Sunday, 18 August 2013

Breast Milk Baking for Baby....

Before anyone says 'euuww gross!!' I made these for my BABY! (hence the word 'baby' in the title!), not other members of my family, not my friends, not other people's babies, not the general public!

For those people who still think it's gross I'm guessing you think breastfeeding is also gross so I suggest you find another blog to read! This is intended for people who support breastfeeding (which should be the entire human race since we'd be extinct without it but that's another discussion!) and would like to hear about it's benefits!

One benefit that is perhaps not as obvious as it should be is that it can be used in cooking! So, since I had some left over milk and didn't want it to go to waste, plus I've recently started weaning my baby I decided to try out the recipe below:

Soft Banana and Spinach Cookies

  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0.75 cups soft dark brown sugar
  • 0.25 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix together in one bowl
  • 0.5 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 0.75 cups breast milk
  • 1 ripe banana mashed
  • 2 tablespoons honey/maple syrup/date syrup
Mix together in another bowl, then boil:
  • 3 balls frozen spinach
in a small pan, strain and ix it into the wet ingredients.  Then add the wet to the dry ingredients, mix together and use a spoon to put drops of mixture onto a baking tray. Bake at 180C until they start turning brown.

I decided to add spinach to make them more healthy! I boiled frozen spinach for a few minutes, strained it and stirred it in. You could also use fresh spinach, make sure it's soft and cut into small pieces you don't want anything that could pose a choking risk in there like a long leaf...

The original recipe didn't have it in, actually it didn't have breast milk in either but normal milk, but I didn't see why I needed to treat it any differently to normal milk, apart from the fact that it's sweet so you'd need less sugar. Also some people might not feel comfortable putting honey or date syrup (it's not recommended for babies under 1 due to the small risk of botulism) so you could put maple syrup instead, apparently this does not have a botulism risk as the method of collecting it includes boiling. However, some people also say maple syrup is not good for babies for a reason I'm not sure of, but then again refined sugar isn't either but you have to give them something!

Anyway, my baby liked them and he ate one and half, yay! Now I just need to figure out what to do with all the rest since I doubt he'll be able to finish the all my himself... I guess I'll have to help him eat them, they actually taste quite nice! You could make them for yourself and just put normal milk of course!

My Favourite Breakfast

1 cup porridge oats
1 cup full cream milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon soft dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey

Cook on a low heat for around 10-15 minutes, add the berries to the porridge and enjoy a tasty and healthy breakfast!

I love making this breakfast when I have time e.g. on the weekend, so thought I'd share it with you. It's quite straight forward, I have put ingredients for one serving - by cup I mean a small cup, however much porridge you can eat in one serving, the important thing is the milk:porridge:water ratio. This recipe yields quite a thick porridge so you may want to add more milk or water if you find it too thick. I use full fat milk (it's more healthy apparently despite the extra fat) but if you prefer skimmed milk you may want to use more milk and less water.

I keep frozen berries in my freezer, once cooked they work just as well as fresh berries. You could use them fresh though, perhaps add a few uncooked ones too. This is how I like it but you might also want to alter the amount of honey and sugar to your taste.

Enjoy! And check out this page to find out about the health benefits of porridge oats!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Help! My breastfed baby won't take a bottle!

After 8 months maternity leave I'm due to return back to work this Thursday. For the past few months I've been panicking about leaving my lo on his own for so long, especially because it's been such a struggle to get him to take the bottle!!

I thought I'd write a post on this to share with other mums who are facing the same problem! Unfortunately for me it's not possible to feed him at lunch time or anything like that. Even if I did take him on the 1.5 hour commute (involving walking, a bus, a car and a boat) a leave him in the creche at work my lunch break is too short to feed him anyway. I'll be away for around 11 hours at a time so him hanging on till I get back (as I've heard some people do with their babies) isn't an option either. Plus I need to express during the day unless I want my students asking me why I have two big wet patches in the middle of a lesson!

Thank goodness I'm only going back 3 days a week, but after 8 months of not being away from my lo for more than a couple of hours inbetween feeds this is still a daunting prospect!

Babies who are used to breastfeeding often don't take to a bottle very well. Can't blame them really, but for many people it has to be done! My lo has never really liked pacifiers so it didn't surprise me when he didn't like his milk from a bottle! Every time I tried giving it to him the most we could get is a couple of little sucks but mainly he just saw it as a toy/teether and chewed on the teat without actually drinking anything! When he was really hungry he wouldn't let me put the bottle anywhere near him, he would just scream and push it away.

