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Win a Contented Calf Breastfeeding Recipe Book

Breastfeeding Cookbook

Breastfeeding and diet can be an emotive issue – it’s damn hard to cook or eat with a newborn in tow and often the priority is calories rather than nutritional value (I survived on a diet of chocolate buttons for weeks despite Mr MilkChic’s best efforts!).

Breastfeeding Cookbook

Milk supply can be a major concern for nursing mothers and particularly those who give birth prematurely. While, unless extremely malnourished, most mothers can produce adequate amounts of breastmilk, the food you eat does affect your milk and more importantly your own energy levels (a poor diet is more likely to affect you than your baby). Breastfeeding places high demands on your stores of energy and protein so it makes sense to eat well where you can.

Elena Cimelli’s Contented Calf Cookbook aims to support nursing mums with lots of tasty and nutritious recipes focusing on lactogenic ingredients (foods which help promote milk production).

lactogenic/ lac·to·gen·ic  /?lakt??jenik

(of a hormone or other substance) Inducing milk secretion.

Being honest, I have mixed feelings on lactogenic foods. The evidence definitely points to certain foods having milk boosting properties which can be helpful to new mums. However, I’m also inclined to believe that for many there are times when the pressure to eat the right things, use the right nappies, wean at the right moment, have the perfect sleep routine etc. etc. can lead to unnecessary insecurities. I know Elena agrees with me that for the vast majority of us, who are lucky enough to have the physical ability to produce enough milk for our babies, fear and insecurity are far greater dangers to the breastfeeding relationship than a less than perfect diet and the Contented Calf approach is definitely not about increasing the pressure.

So… while neither Elena or I would not want you to start obsessing about your diet in any way, shape or form (for some perspective, read some reassuring facts here), I wholeheartedly recommend this book – it’s a really good recipe book that just happens to be aimed at breastfeeding women. It’s also offers some great ideas for vegetarians and vegans and for gluten-free diets and frankly I love it.

Rather than giving you a list of “good” and “bad” foods, it actually tells you what to do with them to make an enjoyable meal. In fact, the recipes use similar foods to those I enjoyed during pregnancy which did made me wonder if that was one of the reasons I was so lucky in the early weeks. I also like that a lot of the recipes are freezable and perfect for filling the freezer in preparation for the new arrival. Maybe the answer is to build up your reserves while you have the chance?

The book is helpfully split into breakfasts, lunches, dinners, sweet things and drinks. While you might need to rethink your store cupboard a little – nuts and seeds are particularly useful – they are meals that will work for all the family with old favourites such as stew and dumplings and fishcakes reworked to include breastfeeding friendly ingredients. You can try one of Elena’s recipes for Thai Coconut and Chicken Soup here to see what I mean.

If like me, you aren’t supermum enough to make ahead, the meals are designed to be prepared in a naptime. Although I did find the list of ingredients a little daunting at first, the recipes I tried were easy to follow and gave tasty, reliable results. As a cook of limited ability, the thought that I could realistically have been knocking up “proper” meals in a naptime while small one was an even smaller one is very appealing, not least because the thought of me making something decent for dinner would have blown Mr MilkChic’s mind!

Our favourite so far is the chicken, almond & apricot casserole, something that will definitely become a staple in our household. We made this for guests, not one of whom was pregnant or breastfeeding and everybody loved it.

To be in with a chance of winning your own copy of The Contented Calf Cookbook, please leave a comment below. For a bonus entry, either share the competition on Facebook or tweet the following:

I’ve entered to #win The @ContentedCalf Cookbook with @milkchic #food #breastfeeding #pregnancy

Terms & Conditions: Entry open to UK & Ireland only. Closing date: 2nd November 2013 Extended to Monday 4th November 23:59 due to website issues. Winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries. No cash alternative. If the winner cannot be contacted after 7 days, an alternative may be chosen. Disclosure: I received a review copy of The Contented Calf Cookbook: Nourishing Recipes for Breastfeeding Mums for this post so that I could try some of the recipes.

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Where do babies come from?


I wasn’t expecting THAT question to come this early. Small one is only three!

