Morning Sickness? These Breakfasts Might Help

Morning sickness is the pits; there’s no point sugar coating it. Waking up every single day feeling like you’re on a boat, or worse like you’ve been out all night on “the sauce” (when you were actually in bed by 8.30) is completely unfair. But, unfortunately it goes with the territory.

When you wake up it’s unlikely that you’ll feel like eating food, but it can help with the nausea associated with morning sickness. There is a known link between blood sugar and morning sickness.

If you think you can stomach it, here are our suggestions for the best breakfast to help manage your pregnancy nausea.

Some DIY Granola or Muesli

High in fibre and good fats, a home made muesli will stave off your hunger (hunger is a risk factor for inducing nausea) and will be free of preservatives and the high sugar content that often comes with store bought cereals. Try to include some rolled oats, almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and shredded coconut. Serve it with some greek yogurt and berries or some other fresh fruit. If you don’t manage to eat anything else for the rest of the day, you know you’ve have a great breakfast packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and calcium.

Banana Porridge

Mash a banana and stir it through the milk and oats while they’re cooking. This breakfast is excellent for pregnancy health because bananas are high in potassium (an essential vitamin in pregnancy) but also, oats are high in vitamin B6, which helps ease morning sickness. A shake of cinnamon will also help stabilise blood sugar. As with your granola, serve with greek yogurt and fresh fruit for a healthy sustaining breakfast.

Fried Eggs on Toast

Eggs are a great breakfast in pregnancy because they are loaded with iron. If you’re low on iron, apart from myriad other unpleasant symptoms (such as fatigue and racing heart), it will also trigger nausea. Fry, or scramble your eggs, or put them in an omelette so they are well cooked. Not only is this safer, it will mean the texture of the eggs won’t make your nausea worse. Serve on top of wholemeal or rye toast to add an extra serve of fibre.

A Breakfast Smoothie

Skip the coffee and make a nutritious smoothy. Caffein can induce thirst and being thirsty is not great for nausea. Throw in any combination of fruits or veggies that you think you can stomach but be sure to include some fresh ginger as it is known to help ease nausea, some good quality fats – found in avocado or full fat greek yogurt and some berries, which are high in vitamins and will make it taste great.

As a Last Option

If you really feel you just can’t stomach any of this, try nibbling on a handful of trail mix. They are high in good fats and will help to stabilise your blood sugar.

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What’s With All the Doctor’s Appointments in Pregnancy?

Congratulations! You’re pregnancy test is positive. Great news! You book in to see your GP to have your pregnancy confirmed, and find out what to do next. Your doctor then presents you with a nine month calendar of antenatal appointments and you start to feel a little overwhelmed. You’ve only ever visited the doctor for a sore throat, and your regular pap smear. Then you start to wonder if you really need to go to all these doctor’s appointments. The short answer is yes.

You Need to Keep These Doctor’s Appointments

While it may seem a bit over the top to have so many doctor’s appointments for what is a completely natural state to be in. The truth of it is that all the appointments serve a purpose and you’ll be glad you showed up.

The purpose of all these appointments is to check on you and your baby. That’s a pretty important reason to keep the appointment. Your care-giver (whether it’s your GP, a midwife or an obstetrician) will monitor your baby’s growth and the state of your physical and emotional health.

The plan is to pick up any possible problems so they can be treated as early as possible. If there’s no problem, that’s great, you just show up next time. The thing about potential issues in pregnancy, they can be hard to detect if you’re not a medical professional, so it’s in your’s and your baby’s interests to keep the appointments.

It’s also an opportunity to talk about any worries, ask any questions or get help with any health concerns you may have. For example, your doctor can provide support to help you give up smoking, provide advice around any excess weight you may be carrying, or any other issues that you have that could impact your baby. They’ll also give you advice on any screening tests that you will be offered during your pregnancy.

How Many Appointments Will I Have?

Generally speaking, you will have eight to ten appointments with your care-giver,  for a first baby. If it’s your second baby, and you had a healthy complication-free pregnancy the fist time around, you may have six to eight appointments. There may be more appointments to keep, depending on your health and if you have any complications that need special attention.

Taking a Support Person

If you’re a bit nervous about your appointments it’s a good idea to take a support person with you – your partner, a friend or family member. It’s also a good idea to take someone with you to your first screening scan. Having someone there will help if you can’t take in all the details of the appointment.

