they had no medical contribution in treating my sore nipples better, they provided the much needed comfort. I would literally look forward to popping them back on after every feed. They are so easy to wash, and requires minimum maintenance to be honest. I would highly recommend this product to all nursing mothers whether you are leaking or sore.

Between week 4 and week 6, I also suffered from one of the most common problems of breastfeeding – engorgement. Engorgement is very common when you are establishing healthy breastfeeding. Your supply comes in and your body take a few days for your body to correctly regulate the supply needed by your baby. I saw my friends suffer from mastitis and what not! I really didn’t want to suffer and so I tried my best to take care of the engorgement (hard painful lumps in my breasts) before it got worse. Breast massages and hot compress few times a day was very helplful.

But of all the issues the one thing I never read about or was prepared for was a nipple bleb! Oh my good lord! I could have given up breastfeeding when this happened. I dreaded each feed. I had a recurring bleb on the baby’s favourite side which made feeding times even worse. But I kept fighting the negative feeling and kept feeding my baby, hoping it would go away. And lo behold, gross as it may sound, I think the baby pulled the bleb out with all his sucking. Once the bleb battle was overcome, my breastfeeding journey has been good so far.

How long does my baby sleep in the night?

A lot of people have asked me this and my answer is just as long as it takes for him to digest his milk. Breast milk is digested much faster than formula or any other milk. So babies on breast milk in general feed every 2 to 3 hours and that is very common (that doesn’t mean that on some days/night he wouldn’t feed every 30 mins to an hour). My baby does the same. But as he is growing bigger he is sleeping longer. But he does wake up for a few feeds in the night time. It just hasn’t been an issue or the fact that I have stopped counting how many times he wakes up is because co-sleeping makes night time feeds a breeze (more on that in my upcoming post). I sleep through most of the feed. I am half aware of him sucking but because I don’t have to wait to put him back in his cot I feel pretty relaxed lying and probably falling asleep as he gets closer to finishing his feed.

Feeding in public?

Never really been an issue. I think breastfeeding in public is not such a big problem than it is made out to be. I am sure there are some stupid people who may have a problem but I don’t think about it too much. I am half prepared for someone to walk up to me and say something but more often than not I am pleasantly surprised by the positive attitudes of people around breastfeeding. I try and breastfeed as discreetly as possible. I use the one top up and one top down method, but sometimes, it is all out there, especially on occasions when my baby decides to unlatch and have a look around. I mean seriously baby, ‘focus’ on the boob PLEASE!

Have I lost weight?

No. I think it is a myth that one loses weight instantly by breastfeeding. If anything, I might have gained weight. But that is partly because of the sugar intake. Nursing mothers crave sugar. I think, that is more to do with disturbed sleep or sleep deprivation. Honestly, I don’t think weight should be on my mind just yet. One will be surprised how easily your milk supply can be affected due to diet changes. It is not easy to eat and drink well to keep your supply up. I”d rather eat more than less to prevent any risks of low supply as that is my baby’s only source of nutrition. If that means I have to carry a few extra pounds so be it. I practice regular yoga everyday, hoping to stay fit and flexible.

How long do I plan to breastfeed?

Hopefully not 8 years, definitely not! My mother is an epitome of patience, I unfortunately did not inherit that trait from her. I do want to exclusively breastfeed for minimum six months and hopefully carry on for a year or two until my baby is completely weaned and eating solids for his primary nutritional needs. I reckon all that would not take more than two years. One of the reasons why I wish he would voluntarily wean off within 2 years is because, I personally found being weaned off very traumatising at the age of 8 years. I am not sure at what age do kids remember their emotional experiences in their conscious mind, but the longer my baby uses breasts for comfort only, the more the chances of him having a negative association with being weaned off which I do not want him to suffer from at all. So fingers crossed for that, I personally dread that phase!

My biggest achievement as a breastfeeding mother?

Eating lobster with one hand whilst breastfeeding with the other! Beat that!