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Coping with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Naturally

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease sounds pretty scary, but actually it’s a relatively harmless virus which is self-limiting and therefore burns itself out within a week or two. Saying that, it’s incredibly unpleasant and can affect children and adults in varying severities. Treatment is usually rest, as there are no conventional medicines available to control it.

The first sign is a fever or temperature.  This is then followed by a general feeling of being unwell, exhaustion, and finally spots. Lots of spots! The spots look like pimples, and they disappear when pressed with a glass.

We had an outbreak of Hand Foot and Mouth recently. My son caught it before I did. As soon as I saw the spotty rash on his hands I took him to the GP who confirmed Hand Foot and Mouth and sent us home for bed rest with pain relief. Continue reading Coping with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Naturally

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How To Cope With Sleep Deprivation After Birth

A newborn’s first instinct is to feed and sleep in a pattern and quantity that varies from baby to baby. It is impossible to predict how a baby will adjust to life outside the womb and what to expect, as every experience can vary greatly. This means each parent must be flexible and patient during those first few weeks.

I remember laying in my hospital bed following birth, my son swaddled comfortably in the crib next to me, just a few hours old. He slept all the way through the night and I didn’t sleep a wink because I was so eager to ensure his safety and wellbeing. We have evolved to instinctively protect our young and be on guard, which makes relaxing difficult from the offset.

After returning home, he began waking every hour for milk and cuddles, which I was thrilled to give him, but exhausted responding to his regular needs.

During that challenging time, I developed some ‘survival tricks’ in order to keep my energy up and maintain some sanity. Continue reading How To Cope With Sleep Deprivation After Birth

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What Do We Put on Our Skin?

Street Art, Cosmetics and Pregnancy; All topics I have experienced and talked about, but never at the same time… usually.

In 2013 there was a great deal of discussion in the media about the use of skin care products whilst pregnant. The RCOG released guidance on this suggesting that although they did not have any clear research as to what the risks are they felt it wise to recommend that pregnant women limited use of skin care products during pregnancy.

This raised many questions. Whether the recommendation was necessary, if it was underplayed or overplayed and what is actually known/reported about the ingredients of cosmetics. For me personally it raised the issue that regardless of pregnancy, I should be aware of what am I putting on my skin everyday!

I’m a life long user of skin care products, from baby lotion as an infant, moisturisers and bath products through childhood and then makeup and other skin care products as a teenager and adult.  I realised that with or without clear research, perhaps we should be paying more attention to what chemicals we are exposing ourselves to.

I decided that I wanted to raise this question ‘ what are we putting on our skin?’ through my art. And the way I chose to do this? By using these products as my paint, and creating an image from these as a piece of filmed street art.

This short film captures my art in progress, the finished piece, and the interest that the concept gained whilst I painted on the street.

The music I chose was really important. The striking female voice of Charlotte Eriksson and her beautiful song “Letdown” worked wonderfully in my opinion. The lyrics capturing other messages about how we look and what we do to attain that.

Since doing this street Art  I continued to question and change what I put on my skin, but it’s a work in progress! I’ve changed my shower gel to a homemade scrub of olive oil, sea salt and essential oil, which feels amazing on my skin and smells great.

I’ve changed my deodorant to a salt stick which works just as well as any roll on I’ve used previously.

– When buying my shampoo and conditioner I now pay close attention to and try to buy products without SLS or similar foaming agents which always dried my hands and scalp.

– My children use a lovely bath range from a nationwide chain which only include essential oils and other gentle ingredients that don’t irritate their skin.

– I no longer use self tanning products – so as a redhead I will try to embrace my natural paleness come the summer! But don’t hold me to that!

As far as cosmetics go I have until recently still using these. But since March 20th I decided to go Makeup free for a month. I am blogging about it on my website to see how my skin feels, but also to see how I feel psychologically without wearing it. I’ve read other blogs where women have done this, and I’ve read many views on makeup. From discussions on the chemical components, the oppression of women, the capitalisation of beauty but also the power, confidence and artistic elements that so many women use cosmetics for.

To see how I am doing at being makeup free for the first time in my adult life, check out my blog

painting and video © Susan Merrick


Susan grew up with a passion for drawing and painting, a passion that was reignited during her first pregnancy in 2008. Inspired by strong women in her art and self taught, Susan has continued to develop her style using a wide range of materials and canvas. Susan has created art for gifts, political humour, commissioned wall art, belly painting, and more recently illustration. Her art has been exhibited in Putney, Aldershot, and Cranleigh and she has had illustrations published in the form of children’s books, What A Lovely Sound! By Starr Meneely and Blue Jeans by Veronika Sophia Robinson. Currently Susan is working as a Sign Language Interpreter 2 days a week, and balancing being a Birth Doula and Artist around her role as a mother of two. She lives with her husband and children in Hampshire, UK and always learning from her children, she endeavours to improve her patience and skills in gentle parenting! For more information about Susan or to see more of her gallery visit her website or check out her posts and albums on and twitter@smdoula


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Caring for Newborn Skin – Naturally

My second son was born just a few weeks ago, and I was immediately struck by how incredibly beautiful, soft, and delicate newborn skin is. Is there any better ‘drug’ than the musky scent and the satin feel of your infant’s new skin?