He's still not at the stage where he'll take to a bottle like he does to the breast but he has improved and he'll now drink 2-3 ounces at a time and he'll actively reach out and put it in his mouth. He stills chews the teat but sucks too now! These are the things that worked for me:

- Only give him the bottle when he's in a good mood

- Never try to force him to have it, be very patient and let him figure it out and play with it if he wants

- Get a teat with a big hole (I've got this one, I also have some other teats and I just cut the hole bigger with scissors - this way the milk goes into his mouth even when he's just chewing it)

- Give it to him while he's distracted doing something else e.g. watching a cartoon

- Don't try to make it breastfeeding replacement, sometimes he just wants to comfort of breastfeeding it's not just about the milk, so I don't try to give him the bottle instead of the breast, at first I still breastfed him the same amount as before, this is something extra that happens at a different time so he doesn't feel like if he has the bottle I'm not going to breastfeed him. 

- Give it to him in a doidy cup - sometimes he prefers this to a bottle

- Give it to him sitting up

- Co-sleep (safely!) so they can make up for for the lack of bf during the day! 

- Start to wean him onto solids so he's not so dependant on milk. So far we've been doing a combination of spoon feeding and baby led weaning, we've tried baby rice (mixed with breast milk), mashed potato with other vegetables, pieces of watermelon on the skin (so big lumps don't break off into his mouth), baby crisps, baby rusks, potato wedges, small pieces of very soft cooked chicken, bread, peanut butter, cream cheese, yoghurt. 

And these are some other suggestions I've found in my research that haven't worked for me or I couldn't or haven't tried but anything is worth a go, every baby is different so you just gotta keep trying until you find what works for yours!

- Put your little finger into their mouth with the teat

- Disguise it under your top so they think they're breastfeeding (apparently this works for some but my baby figured it out straight away and seemed rather angry that I was trying to trick him!)

- Get someone else to give it to him, i.e. someone who doesn't breastfeed him! 

- Try different teats if you can afford to! (I tried latex as well as silicone and different shapes but didn't seem to make much difference, the thing that worked was a bigger hole)

- Squeeze some milk into their mouth if you're trying a teat with a small hole so they realise what on earth this thing is!

- Spoon feed the milk!

This week I'm taking my lo to nursery every day - an hour on Monday, 2 on Tuesday and 3 on Wednesday so that hopefully by Thursday he'll be ready for a whole day! Today was his 2 hour slot and he was fine thank goodness, so I'm feeling more confident for Thursday! Please leave a comment below to let me know how you coped with leaving your baby and getting them to take the bottle! Good luck!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Swimming as a Muslimah

Snorkelling in Puerto Rico

It is well known that swimming is considered by Muslims to be a good sport to learn as it is a sunnah of the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and mentioned in his teachings (ahadith) along with archery and horse riding.

Unfortunately, many people seem to assume that partaking in sports refers to men only, in some 'Islamic' cultures women are banned from many activities including cycling and even horse riding. One of the reasons I'd prefer not to mention (!) but the most common one is that it isn't modest for a woman to be running around etc, despite the fact that it is well known that the Prophet (pbuh) used to race his wife Aisha.

Swimming in poses a particularly difficult problem for women living in non-muslim countries where swimming pools and beaches are not segregated and unless you're rich enough to have your own private pool the options are rather limited. Sure some places have women's only sessions but they're not always on at times or in places that are convenient. Here in Portsmouth I know of 2 such sessions. One isn't too far away but the pool is too shallow to dive and the sessions are very busy. The other is far away and pretty late in the evening. Neither of these include baby swimming lessons or are particularly suitable places to take a baby.

Fortunately there is another option. A few years ago I decided to stop making my life difficult and let my religion be a positive thing in my life rather than a limitation! At university I undertook SCUBA dive training, I've also been diving in Malaysia and snorkelling in Puerto Rico. I now attend a non-segregated public swimming pool with my baby. The pool is 5 minutes walk from my house and open every day, and they do baby lessons! 

No I haven't decided to abandon my modesty and starting walking around half naked. I wear a full body swimsuit including a head covering, I have become a member of pool so I can attend during 'member only' sessions. Before about 10am this means you almost have the whole pool to yourself! This is not only so it's quieter for my baby and so there's less men around but also so I don't have to walk around staring at the floor to avoid looking at people's 'awrah' (the Arabic term which refers to the intimate parts of the body - for a man this is his navel to his knees and for a woman - in front of other women, it's more or less the same). Thank God the life guards are fully dressed lol.

Anyway, I've now been using the same swimsuit for a while and I'd really like to get another one, but despite the rising popularity of the 'burkini' it's harder than I thought! Now I know you're supposed to wear lose clothes but considering the fact that it's going to stick to you anyway once it's wet I prefer something a little more fitted and streamlined. 

