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Level Up Your Yoga Practice

By guest contributor: Sheila Johnson, Founder of WellSheila.net

Yoga means “unity” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. Invented by yogis, spiritualists who wanted a direct experience of the spiritual beyond cultural rituals, they developed a way to become one with mind, body, and spirit. Through daily practice, yoga uses postures and breathing to help you grow more in tune with yourself.

With yoga, you don’t just gain the physical benefits of circulation, muscle tone, and flexibility. You also gain a deeper sense of yourself. You become unified. Through personal unity, you become focused, actualised, and stronger in yourself.

A Few Minutes a Day

Some people dedicate their entire lives to yoga like the ancient yogis, but you don’t have to live your life meditating in a cave to gain the benefits of practicing yoga. If your life is busy, Treehugger explains you can still achieve focus, fitness, and a greater sense of personal unity by setting aside as little as seven minutes for yoga every day. In fact, you don’t even need to get yourself to a yoga studio to learn from an amazing teacher and follow guided lessons through the positions and routines that will free your body and mind.

Stream Your Yoga

One of the greatest things about modern technology is that even though our lives have sped up, relaxation has become more accessible. You can easily use a streaming device to access yoga lessons directly from your living room. What’s more, even if you only have a few minutes each day to practice, you’ll have an expert guiding you every step and position along your yoga journey.

If you’re going to be practicing at home when you’re not in the studio, your home needs to be a relaxing and positive space. Clean and open your windows to let in fresh air and extra light, sweep up messes, and toss out any items you’re no longer using.

Find a Well-Trained and Enjoyable Teacher

There are many options for yoga lessons on the internet and through apps. The key to your own enjoyment and progress is to find an online yoga teacher that you can really connect with, whether online or in-person. For in-person classes, a well-trained instructor can offer words of encouragement to inspire you, sensibly explain poses, and help you make adjustments to get the most out of your practice.

Gear-wise, many enthusiasts find it helpful to invest in a couple of pieces of equipment, especially if an instructor isn’t there to help with their poses. There are yoga mats that can help you with alignment, and a bolster can assist you with posture in difficult poses.

Set Intentional Yoga Goals for Yourself

Even with a short amount of time per day, as Metta Yoga points out, you can and should set yoga goals and strive to meet them. Don’t just follow along, challenge yourself to achieve greater form or get further through a routine each day. Challenge yourself to greater balance and flexibility. Challenge yourself to meet the goals you set even if it’s difficult. You will find yourself in your dedication to meet the goals you push toward.

Find Your Unity Through Yoga

Whether you join a yoga class or stream lessons in the privacy of your living room, yoga will help you find that spiritual unity with your mind, body, and soul. You will learn more about your body while strengthening your muscles and balance. By daring to strive beyond failure, you will build your resolve and become stronger in yourself. Through the meditation and focus that yoga brings, you will get in tune with your spiritual self, in whatever way you define it.

Yoga means “unity” in Sanskrit for a reason. Look for ways to push yourself to the next level, and you will find it. Through even brief daily practice of yoga each day, you will experience a strengthening unity with your inner self.


ABOUT SHELIA

Sheila Johnson left the corporate world and long hours behind to start her own business. She’s seen so much personal success with her health and wellness routine that she wanted to share it with others. By creating WellSheila.net, she hopes that sharing her story will help people put their physical and mental health first.

half term activities

Free Virtual Activities – February Half Term 2021

Here’s a list of fun, free things to keep your little one engaged and stimulated during half term week. If you know of any other activities or sessions that our other Mamas would want to know about, please leave them in the comments below and we’ll add them to the list!

MONDAY 15 FEB

13:00 – 13:40: CRAFTY SINGALONG
Join artist, Laura Connolly, for songs, musical games and a simple craft activity where you will be making a homemade percussion to play in our Valentines band
Best for: Little ones aged 3+

More info & book

TUESDAY 16 FEB

10:00 – 10:30: KIDS SEWING WORKSHOP: MAKE YOUR OWN FELT MASKS
Join MakeryKate and her mini Makers for this fun 30 minute mask-making craft workshop using the fun kits from Make Arcade.
Best for: Little ones aged 6+

More info & book

14:30 – 15:30: GOING ON A STORY HUNT
Join storyteller John Kirk on a storytelling scavenger hunt!
Best for: Little ones ages 3+
More info & book

