Happy Birthday to us! August news.

And thank you, thank you to all those lovely members who have made it such a great first year.  We are well on our way to matching up our 150th group of likeminded mum friends, and whether you were one of our very first guinea pigs or more recent joiners, we are so grateful to have you along for the ride. It's a bit of an old cliché to talk of a roller coaster year, but it has certainly kept us busy.

Reflecting back on the last year there have been some real challenges, usually around finding time to keep on top of everything on the work and home front, with the new business often feeling like a demanding fourth child!  And with that of course there have been some lovely highs, but especially receiving lovely feedback and reviews - it's a great feeling to hear that groups are still meeting up a year on and having fun, and  even planning things like nanny shares together. It is strangely satisfying when we make a match on multiple levels, like the group who had all taken a completely different career path from the one they studied towards and also all played a musical instrument. Or the group who all worked in the medical profession and liked running. And more than once we have introduced people who live on the same road (and have lots more in common besides that) but who had never met one another - maybe it's a London thing!  We've even welcomed back some early members who enjoyed their first Match Up Mums experience and have come back for a second time, around their next pregnancy - you fast workers know who you are… And it is lovely to have you back.

Happy Birthday to us! :)

Happy Birthday to us! :)

Latest offers from our partners

I couldn't talk about the first year without acknowledging the support we have had from so many other businesses. This really is a lovely sector to work in, it seems to attract people who are kind, open and supportive and we've loved getting to know lots of new people forging interesting careers and businesses.

It also means we can reward our members for being part of Match Up Mums with a raft of exclusive offers (now worth in the thousands of pounds if you were to do the lot!) in our members' area. This month we have some new offers and our usual guest posts, and it seems appropriate on this anniversary newsletter that we have one of them from someone I have known personally for many years, and one is the latest new partner we have met thanks to an introduction from our friends at Neighbourhood Midwives, who also recommend them highly.  

Firstly all of our members can claim a free yoga class with Nadia Raafat - I know it won't be exactly local to many of you, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that this is a very special class and well worth a trip! I went to Nadia's pregnancy classes myself at BatterseaYoga in my first pregnancy, and really loved having the time to get my head around the fact I was having twins(!). Second time around it was equally valuable to just have some time out from juggling work with being a mummy to two very busy boys, to feel a connectedness to our new baby.  So, highly recommended. As well as pregnancy yoga there are postnatal classes and a lovely mum and baby class too.

BatterseaYoga are offering all Match Up Mums subscribers their first class free at any class of their choice. To book your free class simply follow the link from our members' area to BatterseaYoga.com and use the discount code provided.

If it is too far to travel for the class itself, do check out the next best thing which is Nadia's DVD, endorsed by many magazines, midwives, baby product review sites and birth education organisations.

Secondly, we very recently met with the founder of a new and adorable baby clothing company, Baby MORI.  Dubbed "unclepreneurs" by the FT, these guys bring an innovative and fresh approach to baby clothes. I know everyone says their babygros are soft (you wouldn't sell many marketed as 'super-scratchy', after all!) but these ones are almost *shockingly* soft and made from all natural fabrics. You can purchase as you need from the MORI website, or subscribe to their parcel service and receive deliveries every 6 weeks - just when you abby is about to enter the next phase. Their fabrics are a beautifully soft cotton/bamboo mix, designs are Scandinavian and Japanese-inspired, and colours are always neutral. Because we like them so much, we asked for a special offer for all our Match Up Mums members. The code they have provided for us will get you 20% off all MORI products, or try their £42 subscription for just £20 with free shipping in the UK (you can cancel this anytime) - find it in the members area of our site.  

 

We have more offers in the pipeline so watch this space.  In the meantime I will leave you to enjoy Nadia's guest post, and I'll just sign off by wishing you all a great summer. Thanks again for being part of our brilliant first year and please do recommend us to any mums and mums-to-be you know!

Until next month, have a good one...

Love,
Megan x

Yoga - good for mummies, good for babies   
by Nadia Raafat, co-founder of BatterseaYoga 
 

Becoming a mother was synonymous for me with becoming a yogini. Although I had dabbled in yoga pre-pregnancy it was only really during the trials and tribulations of my first unplanned pregnancy, thirteen years ago, that I discovered the sanctuary that yoga offered. 

I trained as a yoga teacher when my first-born was 18 months old and have not walked away from my mat since… Yoga has accompanied me through my subsequent pregnancies, supported me throughout the births and the postnatal period of a further three children. Today my four yoga babies are aged 12, 10, 5 and 19 months old.

