September 2012 | Modern Mummy

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Raspberry Leaf Tea

I HAVE DISCOVERED THE HOLY GRAIL OF RASPBERRY LEAF TEAS!!!!  I've been drinking a lot of the stuff recently and have received lots of questions about is benefits after tweeting about it so I thought I'd do some proper research and write a wee blog post on the subject.

When I was pregnant with Daisy, I started taking the capsules from 32 weeks (the only actual teas I could find were REVOLTING). I'd read that raspberry leaf helps to tone the muscles of the uterus - which can assist in labour - and one study reported that women who drank it regularly towards the end of their pregnancies had a shorter second stage of labour than women that didn't drink it. (The second stage is the actual pushing bit).

I was willing to give anything a go and, as it turns out, my second stage ended up only lasting 39minutes! (My entire labour was 1hr 39mins from waters breaking and first contraction to Daisy making her appearance and being placed on my chest!).

Now I'm no doctor or scientist. I have no idea whether this was a complete fluke or not, but on the off chance that my quick labour and my consumption of raspberry leaf were linked I have made the executive decision to take it again this time round.

 photo.JPGI've bought some more of the capsules from Holland & Barratt (on buy one get one half price at the mo if anyone is interested) and I have also discovered the Clipper raspberry leaf tea WHICH IS DELICIOUS!

So a bit of 'professional' info for you all about this.....

The Emma's Diary website reports:

"Raspberry leaf tea takes several weeks to accumulate in the body, so it can’t bring on labour if you are overdue. It can however bring on uncomfortable braxton hicks as it works on the muscles of the uterus.

Raspberry leaf tea contains an alkaloid 'fragine' which is thought to tone and strengthen the muscles of the uterus. It also Contains vitamins A, C, E and B, magnesium, calcium and iron so it is enjoyed as a herbal drink by non-pregnant people and is sold at health food shops and online (loose, in bags or as a tincture). If you don’t like the taste you can buy it in capsules.

Taken in controlled amounts in later pregnancy, after 34 weeks, it has been credited with helping to shorten the second stages of labour by toning the muscles you need to use to push your baby into the world.

The idea, therefore, is not to take it to speed up or bring on your labour, but rather to help your labour progress at a steady pace."

Ask Baby says:

"Raspberry leaf tea is nutrient rich and contains many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy including vitamins A, C, E and B, magnesium, calcium and iron. Consuming raspberry leaf tea not only helps mother and baby to get all the nutrients they need but can also help to replenish a new mothers stores after the birth.

Raspberry leaf tea also contains the alkaloid 'fragine' which is said to strengthen and tone the muscles of the uterus, helping them to contract more efficiently during labour. Research has found that taking raspberry leaf during the weeks prior to delivery helps to shorten the second stage of labour by making contractions more effective. Some studies have also found that it reduces the need for an assisted delivery (i.e. an emergency cesarean or use of forceps or ventouse).

Sipping raspberry leaf tea during and after the birth is also said to help the uterus contract back down to size, reduce after birth bleeding and help initiate the let down of breastmilk.

While there hasn't been a huge amount of research into this area, the general consensus does seem to be that drinking raspberry leaf tea during the latter stages of pregnancy can help to make for a 'better' labour with few side effects."

Whether it makes a difference or not, the Clipper teabags are just divine and even if you're not pregnant I would recommend them as an alternative to every day tea. BUY BUY BUY! (And no, this is not a sponsored post - I paid good money for my teabags I'll have you know!)


As I said above, I am not a doctor! Take your GP's/midwife's advice before taking any supplement, whether it is medicinal or herbal.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Magpie Monday: Victorian Plate Rack

Yes I know it's Tuesday - but I'm nearly 34 weeks pregnant, are you really going to argue and risk feeling the wrath of a fat, hormonal woman?!

This morning my alarm went off at 5.45am (that was the first time I've had to set an alarm in nearly three years!). It was still dark and very, very cold. But I didn't mind as it meant I got to wear my new bobble hat for the first time this Autumn. Hurray!

