Fertility – Sleep may affect sperm quality

Are you trying to conceive? So much attention is focused on a woman’s fertility because our reproductive systems and hormones are more varied and complicated. You might be exercising, eating well, perhaps taking some herbs or acupuncture. You may have also thought about your partner’s sperm quality and it can be improved.  

But have you made sure your partner is getting enough sleep? 

Some new research has just come out linking the length of a man’s sleep to the quality of  his sperm. 

A research project in China has shown that sleeping for less or more than seven hours a night could reduce men’s sperm quality.  

Researchers found that sperm from men who slept for more than nine hours or less than six and a half hours a night had lower volume of and lower total sperm count

Scientists noted that the sperm quality was at its best when men snoozed for seven to seven and a half hours a day.

Fertility Nutrition

Anna, our Nutritional Therapist, can work with you on your diet if you are trying for a baby to get you in the best shape for pregnancy. Sometimes simple dietary changes can improve your hormones, immune system and feelings of wellbeing. 

The best results come from both partners looking at their diet and getting into top pre-conception form, and we can run double appointments if you’d like to come along together.  Contact Anna for a free 15 minute appointment to discuss what you are looking for. Even if you don’t book she may be able to provide some ideas for you to investigate and try at home. 

Anna – 07812010412 or email on info@the-gentle-touch.com 


Pregnancy Nutrition

Pregnancy Diabetes – what is it and what to eat?

What is Gestational / Pregnancy Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes means you’ll have too much glucose in your blood. This happens because an increase in pregnancy hormones means you’re less sensitive to insulin, which helps glucose get into the cells where it can be used.

What are the issues with having diabetes in pregnancy?

Complications associated with gestational diabetes are an increased risk of a large birth weight babies, which increase the risk of complicated delivery and caesarean section. There is also links between gestational diabetes and your baby being overweight or developing Type 2 Diabetes in later life.

It’s possible you won’t know you’ve got diabetes when pregnant until your midwife tests your urine. The signs include passing urine more often, increased thirst, and extreme tiredness – but these are common pregnant complaints anyway!

How to manage gestational diabetes

When you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you should be given equipment so that you can regularly test your blood glucose levels at home.

You can significantly reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes by managing your weight before and during pregnancy, eating healthily and keeping active.

Here are our food tips for managing your diet when pregnant:

  1. Careful with the carbs

Choose complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, e.g. rye, and get your carbohydrates through starchy vegetables (sweet potato, parsnips). Avoid sugary cakes, breakfast cereals, white pasta & bread. Eat nutritious grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and millet. Avoid ready meals which are full of sugar and salt. Bulk up your meals with protein and lots of vegetables. 

  1. Focus on nutrient value of food

Carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) foods help to control blood glucose levels – such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, granary bread, all-bran cereals, pulses, beans, lentils, muesli and porridge. Ensure you’re getting lots of healthy plant based fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, as well as oily fish to help boost your body and feed your baby. 

  1. Avoid sugary foods

Aim to reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet. You can do this by:

  • Better snacks – swapping cakes and biscuits for fruit with seeds, rice cakes or oatcakes with marmite / nut butters
  • Make some energy balls with nuts and seeds and dried fruits instead of chocolates and cakes.
  • Add ground seeds and nuts to your porridge for extra protein.
  • Swap juice and squash for water flavoured with fresh lemon, mint or cucumber.
  1. Eat small meals often

Avoiding long gaps in between meals and focus on three main meals a day. This will help you control your appetite and blood glucose levels. Ensure you are including lots of protein (fish, eggs, meat, beans etc) at each meal to keep you fuller for longer. 

  1. Exercise

Physical activity that raises your heart rate also lowers your blood glucose level, so regular exercise such as swimming, brisk walking or yoga can be an effective way to manage gestational diabetes. Aim for 150 minutes a week in 30 minute sessions.

  1. Get your 7 a day (5 vegetables and 2 fruit)

Use veg to bulk up your meals and snack on vegetable sticks instead of sweets, crisps and biscuits. Fibre in the vegetables will help you manage your insulin release. Don’t drink fruit juices and smoothies which are high in natural sugars. Eat no more than 2 pieces of fruit a day and eat with some protein to slow the absorption of sugars.