Yoga was made for pregnancy. In a sense pregnant women get a fast track ticket to the heart of the practice. Pregnancy with all its niggles and symptoms brings women into their bodies in a visceral way; their bodies swell, their breasts grow, calves cramp, backs ache and hormones rage. But most of all a small being floats and tumble-turns inside them. Whilst exercise is needed so many forms become off-limits. Yoga, through a prescribed combination of posture work, breath work, mantra, relaxation, visualisation and meditation, offers physical well-being and relief from many of the complaints of pregnancy. But more than that it also offers emotional and mental wellbeing too. A recent study, carried out by the Oxford Centre of Mindfulness found that pregnant women carried markedly reduced stress hormone levels in their bodies after a mindful yoga class. 

As the birth looms and the baby wriggles down towards the birth canal pregnant women really start to engage with the practice; they suddenly find the meditation easy and feel motivated to get their baby into a good position for the birth. During the labour itself yoga and meditation offers women a clear pathway; the path of presence and open-minded, open-bodied awareness. Using the movements and breathing exercises learned in class, the mantras and visualisations practiced week in, week out, they are well placed to carry themselves through the twists and turns of the childbirth experience with a relaxed and open body and mind.

In our postnatal classes new mamas and babies yoga together. Mum restores and re-energizes her body, rebuilds her strength, rediscovers her fitness whilst baby, at first, snoozes, and then, later, joins in. Babies love baby yoga. They love to be touched, squeezed, and played with. And as the babies grow, the yoga grows with them. Six month old babies fly, swing, roll and ride their mothers’ bodies chuckling and giggling as they do. It aids their motor development, vestibular development and emotional development too. Baby yoga helps babies digest well, move well and then sleep well. In fact at the end of a class, the baby is usually snoring before mum is out of the studio door.

Today myself and my partner Angus Ford-Robertson and I are lucky enough to have established our own beautiful and independent studio next to Battersea park where we offer a wide range of classes. For Mothers and Babies we offer three pregnancy classes, one baby-friendly postnatal and one mum and baby yoga class.  Batterseayoga also offers a number of meditation classes and our Beginners Mindfulness programme is being widely referred to by GPs across Wandsworth borough  - and many a pregnant woman is to be found in those classes too.

As study after study demonstrates the efficacy of these ancient practices, more and more mothers are experiencing for themselves the well-being that yoga and meditation bring. All you need is a mat and an open mind. I invite you to come and visit our studio with baby in belly or in arms and discover for yourself the gifts of yoga. Fit body, Calm mind. Happy Baby. What more could a mother ask for? 

June Newsletter

Here comes summer

…At last!  And there's no better time to get out and about and meet new people.  We've recently introduced lots of new groups in Richmond, Barnes, Brook Green, Streatham and Balham, to name a few!  Please do tell anyone you know who may be about to start maternity leave or is at home with a baby that we offer a very tailored yet affordable way to connect with like-minded local mums.

New members' benefits and great new services for mums

We've also been catching up with some great new partners and I'm delighted to tell you a bit about them, I hope you'll find them useful food for thought.

Firstly, we recently connected with The Baby Store, one of the country's largest specialist nursery stores. They sell everything you might need for your new arrival from prams to car seats and furniture, and they have a very helpful and committed team who can help you through the minefield of products and advice at this exciting time.  We know our members love a discount so the Baby Store have very kindly provided a 10% discount on all orders over £100 - they are already really well priced so this could be a great saving off the big-ticket items you need for your new arrival.  As usual the voucher code can be found in our members' area, along with discounts at other retailers and services from JoJo Maman Bébé to Hello Mums and Neighbourhood Midwives and loads more.

Secondly we wanted to share details of a new launch with you from some hard-working entrepreneurs: Bump & Bliss are on a mission to give parents and parents-to-be more of their time back with access to all of the services they need in one place.  From prenatal Pilates classes to local night nannies, the Bump & Bliss website has more options than you can shake a rattle at.  It's so much more than another directory as you can find detailed information and connect with a specialist directly and it is totally free to use (in fact even better some of the listings offer a discount).  Worth adding to your favourites!

Bump and Bliss has tons of helpful services

If you are keen to get fit this summer  

…but finding it hard to fit in around a baby or a toddler, we've found something that could be just the answer.  Our friends at Beez Kneez fitness have launched an e-book, ‘7 exercises to tone your Mummy Tummy you can do in your pyjamas’.
No fitness clothing required and no equipment, making it very easy for a busy mum who is sleep-deprived but wants to flatten her Mummy Tummy. 