And while I know you're not supposed to be 'attracting attention' I (like most girls!) still like to look nice (this is a debate to be having another time!), and wearing a big wet sack isn't my idea of looking nice I'm afraid. I did find this one site which has some really nice swimwear including the ones in the pictures, but it's pretty expensive. If anyone knows a cheaper one please let me know! Otherwise let's hope they have a sale soon!

Unfortunately I hardly if ever see any other muslim women swimming and I'm wondering why? In fact, I also jog along the sea front quite often and hardly see any other muslim girls jogging either! Maybe I don't go often enough I'm not sure, but why is this? Anyone would think Islam doesn't permit women to exercise, let alone recommend it as a sunnah of the prophet (saw)!

It's OK for Muslim girls to swim...!! OK?

Update: interesting article I found here, which shows the founder of new line of 'modest' swimsuits giving a speech about the evolution of the swimsuit and how wearing a bikini affects how people see you, it's interesting and the swimsuits are lovely! Unfortunately not most enough for me but maybe for a ladies only swimming session...

Monday, 5 August 2013

Making it Happen

Being mixed race a lot of people assume I speak another language apart from English. After all, my dad speaks Gujarati as well as English and so do most of my relatives. 

Being married to a Puerto Rican, getting an A in GCSE, visiting Spain and having a half Puerto Rican baby you would have thought I'd know a little Spanish at least....

As a 'hijabi' I have been been spoken to in Arabic several times - the other person obviously assuming I'm Arab or speak the language... or at least some of it. Having studied the language in Morocco for 4 months and interacted with the local people in their language you would think I would be able to speak some... by now... since that was 5 years ago so I should have had time to get the point of holding a basic conversation by now... right???

Sadly very very wrong. Alas! My Arabic is terrible and my Spanish is worse. Yet I lament my lack of language skills on an almost weekly basis, I wish I'd grown up speaking Gujarati, I wish I'd done Spanish at A-level, I wish I'd kept up my Arabic after Morocco, I wish I'd taken advantage of maternity leave and practised another language while I didn't have work to preoccupy me....

Alhamdulillah my husband and I are sponsoring a child in Gaza. However him and his family don't speak any English.

We also, praise be to God, have a beautiful 7 month old little boy who is just starting to babble, starting to learn to speak...

As a Muslim I believe it is very important to be able to understand (at least in part) the Book that we are supposed to base our lives on, not just read it like a robot, at least, that's what I'm always telling people...

I also just re-wrote my C.V. and paused when I got to the part that said in my spare time I am 'interested in languages, particularly Arabic and Spanish'... it make me think... am I really?? Why do I keep wishing I could do things an saying I want to but not actually doing it?? The only phrase I can clearly remember in Arabic is how to say 'I want to learn Arabic' because I said it so many times. 

I think I need to do one of two things. Give up on my goals and stop whining, accept that I only speak English and I will never speak anything else, accept that I'm obviously not interested deep down in ever speaking anything else or I would have done it by now (I'm 28 for heaven's sake!).

OR, stop whining and being so lazy, stop being a hypocrite and actually make some damn effort to achieve my goals and give credit to my words. I'm always telling my students to make more effort to achieve their goals... I'm always telling my baby when I see him trying to do something for the first time 'don't give up! you can do it if you try!!'

The other day my husband shared a video with me, which really inspired me. This gentleman has only been Muslim since 1998, he converted as an adult yet by 2008 he has memorised the entire Qur'an and you can see from the video that he's pretty fluent in Arabic (as far as I can tell!). Obviously I don't expect to be able to move to another country and study Arabic intensively like he did, and I'm going to have to leave Gujurati as a regret that the time to change has passed, but who do I want to be? 

An inspiration and a role model to Isa? Do I want him to have the chance of growing up speaking more than one language, growing up understanding and learning from what he's saying in his salaah instead of just carrying out a set of exercises 5 times a day? Do I want him to be able to communicate with his great grandma in the same language? Or do I want their conversations to be limited to single works. Do I want him to ask me why he needs to bother learning another language or trying hard at anything for that matter when his own mum couldn't even make the effort to do it?

That shouldn't even be a question.

If anyone else has learnt another language as an adult or has taught their children another language (or simply achieved a big goal in your life that required a lot of effort) and has any tips or experiences to share please leave me a comment below. I need a plan to follow and some goals to set but I'm not sure where to start. Thanks in advance for any support! I need to follow my own advice - I can do it if I try!!!

above - I need to stop being the first two people!!