Skin is our largest organ. It amounts to around 16% of our body weight. Newborn skin is particularly delicate, being around 30% thinner than adult skin, and therefore more vulnerable to irritants and the absorption of toxins.

Newborn skin is constantly changing and growing, and can be susceptible to dryness. Adult cosmetics products are generally too harsh to use on baby skin – and as such, it is important to use only products that have been designed specifically for babies. However, there’s a lot we can do to care for our baby’s skin without spending a great lot on special products. A lot of benefit can be gained from just ‘simplifying’ your baby’s hygiene routine.

Here are some tips for caring simply for your baby’s precious new skin:

Delay the first bath – When your baby is born, he/she may be covered in a white waxy substance. This is known as ‘Vernix’ and acts as a temporary barrier, to protect baby from infection and environmental stress. Delaying your baby’s first bath, means that he/she maximises the benefit of this coating.

Bathe baby infrequently – babies don’t really get dirty do they? I remember I bathed my first child every night as a baby. I had read that giving baby a bath each evening was part of establishing a bedtime routine. However, bathing can tend to have a drying effect on the skin, and really isn’t necessary daily. My son’s dry skin issues improved dramatically once I reduced the frequency of his baths.

Use cotton wool and water instead of baby wipes – I have seen advertising for baby wipes which states “cleansing as gentle as cotton wool and water”. In that case, why use anything else? Even ‘gentle’ wipes can irritate very new skin.

Only use a ‘cleanser’ for hair initially – a baby’s body doesn’t get dirty enough to ‘cleanse’. Cleansers (unless extremely gentle) can strip the skin of its natural oils. However, hair will need a wash now and then.

Moisturise with an oil – choose something light and easily absorbed such as sunflower. It doesn’t need to be expensive. ‘Creams’ and ‘butters’ are great as a denser, heavier and more protective emollient, but unless your baby has especially dry skin problems, a light oil should be sufficient.

Always choose unscented products for your baby. Unless you are a qualified Aromatherapist, you can’t be sure of the effects of essential oils. Furthermore a ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ is generally a synthetic ingredient. Besides, babies smell gorgeous naturally right?

Always use natural ingredients/products, and check your labels. INCI names are confusing but can be easily ‘translated’ via Google. Be sure and confident about what you are applying to your baby’s skin.

Remember issues of dermal absorption and how much more vulnerable to this newborn skin is. What you put on, goes in, to a certain extent. Try to minimise the exposure your baby gets to ‘products’.

Don’t change baby’s clothes unnecessarily. As with bathing, babies don’t tend to get ‘dirty’ often and frequent changes can ‘disturb’ and ‘irritate’ sensitive skin.

Stay on top of dampness and soreness in the nappy area. I swear by Baltic amber for teething and avoiding nappy rash. You can also easily make your own natural talcum powder to keep the delicate nappy area dry (see below). Caring for your newborn’s skin doesn’t need to be complex, or expensive. Less is really very much more.


(thanks to The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara)

50g arrowroot powder

30g orris-root powder

20g powdered lavender flowers

All ingredients available to buy from

©photo by Kreatively Kristin is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Bare Bodycare III19 copy

Cath Mather is a mother to 2 boys, and an experienced Occupational Therapist, Hydrotherapist, and Reiki practitioner. She also finds time to run her own small children’s natural skincarebusiness. You can contact her here

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10 Ways to Help Your Daughter Honour Her Body

We are with our bodies from the moment of our miraculous conception to the moment of our final breath.  How we treat them influences how we feel about ourselves, and thus, how we experience the world.  What more impactful gift could we offer our beloved daughters than to guide them into a loving and respectful lifelong relationship with their bodies?  Every day, through our words, actions, and example we can do just that.

