‘Fed is Best’

by Kerry Round

I became a mother 6 months ago at the age of 38 to a much wanted and loved baby boy, Ellis Rocky. The sunshine is clearly visible in Ellis, his smile is contagious, his joy is evident and his soul is happy and light. As I type he is busy jumping in his Jumperoo, smiling, giggling and singing away at me. He is oblivious to the heart ache and concern that I had in the years before his birth. The worry that one day in the future, I wouldn’t be able to breast feed my own child. I wouldn’t be able to do what was best and what was natural for my son. Or so I thought.

I’m a BRCA 1 carrier which means I have a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. Aged 24, I became the then youngest person in the country to have a preventative double mastectomy and reconstruction. Nearly 15 years ago this was quite a controversial course of action but I have had no regrets and having watched my own mother pass away at 35 years old, I was always confident that I had done the right thing and remained committed to that course of action.

The double mastectomy removed all of my breast tissue, my nipples and my milk glands. Cancer can develop in a single cell therefore it was incredibly important to remove every single cell that was there. The decision to breast feed was taken out of my hands. I have no milk glands, it simply is not possible.

Whilst I was confident that my surgery was the right thing to do, the worry that I could not breast feed hung over me like an unwanted guest at a party. When I became pregnant, I grew ever more worried that I would get emotional at the very topic of breast feeding. That I would burst into tears if I saw a mother nursing her child when I could not. My husband, my rock, was always supportive. He assured me that bottle feeding would provide our baby with all he needed, yet I could not shed the guilt that I was not doing right by my child. I had to remind myself, I was alive, and this is and always will be the most important thing. I’m alive to see my child grow.

Anticipating my emotional reaction I advised the midwife of my situation and asked for it to be made clear on my notes that I was not to be asked whether I would breast feed when I had the baby.

In preparation of our babies arrival, my husband and I researched how we could best bottle feed our baby. How to make up the bottles, whether to heat up or cool down, how long to keep the milk for before discarding it, which formula was the best to buy and time and time again we were faced with this statement- “breast is best but if you have to formula feed then ……’. Breast is best. Breast is best. Breast is best. It was everywhere we looked and each time I read those words my heart sank a little more.

Of course, despite this being written all over my notes, it was one of the first things I was asked after Ellis was born “are you breast feeding your baby?” A question that was to be repeated several times during our 7 day stay on the maternity ward. I found myself unable to answer with a simple “No I am not”. I felt I always had to qualify this statement with “I don’t have any milk glands”. I felt I had to justify myself and to explain to total strangers who know nothing about me, that I was unable to breast feed and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to breast feed.

That first night on the maternity ward is a night like no other. The husbands are shepherded out of the ward at 8pm leaving new mums alone behind their own curtains. I was holding a 4lb. 5 week premature baby boy wearing clothes intended for a new born baby of 7lb because we had nothing smaller. I had never changed a nappy of a new born before, never fed a bottle to a new born and now I faced a long 14 hour wait before my husband could return to offer me salvation. The alarm was set for every 3 hours so that I could wake Ellis up to feed him. A feed of just 16ml would take close to an hour to complete before I could snatch 2 hours sleep before the alarm would go off again.

What struck me during the course of that night however was that it wasn’t just me getting up to heat the tiny bottles of ready-made formula, it was every other mother in my room of 4 and many that I could see on the rooms either side. It was this realisation that triggered a reaction in me, why aren’t they breast feeding? They can breast feed so why aren’t they? Their babies deserve their milk, why are they denying them their milk? I became just the kind of person that I was trying to avoid. Ultimately it is non of my business why or how a woman feeds her baby and for whatever the reason that mothers do not breast feed their babies, that is their reason and theirs alone.

kr2 cropped ellisThrough my pregnancy I met a group of incredible woman through the National Childbirth Trust and since Ellis was 10 weeks old we’ve attended Baby Yoga with Katie and through both these groups I have had my eyes opened on the difficulties of breast feeding and the heroines that are committed to breast feeding despite the irregularity and uncertainty of the feeds; the sore nipples; the leaking nipples; the hard breasts when their babies might have done the unimaginable and slept through the night; the extra stays in hospital when their babies were born just so the midwife could be happy that the baby was latching on and feeding  properly; the time spent being hooked up to machines to express milk; being unable to go out to celebrate birthdays because their babies refuse to take a bottle and only take comfort and solace from the boob; being unable to travel very far in the car in case their babies needed to feed; having to do each and every night feed as the fathers, whilst willing, were simply unable to help. All these things I took for granted. Bottle feeding every 3 hours gives you certainty and it gives you flexibility. It also means that daddy can help and enjoy the closeness that feeding brings with the baby.