Once you get used to the idea that you’ll have regular appointments you’ll probably find that you look forward to each one, as it’s a chance to learn more about your baby and each appointment is a step closer to meeting them.

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The Emotional Conflict When Maternity Leave Ends

Few women experience a change in life circumstances more drastic than when we have a family. Generally speaking, most women have carved out a life for themselves, have a job and probably a career that they are deeply engaged in. That time at home with your baby is a hard, beautiful, joyful and incredibly trying time. You might find that you are feeling all ‘the feels’ when your maternity leave comes to an end.

The Emotional Conflict

The thought of getting back out into the world is exciting. It’s something that most of us are dying to do because by the time we’ve had 12 months at home immersed in all things baby, we’re ready for some adult company, some new challenges and, let’s face it, a bit more money in our pockets. But the reality is that for all the great things about going back to work, it will probably leave you feeling very emotionally conflicted.

The pull to our children is bigger than we imagined it could be. Yet most women these days live a modern life, with all the trappings that go with modern life, so it’s natural to want to reclaim that after a time of being in the parenting trenches.

Am I Still Relevant?

The other big question that many women are asking themselves after 12 months out of the work force is  “am I still relevant?”.  Often, there have been changes at work, which can be disconcerting. It’s not uncommon for women to return to work and find that their job is not the job they left behind 12 months earlier.

While these changes within your work sphere, and more significantly within yourself, can leave you feeling a bit wobbly, vulnerability is a great force for change. If things have shifted for you it’s a great opportunity to really assess what your goals and your hopes are, and use the opportunity to engineer a situation that works for you and for your family.

The New Normal

Some great advice I was given when heading back to work after having my babies, was to persevere. It takes time to get used to your new normal. Think back to how topsy turvy things felt when you first came home with your baby, but then you adjusted and settled in to your new life.

The same will happen when returning to work. You’ll navigate your way through any changes at work, you’ll get your morning routine with the childcare drop off down pat, and then in a few months time you’ll likely wake up and look forward to heading in to the office.

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Coffee Anyone? Just How Much Is Safe When Breastfeeding?

In those first ‘new born’ weeks of hazy days, constant night feeds and nappy changes, it can feel like coffee is the only life-giving source. You wouldn’t be the first new Mum to reinvigorate her coffee addiction. But it’s worth considering how much you’re consuming, particularly if you’re breast feeding.

According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, breast feeding mothers can consume ‘moderate amounts’ of caffeine without it impacting too much on your baby. A moderate amount of caffeine would look like a few cups a day.

However, new borns can be sensitive to caffein so it’s worth being mindful of how much you consume. Caffein does filter through to breast milk at the rate of around one percent of the caffein the mother has consumed. Breast milk reaches it’s peak level of caffeine about 60 minutes after she has consumed her coffee.

Coffee is the most obvious source of caffeine but it can also be found in other drinks and in chocolate. Here is a guide to caffein levels in caffein-containing food and drink:

Food                                                                                             Caffeine level (mg)

Percolated coffee                                                                          60–120 mg/250 mL cup

Formulated caffeinated drinks / ‘Energy’ Drinks                        80 mg/250 mL can

Instant coffee (1 teaspoon/cup)                                                  60–80 mg/250mL cup

Tea                                                                                                  10–50 mg/250mL cup

Coca Cola                                                                                       48.75 mg/375 mL cup

Milk chocolate                                                                                20 mg/100 g bar

Green tea                                                                                        35-70 mg/250mL cup

Take-away coffee                                                                          51-332 mg/serving3

Signs that perhaps the baby has taken in too much caffeine are they may become colicky, unsettled or jittery. Or they may not sleep as well as usual. The mother’s let-down reflex may also be affected if she has had too much caffeine. But what is an ok for one mother may be too much for another, as we all process caffein at different rates.

If you are concerned the best thing to do is observe your baby and make a judgement based on how they respond after you’ve consumed caffein.

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Should I Give My Baby the Flu Shot?

After a horror flu season in 2017, many parents are talking about ways to protect their children from the flu. The ‘flu shot’ is one of the options coming up in conversation. But there is a lack of knowledge around whether it is safe to immunise your baby against the flu. Here, we help you demystify the flu shot by outlining what the experts are saying.

