BOOKS, Esteem, Proactive Parenting, ROLE MODELS

EASTER ESTEEM -FEATURING HOP

The thing I’ve loved most about my job is that my children were always surrounded by other children of different ages. At some point in their lives, they were the youngest child, the middle child and the eldest. And they were never without friends to play with.

When they were preschooler’s they looked up to and learnt from the older children, when they became the middle children, they were role models, and as the eldest they were teachers for the younger ones.

They always had a sense of belonging and responsibility growing up. And it’s the same for every other child who enters child care young and grows up in that setting.

Children who are given roles and responsibilities in life feel important and this is what helps them to build self-esteem.

I’ve always given the older children tasks to do such as laying the table or reading the younger children a story.

To have an older child read to younger ones, boosts the older child’s self-esteem and can give the younger ones listening, a better experience. Children can make a story come alive and aren’t afraid to have fun with characters voices. Most adults find this type of enthusiasm unnatural or difficult when reading a simple picture book.

Esteem is so important to children. That’s why Esteem is part of The U URSELF Routine.

WHAT IS SELF ESTEEM?

SELF ESTEEM – How our children regard and acknowledge their good qualities and think and feel about themselves in general. Including how much they like themselves or believe that they are a good person, deserving of all the good that life has to offer or not. And how close their ‘real self’ is in alignment with their ‘ideal self’. That is—how they feel they measure up against the version of themselves, that they think they should or the way they want to be.

Being in a diverse world where everyone is different is a blessing but children do not see it this way if they are the unique ones, who look or feel different.

Children want to fit in and be like everyone else.

So how can we as parents help them to feel accepted and happy with themselves for who they are and how can we explain to young children that’s its okay to be different?

Books are the easiest way to naturally relay important messages to young children. Reading books with our children is proactive parenting.

Most books have important messages imbedded in the story. Uplifting books can motivate and inspire our children or can educate and help them to understand feelings and emotions better.

Books can also open up discussions.  Listening and talking to our children and understanding how they feel and view themselves is vital to proactive parenting — It’s normal to find they dislike something about their body, or they don’t feel good enough at something and if this is the case, we should listen and talk to them about it, using books to overcome any self-limiting beliefs they may hold about themselves. They may have an exaggerated view of something or even an unjustified one. They maybe comparing themselves with others, dismissing their own great attributes.

Learning to appreciate themselves and what they do have — instead of comparing what they don’t have, will increase their self-esteem, self-image and self confidence in all areas of their lives.

A tall person for instance may not make a very good jockey but they would make a great model. It’s about getting them to appreciate and work with what they have got going for them naturally, and using it. Stories can uncover characters vulnerabilities that some children can relate to, and by reading how the character in the book learns to overcome these, can help children do the same in their own lives.

Good books address losing, failing or feelings of inadequacy and how that is a normal part of everyone’s, everyday life at times.

Children come to understand that it’s not about winning or being the best, its about being a part of something and not being afraid to be themselves, even if they are different and approach thing differently to their peers.

Hop Children’s Picture Book.

Last week, one of the older children at Happy Childcare read a fantastic book to the younger children about just that. It was called Hop and was about a dog that had been adopted by kangaroos, so clearly had some differences to everyone else in her family.

For one, she was no Joey and she just couldn’t do the kangaroo bounce but she so badly wanted to join in with the other joeys, so they had a race. Despite her limitations she enjoyed it, and although she didn’t win the race, that didn’t matter because she had so much fun taking part and overcoming her differences, in novel and creative ways.

The book deals with self -esteem and self-image issues perfectly for young children, and the topic proved to be an interesting discussion for the older children too. You can find the book Hop by Cherise Cross on Amazon in paper back or Kindle format but I would recommend the paper back version as the illustrations by Francois Arnaud are brilliant.

Children are not born with confidence; it grows as they do. When learning to walk they fall down, but they don’t give up and bit by bit, the more they practice, the better they become. One day they are crawling, then toddling, then walking, running, hopping and jumping.   What once would’ve seemed like an impossible task, suddenly becomes normal. And by giving things a go despite any perceived limitations or beliefs, they learn that they can succeed.