It also gives advice on why these exercises are far better than the standard stomach crunches, plank and other general gym exercises.
 
And the best thing... it is totally free! Members can download it here and don't forget to check out the links with discounts to other services from Beez Kneez over in our members' area.  

Free flat tummy for every member! (*Kind of)

As usual we end our newsletter with a guest post and this one is from Role Models, a company I will definitely be using for my own family later this summer for ad-hoc childcare.  Lots of you aren't quite at this stage yet as it is aimed at older children but I think it is worth saving the link for future reference.  The idea that instead of childcare that 'just' looks after your children, Role Models will send approved and experienced nannies and 'mannies' who also happen to be musicians, artists, actors, sports professionals - so they might inspire your kids or give them some fresh stimulation.  Genius! 

Speaking of geniuses, I'll leave you to read a guest post that starts with an Einstein quote.  Hugo from Role Models explains how understanding the multiple ways a young child might learn can aid their well-being.  Hope you find it interesting.  

Until next month, have a good one...

Love,
Megan x

Is Imagination more important than Knowledge?  

by Hugo Shephard, founder of Role Models

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein

For those of you reading this with very young children, worrying about school exam results might seem like a distant concern. But in a society that values the holy ‘A*’ as a symbol of the highest intelligence, it would seem obvious to start a style of learning that favours literal and logical results from a young age.
Of course high grades are great – they are an affirmation of knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge which is an undeniably vital life skill. Yet there is also immense value to be found in other areas of learning; areas that because of their seeming intangibility often go neglected.

The Harvard professor, Howard Gardner’s theory (1991) is that we have seven key areas of intelligence: music-rhythmic, visual-spacial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal – and that our current assessment of intelligence is weighted in favour of linguistics and mathematics. And yet we all have friends and colleagues whose interpersonal skills (not their linguistic or mathematical ability) are what have allowed them to forge rich and successful careers and relationships. Even from a very young age, encouraging your child to interact with others, pay attention to their inner feelings, ask questions about the world, and use their imagination are far more important in the long run than their ability to count to ten before their classmates. The rewards from this kind of learning don’t come on a piece of paper, but rather contribute to something we are all striving for: a sense of well-being.

Well-being is defined by the Government Office for Science Foresight Report as a ‘dynamic state, in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build strong relationships with others…It is enhanced when an individual is able to fulfil their personal and social goals’.
This sounds like an ideal state to be in and it does seem limiting that there is such a focus on academia. Encouraging your child to learn in a broad number of styles will broaden their horizons. They will become a well-rounded human being with the skills to adapt to many of life’s situations.
Recognising your child’s intelligence strength also helps to tailor their learning tools. For example, visual-spatial children will learn more effectively from charts or models than they will from lectures. Equally, musical children may learn better with background music than bodily-kinaesthetic children: the beauty is in that all children are unique and learn differently.

The good news is that some schools are catching on and developing their curriculum to ensure a more holistic education. And even if schools and exams are still far off, it is always worth allowing your child to explore the world in varied and sometimes abstract ways if it could contribute to that invaluable sense of well-being; something we are all worthy of whatever our age.

Posted on June 7, 2015 .

April Newsletter

Networking, pelvic floor exercises and chocolate 

I'm guessing most of you hate at least two of these three things?

As usual for our monthly newsletters we have some great new partner discounts to tell you about, as well some interesting guest posts: one you definitely want to read (chocolate is good for you!) and one you probably won't want to read but definitely should... it's about pelvic floor exercises. I know, the boring bit at the end of your pregnancy yoga class, right? But Livia is a real expert and trust me, she knows her stuff. And it is very short (sorry Livia!). 

Though networking is often filed under 'ugh', in the last nine months of running Match Up Mums I've met some wonderful entrepreneurs like Livia, through social media, events and introductions. Among them it has been a great privilege to meet a network of local women who all have businesses supporting women through pregnancy, birth and parenting. The group is run by Tina of Neighbourhood Midwives and Julie of Baby Intuition and they recently asked me, along with Kate of Hello Mums, to help them put on a bit of a local event for parents-to-be in the Clapham area.

The organisers of the Clapham Pregnancy & Baby Show

Three months later, the event was a sell-out (phew!) and we had a sponsor, a hall full of 32 local businesses, 250 expectant and new parents, a supermodel and a TV crew (yes really!) and 'a bit of' a great day out for all concerned that also raised hundreds of pounds for Ickle Pickles charity.  And throughout, we made a terrific team and had a ball doing it. It goes to show you can always meet new friends, and often in the places you'd least expect. 