Here are 10 suggestions to get us started:

  1. Respect her body cues around food. When she says she is hungry or full, respect the cues of her body, regardless of how much has or has not been eaten.  Offer her yummy, healthy foods, and model how eating is both pleasurable and nourishing.
  2. Support her Boundaries. Like us, children have their own intuition about what feels good and safe. When our daughters set a physical boundary, whether we understand their decision or not, offering our support communicates that her instincts are important, and that her body is her own.
  3. Accept her Feelings. Forcing her to smile for pictures when she is in a bad mood, banishing her to her room for displays of anger, or telling her to ‘stop crying’ when she is upset, sends the message that happiness is the only acceptable emotion.  We allow her to honor her body by giving space to all of her emotions, and guiding her in their healthy expression.
  4.  Protect her from the Media.  It is difficult to accept your body just as it is while flipping through fashion magazines offering “495 Ways to Get Pretty By Summer.”  Make a choice to not subject your daughter to ideals and images that will likely make her feel worse about herself, and ban fashion magazines from the home.
  5. Move Together.  Exercise is a celebration of the body.  While engaging in physical activity with your girl, focus on how great it feels to move and stretch, how invigorating it feels to breathe with fervor, and the calming affect exercise offers the mind.
  6. Dress for comfort.  Many girls today are restricted by their clothing and footwear.  Apparel that fits well and offers her body full range of movement with ease will allow her to honor her desires for activity.
  7. Teach her about her body.  It is empowering to know the anatomical names for all of your body parts, how they work, and how to care for them.  Let us offer this factual knowledge to our daughters without taboo.
  8. Embrace Female Body Functions. Menstruation and lactation are unique to women, and we honor our feminine temples by embracing and celebrating these distinctive experiences.  Share with your girl the magic of being a woman.
  9. Value Her Genetic Blueprint.  Our bodies are designed to survive and thrive. Our ancestors needed their unique body structure to complete the tasks of their time, and now, many generations later, she bares the proof.  Researching her ancestors together could be a powerful step in honoring the body she inherited.
  10. Honor Your Body.  Our daughters absorb how we regard our bodies, listen with vigor to comments made about others’ bodies, and dissect our behavior to determine what we value.  It is wise to take any body issues we may have seriously and address them, getting support if necessary.
©photo by AdrianaAkrap is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Melia Keeton-Digby, M.Ed is a 30-something writer, speech-language pathologist, and founder of The Mother-Daughter Nest.  A native Arkansan, she and her husband and their three fantastic children now call Athens, Georgia home.  Her life is dedicated to children- understanding them, loving them, guiding them, and most of all- learning from them.


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9 Simple Ways to Boost Your Breast Milk Supply

If you’re a breastfeeding mama, you’re probably all-too-familiar with the fear of a dwindling supply. There are numerous factors that can play into a reduction in breast milk, such as stress, illness, smoking, or birth control drugs. While there are many things you can’t control, let’s talk about the things you can- the easiest place to start is with your dinner plate! Including these tasty lactogenic food & drinks into your diet can make for happy boobies and happy babies.

Water– It doesn’t get any simpler! If you are dehydrated, your milk is dehydrated. Aim for ½ an ounce per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you need approximately 70 oz of water per day.

Cumin– Cumin is an essential part of any Indian cuisine, and is probably already in your spice rack. Not only does is stimulate milk supply but it also regulates blood sugar levels, which can help you lose some baby weight. Use this aromatic herb in chili, enchiladas, curries, guacamole, or vegetable stews. It’s also a great addition to meat rubs or marinades.

Chamomile– Chamomile’s delicate apple flavor is one of my favorites. Drink this as a tea at night as a calming bedtime ritual to help you drift off into a restful sleep while increasing your milk flow. It also helps with stress and anxiety, so keep it on hand for when you need a breather.

*Beware of teas that have any kind of mint added, as it can lower your supply.

*If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid this herb.

Flax seeds– Flax supplies important fatty acids necessary for breast milk production. The hulls are indigestible when whole, so always use the ground seeds. You can easily sprinkle it on yogurt or granola, and mix it in with homemade pancakes, muffins, breads, or cookies. There is also flax milk available in stores as a tasty dairy alternative.

Fennel seeds– This sweet, licorice-flavored plant is popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Not only does it boost supply, but it passes through your milk, providing baby relief from tummy upset and colic. You can drink it as a flavorful tea, or use it as a spice in salads, meats, potatoes, or desserts.

Dandelion– Ok, so I know you don’t have dandelions in your kitchen. But walk outside- they are EVERYWHERE! And no, I don’t consider them a weed- they are indeed an excellent food and medicine. Drink the tea or add the fresh greens to your salads for lactation and breast inflammation. When harvesting dandelion greens, however, be careful to avoid areas that could potentially have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.

Oats– This one is easy. Oatmeal for breakfast, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, granola, breads, apple crisp with a crispy oat topping, oatmeal muffins. The possibilities are endless.

Dark beer– You can get brewer’s yeast from any nutrition store, but I find this option to be easier and way more fun. The yeast and b-vitamins in beer, particularly the darker varieties, will give you a nice little boost in your milk production. For bonus points, look for an oatmeal stout.

*Remember- if you are tipsy, your breast milk is tipsy. One alcoholic beverage per hour is generally considered safe while breastfeeding and will not affect the baby. As little as half a beer per day may be enough to give you the boost you’re looking for, so no need to overdo it!