You can read more about boosting your child’s Esteem in my book The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child.

Happy Easter,

Em

Home Schooling, PANDEMIC PARENTING, Proactive Parenting

Pandemic, Parenting, Problems – HOMESCHOOLING

It seems unlikely that schools will reopen until March. For many of us parents that means -continued, pandemic, parenting, problems.

Home-schooling’s one daily grind we’re all struggling with and our frustration is at its breaking point. Many of us feel like giving up but its best to stay involved and take baby steps.

They’ll learn a lot more from little and often than from not at all.

So, here’s some pointers to help guide us when helping our children to learn;

LEARNING MODALITIES

Every child will have a preferred way of learning. Identifying their preferred method or modality will make learning more interesting and fun. 

Some prefer;

  • Listening—this is called ‘Auditory learning’.
  • Watching— ‘Visual learners’.
  • Others prefer a more, hands-on approach— ‘Kinaesthetic learning’ also known as ‘tactile learning’ by doing.

CREATIVITY

There’s always more than one way to learn, that’s why there’s no need limiting our children to ‘the right way’ thinking. Allow them to explore all the options and to choose one that feels right to them. By doing things differently to the norm, our children become more flexible and comfortable in new learning endeavours.

RELEASE THE PRESSURE AND HAVE FUN

Pressure to perform and achieve is what causes children anxiety and what sucks all the ease, fun, and enjoyment out of learning something new. When children are having fun, it doesn’t feel like learning, and If they don’t have any obvious expectations imposed upon them, they become free from the burden of being perfect and relax. Relaxation is the key to creativity and clear focused thinking. Having fun in the process makes things easier for us and more enjoyable for our children, so try playing games as opposed to lecturing or just reeling off answers.

LET THEM LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES

It’s natural we want our children to do well but if we become too involved and take over, we miss the point of what the learning objective is. When children are set school work, the whole point of the exercise is for our children to learn from their mistakes by doing it themselves, and enjoying the process.

BUT WHY?

Our children have to have a why.

Why do I need to know this?

The answer to that question becomes their motive, which is vital because the key to motivation in life is having a motive. 

Why? What? Where? When? And How? All are incessant questions of our young. If we can just keep answering these, they will be constantly learning something new every day!

DON’T BE AN OBVIOUS TEACHER

If they are disinterested in learning activities, we need to ask ourselves the following questions;

  • Is this appropriate for my child’s age or stage of development or am I reading such a simple book, my five-year-old could read it to them-self?
  • Is the content/activity interesting?
  • Am I engaging my child enough?
  • Am I actually interested myself, or am I bored and disinterested?
  • Do they think there’s a purpose to the activity other than having fun or spending time together?
  • Have I taken them away from another activity or toy that they were enjoying playing with?

The biggest influence that we can have is our own enthusiasm and interest. When we are engaged, learning comes to life and stimulates them more. 

STAY CALM

so many of us get frustrated easily when teaching our children, particularly when we’ve already taught them how to do something and they get it wrong. Let’s say they’re learning how to read. Just because they could read the word ‘dog’ yesterday, doesn’t mean they’ll remember it automatically today. They may still get confused and call it ‘bog’ the next day, d and b are the same as learning anything else, they take time, and are easy to mix up and confuse.

We think it’s easy because we can read already, and have more than likely read daily for many years, which adds up to a lot of reading practice.

Reading is still new to our children though. It’s like us learning a second language such as German, and someone expecting us to know and recognize words straight away. Then whenever we forget or get a word wrong, they get annoyed with us. I doubt we would still feel encouraged to carry on learning the language then?

Nothing is easy for our children, unless they can do it, in which case, they wouldn’t need our help in the first place.

