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Neuroscience Shows Breastfeeding Is Not Just Milk

Women’s Health Today

Lifelong effects of breastfeeding on mental health

Early life experiences set the stage for physical health in later life. Reducing early toxic stress is key to preventing disease in adults (Shonkoff, 2016).

Breastfeeding is one important way to decrease early toxic stress. Recent studies have shown that breastfeeding increases babies’ physical and mental well-being, and these effects go well beyond the composition of the milk. Maternal responsiveness is key to understanding these long-term effects. When mothers consistently respond to their babies’ cues, they set the stage for lifelong resiliency in their offspring. And responsiveness is built into the breastfeeding relationship. We see this reflected in children’s mental health.

In one study of 2,900 mother-infant pairs, breastfeeding for one year was associated with better child mental health at every age up to age 14 (Oddy et al., 2009). Longer duration of breastfeeding was associated with better child…

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Zero waste on Zero budget

I’ve come to realise that many a time, anything about reducing waste and avoiding disposable products seems to come with a lot of cost. You are then faced with the choice: cost to your pocket or cost to the environment. I don’t blame anyone for putting their own financial situation first (well unless you get paid millions- in which case you have no excuse) 

It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many small things you can actually do without spending anymore money, and in fact you can still save money on top of the environment a lot of the time!

I started my journey on very little money, then shortly after I began my husband lost his job and so our income dropped even more (it actually dropped to credit card use as I was/am a stay at home mum), but instead of going back to disposable ‘cheap’ products I had to look outside the box for things I already had or could get even cheaper or free. 

So I had already started making lunches for Mr M (a small price otherwise he would buy something while out which costs money and comes in packaging). I mainly did pasta salad or cous cous and put them in jars that I had kept from sauces and dips. These are other things I started doing/using:

  • Always have a reusable bag with you! 
  • Keep sauce and dip jars wash and re-use for Leftovers, lunches, propagating scraps etc.
  • Regrow your vegetables from scraps (you will be surprised how many you can stick in a jar of water and will root and continue to grow!)
  • Make packed lunches for when out and about
  • Grease pans and sprinkle flour or cornmeal on them rather than lining them
  • Keep the paper from your butter for next time you need to grease something 
  • Switch to butter and make your own spread in a blender. I like this recipe it works out cheaper and avoids the plastic tubs spread comes in
  • Swap paper towels for rags/napkins. You could cut up old sheets, clothes, towels (although you may need to sew the edges to stop fraying, if your not keen on this check charity shops for cloths and napkins)
  • Swap dish sponges for rags/cloths (or loofah-which can be composted)
  • Shower less- if you feel dirty try just washing with a cloth instead (washing less is actually good for your skin as the soap products you buy in stores strip the natural oil from your skin which it needs for moisture)
  • Same for your hair! Look up ‘no-poo’ there is loads of information available how you can save time and money by washing your hair less (I actually only wash my hair every 2 weeks and don’t use shampoo- my hair is much healthier than it used to be)
  • Try a ‘useful’ hobby- baking, knitting, gardening, vegetable growing, soap making. Keeps you away from internet shopping too 😉
  • Buy what you need second hand- there are loads of ways to do this now- Facebook groups, charity shops, Freecycle, Gumtree, eBay 
  • Buy dried foods in bulk- most cities have food co-operatives where you can buy packaging free but if you don’t have one nearby 1 big bag of pasta is less packaging than 3 small ones
  • Don’t buy snack size packs, buy a big pack and split yourself into small containers. Those jars you’ve been saving will be perfect.
  • Clean and reuse your ziplock bags (they’re stronger than you think)
  • Buy meat in bulk and freeze in smaller portions (re-use your plastic bread bags since most bread comes in plastic bags now anyway)
  • Reduce your meat consumption. A lot more energy and resources go into producing meat and its harder to get packaging free.
  • Keep food scraps and peelings and make your own stock (I’ll do a post on this soon)
  • Swap your usual cleaners for distilled white vinegar and soak orange skins in it to give it citrus scent
  • Buy a 5kg bag or potatoes and use one day to prep some homemade freezer chips, frozen mash, and even jacket potatoes! I will update with links to how I do this soon!
  • When you feel your vegetables are coming up to the end of their life but you won’t use them in time, chop them and freeze them. Carrots, broccoli and cauliflower don’t require any prep beside chopping and freezing in a container or reuse bread bags again. Some vegetables may require a little prep (but I tend to use those before I need to freeze).