WEDNESDAY 17 FEB

11:00-11:45: NOT THE BUTLER ONLINE MYSTERY
“Not The Butler” creates interactive, educational and fun games for kids. With our games children can play with their friends and develop social skills while they have a blast!
Best for: Little ones aged 5+

More info & book

12:00 – 12:45: MUM & KIDS YOGA
A 30 minute online yoga class for mums and their under 4s with Izzy from On The Clouds Kids Yoga
Best for: Mamas with little ones under 4

More info & book

14:00-14:30: RELAX KIDS
Free online trial class teaching mindfulness and relaxation skills to children
Best for: Little ones aged 4+
More info & book

THURSDAY 18 FEB

14:00-14:45: RUSS BROWN’S MAGIC WORKSHOP
Top magician Russ Brown pulls back the green curtain to reveal some magic tricks to amaze and amuse your entire family!
Best for: Little ones aged 5+

More info & book

FRIDAY 19 FEB

10:00-10:15: PACHAMAMA’S 15 MINUTE MEDITATION FOR LITTLE ONES WITH THE HEALTHY LIVING STORE
Join our 15 minute calming meditation for your little one that focuses on mindful breathing and body relaxation.
Best for: Little ones aged 2+

More info & book

10:00-10:30: KIDS ARTS & CRAFTS WORKSHOP WITH LIONHEART
This 30 minute fun workshop will allow children to explore their creativity with a range of exciting markers and will start to learn letter formation, shapes and pattern creation, ideal for developing key motor skills.
Best for: Little ones aged 3-6 years

More info & book

14:00-15:00: CHILDREN’S CREATIVE WRITING
Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. They can immerse themselves in the words and become friends with the characters they create. Children will release their imagination giving them a voice, confidence and enjoyment throughout the process.
Best for: Little ones aged 5+

More info & book

SATURDAY 20 FEB

10:30-11:00: TRASH (MUSIC MAKING)
Make music from minimal means! Absolute beginners and rhythmical masters – all welcome! Let’s get together and make some music using whatever we can find lying around.
Best for: Little ones aged 5+
More info & book

12:00-13:00: POLAR EVOLUTION FOR KIDS
Ever wondered how animals survive at the poles? Join the UK Polar Network for an informative session on adaptation and then create your own polar organism
Best for: Doesn’t specify
More info & book

SUNDAY 21 FEB

11:00 – 14:00: CHINESE NEW YEAR ONLINE CELEBRATION
A day full of online activities that you can join live to celebrate the year of the Ox
Best for: The whole family
More info & book


ON-GOING OR ON-DEMAND

#PoWNATURECHALLENGE
The Prince of Wales is encouraging children to look closer at nature this February Half Term by setting a series of nature-based challenges, in conjunction with his charities and Patronages
Best for: Doesn’t specify
More info here

AROUND THE WORLD IN 5 RAINFORESTS WITH CHESTER ZOO
As you travel around the world, you’ll encounter different rainforests and species to gain an understanding of what it’s like to work in the rainforest as well as a few useful life skills to use at home
Best for: Little ones aged 4+
More info here

THE MIGHTY MEGA FOR DISABLED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES
During Mighty Mega children can take part in storytelling, music, dance, arts, crafts and multi-sensory play
Best for: Little ones aged 5+
More info here

ANANSI & THE FARMER: STORYTELLING FOR CHILDREN
Join Discover Story Builder Valentine for a lively retelling of the African folktale “Anansi and the Farmer
Best for: Little ones aged 0-5 years
More info here

OLDILOCKS & THE 3 BEARS – PUPPET MAKING WORKSHOP
The Garlic Theatre shows you how to make your very own teddy bear head bands and puppets in this exclusive on demand workshop video!
Best for: Doesn’t specify
More info here

ROAL DAHL’S THE TWITS THEATRICAL READING
A theatrical reading of a children’s classic
Best for: Little ones aged 6+
More info here

15-17 FEB: VALENTINA’S GALAXY
A fascinating, funny and moving experience created especially for young space cadets. This immersive performance will captivate children and adults alike with a combustible concoction of experiments, rocket launches and star gazing
Best for: Little ones aged 2-6
More info here

Five easy tips to build a meditation habit

Want to build a meditation habit without effort? The team at Silatha tell us how.