With formula feeding I think of the hours lost to washing bottles; to the fear that you have used your last bottle and have forgotten to sterilise the next batch; the worry that the formula is causing the colic and the reflux; the allergies to different formulas or to a lactose or cows protein intolerance; the worry about using the right teet size and bottle type; how to sterilise; how to sterilise on the move; how to cool down the formula before your baby has a massive melt down in the middle of a coffee shop and how to spend the weekend with friends without all your feeding paraphernalia taking up their entire kitchen!

I’m not sure what happened or why it happened but I certainly had a shift in my own feelings I had been so consumed with feeling sorry for myself and thinking that I ‘couldn’t do what was best for my baby’, but in the days and weeks that followed the birth of my son I started to appreciate all of the difficulties with feeding for both breast and formula fed babies and I kept coming back to the single most important fact that ‘Fed is Best’.

To all those women who are committed to breast feeding their babies I think you are wonderful. I think you are brave and wonderful and courageous. To those of you who have decided the time is right to formula feed or to mix feed I think you are brave and wonderful and courageous. I think you and your babies are beautiful.

Being a mum is hard and it is incredible. As I feed my baby his bottle and he looks up at me with his big eyes and smiles so that the milk dribbles down either side of his face, I know that I am doing the best for my baby with no guilt, no shame and no judgement. He is wonderful and I hope one day he will think that so am I!

[Authors note: Ellis is still jumping up and down, smiling, laughing and singing. I am blessed]

10 Reasons… to do Yoga with your Children in 2019!

10 Reasons… to do Yoga with your Children in 2019!

We’ve been teaching yoga for 10 years. In that time we’ve watched over a thousand families enjoy & develop wonderful, loving relationships. Here are our top reasons to do yoga with your children in 2019:

1. Doing Yoga together promotes bonding

2. It makes you feel happy

3. Gives you a new way of communicating together

4. Special time out with your child

5. Helps you to accept who you are and where you are right now (life is a journey)

6. Improves flexibility

7. Increases your creativity

8. Promotes healthy rhythms (times for activity & times for rest together)

9. Greater calmness / emotional resilience

10. Has a positive impact on your whole family!

Life is moving at an ever faster pace; we need to discover new ways as families to regularly re-connect to what’s important. The positive touch, voice and movement we use when doing Yoga with our children creates happiness and helps establish healthy rhythms.

How can I find a Yoga class for me & my child?

If you live in the Newark area, we offer term-time Yoga classes for you and your child from 10 weeks to 11 years old. We also teach children’s yoga classes in the summer holidays!

To find out more about our classes :: CLICK HERE ::

We also teach in local nurseries, primary and secondary schools. If your school is interested in running yoga classes for pupils or for teachers, please get in touch!

What about practicing at home?

There are resources (e.g. dvds) that you can use to do yoga at home with your child. The wonderful thing about attending a class, however, is that your child’s imagination will spark and he/she will start doing yoga at home all on their own; the practices will start to become part of their lives, in your shared space. This is as true for babies as it is for older children!

We run classes for you & your children in: Baby Yoga, Parent Toddler Yoga and Children’s Yoga. For more info on start dates, click on the links above, visit: www.samyecentre.com, drop us a line at: info@samyecentre.com or message us on: 07578 177445. We’d love to hear from you!

Mudras: Yoga with your hands

Mudras: Yoga with your hands

When you are waiting for something, it can often become a point of tension.

Did you know there are over 1,000 mudras you can practice with your hands, whether you are in a traffic jam, at the doctors, or waiting to collect your children from school, and that each has a distinct energetic effect on the body and mind?

The Hakini mudra can be called upon when you are struggling to remember a word, or perhaps what it was you came downstairs for! Or it can be used when you need an instant rebalance!

To practice Hakini Mudra, bring the pads at the top of each finger or thumb together with their counterparts on the opposite hand and press gently together. Relax the shoulders and elbows, and take a deep breath in and out. Stay in the mudra for as long as you like, or as long as time allows. Even practicing this mudra for a few seconds can reap enormous benefits.

You can also teach this mudra to children!

Please write and tell me what you discover using Hakini mudra: info@samyecentre.com. Mudras are magical and I would love to hear your stories!