All children between the ages of six months and four years of age are eligible for a government-funded flu shot in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children between six months and four years and all children who have specific medical conditions are eligible for a flu shot under the National Immunisation Program.

Here are a few reasons to consider the vaccination for your child:

  • Young children catch and spread the flu more than any other age group, they also have the highest incidents of hospitalisation from the flu, than any other group. This means they are at a higher risk of getting and becoming very ill from the flu.
  • Apart from possible hospitalisation, young children often require visits to the emergency department for high fevers, coughs and other complications (such as brain inflamation) brought on by the flu, in otherwise healthy children.
  • The risk of catching the flu if you are vaccinated is reduced by between 50 – 60 per cent. So while it is not a guarantee that your child won’t get the flu, it reduces their chances. If they do still get the flu, it may help reduce the severity of the symptoms.
  • There are minimal side effects to a flu vaccination, with the most common being a sore arm and slight fever.

It is not recommended that babies under six months be given the flu vaccination, instead it is recommended that mothers are immunised whilst pregnant, as this will offer their new born some protection.

If you would like to read more about the flu, its symptoms, treatment and vaccination you can visit the Royal Children’s Hospital website.

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Here’s How to Get Your Pregnancy Glow On

While some women are lucky enough to experience that pregnancy glow from the get-go, there are many who aren’t so lucky. Raging hormones, cravings for food you may have never been interested in before and your changing shape can present a few skin challenges during pregnancy. But don’t despair, there are things you can do to restore your glow.

Pigmentation Changes

This is a tricky one, it can be a great thing for some and an unhappy pregnancy side effect for others. Between 50 and 70 percent of women experience changes in skin tone during pregnancy. Women with darker skin are more prone to it, but paler skin tones experience it too. To counteract it try eating a diet rich in folic acid, include foods such as leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus, beans, peas, avocado, seeds and nuts; and don’t forget to take your daily prenatal vitamin.

Also be sure to use sunscreen daily, even during winter, as UV can darken patches and make them less likely to fade quickly after the birth. Also, Vitamin C is a safe way to brighten your skin – try using a Vitamin C infused serum to support your skin health.

Oily Skin

It’s those pesky hormones again! Some women find their skin gets more oily in pregnancy resulting in spots and blackheads. Wash your face twice daily using a pH balanced cleanser. Follow up with a oil based moisturiser to balance the natural oils in your skin. Be sure to avoid topical retinoids (such as Retin-A or Differin) or salicylic acid as their safety in pregnancy hasn’t been been tested so best to err on the side of caution. Try to cut out refined sugar and refined grains and opt for whole grains, lots of fresh fruit and veggies and natural fats.

Stretch Marks

While we all want to avoid stretch marks, the truth of it is that around 75 percent of us end up with some form of post-pregnancy stretch marks. It’s mostly caused by genetics but it can be caused by sudden weight gain or loss. Beware of creams and potions that claim to get rid of your stretch marks, these generally don’t work.

You’re better off using almond oil, olive oil or coconut oils as these oils are closer to the natural oils that your skin produces. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and even a regular massage may help, but if you’re genetically predisposed to them you probably won’t escape them completely. But the good news is, they fade over time and you’ll be so busy looking after your baby, you’ll probably forget they’re even there.

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What To Expect at Your 12 Week Scan

In Australia, women are offered two ultrasounds throughout their pregnancy. One is offered between 11 and 13 weeks and is known as the 12 week scan. The second is known as the 20 week scan. The 12 week scan is offered to confirm the dates of your pregnancy, forms part of the screening for downs syndrome, will check on general growth and development of the foetus, and will show if you are having more than one baby. It’s a good idea to have your partner or someone else with you at this appointment, to support you through it and share your excitement.

Screening Tests

The 12 week scan is used to screen for the risk associated with the most common congenital chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome. This screening is done in conjunction with a blood test, which is done at around 10 weeks pregnant. The combination of the blood test results, the mother’s age and the ultrasound imaging help care-providers analyse their patient’s risk of Down Syndrome.