Comment your suggestions below and I will edit and add as I think of more too!

Unexpected surprise 

So my period finally returned when B was 22.5 months! Woo! I finally had a chance of conceiving! I predicted that my cycle would be about 28 days as that what it used to be. So when I my next period didn’t return I took a test. Negative. Hmm strange, never mind, maybe it’s just going to be a longer cycle. Another week passed and still no sign of Aunt Flo visiting. Another test- negative. Maybe, B has been nursing more again and stopped my period again… maybe that first one was just a fluke or one off and they never intended on returning anyway.

B’s birthday was now fast approaching so my attention went to sorting everything for that out. I made an Elsa cake, I prepped food, gathered cloth napkins (my attempt at at a low waste party) my mum’s plastic plates and cups, picked up the gazebo (in case it rained) and did a big clean up (ready for everyone to make a mess of). 

In the morning of the party we headed downstairs, B opened her presents and played for a while, we then had some breakfast (and a coffee for me too). And off the cuff I decided to do one more test, just to confirm I was right that my periods had disappeared again! (Bear in mind this is day 42 of my cycle now) at first glance I didn’t see anything and I nearly just threw it away very quickly, and at second glance I saw what looked like a little shadow of a line! 


I thought I was going crazy! So I waited a little longer to see if it changed anymore.


A minute later it was definitely a line! A very faint line. Which makes me wonder how long it took me to ovulate! I would have had no clue if I hadn’t done that test! 

So I returned downstairs and asked B if she would like a baby brother or sister as an extra birthday present. She was so excited, and Mr M just looked confused as I showed him the test strip. So despite this being second time round I had to explain how a test works and what it meant (to be fair I had to refer back to the instructions to check which way round the lines had to be to be positive/negative the first time I did a test this time round too).

In the afternoon we decided to tell all our family and friends who came to the party. The women all squealed with excitement and ran to me to give me a kiss and a hug. It was almost as overwhelming as when I revealed my pregnancy with B where I wrote it in a Christmas card to everyone and handed them out at the family secret Santa party that’s held each year (I have a large family at that party). Perhaps I was a bit more prepared for the reaction this time.

I’ve already started looking at the gender prediction tests and old wives tales! 

So far Mayan calendar says Boy and Chinese calendar says Girl so who knows!

There’s more than 2 parties

As the snap election has sprinted towards us, of course thoughts have been on my vote, what will make the most and best impact on our country? And it occurred to me that a lot, if not most, people simply vote for the preferred choice of the two biggest parties because ‘no-one else has a chance anyway’. This made me wonder what the election results would look like if everyone who preferred the policy of a smaller party actually voted for them instead of just voting for the ones who have ‘the best chance’ surely they all have an equal chance if we all actually voted for who we want? Even if they don’t take the lead and become the next Priminister they will have more seats and chance to grow and influence on what gets passed!


There’s more than conservatives and labour! We have gone back and forward between the two parties with the occasional influence of a smaller party creeping in. And so far from what I see, neither seems to have managed to make such a significant difference that we begin to like them and believe in them. So why stick with them when there are other options?