  1. Support your gut microbiome

Several recent studies have found taking a probiotic during pregnancy can reduce the risk and severity of complications associated with pregnancy diabetes. Consider taking a probiotic or eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir to support your gut bacteria.

If you’ve found these tips useful why not come along to our pregnancy nutrition seminar on 18th November where we’ll cover all sorts of pregnancy ailments. We also look at the key nutrients you need in pregnancy, and what to eat to meet these targets. http://the-gentle-touch.com/booking/pregnancy-nutrition-workshop/



Baby Sleeping in mothers arms

Did you know cuddling your baby can help you with stress reduction?

We hear a lot about the importance of skin to skin around the time of birth, and this is because the cuddling helps to release oxytocin for baby and mum.

Skin to skin – Benefit to baby

There are numerous benefits for the baby, and evidence has been shown from cases in NICU where babies show better temperature regulation, better breathing patterns, less stress, more effective glucose regulation and many more. 

Skin to skin – Benefits for Mum

It’s not just all for the baby though, there are also benefits for you as a mum post birth. When you cuddle your baby skin to skin your brain releases beta-endorphin. Beta-endorphin is a pain reducing hormone that helps you respond to your baby. This hormone also reinforces the pleasure in the cuddles, and increases feelings of calmness. It can also reduce stress levels in mums 

If you need any more excuses for another cuddle with your newborn there they are. Some studies have shown even smelling that gorgeous newborn smell is enough to evoke positive feelings. We all love that baby smell, and it’s been shown even a whiff of your little baby can send out reward message from the part of the brain responsible for pleasure. 

So next time you feel awash with love when you’re cuddling you know you’re not imagining it, your body is tuned in to your baby on a chemical level.

Baby Massage

If you’d like to spend more time with your baby learning how to soothe and comfort them try our Baby Massage classes. The release of oxytocin during the skin to skin strokes can help both you and your baby relax. Look at our Booking page for details of classes near you, or we can arrange a private class. Our classes are a great way to meet new people in your area too, it’s friendly and welcoming. Many parents enjoy sharing tips and stories on parenting to help get to know each other. 

pregnancy heartburn

Pregnancy Heartburn

How your body changes during pregnancy

Pregnancy Heartburn or Reflux can be very painful. You don’t have to ignore this and carry on, there are some small changes you can make to reduce the impact of the changes during pregnancy. 

As your pregnancy progresses the stomach is displaced upwards and rising progesterone levels relax the oesophageal sphincter so food and acid is more likely to come through. Also relaxin slows your digestion which means food stays in the stomach for longer.

How to help pregnancy heartburn through your diet

  • Eat less, more often – smaller meals will be easier for your body to digest rather than 3 big meals a day.
  • Avoid foods which make heartburn worse – such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee and fizzy drinks and alcohol (some of these you should eliminate anyway!).
  • Liquidise – smoothies, soups and slow cooked stews are easier to digest. Keep up your vegetable intake through a daily smoothie mid-morning, or soup for lunch.
  • Avoid eating before bed or lying down so food doesn’t come up.
  • Peppermint tea also opens the oesophogael sphincter so avoid before bed.

Have you got your free Pregnancy Superfoods eBook yet? Download this from our website today. 

Pregnancy Nutrition Workshop

Join us on the 7th October to meet other expectant mums and learn what makes a healthy pregnancy diet. Find out how to support your body and your growing baby through food during pregnancy. Book online or contact us with any questions. 

Saturday 7th October, 10.30-12.30. 

The Elephant House, 1 Dean St, Southville, BS3 1BG

The workshop will be jammed with information about how you can easily eat healthily during pregnancy, and you can ask any questions to our registered nutritional therapist, Anna (BANT, CNHC). It’s fun, and there is no judgement about your diet, it’s supportive and gives you the tools to make healthy diet choices during pregnancy.  

Hope to see you there! 