The reason for my waking so early was to head off to one of my favourite places, Sunbury Antiques Fair at Kempton Racecourse, on a mission to buy a plate rack for the new kitchen. The transformation is nearly complete and I have a whoooooole other post to write about it in the not too distant future..... keep your eyes peeled!

Kempton is such a great market to shop at; I often go for a post-breakfast browse - but for the best bits you really do have to get there at the crack of dawn.

I was having a rather unsuccessful shop this morning (it's always the way when you've actually got permission to spend money and won't have to smuggle things into the house without the other half noticing). I had just started the trek back to the car park when I spotted this beauty. It's bloody filthy but made of lovely chunky wood and a gorgeous shape - and it holds no less than twenty Emma Bridgewater plates (ten each of the 8.5inchers and the 10.5inchers) - AND eight mugs!

The best bit was that I haggled the seller down a LOT - unheard of when you're shopping as soon as the market opens.

My mission for today is to give it a good scrub and see whether I want to dip it, re-paint it or leave it as it is..... and if I decide to leave it or re-paint it then tomorrow Himself can mount it on the wall, eeeeeeeeeeee!!

Linking up to Magpie Monday..... sorry it's late!


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Hippy Loaf: A Recipe & Guest Post from Blackbird Bread, Twickenham

You all know how fond I am of supporting local businesses; I can't bear handing over my hard earned pennies to the corporate giants that have taken over our high streets in recent years. I believe that shopping locally is the way forward - not only do small, local businesses offer a much wider variety of better made products between them, they are also more likely to use local suppliers to make their products and more likely sell seasonal goods. Most importantly they also boost the local economy and bring communities together - and in times like these it is more important than ever to support them.

Blackbird Bread in Twickenham is a fine example of such a local business and I am very excited to be publishing a guest post from them today. Set up only six months ago, the whole concept of the bakery is one I adore - Mark bakes a range of delicious fresh loaves in his normal domestic oven for friends, neighbours and local markets, who pop by to collect it. Superb quality, fresh, local produce bringing people together. I love it.

I can wholeheartedly recommend them as a local baker (and their Hippy Loaf is absolutely amazing!). With my impending move out of the borough to the Surrey Hills I can truly say I am gutted that I didn't discover them sooner.


Hello, we’re Blackbird Bread and Modern Mummy UK has kindly allowed us to be her guest blogger!
We’re a family run community baking business in Twickenham, producing handmade bread and cake three times a week mainly for our estate of 200 houses.  However, through word of mouth (and a bit of word of Twitter) other people got to know about us. 

Our customers are generally people who are fed up with commercially produced bread or who like the idea of a good local loaf. We hand deliver to people who live on our estate, which people really like. Those who are out a lot or who live outside of walking distance, come and collect, (but a car delivery service is available).

Ordering is very simple. People can either phone, text or email us the day before we bake and when the order is ready, we contact them. We sometimes send a picture too for people who can’t wait!

We love what we do and have built up strong relationships with our customers. Every month we keep everyone up to date with what’s going on through our newsletter which includes our wide range of baked goods, plus any new ideas we are working on. We ask people to suggest things they’d like us to bake and include them in testing new bread. 

The most asked question we get is ‘how big is our oven?’ They are usually surprised to see we use a pretty standard, not at all fancy, domestic oven – baking everything in our own kitchen. It’s definitely possible to bake delicious loaves at home. This is one of our most popular Ioaves – have a go yourself or if you’re in the Twickenham area and want a good loaf without the work give us a call.

The Blackbird Hippy Loaf

The hippy loaf (named for its 1970s-style multi-seeded worthiness) takes a malted loaf into another direction. Filled with pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds , linseeds, malted wheat and flavoured with honey with a little oil for extra crunch in the crust, this is like a walk in the countryside on a sunny day. We’re going to make a bloomer out of this, great for sandwiches and toast! 

Ingredients (makes one medium-sized loaf)
250g malted wheat strong bread flour (eg Hovis Granary)
250g seeded strong bread flour (eg Sainsbury’s wholegrain seeded strong bread flour, Hovis have a seeded flour too*)
10-20g plain flour or strong white bread flour (for kneading)
250ml lukewarm water
7g active yeast (this is the standard amount in yeast sachets)
2tbp runny honey
1tbp vegetable oil
10g salt
Poppy seeds, a handful – this is for the topping so you can use whatever seeds you fancy, however, if you use a large seed, like whole pumpkin seeds, they are prone to burning.