Stork Mail: (c) dunedhel (IconBug)

To be fair, her nursery teacher just had a baby so it has been a subject of much discussion at playschool. She seemed pretty certain about it all when we were watching Dumbo a couple of weeks ago – “Storks DO NOT deliver babies Mummy”. Oh no…. “Postmen deliver babies!”

Then the lambs at the farm. She knows that lambs come from their mummies’ tummies but there was the tricky question of where mummy sheep come from. Again, we got off lightly. She decided that “Mummies and Grandmas knit the mummy sheep and then the babies go inside”. Sorted!

So I wasn’t really expecting this last night:

Olivia thinks babies come out of their mummy’s tummy, but they don’t – they come out of bums!

Erm! I always promised I would be honest when she asked, so I agreed but then explained that she had actually been taken out of my tummy by the doctor as she got lost on the way out. Possibly more detail than she needed, as the next question was…

Well WHICH babies came out of bums then???!!

That one was simple at least – your brother and your sister did, darling.

Anyone else dealing with difficult questions at the moment?

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Shop Smart: Maternity clothes for breastfeeding


Make your maternity wardrobe work harder by choosing clothes that will work for breastfeeding after baby is born. Look out for…

Midnight Knot Front Maxi Dress (Crave Maternity)1. Boob access – look for either maternitywear specifically designed for nursing or with easy boob access (you only need to be able access one at a time usually, even with twins!). Wrap styles, crossover and button fronts are easy.

2. Stretch fabric – to pull back into shape as you do, and make breastfeeding access even easier.

3. Tummy flattering styles – Even if they offer breastfeeding access, some styles just don’t work for new mums. Bodycon styles make a baby bump look gorgeous, but just leave you feeling self-conscious after the birth – if you want to get more value from your maternity wardrobe, mix bumptastic styles with more forgiving shapes. Something that skims your belly will give you confidence postnatally.

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Group B Strep – have you heard of it?


Group B Strep SupportWell, if not, you’re not alone. Last November, a survey found that only 54% young women in the UK had heard of GBS and, of those who had, only 20% knew what it was.

Here are the key facts:

  • Around 20-25% of women carry Group B Strep (also known as GBS and Strep B) as part of their healthy vaginal and rectal bacteria, where it is normal, has no symptoms and causes no problems to the carrier.
  • GBS also causes infection though and is the most common cause of serious infection in newborn babies. Without preventative medicine, around one out of every 300 babies born to women carrying GBS will develop infections such as sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Most babies will recover from their GBS infection, but even with the best medical care, around one in every 10 of these sick babies will die and some of the survivors will be left with long-term problems, especially when the baby has had GBS meningitis

Ok, who knew that? We’re told about spina bifida, sickle cell disease, Down’s Syndrome but not about GBS – how come? Maybe nothing can be done about it? Well, no… more facts:

  • Most GBS infections in newborn babies are preventable by giving Mums whose babies are at raised risk antibiotics (usually penicillin) in labour
  • A Mum carrying GBS who has antibiotics in labour has a less than one in 6,000 risk of her newborn developing GBS infection, compared with around a one in 300 chance if she doesn’t.
  • Key risk factors for GBS infection in newborn babies are:
    • A sibling having GBS infection
    • GBS found in the urine or from a vaginal or rectal swab during the current pregnancy
    • Labour starting or waters breaking before 37 weeks of pregnancy
    • Waters breaking more than 18 hours before birth
    • Mum having a raised temperature in labour
  • GBS infection usually shows early – normally on the first day of life. After the first week, these infections are rare and after ago 3 months very rare indeed.
  • Key signs/symptomsof GBS infection in babies include
    • Age 0-6 days: grunting; lethargy; irritability; poor feeding; very high or low heart rate; low blood pressure/ blood sugar; abnormal (high or low) temperature; and abnormal (fast or slow) breathing rates with blueness of the skin due to lack of oxygen (cyanosis)
    • Age 7-90 days: fever; poor feeding and/or vomiting; impaired consciousness; plus typical symptoms of meningitis, including any of: fever, which may include the hands and feet feeling cold, and/or diarrhoea; refusing feeds or vomiting; shrill or moaning cry or whimpering; dislike of being handled, fretful; tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot on the head); involuntary body stiffening or jerking movements; floppy body; blank, staring or trance-like expression; abnormally drowsy, difficult to wake or withdrawn; altered breathing patterns; turns away from bright lights; and pale and/or blotchy skin.
    • If a baby shows signs consistent with GBS infection or meningitis, call your doctor immediately. If your doctor isn’t available, go straight to your nearest Paediatric Casualty Department. If a baby has GBS infection or meningitis, early diagnosis and treatment are vital: delay could be fatal.