Yoga for the Perimenopause & Menopause

Yoga for the Perimenopause & Menopause

The menopause is the time when a woman stops bleeding. This and the 10 years leading up to it (the peri-menopause) is a time of tremendous transformational potential in a woman’s life, when her kundalini energy awakens. It is often misunderstood and experienced only as a time of anger, sorrow and loss. In fact it is a time of huge change, akin to the teenage years (a bridge between the child and the adult). The menopause and the 10 years before it is a bridge between the younger fertile woman and the older wise woman. It is a time when our unresolved health issues may need addressing. Yoga at this time harnesses our kundalini energy and enables the transformation of our true self. We can deny it or embrace it!

How do I know if I am Perimenopausal?

The average age for the menopause, is between 48 and 51 years (depending on which source you read). This means that many women are entering the perimenopause in their late 30s. As women are having babies later than ever before (several generations ago, the average age for having a first baby was 21; it is now 28), women are often exiting their postnatal years directly into the perimenopause.

Some indications that you might be perimenopausal:

  • Changes to your menstrual cycle / symptoms
  • Hot flashes
  • Irritability & mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • loss of sense of self

How can yoga help?

Yoga has a good track record in supporting women through the menopause. It can help:

  • Activate and stimulate the hormonal system (thyroid, ovaries, hypothalamus, pituitary)
  • Positively channel the energy behind difficult symptoms (e.g. hot flashes, mood swings)
  • Uplift your emotions
  • Promote joy and acceptance

It can give you:

  • Increased energy
  • Better flexibility
  • Less anger
  • Better sleep
  • More creativity
  • An improved sense of well-being
  • Unleash your potential

A good yoga teacher will also help you with unresolved health issues (e.g. weak pelvic floor, PCOS, endometriosis, chronic fatigue) and can offer supportive practices to women who have undergone surgery.

It is never too late to start! An investment in a regular yoga practice during the perimenopause will pay dividends!

More info on our Women’s Yoga for Wellbeing & Stress Reduction class :: CLICK HERE ::

 

Baby Yoga – why choose us?

1. We train with the person who invented Baby Yoga!

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Dr Francoise Freedman, medical anthropologist and researcher at Cambridge University, yoga therapist, founder of the charity Birthlight, pioneer of Baby Yoga (and Baby Swimming).

 

 

 

2. Our teachings are grounded in the latest research.

Birthlight grounds all of its teachings in the latest academic research in baby development and maternal well being. It runs annual conferences where notable academics give talks and present their work. Students are required to be familiar with current research.

3. We have lots of experience!

We’ve been teaching adult yoga and meditation for almost 10 years. We’ve been teaching Baby Yoga for over 5 years. During that time we’ve worked with thousands of women, babies and children and have a really good understanding of what Yoga is!

4. We are authentic!

We have been practicing yoga for over 25 years! We gave up a lucrative career to teach yoga and follow a wholesome path! As Yogis, what we teach must be authentic; it must be lived.

5. We LOVE yoga.

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We’ve been doing it since we were 15 (over 25 years ago), which is when we looked like this!!!

 

 

 

6. We are a mum!

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And now we look like this ! As a mum, we get it! (this journey through pregnancy, birth and early parenting, with its difficulties, joys and challenges, the death of old dreams and birth of new ones)

 

 

 

7. Our work is highly valued in the community.

We work in partnership with the Surestart Centre in Newark and run most of our classes from there. This is where the Health Visitors & Family Support Workers are based. We teach yoga for Homestart to mums with postnatal depression. We work in local schools and nurseries. We even sit on the advisory panel for a midwifery student’s PhD at Nottingham University!

8. We’ve got quite a lot of qualifications!

200 hours Adult Yoga Teacher Training in India (yoga alliance), 200 hours Adult Yoga Teacher Training in UK (yoga alliance), Diploma in Baby Yoga (Birthlight), certificate in Teaching Yoga to Children (Calm for Kids), certificate in Teaching Yoga to Children with Developmental Challenges (Special Yoga), certificate in Teaching Yoga for the Special Child (Special Yoga), Qualified Postnatal Yoga instructor (Birthlight), certificate in Teaching Yoga Nidra to Adults and Children with Special Needs (Special Yoga), ongoing CPD in Baby Yoga, Postnatal Yoga, Yoga for Children with Special Needs, and currently studying for a Diploma in Well Woman Yoga Therapy (Birthlight). We also have an MSc in Cognitive Science (Edinburgh University) and a 1st class degree in Linguistics (Essex University).

Do you need any more reasons to choose us?

:: CLICK HERE :: for more info on upcoming Baby Yoga courses. We’d love you to join us!