BLW – Dealing with food waste

How do you deal with food waste in Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?

Baby Led Weaning can lead to some wasted food as your baby explores the motions of eating. For some babies picking up food, putting in their mouth can be rather messy with lots ending up on the floor. How should you deal with this food waste? 
If you’re giving your baby finger foods and a lot ends up on the floor how do you feel about it?
Some babies throw everything on the floor, it’s a kind of game to them, to see what happens when food gets dropped off the side of the highchair. They can see it as a kind of game and relish the reaction you give, so think about how you react when it happens. 
Some things you can consider are:
  • Limiting portion sizes so you only give a small amount at a time. When that’s eaten give a bit more.
  • If your baby throws the bowl off the highchair you can get bowls and plates with suction pads on to fix them to the tray.
  • Try a clean plastic floor covering (like a table cloth) under the high chair so food can be picked up and put back on the tray.
  • Remember it’s only a short while and whilst no-one wants to waste food it won’t be forever that your baby is exploring food in this way.
  • Limit meal times to 20 mins max – babies can get bored if left in their chair too long.
How do you deal with any food that gets dropped / thrown? Send us your tips or join our Facebook group (Baby Nutrition & Weaning) where we discuss tips for starting your baby on solid foods. 
If you’d like to learn more about Baby Nutrition and Weaning come to our next class or organise one for you and a group of friends at your home. Our bookings page has details of all our classes or email us to ask about organising a 1:1 session or private group class – info@the-gentle-touch.com 

Pregnancy Nutrition: Constipation

Hormonal changes during pregnancy have a relaxing effect on the digestive tract, which can slow down transit time through your bowels. Pregnancy constipation often occurs mostly in the first trimester, but 4 in 10 women get constipation during pregnancy.

What to eat to help pregnancy constipation

  • Ground flax seeds can help form a soft stool
  • Include prunes, dried figs and raisins
  • Eat fresh fruit and vegetables to increase your fibre
  • Include beans, lentils and pulses in your diet

Flax Seeds

Lifestyle changes

  • Keep moving, walking is excellent exercise and helps regulate the bowels. Aim for 30 mins a day.
  • Drink lots of water or herbal teas.
  • Raise your feet up on a low stool when doing a poo. Squatting is a more natural position and can help the bowels to open.
  • Always go to the toilet when you feel you need to poo, holding onto it interferes with the nerve connection which allows us to let go.
  • Set a certain time of the day when you try to go, perhaps first thing in the morning, and after a meal.
  • Check your iron tablets if you’re taking them. Iron in the form of ferrous sulphate can cause constipation so look for an organic iron if this is a problem.
  • Avoid taking bran which can irritate your gut and inhibit the uptake of iron, calcium, magnesium and other minerals.


If you’ve found these tips useful why not come along to our pregnancy nutrition seminar on 7th October where we’ll cover all sorts of pregnancy ailments. We also look at the key nutrients you need in pregnancy, and what to eat to meet these targets. http://the-gentle-touch.com/booking/pregnancy-nutrition-seminar/


FREE Pregnancy Suprtfoods eBook – find out which foods can help you boost your nutrient intake during pregnancy to support a healthy pregnancy


Tongue Tie – Medically known as Ankyloglossia

What is a tongue tie?

Tongue tie is where the strip of skin, frenulum, between the underside of the tongue and the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual anchoring it down and restricting movement.

If your baby has a tongue tie it will hopefully be picked up by your health professional at birth during their routine check.  However, lots aren’t and sometimes it is only noticed some weeks later, and a few weeks for a newborn is obviously a significant amount of time.

Does it cause any problems for baby?

Sometimes a tongue tie doesn’t cause any problems and if this is the case, then no treatment is needed at all.

However, it can interfere with feeding your baby.  Especially breastfeeding as commonly babies can’t open their mouths wide enough to latch on securely to withdraw milk from your breast.  To have a successful and comfortable feed, babies need to be able to take some breast tissue into their mouths and not just the nipple.

If they aren’t latched correctly you may hear a clicking or sucking noise as their mouths slip off.  This might also mean they take in more air when feeding so adding to a gassy tummy too.