Here are a couple of links to website that provide extensive lists of Political Parties on the UK:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_the_United_Kingdom

http://search.electoralcommission.org.uk/?currentPage=0&rows=10&sort=AcceptedDate&order=desc&tab=1&et=pp&et=ppm&et=tp&et=perpar&et=rd&prePoll=false&postPoll=true&optCols=CampaigningName&optCols=AccountingUnitsAsCentralParty&optCols=IsSponsorship&optCols=RegulatedDoneeType&optCols=CompanyRegistrationNumber&optCols=Postcode&optCols=NatureOfDonation&optCols=PurposeOfVisit&optCols=DonationAction&optCols=ReportedDate&optCols=IsReportedPrePoll&optCols=ReportingPeriodName&optCols=IsBequest&optCols=IsAggregation

I don’t have enough milk to breastfeed- sound like you?

Unfortunately this is something I hear so many times. Lack of support available to new mum’s really doesn’t help: a lot of healthcare professionals are still using outdated information (a lot of professionals do give good information too). 

I am no professional, but I always do my research on anything I am passionate about, and I am passionate about helping as many women as I can to breastfeed. To me it has always been the natural option and I didn’t really have any doubts, but I know I am one of few women who feel this way. I had bottles in because I was told I should and I had been given some second hand ones from a family member. But in reality I didn’t expect to use them unless B accepted expressed milk in a bottle from dad (which she didn’t).

I have looked and looked for articles from professionals with their own research and references for months so that I could share it with you, but have struggled until now. Certainly finding something that is easy to read and not heavy on big words and is positive without making mothers feel bad.

This article from UNICEF is just what I have been looking for! It’s not long or wordy and says everything in plain English without going overly scientific. 

YOU CAN DO THIS!

https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/breastfeeding-the-dangerous-obsession-with-the-infant-feeding-interval/

Death by Chocolate 

Just over a week ago Mr M mentioned about his mothers birthday and he needed to get something. The conversation didn’t go much further than that since it wasn’t the main topic, it was that dreaded money topic! 

A few days passed and the thought crossed my mind again about her birthday. I hadn’t spoken to Mr M since about it so I decided to do some thinking of my own. What could I make for my mother-in-law?

A Giant Cupcake! I hadn’t baked properly in what felt like forever! Perfect opportunity to get my baking tools out! She loves cupcakes and loves my baking (used to be a regular occurrence)

Discussed it with Mr M and he agreed it was a good idea. It saved us money (I had most ingredients in and it costs less than buying anyway) and it is a thoughtful handmade gift.

So I spent a couple of days in the kitchen. Admittedly, it is significantly harder to do things with B ‘helping’ and it takes a bit longer. But she loves being involved and with the right direction and enough patience from me, we got it done! 


Giant chocolate cupcake, with chocolate buttercream filling and topping and decorated with chunks of various chocolates. Tempted to whip up a fudge type sauce and drizzle that over it too before we head off.

B helped make the cake, ice the board with the colour she picked (which was the hardest part as she wanted to eat it and poke holes in it! Perhaps it’s time for. Play dough activity) and sandwich the 2 sections together with buttercream. I decorated it when she went to bed, not sure I would have managed piping patterns with a 21 month old helping! 

The recipe I used was actually my standard cupcake recipe but doubled.

  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs (I buy mixed weight)
  • 250g flour

To make it chocolate I substitute some of the flour for cocoa, I think about 25g but I’m terrible for measuring cocoa and always used more than a recipe called for!

  • Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
  • Add eggs (best to have them at room temperature, same as the butter, to avoid curdling) and mix well
  • Gradually stir in flour/& cocoa
  • Split evenly between the 2 sections of the giant cupcake mould
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 1hr or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake

I’m not perfect

Today has been a bit of a mixed bag of a day with my journey to Zero waste. On one hand I feel like I’ve accomplished loads without spending anything. On the other hand my lack of funds seems to have caused waste too. 