The new year is almost upon us and it’s an essential time to look back and reflect on the crazy year it has been. Starting 2020 with gusto and positivity, many of us took the small things for granted and the normality of life we always trusted being there. Then all of a sudden our securities were upended. Feelings of anxiety, stress and worry inevitably crept in with the lack of childcare, compulsory home-schooling, working from home as well as many being removed from the support bubbles of parents and relatives. Just as you thought the worst was behind, another lockdown became reality.

So how does one stay sane? Our recommended way to survive the current uncertainty is through meditation. But how do you fit meditation into your already jam-packed day you ask?

Here are 5 tips to help you build a meditation habit that sticks:

  1. Use every free minute
    We often think that we need to allocate 20 minutes or more in order to get some ‘meditation’ time in, but this isn’t true. Even one minute can make a difference if you start doing it regularly. Use the time when you’re waiting in line, the first minute after waking or when you’re next put on hold over the phone. With so many moments that we let pass today, often frustrated, make it a habit to utilise these mindfully, and simply focus on your breath for that short moment.
  2. Connect it to an existing habit
    One of the difficulties of creating a new habit is remembering to do it. When you link it to another habit that is already in your routine it becomes much easier. For example brushing your teeth or
    making a cup of coffee – train yourself so that before taking your first sip, you take ten slow, deep breaths or straight after brushing your teeth, you sit for two minutes and do some breathing exercises.
  3. Use a meditation app like Silatha that is designed to help build a habit
    Get supported by using a meditation app such as Silatha. The special method has been fine-tuned over many years and promises to increase your chances for success, as well as being 6 times more successful than any other meditation app in creating a habit that lasts. The method includes linking your personal intention to a tangible object which then becomes your reminder. So, when a stressful moment happens during the day, you hold your object (called your ‘Gem’) and you will go back to your intention. This is not the only technique Silatha uses to build a lasting meditation habit as the guided meditations range in length, support topics and ensure you acknowledge the positive steps toward change you’re taking, congratulating you along the way.
  4. Find a buddy
    Are you the kind of person that thrives alongside others or perhaps needs an extra push? Many of us do, so if that’s the case for you, get a meditation buddy who can keep you excited and on track. Align on a time of the day that you both will meditate and keep each other
    accountable. It’s always easier when done together. You can also join a group, so you meet like-minded women and you’ll stay reminded and inspired – join the Silatha Tribe here.
  5. Have a tangible reminder
    Invest in yourself with a tangible reminder. This can be a beautiful piece of jewellery (check out the Silatha collection here, where each piece has a special intention linked to it already), or create a warm space in your home with some candles and flowers, where you feel calm and
    relaxed. Make sure there is a tangible element in your daily surroundings that helps you remember that you want to sit for a few minutes, so you can’t forget.

With a combination of the above suggestions you will be well on your way to building that healthy habit you desire, so then whatever 2021 may bring, you’ll be ready! You will certainly notice you’re more calm, focused and perhaps start to feel that you have your life under control and are heading in a positive direction.

And lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Go bit by bit, remembering that building a meditation routine is a marathon, not a sprint and great things take time, so don’t rush. Build day by day and if you miss one, don’t be too tough on yourself, just smile and pick it up the next day.

We wish you well and hope you’ll enjoy the Silatha method, here you can find more information:the Silatha app [Android & Apple], website and on social.


About Silatha

Silatha Founder, Veroniek Vermeulen, is on a quest to break women’s mental health taboos and support women through their mental health issues with meditation. Veroniek enjoyed a long career as a Senior level marketing expert. At some point in her professional life she realised that status and money weren’t making her happy. A life changing experience amidst the beautiful surroundings of the Himalayas got her in contact with meditation and this led to the creation of Silatha, a company that wants to improve the mental health of women harnessing a special meditation
method that becomes a long lasting habit.

www.silatha.com

Follicular Tracking & Low Progesterone

From the Founder

14 months after coming off the pill and after 8 months of actively “trying”, I went to a fancy fertility clinic to start follicular tracking to see what’s up, and whaddayaknow, it turns out I’ve got low progesterone. 

Low progesterone is apparently a pretty common reason for infertility. But even though a lot of women experience it, when I Googled it, alas, I couldn’t find any real, interesting or inspiring information or stories about it online. So, to help spread the word, here’s mine…

What is follicular tracking?

It might mean slightly different things for different women, but for me, it means having to go for regular scans to monitor the growth of my follicles (where the eggs grow), use a kit to predict when I’m ovulating (hello pee sticks), time sex accordingly (oh joys!), and then have a blood test to check that I’ve actually ovulated. And on my first tracked cycle, my blood test showed that I have low progesterone.