Stay Present,

Em x

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay and on Unsplash Priscilla Du Preez Sigmund Steven Libralon JESHOOTS.COM Robo Wunderkind Varvara Grabova Marcel Strauß

Covid-19, LOVE, MEMORIES, Proactive Parenting, Stay Present, U Time

THE PRESENT- WHAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS CAN COME OUT OF COVID?

Well Christmas is fast approaching and New Year is looming ahead. Many of us I’m sure will be happy to see the back of 2020!

With My Mother and Stepdad being in hospital poorly with COVID-19 for a couple of weeks, I know I will. Thankfully they came home two days ago but their homecoming was a bitter sweet moment for me as, the day before I had received my late brothers ashes, a stark reminder of the balance between life and death and the glue of love that holds us all together. But with the UK being the first to administer this new COVID-19 vaccine last week, we’ve a lot to be hopeful for moving into 2021.

For that period when they were in hospital with Covid -19 everything seemed so uncertain and I just want to thank everyone at the Heath Hospital Cardiff for taking such good care of them both. I’d also like to thank everyone for your support and well wishes. I hope that you and your loved ones will be able to spend time in the ‘present’ together, enjoying the festivities in your own little bubbles.

WHAT GIFTS CAN COME OUT OF COVID?

More than ever before, I’m sure we can all now appreciate everyone in our lives and the gifts they share with us. If 2020 and COVID-19 have brought us anything positive, let it be the gift of awareness and being present at all times with those we love. This Christmas we can all appreciate that, it’s not about the ‘presents’ but about ‘being present’ that counts. Being grateful for those people in our lives that bring us love and joy and weighing up the real gifts we receive of health, love, friends, family, food and shelter.

This year has been heavily imbued with seriousness. COVID-19 has caused a lot of worry, stress and anxiety. But as parents this Christmas, let’s try to lighten up a little and not take everything too seriously. We won’t win any prizes for being the most serious parent, but we will win the support of our children if we have fun with them.

Who cares that; we’ve burnt the turkey, we couldn’t secure that one sell out toy or didn’t get the right gifts, or that there’s no Christmas party and our toddler won’t eat sprouts?

Lets try not to sweat the small stuff – and as Richard Carlson reminds us ‘…and its all small stuff’ anyway. In the grander scheme of things and with the current world pandemic, none of that is important. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t control everything that happens in life.  So, let’s let go of control and learn to relax and go with the flow a bit more to reduce unnecessary stress.

KEEP STRESS LEVELS DOWN?

You can do this by taking daily you time (U Time) for yourself to just relax. Whether that’s a soak in the bath after a long day or sitting down with a cuppa, taking time to breathe, in the here and now and get organised in your head, reduces stress.

YOUR CHILD IS A GIFT ENJOY THE PRESENT

Our children are the present, they are a gift to us, and they are here with us now, at this present moment in time. And Present Parenting (devoting our time and attention in the present moment) is the best gift that we can give to them.

It’s never about what we do as parents, it’s how we do it, how we feel, and how our children feel as a result that matters. And making sure our time together is happy and relaxed and that we look forward to it as much as our children do.

THINK MORE CHILD LIKE

Children are naturally present in each and every moment. They see the world and are in awe of its beauty and newness, they’re not tired of life. They enjoy exploring all it has to offer and have all the time in the world to stand and stare. The school run is a chance for them to appreciate the beautiful blue sky with white, fluffy clouds making unusual shapes.

They muse at the sun shining on the dew drops, glistening as they dance on the lush green blades of grass. This beautiful love of life and nature is the reason why children wake up so early in the morning. They are excited about the adventure that lay ahead each day, and they don’t want to miss out on anything or waste time sleeping. To children, the journey is as relevant as the destination. They couldn’t care less about the pointless pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’re more interested in the beautiful colours of the rainbow itself. If we can remember to think more like them again as we once did as children, this makes life a lot easier and more enjoyable, not only for our children but for us too.

We can practise this whenever our children wake us up early in the morning. Instead of getting annoyed, we could welcome their presence as the best wakeup alarm there is, reminding us that it’s another fresh, new day, and that we are alive, well, and loved.