Kombucha tea– Fermented foods are an excellent source of beneficial bacteria and yeast which boost your milk supply, and kombucha is one of my favorites. If you’re adventurous you can track down a “mother mushroom” and brew your own, or look for it in the health food section of your grocery store.

*This beverage does contain some caffeine as it is typically made with black tea, so don’t over-do it or drink it close to bedtime.

*Kombucha does naturally contain trace amounts of alcohol. It’s typically nothing to worry about, but due to variations in brewing techniques some may contain higher amounts. If it has a slight alcohol flavor to it, limit your intake as you would with the beer.

©photo by Aurimas Mikalauskas is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


meganpicMegan M. Kerkhoff, CHC, AADP is a Certified Health Counselor helping people to permanently achieve vibrant health and overcome chronic health issues with step-by-step nutrition & lifestyle counseling. She is a proud mommy to 2 month old Eliana Iris, and has a passion for natural pregnancy & motherhood. Visit her at &

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Helpful Tips for Frazzled Mothers

Spilled milk, a clinging toddler, one missing shoe, and a clock that seems to mock you as it ticks past the absolute last point when you needed to leave the house. Sometimes motherhood seems to pull at every single one of our frayed ends. Sometimes the joys of mothering are lost deep beneath our heavy exhaustion and weariness.

How can we nurture our mothering heart when we feel utterly frazzled?

Sleep: When it comes to motherhood, getting enough sleep is easier said than done. Sometimes, we have no choice but to function on our last reserves. I heard somewhere that when we feel at our absolute physical limits, we have actually only used up about a third of our body’s reserves. I try to remember this when I am sleep challenged. Surprisingly, this simple change of focus is a wonderfully effective method of energising my day.

Healthy Food: Good fats, whole foods and fresh produce are all necessary for keeping our energy up. I try to limit sugar and processed food when I start to feel drained and ‘try’ to increase healthy food in my diet.

Iron and Magnesium: I take a natural iron supplement and use a natural magnesium spray. It always amazes me how quickly my body responds to this little bit of attention. Mothers are easily drained of important vitamins and minerals. A simple boost can make a world of difference.

Flower Remedies: I keep the Bach Flower Remedies: Rescue Remedy, Olive, and Impatiens in the house and use them often. I use Rescue Remedy for those moments of complete madness or for days when everything is topsy-turvy. I use Olive for exhaustion following a demanding day and Impatiens for days when I feel especially irritable.

Herbal Teas: Drinking a cup of herbal tea can definitely calm a hectic mind and sooth a restless spirit. Simply taking the time to make and drink a cup of tea is medicinal all on its own. I love a cup of Rosemary tea (crush a fresh rosemary sprig and infuse in hot water) it is refreshing and brightening. I also love Limeflower, Chamomile, or Fennel.

Hot Bath: A hot bath is of course always a frazzle diffuser. I love to use a few drops of Neroli, Geranium, Chamomile and Lavender essential oils in my bath. These oils are also lovely in an oil diffuser. I also love herbal baths. Sometimes, I infuse herbs into hot water then pour that water into the bath or alternatively I place my herbs in an empty tea bag and drop it directly into my bath water. Dried Chamomile, Lavender, and Rose are wonderful in a hot bath.

Prayerful Meditation: I find meditation to be somewhat of a paradox. I rarely seem to find time to meditate and grow frustrated with myself for my lack of discipline. Some time ago it occurred to me that prayerful meditation can happen anytime and anywhere. We can meditate when we do housework or when we nurse our babies. Even the busiest day is filled with quiet little moments, sometimes simply taking notice of such a moment can ease our stress and relax our minds.

The Colour Green: I Love this! The colour green is immensely relaxing and calming. It is always worth looking for a reason to bring a little bit of green in-doors. A lovely sage coloured pillow or handmade throw make lovely additions to most rooms. Houseplants, artwork, bottles of coloured water sitting in a window sill can each reflect peaceful green thoughout our homes.

Nature: Time spent in nature calms and relieves even the most agitated nerves. If I feel the day starting to fall apart I drag all of us out the door for a walk. We all feel better in minutes. Fresh air, bright light, life all around us, lifts our spirits and helps tame those wild frayed ends.

Please consult with your chosen health care professional before choosing to use herbs, oils or foods, or taking part in any activities you find unfamiliar or questionable. 

©photo by Kara Harms is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 


starr pic black and white

Starr Meneely is the owner and editor of The Mother Magazine and the author of the children’s picture book “What A Lovely Sound!” (illustrated by Susan Merrick). She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from the University of Alaska where she studied under Dr. Timothy Smith. She has been a regular writer for The Mother Magazine for several years. Starr edits and writes in a little village in Surrey, UK where she lives with her husband and four children.


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