What does low progesterone mean (in terms of conception)? 

A lot, it turns out! Progesterone is a female sex hormone and if you don’t have enough of it, it’s simple: you may have trouble getting or staying pregnant. It’s produced mainly in the ovaries following ovulation each month, and helps to regulate your cycle; but its main job is to get your uterus ready for pregnancy and helps maintain the uterine lining throughout pregnancy.

How do I feel about it? 

Honestly? Fucking relieved. Relieved to know that there’s a reason why, over a year later, we’re still not pregnant. Relieved to know that, whilst it’s my body that isn’t doing what it should (in terms of producing the right level of hormones), there’s really nothing I can do about it. Relieved to know that after months of planning and timing sex and stressing so much that it ended up being too difficult to have that perfectly timed sex, that my planing and timing wasn’t off – my hormones were. And, most of all, relieved to know that it’s treatable.

So what now? 

We keep tracking, and this time during the second half of my cycle, I pop some progesterone pessaries to get their levels up to where they should be, and for the next few months try to conceive “naturally” as if I had a more “normal” cycle. Talk about levelling the playing field!

And who knows, maybe after a few months with a little extra suppository support, and a few rounds of acupuncture – I’ve just started to see the brilliant Mandy Brass to help balance my cycles, (and it was actually Mandy who spotted low progesterone well before the blood test, from previous BBT data I’d give her) – hopefully the mixture of Western and Chinese medicines will work their magic. 

As anyone who has been trying for a while will know, (and I know that my length of trying is fractional compared to so many women) – trying to get pregnant has been a rollercoaster. And up till now, if I’m totally honest, I was more angry at my body for not getting pregnant, rather than actually wanting a baby. But now, for whatever reason – maybe it’s the new year, maybe it’s the new house, or maybe it’s because I finally have answers – for the first time in my life, I actually want a baby. I’m ready for it (or as ready as I’ll ever be).

So don’t you worry, I feel good about this. (It isn’t fucking easy, mind you, but I do feel good). There’s comfort knowing that I’m no longer out there “doing it on my own”. I have help. And answers. And a plan. And hope. 

So wish us luck on this next chapter of our journey. And if you want to, I’m here to talk, always. 

Arianna x 

Middle Eastern Chickpea & Broccoli Recipe

During Pachamama Wellness Week (our week long celebration of free, virtual events centred around well-being for women, mamas, mums-to-be, partners, little ones and friends, from Monday 9 – Friday 13 November, 2020) we hosted a live cook along with Le’Nise Brothers to promote hormonal balance through nutrition.

Click on the video below to watch the live, and cook along with us. Ingredients list and cooking instructions below.

Middle Eastern Chickpeas & Broccoli 
Serves 2, Prep and Cook Time: 25 Minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely dice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 x 400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 medium broccoli, roughly chopped coriander,
  • 2 tbspcumin
  • 2 tbsp 
  • 6 tbsp natural yoghurt 
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • fresh coriander 
  • sea salt
  • hot sauce (optional)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Heat a pan (I love using a cast iron pan as it adds iron to your meal) to medium. When it’s hot, add the olive oil. When the olive oil is hot and sizzling, add the onion and 3 of the diced cloves of garlic and season with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down and let them soften for 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Add 1 tbsp coriander and 1 tbsp cumin, stir and let cook for a minute. 
  3. Add the broccoli and another pinch of salt. Stir and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until the broccoli starts to soften. 
  4. Before you add in the chickpeas, make sure there’s no leftover liquid. I usually drain the chickpeas into a strainer, rinse them in the strainer and then leave the strainer in the sink so that all the liquid completely drains out. 
  5. Add the spinach and stir so the spinach is fully mixed in. This will cook quickly.
  6. Add the chickpeas and the rest of the dried coriander and cumin. Stir and let cook for 7-10 minutes so the chickpeas soften and the flavours blend. Taste and add more salt as needed.
  7. While this is cooking, mix the yoghurt with the garlic, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. 
  8. Serve with the yoghurt sauce and a few splashes of hot sauce (optional) on top of the chickpea mixture and enjoy!

Pachamama’s Wellness Week Supports Black Mothers Matter

We’re so excited to announce that Pachamama is launching our first-ever Virtual Wellness Week. It’s a week-long celebration of free virtual events centered around well-being for women, mamas, mums-to-be, partners and little ones from 9-13 November, with each day focused on a different theme of wellness, including: nutrition, movement, sex, hormones, mind and body.