*It’s easier to use a flour with the seeds added unless you have a collection of different seeds!

You will also need:
mixing bowl
roasting tray or solid baking sheet
cotton or linen teatowel
cling film
a water spray (optional)
Time: Approximately 3 hours, including bake.

What to do:
Weigh out the flour, yeast and salt and place in a mixing bowl. Add the honey and oil, stir together then add the water in small quantities, stirring all the time, until you have a slightly sticky ball of dough.

Tip the dough onto a floured clean work surface (a chopping board is fine) and knead for ten minutes. Yes, ten minutes. You can’t do this for less, as it has honey and oil which need (pardon the pun) to be incorporated plus the gluten in the flour needs to develop and stretch. It does no harm to knead for longer but less may result in a heavy doughy loaf.

After the knead, prod the dough with your fingers until almost flat.

Now stretch the dough into a ball, as follows. While holding the dough with one hand, grab the tip of the dough with your other hand and gently stretch it, try not to break it, then fold it back into the centre of the dough.

Repeat this in a clockwise fashion, each time folding the dough into itself until it looks like this ...

Flip the dough over and, using the upturned palms of your hands, shape the dough into a ball, carefully spinning the dough and sealing it underneath. You now have a bottom and a top to your loaf – the top is facing you and should be smooth and the base will look like origami!

Wipe the mixing bowl clean, place the dough inside it, bottom side down, cover the bowl in clingfilm and leave for 45mins-1 hour. Doesn’t have to be in a warm place, the clingfilm will create its own warmth for the dough to prove.

After the first prove the dough should have doubled in size. (If it hasn’t, leave for an extra 30 minutes). Remove from the bowl onto a floured work surface, flip it over and knock it back. Don’t ever punch it or anything macho. Use your fingertips as described above, prod it all over, turn it the right side up, shape into a ball again, as above, and leave on the work surface, covered in a teatowel for 5 minutes to rest.

After this resting time, flour the work surface, flip the dough over and prod it all over again, this time gently pulling at the corners of the dough to make a square.

Now, we shape the dough, these directions are for a bloomer. This bit looks fiddly, but I hope I’ve managed to make it as easy as possible! Pinch the four corners, stretch gently away from the dough one at a time, and fold them into the centre of the dough ...

until it looks like this ...

then fold the new four corners you have created in, one at a time ...

until it looks like this ...

then fold the top part of the dough over onto the bottom part of the dough. 

Flip it over and tuck the ends under the dough as neatly as possible. It should look like this.

This is the bloomer shape. Gently roll the dough a few times, sealing the seam on the base.

Spray the top of the dough with water spray (or flick water on it), sprinkle the poppy seeds onto the work surface and roll the top of the dough over the seeds.

Sprinkle a teatowel with a handful of plain or strong white bread flour and put the dough in the middle of it. Pull up both sides of the towel around the dough, fairly tightly, place against a wall and rest a heavy object tight against the edge. This will prevent the dough from spreading too wide. (A book is fine – please note we use the lovely Mary Berry’s essential Baking Bible!) 

Leave for 45 minutes to one hour. Switch the oven on to 200C.

After this time, the dough should be almost double in size. Lightly flour a roasting/baking tray, remove the dough from the towel by unrolling the towel and gently place the dough into the roasting tray. Carefully slash the dough twice, using the breadknife. Diagonal slashes are the most suitable for this loaf.

Spray the loaf with water (top and sides) and place the tray into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 200C, then reduce the temperature to 180C (you may want to turn the tray around to check it isn’t cooking on one side more than the other) and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. After this turn the loaf over and bake the base of the loaf for at least 5 minutes. Take out of the oven (carefully) if the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, then it’s done. If not, pop back in for a couple of minutes more.

The Blackbird hippy loaf!

We hope you like what we do! You can see our range of bread, plus our adventures in baking, at our blog , or follow us on Twitter @blackbirdbread.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Hospital Bag Check List!