Find out more about the Clapham Pregnancy & Baby Show

More matches & more benefits

It wasn't all about Clapham though - last month we introduced groups in Marylebone, Fulham, Battersea, Wimbledon and Alexandra Park, to name a few. We also ran a books giveaway via our social media accounts (so if you got a parcel of books they were from us, apologies the publisher forgot to put the letters in the parcels!) and we set up more new partnerships to go with all the discounts already available to our lovely members, so that you can all benefit from your membership of Match Up Mums even before you get matched or well after you have started meeting up with your Match Up Mums friends.

As always, the details are in the members’ area – along with discounts on maternity wear, night nannies, weaning sessions, gyms and personal training, nursery design, babysitting – and more! The discounts available add up to over £2,000 which we think is a rather nice perk.
 
As of this month your membership now includes a discount at TheBeezKneez - a sort of online personal trainer with short, safe workouts that you can do anytime and anywhere, so you can fit in workouts at home into your baby's nap schedule. Genius idea and our members get 20% off!
And the Essential Bag Company puts together lovely hospital bags or changing bags (and more) that are pre-packed with goodies, treats and useful things from premium, trusted companies - they make a brilliant new baby gift so you could hint to your colleagues before you go or you may just want to treat yourself, especially with 10% off all products!  See our members' area for the discount codes you need for these and many other mum and baby-friendly brands.
  
As usual we end our newsletter with guest posts from two of our partners so I'll leave you to read those but please do drop me a line if you have any questions, comments or ideas. Please keep recommending us to any mums-to-be or new mums that you know, and keep the feedback coming. Until next month, have a good one...

Love,
Megan x

 

A mini-Easter-guide to eating chocolate… without piling on the pounds 

by Vicky Warr, founder and specialist pregnancy & post-natal trainer and expert for Mothercare, Gurgle Magazine and BBC Radio as well as BeezKneezHive

Most of us have a sweet tooth at some point, particularly in pregnancy or when feeding a new baby all hours, and chocolate seems to get a lot of attention.

But eating the wrong kind of chocolate will sabotage getting into shape whilst eating the right kind of chocolate can boost your health!  The type you need to go for is Dark Chocolate of at least 70% cocoa solids. And the key is: It’s a little luxury. Quality over quantity.

Five reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty about eating chocolate: 

  1. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, chemical compounds that help protect against harmful “free radicals” often found in body tissues. These free radicals have been linked to the development of heart disease and some cancers. Studies of subjects who increased their daily intake of flavonoids from chocolate found that their LDL-cholesterol levels dropped, their blood vessels relaxed, and blood-clotting tendencies were diminished.
  2. Anti-oxidants found in dark chocolate have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol.
  3. Essential amino acids in dark chocolate help increase the production of serotonin to help with post natal baby blue, feelings of anxiety and depression.
  4. Chocolate contains the chemical phenylethylamine which occurs naturally in our bodies and gives us the same boost we feel when when we fall in love!
  5. In moderation, 2 squares 3 times a week may boost mood!

Eating the other kind of chocolate – milk, milk varieties or chocolate bars with other added stuff or dark chocolate that is just 40% cocoa solids is not such a good idea if you’d like to flatten your mummy tummy post baby. The fat and sugar content from eating the poorer quality milk chocolate and all the versions of it around and too much of it mean piling on extra weight (especially around the tummy). As it contains sugar, too much may put you are risk of developing diabetes. There are healthier ways to get your chocolate fix too - why not try chocolate-covered fruit or chocolate Brazils, or even whole cacao nibs, which you can crush and add to yoghurt for a delicious snack.

For The ‘Eat and Look the Beez Kneez’ post-baby food plan, healthy recipes and food tips plus postnatal fitness videos, take a look at BeezNeezHive.com - Match Up Mums members get a tasty 20% off, too!


The Top Myths about Pelvic Floor Exercises and Why it Matters to Dispel Them

By Livia Nemeth of PelFix Technique, the revolutionary Pelvic Floor Education Programme 

There’s a common view that if you quickly clench your muscles whilst standing at the bus stop, sitting in the car, or waiting for the kettle to boil, that’s all you have to do.  Although my technique for exercising the pelvic floor is fairly easy, it isn’t that easy! There’s more to it than a quick clench.  Leaving aside the question of whether or not you are clenching the right muscles, and how often these exercises should be repeated, a key problem with the ‘quick clench’ approach is the idea that it can be done in a vertical position: either standing or sitting. 