All the classes, talks, meditations and workshops throughout the week are free to attend, however, we are asking anyone who’s able to, to pay what they can, with all proceeds from the week donated to Black Mothers Matter.

Pachamama founder, Arianna Radji Lee says:

“This year has been challenging for everyone, but particularly so for parents. I really wanted to create something special and feel-good for our community, so they could head into the end of the year feeling strong, cared-for and connected.”

Feeling good is important, but we also need to do good. Earlier this year I made a commitment to educate myself and our community on racial privilege that exists in the world today, and help raise the profile of black-business owners in the parenting and wellness spaces. As part of that on-going commitment, all money raised during the week will be donated to Black Mothers Matter, a UK-based charity whose mission is to create a dedicated, safe space for Black mothers to get information and support on issues they face during pregnancy and after birth.” 

To donate to Black Mothers Matter, click here.

To see the full line up of events during wellness week and to book into sessions, visit: https://bit.ly/pachamama-wellnessweek2020

BLACK MOTHERS MATTER’S MISSION & VISION

Their mission is to create dedicated resources, a platform and safe space for black mothers to get information and support on the issues faced by them during pregnancy and the first year after birth.

Their vision is that all black mothers can easily know the issues faced by them and have easily accessible advice on solutions so that they and their children are no longer disproportionately in danger during pregnancy and the first year after birth.

BLACK MOTHERS MATTER AIMS TO:

Assure black woman that their journey is just as valid and important
Most resources available to pregnant women and new mothers are made through the lens of whiteness. Though broadly speaking this encompasses a wide range of things that women will go through during this time, this fails to address the cultural differences that face black women and the struggles and difficulties that may face a black woman.

Reduce barriers to black woman seeking professional support
We know that black women are less likely to attend appointments with doctors and midwives early. The most comprehensive study was of 24,319 women in Britain. Compared to White women, women from minority ethnic groups were more likely to be younger, multiparous and without a partner. They tended to access antenatal care later in pregnancy, have fewer antenatal checks, fewer ultrasound scans and less screening. They were less likely to receive pain relief in labour and, Black African women in particular, were more likely to deliver by emergency caesarean section.
Postnatally, women from minority ethnic groups had longer lengths of hospital stay and were more likely to breastfeed but they had fewer home visits from midwives. Throughout their maternity care, women from minority ethnic groups were less likely to feel spoken to so they could understand, to be treated with kindness, to be sufficiently involved in decisions and to have confidence and trust in the staff. (Henderson et al Experiencing maternity care: the care received and perceptions of
women from different ethnic groups, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013).

Provide resources that are appropriate for black women
We aim to curate resources that are culturally sensitive for black women. This will include pregnancy information, information of what to expect at appointments and also signposting to other organisations that may be helpful.

IMPORTANT STATISTICS

  • Black women in the UK have more than five times the risk of dying in pregnancy or up to six weeks postpartum compared with white women. (MMBRACE UK REPORT 2015-7)
  • Black women have a higher risk of miscarriage with both spontaneous and IVF pregnancy (Dhillon et al Investigating the effect of ethnicity on IVF Outcome, Reproductive Biomedicine online 2015)
  • Black women are twice as likely to have a stillborn baby than their white counterparts (J. Muglu et al., Risks of stillbirth and neonatal death with advancing gestation at term: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies of 15 million pregnancies, PLOS Medicine 2019)
  • Black women have higher rates of non-attendance for cervical screening – 62% for Caribbean women and 44% for African women, as compared to 11% for white women (Marlow et al Understanding cervical screening non-attendance among ethnic minority women in England, British journal of Cancer 2015)
  • Black women are 3 times more likely to have fibroids than white women, and they tend to grow more quickly (Stewart et al Epidemiology of uterine fibroids a systematic review, British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2017)
  • Black women and women from minority ethnic groups are underrepresented in medical research studies and clinical trials (A. Smart et al., The under- representation of minority ethnic groups in UK medical research, Ethnicity Health 2016)
  • Black women and women from minority ethnic groups are more likely to have a poorer experience of healthcare during pregnancy, delivery and aftercare (Henderson et al Experiencing maternity care: the care received and perceptions of women from different ethnic groups, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013)
  • Black women with breast cancer have a higher mortality rate than white women (4 H. Møller et al., Short-term breast cancer survival in relation to ethnicity, stage, grade and receptor status: national cohort study in England 2016)
  • Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women are at an increased risk of having a pre-term birth, stillbirth, neonatal death or a baby born with low birth weight (Garcia et al., Specific antenatal interventions for BAME pregnant women at high risk of poor birth outcomes 2015)
  • Ethnic disparities in health outcomes have been shown to clearly exist despite socioeconomic factors and other demographic variables (J. Dovidio et al., Racial biases in medicine and healthcare disparities 2016)

To donate to Black Mothers Matter, click here.