So I've been a bit pre-occupied with housey stuff over the past month and I'm feeling totally unprepared baby-wise! I'm 32 weeks pregnant now (how did that happen?!?!?!!) so yesterday I decided to pack my hospital bag.

I totally overpacked when I was pregnant with Daisy. Its very easy to get carried away with all the different bits and pieces that all the baby books and pregnancy websites tell you you need. 

This is my personal list of what I think is essential and what I will be taking to the hospital with me. Of course everyone is different so I would totally recommend reading as many check lists as you can and thinking carefully about what is most important to you before you start to pack. To help you I have included a list of links to other websites and blogs checklists at the bottom of this page - make sure you take a look and see what other people consider important as they may be important to you too!

My bag (a large gold holdall from Accessorize)

- Hospital notes & birth plan
- Two nighties (one to give birth in and a second, clean one in case I have to stay overnight afterwards)

- Slippers (or flip flops - shoes that are easy to put on in case you are pacing the ward!)

- Dressing gown (although hospitals are normally roasting hot, it's still nice to be able to cover up if you have visitors and even thin cotton dressing gowns are cosy if it does get a bit nippy).

- Cheap, big, black, comfy knickers (I've packed 8 pairs of bikini briefs which I got from Primark  for £2.50 per pack of 4 - much cheaper than the disposable knickers on the market and MUCH more comfortable. The bigger the better. Be prepared to want to wear this style for the rest of your life!)
- Sanitary/maternity towels (I found that night-time sanitary towels with wings were better than actual maternity towels)

- Breast pads (Whether or not you breast feed, your milk will still come in and your boobs will leak! I used the Tommee Tippee ones with Daisy and found them to be brilliant - absorbant but discreet)
- Make-up bag/wash kit. This almost deserves an entire list of its own. I have packed lots of travel sized miniatures of all my usual toiletries - shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, make up wipes, moisturiser, toothpaste etc (they are on offer, 3 for 2 at Boots at the moment) plus a hairband (to tie my hair back during labour), a hair brush for afterwards and lipbalm as all that gas and air will really dry your lips out. Contact lenses/glasses are essential! Plus a make up bag so you can tart yourself for those all important first family portraits!

- Phone charger (and/or camera charger if you are taking one).

- Maternity/nursing bra

- Socks (to keep your tootsies warm on the ward and to wear home)
- Comfy clothes to go home in---- I'll pack this lot later in case I want to wear them before, but am planning to take a pair of Jack Wills trackie bums, a vest top, hoodie and Uggs. JW tracksuit bottoms are great as they are tie up and can be tightened to fit, depending on how much your tummy shrinks post birth. You may find that maternity clothes are a bit big and it is most likely that you won't fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes for a wee while.

Baby's bag (sage green spotty changing bag from Cath Kidston)

- Three babygros and vests

- Hat (we all lose body heat from our heads and newborns need to be kept toasty and warm like they were in the womb)

- Blanket(s) - hospitals usually provide one for inside the crib but it's nice to take your own, plus you will need it for the journey home.
- Snow suit (only necessary for winter babies!)

- Muslins (I've packed three)

- Nappies (Newborns get through so many, so I've packed 16. Himself can always bring more if needed)

- Wipes (or cotton wool balls if you prefer)

Other (bits for labour/Himself)

- Lots of change for the car park. We all know hospital car parks are a total rip off. Most maternity wards sell 24hr car park passes at a cheaper rate for menfolk whose partners are in labour but you may need longer than this (eeeekkk!) and then of course post labour visits are charged at the normal (extortionate) rate.

- Drinks & snacks for both of you. I would recommend freezing cartons of juice and bottles of water so that they stay cool during labour. I also took a bottle of squash in for afterwards. Lucozade also comes highly recommended. Flapjacks and oaty biscuits are great for slow release energy and chocolate is nice for a sugary treat! You could also pack a little treat for after labour - a mini bottle of champagne and some pate and melba toast perhaps! I will be taking a ginormous slab of Norbury Blue with me......

- Car seat for taking baby home.