Although it’s common for babies to feed often, sometimes every hour, if this is constant and combined with an unsettled and unsatisfied baby consistently after every feed, it is worth checking their tongue for a tie.

How can I check if my baby has a tongue tie?

Always see your health professional as soon as you have any worries about tongue tie.  It is quick to diagnose and worth getting it looked at because it can really impact whether you and your baby are successful at breastfeeding due to the difficulties it can cause.

You can also have a look at your baby’s mouth yourself, some tongue ties are much more obvious than others.  An obvious thing to look for is the actual string of tissue, like a little thread from tongue to floor of mouth. 

It is also worth putting your clean fingers in their mouth and sliding from one side to another, underneath their tongue.  Sometimes you can’t always see an obvious frenulum but you may be able to feel the tightness there.  The best position for your baby to be in to do this check is lying down with their head on your lap, facing upwards, feet pointing away from you.

What can be done if my baby has a tongue tie?

A trained medical professional can snip the frenulum freeing up any tension it is causing and allowing the mouth to gain full range of movement.  A frenotomy is a quick procedure with a very good success rate.  You may need to spend some time afterwards relearning your latch again as it may feel very different to both you and your baby.


Baby Weaning: My 6-9 month old baby isn’t interested in food!

It can be stressful if your baby doesn’t seem keen on solid foods. You want the best for your baby, and we all have an innate desire to feed the things we love (just see kids poking grass into a rabbits cage!) 

If your baby isn’t keen on eating as you introduce solid foods there are a couple of things to consider. (These pointers are for babies between 6-9 months in the first few months of weaning) 

  • Some people don’t take to food straight away – allow your baby time to explore food, putting together a picture of the smell, taste and texture of each food. 
  • Babies go through stages of growing, sometimes they eat more than others, so try to look at the trends over a week / month rather than a day.
  • Try not to panic – if your baby is still getting regular milk feeds with wet and dirty nappies he is still getting enough nutrients. At this stage food isn’t a major source of nutrients. The nutrient content of milk (mum’s milk or formula) won’t compare to a bit of carrot and some banana.
  • Offer what you’re having every time you sit down to eat and don’t make it a big deal. Sit down at the table together, put your baby in a highchair and give him the same as you, or offer him bits of your food whist you eat. 
  • If you’ve got to a point where you feel nothing is working and you’re really stressed then take a break for a couple of days.  Go back to milk only, and then start again 

If you’ve got past 9-10 months and your baby still isn’t interested in any food it might be worth getting some additional advice. Anna’s Baby Nutrition consultations are £45 for an hour, held at your home. FREE 15 minute phone consultations are available to see if you’d like to book a full session. 

Contact us for more details about the consultations or with any questions on weaning – info@the-gentle-touch.com. 

Are you worried you don’t have enough breastmilk?

Many mums worry at some point that they don’t have enough breastmilk for their baby. You can’t measure the amount of milk your baby is receiving so it can leave you feeling insecure and wondering.

There are a few myths surrounding this subject, so let us look at these first. The following are NOT indicators that you are producing too little milk;

  1. The feeling of ‘let down’ is gone.  Not everyone feels a strong let down sensation; it doesn’t mean the milk isn’t there.  Some mothers say let down can feel like pins & needles, others say it’s painful, or some experience nothing at all.
  2. If / when you pump milk you get very little.  Babies are much more efficient than a pump so don’t rely on measuring the pumped milk as a guide to how much you produce.
  3. Your breasts feel soft/ softer than they did.  Your breasts will adjust the supply to your baby’s needs, the feel of your breasts does not determine the amount of milk.
  4. Leaky boobs have stopped leaking.  This can happen, as above, once your breasts have adjusted to the demand of your baby’s needs.
  5. Your baby suddenly wants feeding more frequently or seems hungry after feeding.  This can be common especially during a growth spurt, they want more milk because they are growing, fast.
  6. Their dirty nappies are less frequent.  This can sometimes happen to breastfed babies, it can mean that there is just no waste.  The breastmilk is uniquely made for the growth stage they are at so they may just be using every ounce of it up for their growing. 