Vertical positions are NOT recommended when doing pelvic floor exercises. Standing or sitting impedes the flow of blood in the lower abdominal area. If blood pools up in the pelvic veins this can lead to haemorrhoids and/ or varicose veins:  in the vagina or vulva in women, the penis or testicles in men.  Also, when you are in a vertical pose the weight of your abdominal organs puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. This means you can’t contract your muscles as much as you could in a horizontal pose; plus muscle relaxation will not be as effective.

You can learn more about the myths around pelvic floor exercises here. If you wish to attend a course, please contact Livia Nemeth at info@pelfixtechnique.co.uk - all Match Up Mums members will get 10% discount of the PelFix Complete courses.

Posted on April 13, 2015 .

March Newsletter

Spring is in the air

And there is a spring in our step after our busiest ever month and a load of lovely reviews from members and also in the press - so many that we have had to re-do our press page, which was bursting at the seams! We also have some new partners offering exclusive discounts to our members. Details of these are provided below. 

West London Mum talked to us for their 'Meet a Startup' feature, asking how the idea came about and who we see as competition.  Royal Mums asked about my tips for working mums, my inspiration and who we would match them up with.  Parent Dish looked at the trend of finding mummy friends online.  We love Sheer Luxe's emails and we were delighted to see the Mummy Diaries are back - even more so as we were featured in it! And finally we were able to Match Up the lovely Rebecca from Clapham Mums recently and she wrote about her experience as a member of Match Up Mums.  As much as I love the chance to bore everyone to tears with my interviews, it is even more exciting to be part of someone's actual pregnancy announcement!  It is really great to have someone who can share their first-hand experience of Match Up Mums. 

And that is where you lot come in, too!  As much as we love getting fantastic press coverage, you can't beat word of mouth recommendations.  So do please keep telling all your friends and family about us - if you've already had your baby you will have appreciated just how important a local support network really is, something that lots of first time mums-to-be might not realise until they really, really need it.  Send them our way any time!  And a big thank you to those of you who have already recommended us, we love it when people tell us that is how they came across Match Up Mums.

Want to meet some pregnancy & baby experts?

This month we are also working with a great network of Clapham-based businesses on the Clapham Pregnancy and Baby Show.  If you are in the area, do come along for a fun afternoon on Saturday 21st March.  Tickets are free but to guarantee admission pre-book yours at EventBrite. It is a bit of a different feel to the usual baby expos, this one is less about coming away with armloads of stuff and more about meeting all of the local experts who are available to offer support and advice throughout your pregnancy or early days as a new mum.  There will be taster treatments, lovely goody bags and a raffle in aid of Ickle Pickles charity.  
We are also looking forward to working with Kensington Mums on an event for mums-to-be in that area later in the year.

New discounts & benefits

Last month we also set up some more partnerships, so that you can all benefit from your membership of Match Up Mums even before you get matched or well after you have started meeting up with your Match Up Mums friends. As always, the details are in the members’ area – along with discounts on maternity wear, night nannies, weaning sessions, gyms and personal training, nursery design, babysitting – and more! The discounts available add up to over £2,000 which we think is a rather nice perk for our lovely members.
 
Here are the new partners this month, offering discounts exclusively for you. Oscar & Olivia is an online boutique of eco-friendly and stylish children's clothes and they are offering 15% off any order or 25% off orders over £100, Younique baby offer postnatal support packages designed to help with breastfeeding and sleep issues, and Pelfix pelvic floor education programme will have you back on the trampoline in no time ;)
Both Pelfilx and Younique baby are offering our members 10% off their highly regarded services. See our members' area for the discount codes you need for these and many other mum and baby-friendly brands.
  
As usual we end our newsletter with guest posts from two of our partners. Dominique tells us how Sophrology can help new mums deal with lack of sleep, and Jayne shares her expertise on the oils that are safe to use on your baby's skin.

Please keep recommending us to any mums-to-be or new mums that you know, and keep the feedback coming.  Until next month, we thank you for your continued support and wish you all the very best.

Love,
Megan x

How Sophrology can help new mums deal with lack of sleep 

by Dominique Antiglio, Sophrology Therapist, Bsc(Hons) Ost, of BeSophro

Feeling irritable and overwhelmed shouldn't be what a new mother experiences on a daily basis. There must be a better way.
 