The number of newborns with GBS infection has been rising: up nearly a third since ‘risk-based’ prevention measures were introduced in 2003. UK pregnant women aren’t offered screening for GBS, which may explain this – many western countries routinely screen pregnant women for GBS (usually at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy) and have seen their numbers fall by between 71-86%.

Some enlightened NHS trusts offer some of their pregnant women sensitive tests for GBS carriage (the tests usually used by the NHS were not designed to detect GBS carriage and give high false-negative results) and – if women want to be tested – they can obtain reliable home-testing kits for around £35. Labs listed at offer the sensitive ECM (Enriched Culture Medium) test, following the Health Protection Agency National Standard Method.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, when asked, young women say they want to be told about group B Strep, they want to be offered tests for GBS as a routine part of their antenatal care and, if found to be carrying it, they want to be offered antibiotics in labour.

Prevention is better than cure, particularly when we’re talking about life-threatening infections in newborn babies.

Isn’t it about time the UK caught up with other western countries on this?

During GBS Awareness Month, please help protect babies by:

From Mel at MilkChic: This is a guest post from Jane Plumb MBE, of Group B Strep Support. Please take the time to read and share this information and if you have a website, consider downloading a badge. As a Group B Strep carrier myself (routinely swabbed in pregnancy) and having been educated about the risks, I was horrified by the lack of knowledge when I moved to a new area. Preventative measures are so simple for Group B Strep – protection shouldn’t be down to luck.

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My Breastfeeding Journey: Pregnancy


In honour of Breastfeeding Awareness Week (19th-25th June 2011), I am sharing my breastfeeding journey so far. I would love to hear your stories too. Please share your breastfeeding related posts in the comments feed.

My pregnant wife
Photo: davhor

I always knew I was going to breastfeed. My mum had breastfed and I knew the benefits, so formula feeding didn’t really cross my mind. My antenatal classes were pro-breastfeeding and all of the women in my group planned to breastfeed too, so I had nowhere to learn about anything else, even if I had wished to.

As the decision was already made, I didn’t give the matter much thought. I attended a breastfeeding class which explained the mechanics and armed me with a list of local support groups. Rather naively, I assumed that breastfeeding would just happen and that the midwives would advise on any minor problems.

As my due date approached, my preparation was minimal. At 38 weeks, I spent a fortune on gorgeous Hotmilk nursing bras in appropriate sizes (I was advised to go down a back size and up 2 cup sizes) and scoured every available hospital bag checklist. I packed a carton of ready prepared formula and a bottle, as advised by my local hospital and we also bought a cheap manual breastpump. Just in case.

I wish I’d known:

  • You don’t need formula in your hospital bag. If needed, my partner would have been able to buy it at the nearest supermarket. In a real emergency, hospitals do have some. As it was, that carton was a little too convenient. In the middle of the night when I was struggling, even Mr MilkChic suggested that I use it “just this once”. In the end, I threw it away. I found that having formula at hand gave ammunition for people to undermine me and I was fed up of people testing my willpower.
  • Bottles aren’t essential. You are better off using a syringe, teaspoon or open cup while you get breastfeeding established. If you buy a breastpump, use the bottle that comes with it. If not, leave buying the bottles til you need them. I wasted money on bottles that were never used as the small one wouldn’t drink from them.
  • Initially your nursing bra size is, at best, an educated guess. There is nothing more depressing than having gorgeous lacy bras in your drawer when your boobs have exploded by 6 cup sizes and you can only wear a “supportive” Royce Jasmine. Buy cheap for the first weeks.

Other posts in this series are My Breastfeeding Journey: Breastfeeding a Newborn ; My Breastfeeding Journey: Finding My Style ; Crimes of Breastfeeding