I know we’re tired, busy, and don’t have the time to waste standing and staring at trees and clouds. But do we have time not to?

Besides, the daily commute to work/school/shops or wherever else we need to go, it still takes a journey to get there, whether we stop to notice all the splendour around us or stress out about the traffic.

If only for today, let’s try to think more childlike.

It may sound a bit childish at first, but being more childlike is the core to being present.

Manage Expectations

As a Mum myself I know this can be difficult and Christmas comes with such high expectations from everyone, but Life, Covid-19 or not, will never be perfect. Neither will we ever be perfect parents or have perfect children. ( If you’re interested in why we wouldn’t want perfect children or to be perfect parents? Or would like to know the benefits of coaching behaviour and managing expectations while being a ‘Present Parent’, we are offering a limited amount of free, review audio books to our readers and listeners, from the release of our audio books on Audible and iTunes. If you’d like to review a free audio book of – The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting, or you know someone else who maybe interested, email me

emma@happychildcare.club and I’ll email you a free code:-)

Stay Present

In the meantime, to remain calm amid the chaos, stay present- it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Christmas is a special time for family and friends to come together and enjoy. Forget everything and focus on the here and now. When mindful in the moment, you’ll start enjoying time with your child. Forget what you didn’t do or buy and stop worrying about how tomorrow will work out.

Christmas is a memory making moment, make happy Christmas memories your child will cherish, and enjoy this time yourself. Build that Lego castle, watch that family movie together and stay present in each and every moment.  

For more top tips for staying present this Christmas, you can read more in the Nov/Dec free issue of families Cardiff and the vale– the Christmas special https://bit.ly/familiescardiff_christmas2020 or in mums and tots magazine out now to buy https://www.mumsandtots.ie/

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and fun 2021!

Until next time, stay safe, healthy and present!

Em x

Photos by Tim Marshall olly allars

HiveBoxx Tanaphong Toochinda

Jonnelle Yankovich on Unsplash

ANXIETY / FEAR, BOOKS, CHILDMINDING, Esteem, Home Schooling, Proactive Parenting

Approaching children’s fears using Books with Heart Felt Messages

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying ; “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

Our world has suddenly turned into an uncertain place recently, causing a lot of anxiety for everyone but how will that impact our children both now and in the future?

The early messages our children receive will determine whether or not they grow up in a friendly or hostile world.

Life is not all doom and gloom, but if our children are being exposed to bad news every day, then they may start to believe it is.

We should take care to protect our young, innocent children’s impressionable minds. Regular exposure to such negativity could cause nightmares, and some sensitive children could become fearful, sad, or depressed.

We do not, however, need to hide the truth from our children or try to protect them from hearing about anything unpleasant. Quite the opposite, it’s actually beneficial that they are aware of both the good and the bad news.

Yes, bad things happen in the world but so do good things too. We just need to give our children a more balanced outlook and show them what’s good about life more often than highlighting the bad news, and inform them of the dangers without leaving them feeling fearful.

Recently I was asked how we can help explain ‘Stranger Danger’ to pre-schoolers without causing anxiety. You can find the full article in the autumn issue of mums and tots’ magazine. https://www.mumsandtots.ie/

Emma Grant holding Mums and tots Autumn 2020 issue.

But one of the best ways I’ve found to communicate messages to young children is through books. Being an author myself I may be biased but stories and picture books are more relatable to young children.

As parents we want our children to be able to relate well to others but we hear so much bad news that, we fear them being out of our sight for a second. And this fear can transfer onto our children. But this blanket fear can do more harm than good. If we tell our children strangers are dangerous, they will quite literally believe every stranger is and this can cause separation anxiety.

Most young children are naturally cautious of strangers, because they fear they’ll be taken or come to some harm when their parents are not around. This can become extremely difficult when they come to start childcare, nursery or school, and can often cause sleeping problems if the child has to sleep without the parent.

We can help our children overcome these fears or we can reinforce them. How we react and how we proactively prepare them for the unthinkable -they go missing, is also is key.