To see the full line up of events during wellness week and to book into sessions, visit: https://bit.ly/pachamama-wellnessweek2020

Ways to Celebrate UK Black History Month 2020

As part of are ongoing commitment to educate ourselves and our community in anti-racism work, each week during this month we’ll be including a spotlight section to our weekly newsletter, to highlight related events, articles and/or videos to raise awareness of UK Black history. Here’s what’s been included so far:

Visit
The Black Cultural Archives heritage centre in Brixton 
The Black History Month exhibitions at Museum of London Docklands

Watch
Go Back To Where You Came From a programme that explores issues of belonging and identity through a specific type of racial abuse
Black Classical Music: The Forgotten History to hear more about influential black composers from John Blanke and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to Shirley Thompson
Watch Black British filmmakers explore the impact of George Floyd’s killing by the police and the protest it sparked in the UK through four-minute-long episodes in the series Take Your Knee Off My Neck
Black history inspired documentaries, films and series from RadioTimes’ list. The list includes where to watch/access in the UK. We recommend 13th and Becoming.

Follow
@r29unbothered on Instagram made for and by Black millennial women
@sharethemicnow High profile white women hand over their social media accounts to magnifying Black women and the important work that they’re doing 
@colourfulcelebrations A baby gift shop that celebrates colour, culture and heritage boldly and proudly and watch their video on what representation means to their Colourful Mamas
@HereWeeRead, an Instagram account by Diversity & Inclusion Expert, Charnaie, who features diverse children’s book recommendations. Storytime sees her reading a diverse children’s book and can be found under the ‘Storytime’ stories on her account.

Read
About Olive Morris and her role in the movement of Black women in 1970’s Britain fighting against racial discrimination  
The 392the debut novel fromAshley Hickson-Lovence from Hackney in London about a 36 minute bus journey on the 392 in London, the characters on that bus journey and their stories.
About Wilston Samuel Jackson, the first Black train driver.


Ask
Alexa for the ‘fact of the day’ throughout October to learn more about UK and Ireland Black history

Postpartum Psychosis

After an incredibly brave, humbling and eye-opening conversation we had with postpartum psychosis survivor, Eve Canavan, we wanted to share some information about this rare but serious mental health illness that often goes un- or mis-diagnosed, so that you as a Mama, or you as a partner or friend of someone who experiences this can tell the signs and know how to help.

Eve is coordinator of the UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week for the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, and as you’ll hear in her story even the health professionals she sought help from where unable to recognise postpartum psychosis, and when they did, not all of them knew how to help her. Please help spread the work about this severe and sometimes frightening illness, so that no women have to suffer alone or for long.

The below information was provided by the Action for PostPartum Psychosis (APP) website. For more information please visit: app-network.org


WHAT IS POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS?

Postpartum Psychosis (PP) is a severe, but treatable form of mental illness that occurs after having a baby. It can happen ‘out of the blue’ to women without previous experience of mental illness. There are some groups of women, women with a history of bipolar disorder for example, who are at much higher risk. PP normally begins in the first few days to weeks after childbirth. It can get worse very quickly and should always be treated as a medical emergency. Most women need to be treated with medication and admitted to hospital.

With the right treatment, women with PP do make a full recovery. Recovery takes time and the journey may be tough. The illness can be frightening and shocking for both the woman experiencing it and her family. Women do return to their normal selves, and are able to regain the mothering role they expected. There is no evidence that the baby’s long term development is affected by Postpartum Psychosis.

The period after childbirth can be a devastating time to experience a severe mental illness. For women who experience PP, their partners, friends and family, it can be hard to find high quality information about the symptoms, causes and treatment.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

There are a large variety of symptoms that women with PP can experience. Women may be:

  • Excited, elated, or ‘high’.
  • Depressed, anxious, or confused.
  • Excessively irritable or changeable in mood.