- Bendy straws (so drinking is easier if you're flat on your back in labour! Bottles of drinks with sports caps are also good)

- Water spray/spritzer or battery operated fan - really good for labour, I used an Evian mister and it was amazing!

- iPod and dock/speakers - with a pre-prepared playlist! You may laugh but I loved having my favourite songs playing while I was giving birth.

A few tips 

- Ask for samples of your favourite beauty products to go in your wash bag/make up bag. I recently bought a new bottle of perfume and a new mascara and was given trial sizes of both when I asked. 

- Make a list of things you might want/need your other half to do while you're in hospital i.e. a list of people you want him to contact after the birth, a list of where things he might need are around the house or chores that might need doing if you are kept in longer than you are expecting.

- Don't over pack - just make sure your partner knows where things are kept should you need extras e.g. baby clothes, your contact lenses. He can also nip out and get you books or magazines if you are going to be kept in hospital longer than you originally expected, although you probably won't want them when you have a gorgeous newborn to stare at all day and night!

Other Check Lists I Found Helpful

Memoirs of Maternity
The Ultimate Little Miss Blog
Baby-A Blog
Mamas & Papas

Friday, 14 September 2012

Modern Mummy is Two!

Two years ago today I decided to start a blog. 

I'm not entirely sure why. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had left my job to stay at home with my daughter and my new lifestyle took a little bit of getting used to. But I bloody loved it. And I still do.

One thing I did know was that I wanted to write about my new role in life as a parent - not in a perfect, Stepford Wives kind of way - I wanted to write honestly about all aspects of both pregnancy and parenting - the truly fabulous bits, the mundane every day bits and even the crappy and embarrassing bits. 

In the last two years I've written over 300 posts and had over 90,000 page views. 233 of you subscribe to Modern Mummy and lots more read on a not-so-regular basis. Modern Mummy has been nominated for four awards and won the LovedbyParents Blogger of the Year Award last year! If I'm entirely honest (and yes - a little bit hormonal) I have been completely and utterly blown away by the support and interest my little blog has received.

Without going all Gwyneth-Paltrow-at-the-Oscars-in-1999 on you all, I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks to everyone that has ever clicked on this page, commented on a post, tweeted or emailed me. You're all brilliant. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Here's to another year xoxox


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Daily Outfit ♥ Casual & Comfortable

Black jersey popper nursing top, £39, Seraphine (also available in purple, brown & grey)
Chestnut, short, classic Uggs, £165, Kurt Geiger

...the very beautiful Jennifer Garner and uber glamourous Dannii Minogue.
Invest in nursing tops like these in the third trimester of your pregnancy to get more wear out of them. The jersey material is super comfy and perfect for the 'inbetween seasons' weather we are experiencing at the mo and these particular tops from Seraphine are also designed to accommodate your bump in the later stages of pregnancy.
The popper fastenings on the front make this the most perfect - and stylish! - nursing top which also drapes flatteringly over post-birth tummies and covers your hips and bottom.
Uggs are the ultimate Autumn/Winter pregnancy shoe. Cosy, comfortable, supportive and - most importantly - easy to get on and off, you can't go wrong with a pair of their classic boots.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Maternity Photography

When I was pregnant with Daisy I didn't take many photos of my bump. There were a few taken of me with other people - and with my expanding waistline in the picture, of course - but none specifically focusing on my big round belly in all its tiger striped glory. I feel a bit sad about this now, although at the time there was absolutely no chance of me getting my kit off and having my picture taken by a complete stranger. And I definitely wouldn't have posted said pictures on the internet. 

I adored every moment of being pregnant, but wasn't overly happy with my naked pregnant body. The weight gain was vast and rapid, and I remember the day Himself found my first stretch mark like it was yesterday. First of all there was one.... then the following morning I woke up and there were eighteen! It really did happen over night and it was a bit of a shock to the system to say the least.

But over the last three years, and particularly in recent weeks, I have accepted the changes pregnancy and childbirth have had on my body and I would even go so far to say I am proud of my stretch marks and wrinkles - they are all a part of me and a part of growing a baby! What's not to be proud of?

This weekend I had some photos taken by SJS Photography and I thought I would share a couple of them with you here. 

Pregnancy is just beautiful

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