Start with the positives:

  • I grated my off cuts of handmade soap to use as dish soap
  • I made a Birthday cake as a gift from scratch with little waste in packaging
  • I rebatched an ‘ugly’ handmade soap to hopefully end up something pretty I can gift to people.
  • I froze excess vegetables 
  • I prepped my own oven chips
  • Made homemade washing soda (not 100% what I’m going to use it for yet, but I’ve seen a few recipes)
  • Collated a list of cleaning/stain removal recipes (so I have an way reference point)

But! I needed to go to the supermarket for Icing Sugar and chocolate toppings for my cake, and milk for Mr M. But! As always, I check the reduced section for anything we need/will definitely use and picked up a few things. Unfortunately most of those things came in plastic packaging! 

  • Grapes
  • Raspberries 
  • Half cucumber (I got 3 because at 15p each they were cheaper than getting 1 full one and B is enjoying it at the minute)
  • Tomatoes


The net from the cucumber I will keep and use to make a homemade ‘scrubbie’/pan scrubber. The tubs from the grapes and raspberries, I may have some seedlings I can start in them. So they will at least get a bit of extra life. 

Plus, since they were in the reduced section I like to think I at least saved the food from landfill!

But I’m ok with this. I am on a Journey, and it isn’t a race, we do the best we can with what we have available. And today, although there are negatives towards reducing my waste, there’s more positives.

Zero waste packed lunch

Finally got chance to use my new sandwich wrap from OnTheGoDesigns! I was so impressed with how well made it is when I received it! 

It arrived in a mailing envelope wrapped in some recycled cellophane. When I spoke to the owner about this she was more than happy to accommodate less packaging and even considered rethinking it completely so it wasn’t plastic. Although, still quite impressed it was recycled not new. 

The beach theme is lovely and definitely gives a nice summery feeling! And made me feel a bit nicer in today’s cold, drizzly, wet weather.


With little planning (and even less in the fridge) I quickly gathered my zero waste lunch before heading to the Market with B, my sister and her baby boy. 


It was the first time I had planned to go out over lunch in months, giving me the chance to use my sandwich wrap. And it worked perfectly! I actually prefer it to cling film, and not just because it avoids waste, but my sandwich seemed to come out of my bag still intact unlike with cling film! I was very impressed. 

My sister loved the idea too! And was very interested in one for herself.

The material inside is a lovely soft wipable fabric and cleans a treat, I simply wiped it ready to re-use, but know I can throw it in the wash if it becomes particularly messy!

I look forward to using it again and definitely want more for the future as we intend on going on more daytrips in the summer when these will come in very handy!

And to top my day off I got my first discount for using a reusable cup in a coffee shop! Go Costa!

Free crates!

Ok they are only small but they are crates and still give the look everyone is after! And I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier! 

I took a trip to the garden centre today to see if they had anything I could use to stand some pots on to create a little height on my drive, walking through I saw a sign for bulbs, fill a bag for £4. Being new to gardening it sounded like a good deal coz it was mix and match. They were in crates on shelves and I didn’t think much of it until I came back round towards the till after finding very little (and certainly not cheap) and a lightbulb switched on! 

Crates! They’re in crates! They would look awesome in the garden! And on the drive! I wonder if they get sent back to the suppliers or binned. The thought of them being binned did upset me a little but it also meant that I could have some for FREE if they were being binned! 

So when I got to the till I asked the cashier, who wasn’t sure so asked someone in high vis (I’m assuming she sorted deliveries and knew more about what happened behind the scenes) and I was in luck! They get binned! So I asked for 4. I figured I’d see what I can do with these then can come back for more if I feel I’d like more. 

The result:

The empty looking pot actually has Cala lillies in that my mum gave to me out of her garden, they just haven’t got very tall yet so you can’t see them. I have 2 more to find a home for in the garden now and I may get a few more and stack them higher and grow strawberries out of them too! 

As a side not I may email the suppliers myself and see if they could offer a scheme to pick up the empty crates when they drop off full ones though to see less of them wasted. 

But until this happens get down to your local garden centres and ask for the bulb crates! And anything else you spot too! 

Add in the comments anything you found useful for the garden that was otherwise going to be binned, I love to hear all your ideas and freebies!

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