Postpartum Psychosis includes one or more of the following:

  • Strange beliefs that could not be true (delusions).
  • Hearing, seeing, feeling or smelling things that are not there (hallucinations).
  • High mood with loss of touch with reality (mania).
  • Severe confusion.

These are also common symptoms:

  • Being more talkative, sociable, on the phone an excessive amount.
  • Having a very busy mind or racing thoughts.
  • Feeling very energetic and like ‘super-mum’ or agitated and restless.
  • Having trouble sleeping, or not feeling the need to sleep.
  • Behaving in a way that is out of character or out of control.
  • Feeling paranoid or suspicious of people’s motives.
  • Feeling that things are connected in special ways or that stories on the TV or radio have special personal meaning.
  • Feeling that the baby is connected to God or the Devil in some way.

There are a great many other symptoms that can be experienced. For more information see mums’ and dads’ personal descriptions of PP.

WHAT’S THE DIAGNOSIS?

Postpartum Psychosis is the label used by most professionals for an episode of mania or psychosis with onset soon after childbirth. However, other names can be used and this can be confusing. You might hear the terms: Puerperal Psychosis; Postnatal Psychosis; Mania or Bipolar Disorder triggered by childbirth (this doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner will develop ongoing Bipolar Disorder); Schizoaffective Disorder with onset following childbirth (this doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner will develop ongoing Schizoaffective Disorder); Postnatal Depression with psychotic features.

There are many other mental health conditions that occur following childbirth, including Postnatal Depression (PND), severe anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is important that these conditions are not grouped under the term ‘Postnatal Depression’. PND is much more common than PP, but tends to require different treatments and has different causes and outcomes.

WHAT’S THE CAUSE?

Unfortunately we know little about the causes of PP. Research points to biological, probably hormonal, factors related to pregnancy and childbirth but many other factors are likely to be involved.

For further information about PP take a look at APP’s Frequently Asked Questions, read their Insider Guides, see the Royal College of Psychiatrists PP patient information leaflet which APP have helped to develop, read the personal stories of APP members, and find out about the research APP are conducting to help understand more about the condition.


ABOUT ACTION FOR POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS

APP’s Peer Support network helps women and families affected by PP feel understood, supported and less isolated. With the support of world-leading academic and clinical experts, an amazing, supportive, peer-led, lived experience community has been developed. The Peer Support community has been described as “life changing”, “lifting me from the shadows of a life half-lived” and a “good and precious resource to all who have been affected by PP”. Our evaluation shows that the service saves lives and improves recovery outcomes. It is the only PP support network in the UK, and the largest in the world with over 900 members. 

Our workshops, conferences and arts events enable women to articulate their experience of PP and develop information to help other women and families. We facilitate ground-breaking research into the causes of PP at the universities of Birmingham and Cardiff and produce ‘Insider Guides’ and other expert literature to support affected families and health professionals caring for those with PP.

APP is a collaborative project run by women who have experienced PP, specialist health professionals and academic experts from Birmingham and Cardiff Universities. Our project is based within the Mood Disorders Research Group in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham. We are very grateful for their support.

Interpreting Stories of Motherhood

By guest contributer: Emily Orlik, co-founder of lifestyle brand NINA.

Having a baby in the middle of a global pandemic and a national lockdown was not what my brother-in-law and his wife had envisaged. We heard the challenges – how there was less support available, how partners could only be at the hospital a short while, how it was challenging to buy essentials like
nappies. We were frustrated too that we couldn’t be there in person to support and to celebrate and welcome our new niece. 2000 babies are born each day in the UK so that’s a lot of other new parents and families in the same boat.

Over the past few months we’ve heard lots of women’s’ stories and experiences of their journey to motherhood at this moment in time. NHS midwives who want to remind everyone to “Remember, we are always here for you, ‘new normal’ or not.” Completely coincidentally corroborated by Annie, who came out of hospital in the middle of the lockdown – “Midwives are still there and doing a brilliant job at keeping us and our new babies safe.” Kate shared about her fertility struggles, suggesting to others to “Try not to focus on the ‘what ifs’, because we can’t predict the future, nor
can we dwell too much on the past.” Primrose discussed how being a naturopath has been incredibly empowering for her during pregnancy (and how she can’t live without kefir every morning or her raspberry leaf & nettle tea to prevent leg cramps at night!)

