FittaMamma founder and new mum Alex McCabe was delighted to catch up with Cecile, a registered nurse and pregnancy and postnatal wellbeing specialist. Following her own challenging birth experience, Cecile is passionate about helping women improve their wellbeing during pregnancy and birth.
Cecile believes it’s essential to look at all the things that can impact on your general health and emotional well-being, especially recognising the difference good nutrition can make during pregnancy and your postnatal recovery.
She says, ‘You need the tools to support yourself and be more in control. You’re trying to look after yourself and your baby …and it can get overwhelming.
I’m a firm believer that we can get all the nutrients we need from ‘proper food’. Nourishing your body with simple and nutritious food that can be found quite easily in a regular diet should be easy, and can be delicious and enjoyable, without the need to take pills and supplements.
Folates, for example are essential but you’ll find folates in eggs as well as green vegetables and liver. Vitamin B12 can be found in beef, salmon or eggs….just natural, normal food.
During pregnancy it’s important to stick to some essential diet guidelines – cravings are not always a reflection of your body needs, we need to understand those pregnancy cravings and give yourself the proper nutrients to avoid those ups and downs.
A normal balanced pregnancy diet will give your all the vitamins you need
Eat plenty of vegetables, roots, lean meats, fish and especially fatty fish which is rich in Omega 3, (crucial for your babies brain!), eggs, fruit, yogurt. Full fat dairy products are a good source of protein and calcium but if you prefer to avoid dairy you can get the calcium you need from canned fish with bones, such as sardines. A well-balanced pregnancy diet with nutrient dense ‘real food’ should be enough for you and your baby.
Avoid processed foods and sweets and if you are craving sugar, just eat fruit! Fruit includes fruit sugars but is also packed with vitamins and includes essential fibre.’
What are the tops foods to include in your postnatal diet?
‘Protein and hydration are the basics for a breast-feeding mum. Protein is the building block for the body – it will help your postnatal healing, keep you satisfied and help you to avoid becoming hangry! Plenty of water is essential, especially for breast-feeding mums. Fibre, green leafy vegetables, broccoli will all have an impact on positive gut health post-birth, especially after a C-section.
And what if you’re struggling with milk-supply?
‘Drink, drink, drink! Loads of water! Fenugreek tea will help stimulate milk-production and also gives a sweet, maple-syrup like taste to your breast milk. Fennel is good for your digestion and will help your baby if she has colic or wind. Plenty of foods that you eat will impact on your milk, garlic for instance will affect the taste of your milk but not in such a good way! It’s worth making lactation cookies with oatmeal, fenugreek seeds and Brewer’s yeast. And try making overnight oats, soaked in oat milk and with extra fruit added.’
Do you have any nutrition advice to manage mood, anxiety and panic?
It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by becoming a mother. When I had my son I suffered from really bad postnatal panic attacks – my family was in France and my husband had to travel a lot so I spent a lot of time feeling quite isolated, just like so many new-mums during lockdown. It’s important to remember that you are safe and recognise that the panic attack and all the feelings associated with it will pass.
Breathing techniques are super-easy to learn, for me what works best is ‘box’ breathing. It’s very simple and very effective: breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds , breathe out for four seconds and pause for four seconds before breathing in again.
There’s no unique solution but when I was overwhelmed by panic, there were times when I thought I’d faint. But it was the mundane things that helped! I was worried that if I passed out and the ambulance service had to come and rescue me I didn’t want them to see my house in such a mess….so I focussed on cleaning and tidying and the panic attack passed’.
Cecile is also a great advocate of sharing magic moments!
She says, ‘During lockdown I started a routine of sending a voice message to my family and friends …they really liked it and it became an important thing to do. Just a short message, maybe two or three minutes to wish my loved ones a good day really helped during the pandemic.’
Cecile’s uplifting thought for the day
‘For all those mums who are feeling overwhelmed and lost remember, you, the mum, are the confident boss of your house – mums know best and you ARE the confident person your family will turn to.’
Find more advice from Cecile (and regular Magic Moments if you’d like to receive them) https://www.theholisticnurseuk.com/