If on their return we panic, scream and shout or worse physically and emotionally punish them, we increase their fears. As Parents we may want our children to get this message so they don’t repeat the behaviour and go missing again but what happens when we need them to go to strangers without us, such as a new babysitter or starting childcare, nursery or school?

Then we will ask them to go to a new, unknown place or person, full of unfamiliar strangers. We may know it’s a safe place, but our children may not, so we have to communicate this to them. This means being careful not to project our own anxieties, worries, or fears onto our children.

Stranger danger is a difficult topic to portray to pre-schoolers, so we have to approach it in a light hearted manner, even if it’s a heavy issue for us. We are so transparent to our children who pick up not only on how they see us behaving but also on how they feel our emotions (yes, our energy radiates outward and our young children pick up both our good and bad vibes) The best way to do this is to use stories, songs and rhymes that are age and stage appropriate for your child.  I love the old classic Never Talk To Strangers (Little Golden Books) by Irma Joyce 

Because it has pictures that are of animals which young children love and it’s also a rhyming book with the vital repetitive message ‘Never talk to strangers.’ which children love to join in with as I read it. It helps to encourage conversation on the topic of stranger danger too.

‘Never Talk to Strangers’ – Happy Childcare Story time!

Another simple way to try and explain stranger danger to a pre-schooler I found was, using a dog analogy using the example of a friendly dog they like, that’s familiar to the child and comparing that dog to a strange dog in the playground.

So, a typical example would be;

‘Well Zoë, you don’t need to be afraid of all strangers but you shouldn’t go anywhere alone with them or let them touch you. It’s a bit like Benji our dog, you know Benji… well, he’s friendly and wags his tail and jumps up to greet you to play, he never hurts you. But if you see another dog you don’t know, say in the playground when you are playing, he may not be friendly like Benji is, he may hurt you, so it’s best not to touch him or let him touch you. Not all dogs are unfriendly but not all dogs are like Benji, some do bite and it’s the same when you meet a stranger.’

There are many good children’s books out there, that can relieve children’s fears and increase their self-confidence and esteem, written by positive, motivational authors such as the late Louise Hay’s, The Adventures of Lulu or inspiring books by Dr Wayne Dyer such as Incredible Me or No More Excuses. All of these portray positive, life affirming messages. They also help our children to deal positively with the real problems in life too.

I recently read all the children I care for a wonderful new picture book, that encourages children to find their special talent called, Big Splash Circus by Karina Choudhrie. It is a beautifully illustrated and designed picture book that all the children ranging from 10 months to 8 years loved.  It’s an adventure in a fun-filled undersea world, full of characters and with a heart-felt message for young children about inclusion and using your special skills.

Happy Childcare Big Splash Circus Story time!

Big Splash Circus is a place of inclusion, where everyone can take part and discover what makes them special, from acrobatics to music to making people laugh. The sea creatures in the circus are like a classroom full of children – where they all get a chance to shine!  (Big Splash Circus is published by CandyJar Books and is available in hardback (£11.99) and paperback (£5.99) at all good bookshops and online retailers.)

As parents we have the power to direct our children’s attention positively. To help relieve anxiety at this unsettling time, instead of electronic devices and the media exposing our children to what’s happening in the world, we can counterbalance those messages by sharing positive books with heart felt messages in. You can read more about this in my book – The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting

Until next time, Stay Present!

Em x

Thanks Photo’s by Kelly Sikkema Katarzyna Urbanek on Unsplash


FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, MUM GUILT, PREGNANCY, Proactive Parenting

Is a vegan diet healthy when you’re pregnant?

Becoming vegetarian is something I’ve thought deeply about recently. When coaching clients, removing meat from ones diet and eating more fruit and veg is something I always promote for health, weight loss and longevity. But one question I was recently asked by a soon to be mum was –

‘Is a vegan diet healthy when you’re pregnant?’

So to answer this question is Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory. Warning – there’s mouth watering food pics from Stem + Glory throughout this post!