What are the indicators you may have low breastmilk?

If your baby is not producing wet nappies and not gaining weight then it would be advisable to discuss this with your GP or Health Visitor.

How can you increase your breastmilk naturally?


The best way to improve your milk flow is to ensure you have a nutrient dense diet including lots of healthy fats, drink lots of water and rest as much as you can. These traditional herbs and foods are thought to stimulate lactation and are used in cultures throughout the world:

  • Fennel seeds or fenugreek seeds soaked in boiling water to make a tea. You can also add these herbs to cooking sauces like curry.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds for protein and healthy fats.
  • Sesame seeds / tahini.
  • Add warming foods like soups and stews to your diet. Well cooked meat or pulses with root vegetables will nourish you and help milk production.
  • Porridge oats with added seeds and coconut oil.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – spinach, kale, cavolonero.
  • Drinking lots of water through the day

Offer your breast often to your baby

Breastfeeding works by a supply and demand method.  The more your baby suckles at your breast the more milk your breasts will produce.  If you are worried about lack of milk then offer your breasts more often to give your body the signal to keep producing more milk for your baby.


Using a breastpump can be helpful to increase your milk.  The stimulation will trigger more milk to be produced and ejected. This can be done directly after you breastfeed or a regular intervals inbetween.  Speak to a lactation consultant to see what works best for your situation.

Skin to skin

Hormones have a huge part to play in breastfeeding. Holding your naked baby against your bare skin is relaxing for both of you and it can help stimulate helpful hormones.  Prolactin helps your body produce milk and as you relax and enjoy holding your baby close the hormone oxytocin will help milk be released.


Stress isn’t good for anyone and when those niggles of doubt set in that you aren’t producing enough milk it can make you feel stressed.  Cortisol, our stress hormone, doesn’t affect the amount of milk produced but it can impact the initial let down.  So, if you find breastfeeding stressful and the let down isn’t triggered your baby may then fuss at the breast which in turn may make you feel more stressed. This negative feedback loop is common can impact on successful breastfeeding.

Oxytocin is responsible for inducing feelings of calm and supports bonding, amongst other things.  The hormone is released when the nipples are stimulated by baby suckling, this induces the let down reflex and milk is ejected. 

Check your latch

If you’re worrying about low supply do get your feeding position checked by a lactation expert. Your baby may be having problems with the latch and struggling to get milk out of the breast. Even the smallest adjustment can help. Lactation consultants can also check for tongue tie which may interfere with your baby’s latch.

So try whatever you can to feel relaxed. Snuggle in a comfortable position and hold your baby close. You are both learning how to breastfeed together so be kind to yourself, try to relax and breathe.


Our A-Z guide to staying cool

When it’s hot your little one can be very grumpy, not understanding why it’s so warm. You can also be worry that your baby will overheat. Read our top tips for keeping everyone cool.   

A – APPLES or any fruit actually.  You can make it fun for older babies and children by making fruit salad or ­­fruit kebab stick.  Young babies might enjoy sucking on cooled orange segments.

B – BATH. Give babies and children a cool bath before bed to bring that body temperature down.  Keeping activities slow and calming like reading, puzzles etc. No running/jumping games that my children always want to play.

C – CURTAINS. Keep them closed on the sunny side to help stop the heat building up.

D – DRINK lots of water.  Aim for 2 litres for adults.  Formula fed babies can be given small amounts of cooled boiled water.   Offer breastfed babies extra feeds, the milk will naturally change consistency to be more thirst quenching, clever hey.

E – EAT cooling foods. In Chinese and Ayervedic medicine foods are seen to have cooling or warming properties. These foods help our bodies cool down from the inside so include cucumber, lemons, apple, melons, papaya, pineapple, butternut squash, radish juice, and courgette.

F – FLANNEL.  Especially lovely for pregnant women, soak a cloth in cold water then apply to your pulse points to keep you cool, back of your neck and on your wrists.  Keep re-wetting it in cold water.