Looking for a Heart Beat

For most parents, the 12 week scan will be the first time they see their baby, and they are able to enjoy the thrill of seeing their baby’s heart beating. So, while it is mostly a wonderful and exciting appointment, its primary purpose is to look for problems with the pregnancy. The first thing the sonographer will look for is the baby’s heart beat.

How It’s Done

In most cases the ultrasound will be performed by scanning the abdomen, but in some cases a vaginal scan will need to be done, as this provides clearer images. Through these images, measurements of your baby can be taken to ensure their development is on track and they are roughly where they should be. The scan usually takes around half an hour to perform.

Other things that the sonographer will check for during the scan include:

  • the size of the foetus and developing placenta
  • measure the amount of fluid at the base of the foetus’ neck; through this measurement an individualised risk assessment for Down Syndrome can be made
  • check for other physical abnormalities
  • check the mother’s reproductive anatomy such as the uterus, fallopian tubes and pelvic region for other possible complications
  • measurements for the Crown Rump length, which is the length from its head to its bottom.

Generally, your sonographer will talk you through the scan and will tell you if everything looks to be going well. If required, the sonographer may seek clarification or a second opinion from another doctor while performing the scan. This can cause some parents to worry, but in most cases they will tell you what they are looking for and why. You will usually be given your scan results immediately and your Down Syndrome risk within a few hours of the scan.

How To Interpret Your Results

If you are found to be ‘high risk’ you will be offered further diagnostic testing. It is important to understand that a ‘low risk’ score does not guarantee that there are no chromosomal abnormalities. If you are aware of any genetic disorders in your family or your partner’s family, it is best seek counselling from your care giver around this issue, as the 12 week scan alone may not be able to provide you with answers.

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A Brief Word on Growth Charts

I’m sure you’ve seen the growth charts for tracking the weight, length and head circumference of your baby in their Maternal & Child Health book.

Simply put, if your baby is on the 50th centile for weight this means that 50% of the population is heavier than him or her and 50% lighter. That’s ‘average’. If he or she is on the 90th centile only 10% of the population is heavier and 90% is lighter, and the same for height and head circumference. So it’s a guide for tracking what is average.

Simple. But I keep meeting parents who worry about these growth charts. Here are a few scenarios that might sound familiar to you.

The Smaller Sized Baby

I met a baby recently with a tiny mother and father who were worried about him. He was on the 3rd centile for weight, length and head circumference. Then he went to childcare, got a run of viruses and lost his appetite for a few weeks. His weight fell below the 3rd centile. Panic.  “He’s off the chart!”  He was small, like his parents, well nourished and recovering from infections. If he’d been on the 50th and dropped to the 25th there wouldn’t have been so much anxiety.

The Baby With Larger Head Circumference

I’ve seen a couple of babies in the last week whose weight and length are on the 50th  but their head circumferences are on the 90th. Some babies just have big heads (usually there are other big heads in the family). Sometimes we do a head ultrasound just to silence all the anxious remarks from childcare, grandparents, and strangers in shopping centres.

The Baby That Was Big but Isn’t Anymore

A really frequent worry is for the baby whose weight was on the 50th from birth onwards and now, at nine months old, it has dropped to the 15th. We see this especially in babies who are fully breastfed, who aren’t particularly fond of spoon foods (yet!), and never stop moving. Obviously these babies should be seen for a medical check for everyone’s peace of mind, but the giveaway to their good health is that they are active and happy. Babies who are ‘failing to thrive’ are usually miserable and lethargic.

Remember average is usually normal, but normal is not always average.

*This article was first published on and has been republished here with full permission.

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Baby Communication: Tuning in to Your Baby

As parents, we are taught by the midwives in the hospital and our MCH nurses how to look after our babies, but not necessarily how to communicate with them, or tune in to their communication cues.

We are taught to feed them when they cry, if they are due for a feed, or change their nappy, or give them a cuddle. But it isn’t necessarily around tuning in to your baby, it’s more about choosing from a range on options and hoping one of them might soothe them. By tuning in to the sound of their cry, you will learn to identify what they need. But there are also other non-verbal cues that babies use to communicate with their care giver.

By making an effort to tune in to your baby’s non-verbal cues, you will deepen your bonding and attachment experience. Here are a few things to look for to help you get to know your baby better.

Engagement Cues

These cues suggest your baby is seeking your positive attention and is a good time to play, read to them, or talk with them.