Veganism on its own tends to attract advice and comment from family, friends and so called ‘experts’, albeit largely well-meaning. It’s interesting that when you throw vegan pregnancy into the mix, and suddenly it becomes about moral choices. Veganism is ok it seems when it’s our own choice, but can be questioned when we are dealing with an unborn child.  The idea that we are omnivorous and therefore a vegan diet cannot be safe in pregnancy is a fairly widely held view.

This is a view that I, and many others, wholeheartedly disagree with. My own experience with being vegan during pregnancy is that it was completely normal. I was almost 40 when I became pregnant with my first daughter. I was very fit and healthy. My diet at that time consisted of mainly vegetables, small amounts of (mainly) wholegrains, lots of tofu, lentils, nuts, seeds and beans, and I continued eating in exactly the same way throughout my pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, no cravings, no complications, no deficiencies and delivered both my children safely at home. I said to myself when I first became pregnant that if I craved something in pregnancy, then I would eat it. Fortunately, I didn’t have any cravings. 

Sea Spiced Tofu

When writing this article I started wondering if my experience was an isolated one, or if in fact many vegan women experience completely problem-free pregnancies. I spoke to seven women who had been vegan through pregnancy (sometimes multiple pregnancies), and here is what they told me:

Can you get the right nutrition?

All of the vegan women I spoke to were very well researched on the subject of vegan nutrition. They were all aware of the need to increase protein intake in pregnancy by 10-20%, and did so with greater attention to eating balanced meals. Not all of them ate protein rich foods such as tofu, with many preferring natural, pulses, grains and vegetables. One of the women had a pre-existing iron deficiency which was managed through pregnancy, but none of the others developed an iron deficiency. One of the women not taking supplements increased her iron levels during pregnancy.

It is recommended in pregnancy for all mothers to take folic acid. With regard to vegan pregnancy it’s also recommended to take B12 and vitamin D. For both pregnancies, I did take a pregnancy multivitamin, and the recommended folic acid. Half of the women I spoke to did take supplements, but half did not, only taking the recommended folic acid. 

S&G Tacos

Angie, who was pregnant twice 33 and 40 years ago, and has raised four vegan children, says she “just ate sensibly, mainly fruit and veg. I’d been vegan for 13 years before I became pregnant and had never been unwell so assumed all was ok.”

This was echoed by Lee who has been through two pregnancies; “Didn’t even think about nutrition, I just followed what my body craved and had zero nutritional issues.”

Helen, who has been vegan for many years, said: “I always try to follow a balanced diet.  Supplements are recommended to pregnant people of all persuasions.  I took vegan vitamins and iron before, during and after my pregnancy.” 

Emma, who had been vegan for five years and continued to be vegan throughout her entire pregnancy said: “My iron levels were tested as standard and I was told the results were fantastic (without supplementation). I only supplemented folic acid, an algal oil omega 3, spirulina (for B12) and a probiotic, all of which would be useful to supplement in any pregnancy, whatever the diet. The omega 3 was a ‘top up’ since I was already consuming foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds etc.  Throughout my pregnancy I ensured I was receiving the correct nutrition in the same way anybody would, I consumed a healthy diet. I don’t like the way people like to make out that vegans are thinking at every meal about where they are going to get certain nutrients from, it’s nonsense, no one does that.”

Neither myself nor any of the women I spoke to reported any nutritional issues during their pregnancies.

Perfection on a plate – Katsu curry.

What are good vegan foods in pregnancy?

The women I spoke to also all followed a wholefood natural diet during pregnancy. None experienced cravings! Two of the seven experienced severe morning sickness and lived on toast for the first trimester. Two were diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the second trimester which they managed successfully on a wholefood vegan diet.

Soups and stews were frequently mentioned as ‘go to’ meals. Often mentioned were Marmite, tofu, tempeh, brown rice, aduki beans, lots of fresh organic veg, nuts, miso soup, peppermint tea and ginger.