Understandably, time is never enough and lack of sleep can make you feel tired and stressed. If you have just given birth, your body has been through a huge physiological roller coaster and it needs time to recover. Better sleep means more energy and also a feeling of empowerment: so many women feel tired and frustrated they can't do as much as they did before they had children.
 
Thankfully, help is at hand: Sophrology offers great tools to help you recuperate, de-stress and sleep better. In continental Europe doctors recommend Sophrology as an effective relaxation and self-development technique to notably help deal with pregnancy, prepare for birth, deal with anxieties and lack of sleep. Sophrology uses simple and efficient tools to access consciousness and grow inner resources through breathing, relaxation, meditation, visualisation and body awareness.
 
Because time is precious, what you choose to help you sleep better and feel calmer and more alert during the day needs to act fast and offer immediate relief. With regular practice, you can learn to achieve a deeply restorative state of relaxation within 5 minutes and from there work on a wide array of issues.
 
Achieving that deep state of relaxation is called “sophroliminal state” in Sophrology: that's what happens when the alpha brain waves kick in to provide a sense of well-being. The sophroliminal state in itself is a great way to recuperate, rest and rebalance. This state of relaxation can make a huge difference to balance your emotions and mood swings related to hormonal changes. It is achieved with your eyes closed, sitting in a comfortable position and following the gentle voice of your Sophrologist.
 
As a rule, it is a good idea to start embracing a new routine during pregnancy:

Before your baby is born, learn to have short naps
Re-prioritise your schedule and ask for help – the cleaning can wait and if you're feeling overwhelmed ask for more support especially with the easy tasks others can help you with
Take 10-30 minutes each day to reconnect with yourself using Sophrology, allowing you to acknowledge and accept the changes you are going through and prepare for your future including the birth itself. 

Breathing can be a powerful ally to help you get some rest, whether it's a quick nap or a good night's sleep. You choose when you carve 10 minutes out of your day: maybe it's first thing in the morning, or at midday or before going to bed. The sensation of calm you gain from dynamic relaxation can work wonders for your overall health.
 
If you practise breathing exercises regularly not only it will help you during labour but also it can make a difference to the quality of your sleep after the birth. You can learn to use the breath to calm and focus your mind while relaxing your nervous system. It will also help you to bring a fresh supply of oxygenated blood to your brain and you will therefore feel more alert and energised.
 
As you grow more confident in connecting more with what you feel and listening to your needs, you also learn to pace yourself and listen to your baby needs, feeling confident that you can support him or her, reinforcing the special bond you are creating. It would be a shame to let your disturbed pattern of sleep impact on that very special time of your life.
 
A short daily Sophrology practice will also help you feel happier and feel more grounded, staying in the present moment. This is a very powerful tool to help you be at ease while you are coping with the challenges of motherhood. This is a time of life when women go through so many changes, and it can be a source of anxiety and endless questioning, especially for first-time mums. Nothing will replace going through your own experience;  accepting that is a huge step. Therefore, being able to let go of these anxieties and live more in the present, taking one day after the other is a great strategy. Although everything is changing in your body and in your life, that connection you have with yourself remains a stable ground.
 
Sophrology is not complicated and can bring positive changes and support from the first session as it is a practical and simple approach. Your Sophrologist will guide you through a tailored practice and record it so that you can listen to it at home and learn at your pace in between the sessions. You can start it before or during pregnancy if you need support, or wish to prepare for birth and motherhood. Sophrology can also be practised right after birth especially if you find it difficult to settle in your new life. And of course your baby is welcome for the session too ! Home visits are available in Central London. Sophrology can also be practised in groups.

A first simple Sophrology tip: the tense and release exercise.

When we experience worries or tension in the body, the first step is to acknowledge it is happening here and now. This is the first step into letting go.
 
Start in a relaxed seated position. Tune into your areas of tension, inhale, activate your whole body by tensing every single muscle of your body including your face and toes. Match the tension in your body with the tension you experience inside and, as you exhale, release all muscles of your body. Stay still for a few second and notice the relaxation sensation in your muscles. Repeat 3 times at a slow pace.

About Dominique Antiglio and BeSophro

BeSophro has been created by one of the UK’s leading Sophrologists, Dominique Antiglio, who is also an Osteopath and Sound Therapist. She specialises in stress-management, birth peparation and self-development. Based in London since 2011, Dominique is also the co-founder of The Sophrology Network to promote the practise of Sophrology in London.
She created Bloom@58 to offer a holistic approach to maternity care where she enjoys collaborating with other therapists.