Primrose Matheson – Co-Founder of Bedstraw and Madder – Blog ‘Inspiring Women’

Everyone has their own story. At NINA we launched The Motherhood Prints at the beginning of lockdown: limited-edition art prints inspired by motherhood to celebrate all the women we know and love. It’s been amazing to read about the inspiration behind the artworks and how the artists interpreted the theme of motherhood. Artist Harlie Briggs for example paints abstract nudes and nature. Beautiful pieces. But more than that, there’s so much beneath the surface that we don’t always hear about. Through her art Harlie is out to celebrate the female form “because society
decides not to.” And in creating her prints for The Motherhood Prints in particular, Harlie was reflecting on how much her own mother loved pregnancy and so she wanted to capture the joy she felt as she neared her due date.

Artist Harlie Briggs

It’s easy to forget to simply be inspired! There’s so much female power and energy in the world. Without forgetting that there are a huge variety of experiences of motherhood, it’s amazing to stop and simply be inspired by how powerful motherhood is.

Take a look at The Motherhood Prints at our website and follow us on Instagram here. 10% of the profits from each print sold goes to Awamaki, a charity that supports female artisans in Peru.


About Nina

NINA is a lifestyle brand selling unique artist-designed products for families

www.ninababy.co.uk

@heyninababy

Classic Beef Bourguignon

Recipe by ByRuby

Makes 8 portions (Approximately 300g per portion)
Dairy free

This is always a hit for a dinner party or a cosy solo supper at home alone.  Use the best quality meat you can afford and you will truly taste the difference.  Cooking low and slow tenderises the meat beautifully and it will fall apart when cooked.  This dish tastes far better if left for a day after cooking so that flavours have time to intensify and penetrate the meat.  Serve with a baked potato or tagliatelle and a sprinkling of parmesan….

INGREDIENTS LIST:

1.5kg diced organic / grass fed beef (chuck steak works well)
50g plain flour
2 large onions, diced
5 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 stick of celery, diced
3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
5 sprigs of thyme leaves, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
200g smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
750ml bottle of red wine
1 beef stock cube with 1 liter of water or stock reduction equivalent
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
500g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
½ bunch parsley
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING METHOD:

  1. Dust the diced beef in flour then brown the meat in batches in a large saucepan with a little oil. Once all the beef has been browned put aside.
  2. In the same pan wipe any burnt bits away, then add the onions and with a tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of salt, sweat down until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes
  3. Once the onions are soft add the carrots and celery then cook for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Add the chopped thyme, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves and tomato puree then cook for 5 minutes
  5. Add the bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the beef back into the pan
  6. Cover with red wine a turn down the heat to a low simmer. Reduce for 15 minutes then add the beef stock and water. Cook low and slow for 35 minutes
  7. Then add the mushrooms and chunky carrots, carry on cooking until the beef falls apart, about an hour or so, make sure the sauce doesn’t become too dry and keep topping up with water.
  8. Once the beef is soft take off the heat and add the mustard and parsley. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Freezing tips: In a freezable and microwaveable or oven proof container (see page .. for more information on freezing tips) portion out 300g of the beef casserole then once the mixture has cooled put the lid on and write a label ‘Beef bourguignon’ with a best before of 6 months. 

To reheat straight from frozen, microwave:  Put into the microwave for 3 minutes, take out of the microwave and remove the lid and stir, place the lid on top but not sealed closed then put the container back into the microwave and heat for another 5 minutes or until piping hot. Leave to stand for 3 minutes then serve.

To reheat straight from frozen, oven:  Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas Mark 4. Take the lid off the oven proof container and then cover the top with foil to ensure the food will not dry in the reheating process.  Place on a baking tray and heat in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until piping hot, Leave to stand for 3 minutes before serving.


About ByRuby

Seriously special, home-cooked food. That’s what ByRuby is all about. We source the finest produce from local, ethical suppliers then lovingly prepare all your favourite meals in small batches. Super fresh, nourishing dishes made with sustainability in mind, for you to enjoy whenever you like.

“As a busy chef, I knew what it’s like to have little time at home, but still crave proper home cooking. On my days off, I loved to visit farmers markets, meeting the producers so that I could buy the catch up day, the freshest veg and the most ethical, local meat. Then I’d come home and happily spend the day batch cooking all my favourite recipes. When friends started asking me to send dishes to them too, I knew something had begun.

ByRuby was born because I want to share the joy and comfort of home style cooking, using the very best ingredients available”