Buffalo Cauliflower wings

Helen opted for bland but healthy: “When I had morning (all day) sickness I ate a lot of baked potatoes, as I didn’t fancy much else.  Luckily potatoes have vitamins in the skin, and so I felt they were better than other bland things.  I supplemented potatoes with vitamins and iron.  I also remember eating dried mangoes, cucumber, and miso at some points, and drinking orange juice.  When I recovered from the morning sickness, I ate a lot of everything.” 

For Holly who was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester, nut butters were a life saver due to their high fat/protein and low carb content. 

Danielle developed cholestasis in her second trimester which meant she could only eat low fat foods “so the vegan diet was great for this”.

Tracey who had severe morning sickness treated it with “lots of miso soup, peppermint tea, fennel seeds & crystallised ginger”.

Raw mango ‘cheese’cake

Atma was vegetarian when she became pregnant, but took the decision to go vegan. “Now I was carrying my own child it brought the ethics of the dairy trade to the forefront of my mind, I was unable to ignore it any more” Atma had previously studied macrobiotics, and when diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester was able to control the diabetes by applying macrobiotic principles. Not only did her bloods stabilise, but she felt happier, healthier and more clear headed than ever before.

Do pregnant vegans feel healthy?

They do! None of the women I spoke to had any issues with energy levels, and outside of the complications already mentioned, without exception all the women felt healthy during pregnancy. They felt the gestational diabetes was easier to manage on a vegan diet.

Emma said she continued to be vegan whilst breastfeeding and had a wonderful pregnancy with no issues whatsoever: “I wasn’t sick once, I had no cravings, I felt great the whole time, had energy, my skin was the best it’s ever been and I continued to work-out throughout the entire pregnancy. Postpartum I was told I had great colostrum, since my baby only lost 70g initially and I had a plentiful supply of milk, the health visitor actually said I had too much!”

Danielle: “I am very strong and the muscle of the household, even when pregnant if something needs lifting, I’m your girl”. I echo this and was practising and teaching ashtanga yoga until days before I had my first child, and full of energy throughout both pregnancies.

What do the health professionals think?

Now this really did give me a pleasant surprise. Every single one of the women I spoke to remarked on how helpful and understanding their health care team were of their vegan diet. Not one of them, including those with gestational diabetes, was advised to eat animal products.

Helen’s experience was consistently positive: “Two health professionals guessed I was vegan and were highly supportive. My first midwife appointment went something like this: ‘Have you read the list of things you need to stop?’ ‘Yes.  I don’t smoke or drink or eat those things anyway.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Excellent, I won’t need to persuade you to eat more fruit and vegetables.’ The second was a health visitor at my child’s one-year review.  The conversation went something like this: ‘What is your child’s favourite food?’ ‘Tofu.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Please tell me which cheese to buy.  What is the best milk?  Where do you eat out?’

Pulled Mushropom ‘Duck’ Pancakes

Emma: “I didn’t tell the midwives that I was vegan because I expected a negative response that I didn’t want to have to deal with at that time. However, in hospital after the birth the team were very supportive in providing me with decent vegan food.”

Says Che; “in my first pregnancy one of my Midwives was vegan herself and brought vegan biscuits to the antenatal classes. Second time the midwife was very supportive and unphased by the veganism. If anything, my GP and Midwives said ‘well, you don’t eat any of the stuff you have to avoid anyway so that’s good’.”

City Bowl

Two out of the seven women I spoke to however remarked on how terrible the vegan options were whilst they were in hospital!

So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, don’t let the myth that we need animal products put you off sticking to your plant-based diet. Eating a healthy vegan diet during your pregnancy can be good for you and your baby – and as there aren’t any vegan foods that are on the ‘no go’ list during pregnancy, you won’t have to give anything up either.

Louise Palmer-Masterton

Thank you for contributing this very interesting piece Louise.

Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge.  www.stemandglory.uk  Lets hope these restaurants find their way to Wales, the food looks amazing.

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Thank you so much,

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love and best wishes Em x