For more information: www.be-sophro.co.uk or contact Dominique directly info@be-sophro.co.uk

Time for an oil change?

by Jayne Russell of NomNom Skincare  

As a massage and nutritional therapist of more than twenty years, specialising in pre and postnatal care, and a skin care formulator I have been constantly researching and updating my knowledge to find out what works best for baby skin.  Oils have different properties, benefits and disadvantages so which should you use and avoid in baby massage and skincare?
 
The International Association of Infant Massage recommends “babies be massaged with a high quality, preferably organic, unscented, cold pressed vegetable oil”.
 
A recent study found that “olive oil significantly damages the skin barrier, and therefore has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, atopic dermatitis” concluding that its use in infant massage should be discouraged. This comes as a surprise to many who are still being advised by a health practitioner to use the very same on their baby’s dry skin!
 
Johnson’s baby, who were involved in funding this study, have used the finding in a recent advertorial to denigrate ALL natural oils. The truth is you do need to be careful with your choice of oils for delicate baby skin, particularly where there is a tendency to sensitivity or eczema, but mineral oils are certainly not the best alternative. Sharon Trotter midwife and baby skincare expert advises they:

  • create a greasy and sticky texture that is not a good medium for massage
  • create a film or barrier on the skin which means skin cannot breath properly or eliminate toxins, which could lead to allergies or dryness
  • do not absorb, leaving a layer of oil on the skin which is slippery
  • provide no ‘nutritional’ value to nourish the skin

I would add that it is usually artificially fragranced, itself a cause of sensitivity and irritation. Well-chosen plant oils by contrast can have very positive benefits for the skin. They:

  • Absorb and are chemically similar to the fats under our skin
  • Carry fat soluble vitamins into the skin which help to nourish
  • Enhance the skin’s protective functioning without blocking the pores
  • Can help meet the body’s essential fatty acid requirements resulting in softer skin less prone to eczema.

However, you also need to be wary of potentially sensitising nut oils, particularly where there is a tendency to eczema and allergies - peanut and tree nut oils such as almond and the seed oil sesame are all high on the list of sensitising ingredients.
 
So which are the best oils to use on your baby’s skin?
 
Oils which are low in oleic fatty acids (thought to be responsible for olive oils adverse effect) and  high in linoleic, such as sunflower or starflower and evening primrose oil (both rich in GLA, which is particularly beneficial for dry, irritated skin and cradle cap) or coconut are the most suitable and favourable for baby skin.
 
Look after your oils by storing them in a cool place away from direct light and check the best before date. And use your nose – it is always a good idea to sniff an oil before use to check it still smells fresh!
 
For more advice on baby skincare download Jayne’s FREE eBook “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” www.nomnomskincare.com

Posted on March 5, 2015 .

February Newsletter

Latest News

January seemed to roar past. We matched up mums from Belsize Park to New Malden and from Kensington to Barnes. We also created two bilingual groups, one of Italian mammas and one of French mamans - magnifique!  And we have lined up some new partnerships for you all - see below for more on this.

We had some very happy members this past month who reviewed the Home Spa London massage treatments, three other lucky ladies who won a fabulous Almondella box and also some happy mums who sent us lovely testimonials on their matches - it really is so good to know the matching system works - thank you.  And a huge thanks to those of you who sent me a baby photo or a group photo, I really was so touched to receive those.

We are still working hard on finding matches for all of our members, and to help with this we have a wonderful new team member who will be helping with our marketing efforts – so welcome, Natalia :)  
And as well as our members doing the reviewing (watch our FB page for more opportunities like this to come), we were delighted when super-blogger Franglaise Mummy agreed to be a guinea pig and try out our service for herself - you can read her review here.

So what's next?  Well, we will be introducing more groups obviously, and we are also working with a great network of Clapham-based businesses on the Clapham Pregnancy and Baby Show.  If you are in the area, do come along on Saturday 21st March.  We are also looking forward to working with Kensington Mums on an event for mums-to-be in that area later in the year.

 
 

Read Franglaise Mummy's review in full here

Cheap, us?!

Well that is how Franglaise mummy described our premium service in her glowing review – but we prefer to think of ourselves as offering exceptional value for money.  As well as being matched up with a group of mum-friends, for a one-off cost of between £20 and £50 (depending on group size), our members also have access to freebies, offers and discounts worth in excess of a whopping £2,000! 

 
 

Full details and discount codes are in our members' area

New discounts & benefits 

Last month we also set up some more partnerships, so that you can all benefit from your membership of Match Up Mums even before you get matched or well after you have started meeting up with your Match Up Mums friends. As always, the details are in the members’ area – along with discounts on maternity wear, night nannies, weaning sessions, gyms and personal training, nursery design, babysitting – and more! 
 