G – GET YOUSELF a spray bottle, fill it with water and carry it with you, perfect for instant cool and refresh for all the family if out and about.

H – HATCH.  If you have a loft hatch leave it open, as hot air rises it might help the hot air escape from your home.

I – ICE. Place a bottle of water in the freezer, at bedtime put the frozen bottle in front of a fan, it helps cool the air, a bowl of ice works too. Ice really is a versatile and perfect accompaniment for hot weather, add to drinks, suck on cubes (although be careful a chocking with younger ones) or add to a cold foot bath.

J – SEE Y.

K – KEEP APPLYING the SUN CREAM.  Use a suncream that doesn’t have lots of chemicals on their tender skin, you can find a number of brands like Green People. Babies under 6 months shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight.

L – LOLLIES.  Make your own.  You can puree your own fruit and veg combinations for a delicious cool healthy treat.  Water lollies are good for instant cool down for little ones.

M – MUSLINS have a multitude of uses.  Dampen one with cool water and put over your baby’s body whilst out and about.  Also great when cuddling or feeding baby to have a damp muslin between you both to keep the body temperatures down.

N – NATURAL FIBRES.  Keep to cotton and other natural material as they let the skin breathe. Keep away from nylon, polyester and other man made sweat inducing fabrics. This is for clothes, bedding, blankets and buggy seat liners.

O – see Y

P – PADDLING POOL.  Fun for all the family.  Never leave babies and children unattended.  If you don’t want to submerge yourself in a pool just sit with your feet in, it will help cool your whole body, wonderful if you are pregnant.

Q – Quercetin. Foods rich in quercetin help to fight off hay fever symptoms, something that can affect your enjoyment of being outdoors. Eat apples, red grapes, red onions, dark cherries, tomatoes and broccoli.

R – REST.  Don’t over exert yourself when it’s hot.   Your body will have to work hard to keep yourself cool so if you can do nothing. Do nothing. (Except looking after the kids, and some may argue that is a lot of exertion)

S – SHEEPSKIN.  This might sound counter intuitive but laying your baby on sheepskin can help keep them cool.   Google it, it’s true.

T – THERMOMETER.  It is recommended that babies and children will be most comfortable sleeping between 16C (61F) and 20C (68F).  Obviously the temperature can’t always be adjusted when it’s super hot but it’s useful to know the recommend temps.  Change rooms if you have to, for example my son is in my bed tonight as he has a 30c+ loft room, husband is on the sofa!  Remember you may need to adjust your baby’s clothing, perhaps they are in a nappy when put to bed but may need another layer later as the sun goes down.

U – UMBRELLA.  Always use a parasol/ sun umbrella or loose muslin (always with airflow) when your baby is in a buggy to keep them out of the sun.  It is not advised to peg blankets over the buggy as it can increase the temperature inside the buggy to dangerous levels.

V – VEHICLE.  Never ever leave a baby or child in a car unattended in the hot weather. There have been a number of heartbreaking fatal stories in the news.  Yes it can be a time consuming and tricky task getting one or more hot and tantruming children out of the car to nip to a shop, but the consequences are just too awful.

W – WHEN TO WORRY.  If you are concerned your baby or child is dehydrated then please take them or phone doctor immediately.   Some of the signs of dehydration from NHS are;

  • Drowsy
  • Breathe fast
  • Have few or no tears when they cry
  • Have a soft spot on their head that sinks inwards (sunken fontanelle)
  • Have a dry mouth
  • Have dark yellow pee or have no/ few  wet nappies.
  • Have cold and blotchy-looking hands and feet

X – EXCUSE YOURSELF from invitations if you have to that involves long journeys, especially in the car.  It is not a place a baby or child wants to be on a hot day.  It isn’t rude or lazy, your friends and family will understand.

Y – We have put J, O and Y together because let’s face it us Brits take a while to get used to a heatwave but it is also a lot of fun.  Have some JOY too with the sun, it doesn’t come out often!

Z –  Zzzzzz  If you aren’t sleeping well at night then try and nap as much as possible during the day to keep energy levels up.