  • Gurgling or cooing
  • Smiling
  • Babbling
  • Raised eye brows
  • Wide eyes
  • Reaching for care-giver
  • Opening their hands.

Disengagement Cues

These are cues that show your baby might be ready for a nap, or just some quiet time.

  • Crawling away
  • Unhappy crying
  • Faster breathing
  • Hand to ear
  • Leg kicking
  • Lip compression.

These cues are more subtle so can be harder to pick up on. But it is worth trying to tune in to them. If you miss these cues, your baby will try harder to show you what they need, which may result in excessive crying.

Talking to Your Baby

Talk to your baby as often as you can. It doesn’t matter that they don’t understand, your talking is the building blocks of their language development. Look into their eyes, sing to them; show them that you are tuned in to them. The inevitable affect is a deep and enduring bond. If you feel strange talking to your baby, here are a few tips to help:

  • Don’t over think it
  • Consider it ‘thinking out loud’
  • Narrate your day by by telling them what you are doing, whether it’s changing their nappy, cooking dinner, folding laundry – it’s all worth sharing with them.

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Photography project captures how breast feeding really looks

Suzie Blake is a photographer and Mum to two boys. While breast feeding her sons she found that images of women breast feeding in the mainstream media didn’t look like her own experience of breast feeding. So she set about challenging those ideals with her photography project “What Does Breastfeeding Look Like?”.

How did the project come about?

Frustrated with the disconnect between her lived experience and what she was seeing in the media, she took a photo of herself feeding her son and posted it to social media with the hashtag #whatdoesbreastfeedinglooklike and the response astounded her.

Suzie believes there is a place for all breast feeding imagery in the media but felt that what she was seeing was either very clinical or too idealised, and she wanted to “show breast feeding with a little bit more honesty”. So when her self-portrait went viral across social media, she seized on the opportunity to keep the conversation going.

Putting a call out on Facebook for other women to be photographed, she was inundated with messages from women who wanted to be part of the project. Since then she has travelled to various parts of Australia, to Europe and South America photographing women for the project.

Cultural responses to breast feeding

Suzie found the culturally diverse responses to breast feeding really interesting. It wasn’t that certain countries were more tolerant or intolerant of breast feeding, but rather the more urban the environment, the less tolerance there was towards breast feeding.

When she was photographing women in rural Brazil there was an element of confusion as to why she would want to photograph women breastfeeding, as breastfeeding your child is considered an everyday occurrence, and nothing out of the ordinary. This was less so in the urban areas of Soa Paulo.

This gets to the heart of the project; breast feeding needs to be normalised.

Why take photos?

While the project is an act of activism for Suzie, being a photographer she naturally seeks to document. So the project, while it harnesses her voice as a passionate advocate for breast feeding, it is also an historical document that can be used to learn from. Having met with substantial online vitriol she believes that those vehement responses come about because “we are reminded that we are animals…and they don’t like the primal aspect of it”. Documenting this fact makes people uncomfortable.


“Jenna” Feb 2018

Suzie explains that she asks the women that she photographs to look at the camera, as way to make a statement that they are allowed to take up their space in the world. Looking into the camera means that the passivity is taken away from the act, and it challenges the viewer to look back at the mother. While the images portray this, they are equally about the places that they breast feed, as she wanted to show the myriad environments that women breast feed in.


“Nerjada” October 2017

Whatever your response to the images, since 2015 Suzie has produced a fascinating body of work and intends on continuing with the project indefinitely. I was lucky enough to view her work at the Medela Symposium, which was a conference held by Medela in an effort to break down breast feeding stigma, and as a way to actively support women who are breast feeding.

Jarrod Percy, Managing Director of Medela Australia said “Collaborating with Suzie at our recent Breastfeeding conference and showcasing Suzie’s ‘What Does Breastfeeding Look Like’ exhibition has been a fantastic way to raise awareness of breastfeeding challenges, and remind the public about the sometimes harsh realities of life as a new mum.  The first steps to empowering the next generation of mums is starting conversations like these; giving mums the support to make the best decision for their baby. Breastfeeding is not always glamourous but it is real, and Suzie’s images perfectly highlight these realities of motherhood.”

You can visit Suzie’s website to view the full body of work.

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