We now have a 20% discount code exclusively for you on some really lovely natural skincare products for bumps and babies, from Nom Nom.  Fab name, eh? I think I would buy them based on that alone, but having tried some I can tell you the products are great too.  See our members' area for the discount code.
 
We also have a discount from a great new idea from the Parent Practice, who have been helping parents since 2004 to find ways to have happier, calmer kids and a more peaceful and rewarding family life.  The Parent Practice have recently launched online courses which means parents all over the country (and beyond!) can access their Positive Parenting Academy, and Match Up Mums members can now get a 10% discount on these.  I really believe that a happy mum makes a happy family and that is why setting up local support networks is so important to me – but sometimes you might find you need a bit more in the way of expertise to make a positive change for your family, and that is where the Parent Practice comes in. 
 
Melissa from the Parent Practice has kindly written a guest post that I hope anyone expecting, planning, or even vaguely considering a second baby will find useful in helping you to prepare your child for their new sibling. Next month we have planned some guest posts on oils that are safe to use on your baby's skin, and how Sophrology (no I had never heard of it until recently either) can help with sleep deprivation (I'm sold!).  

Please keep recommending us to any mums-to-be or new mums that you know, and keep the feedback coming.  Until next month, we thank you for your continued support and wish you all the very best.

Love,
Megan x

 
 

Is a baby a bundle of joy for the whole family? 

by Melissa Hoad of the Parent Practice

A new baby brings joy for parents, but it’s not surprising if older siblings feel jealous or resentful. Parents need to have reasonable expectations about how well siblings will get along but we can take steps to nurture harmony. 

First-born child(ren) will naturally feel displaced when a new baby arrives. They will need lots of reassurance that they are still loved, and they will need plenty of positive attention and understanding. Without this positive reassurance they are likely to ‘play up’ to get the attention they need. Rather than trying to persuade older children that the arrival of a new sibling is great news, and how much they must love the baby, allow them to express their natural feelings of resentment and jealousy. 

When parents let children know that the feelings they are experiencing are ok (even if their actions are not) it’s safe for them to tell us about them. This helps them move away from negative behaviour.

 “It’s very different for you with a new baby brother.  You are used to having me all to yourself and you may not like having to share me.”  “The way you snatched that toy from Jamie shows me you’re feeling jealous.  He has so many new things and gets so much attention. Perhaps you are feeling left out.” “Whenever you’re feeling that way you come and tell me and we’ll have a special big boy’s hug.”

It’s not unusual for children to revert to babyish behaviours when a new baby arrives. Empathise when your child who is perfectly able to walk wants to be carried. “You wish Mummy would carry you too, don’t you? I guess you’d like to be a baby again and get all the attention that Harry is getting. I think I’d like to notice the big girl things you can do and write those down so daddy can see them too.”

Positive attention
Giving your older child lots of attention for the positive things she does –
* Notice and comment on good behaviours.
“You’ve been playing so quietly with your trains for nearly 10 minutes now! What an interesting game you made – look at all the carriages lined up on that siding.” “It’s been lovely knowing you have been playing here safely and quietly while I changed Tommy upstairs. I really appreciate it.”
 * Use a visual token system to recognise these behaviours such as putting a piece of pasta in a jar for every good behaviour.
 * Talk about the things you love about her –the funny things she does or other things that make her unique.

Special time
Our first-born children need to know there are times when they will have our undivided attention. Put aside 5-10 minutes exclusively for each child to help reduce feelings of resentment towards the new baby, who takes up quite considerable parental time! Special time needs to be regular and predictable.

Plan ahead
There will inevitably be a lot of change when the newborn arrives.  Try to minimise any other changes during this period – if your toddler is about to be potty-trained, or move into a big bed, or start nursery school, plan this to happen well before the birthdate, or delay it until the dust has settled a little.
Help older children prepare for the new baby in practical ways:
* Train them to play independently or spend time with others, such as grandparents, so you have time to look after the newborn.
* Prepare them for how they might feel about the new baby and what they can do when they feel like that.
* Discuss what will need to be done for the new baby and what baby will do, and how they can help you, playing with baby and teaching him how to do things. Your baby will smile when your older child plays with him –point out how much baby loves that.
* Look at photos of them as babies, commenting on how cute but how helpless they were and how much they needed doing for them. Talk about how much he has learnt as he’s got older.

Posted on February 5, 2015 .