On Sunday morning, I returned to Mermaid Maternity Retreat on the King’s Road to review their nutrition workshop. The session was a one-to-one, which I was looking forward to.

Mermaid Maternity Retreat

Following the birth of baby boy, my mother had lived with me for two months. That’s two months of home cooked meals and not having to think about going into the kitchen, let alone think about what I was going to have to make myself. My meals were delivered on the dot because that’s what mummies do; they look after their little ones.

Needless to say, since my mother’s departure back to sunnier climes, the memories of her home cooked meals now seem like a luxury.

Nowadays, I grab what I can when I can. And for someone who never used to skip a meal, I’ve been finding myself having lunch at 2pm, 3pm and even 5pm. That’s right, as a mummy, I’m thinking less of me and more of my little one.

But after this nutrition workshop at Mermaid, I realised that this has to stop. This and the just grabbing anything I can lay my hands on at the time. Why? Because what goes into my body affects baby boy.

The food I eat could help to calm down his eczema for example and to satisfy his appetite, it’s about the amount of nutrition not the volume of milk he consumes. So the more goodness that’s inside me, the happier and healthier he’ll be.

I also learned about the importance of planning ahead. I know this is something that a lot of people do without a baby to care for. But if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you’ll also know that I like to eat out. I used to cook lots as a teenager but for one reason or another, the excitement of being outdoors replaced the fun in the kitchen.

So now I’ve realised I have to get that fun back because there is plenty to discover and enjoy. Like chia seeds in my porridge for protein with my complex carbs and like smoothies and soups: goodness knows my soup machine and blender need to be used at some point.

But all in all, I remembered that during these formative years of a newborn the value of breastfeeding cannot be underestimated. And in order to stay on top of that game, I also learned that I need to consume 3 litres of fluids a day. 3 litres!

With so much to think about, it’s no wonder breastfeeding ran more smoothly when my mother was around. But after my nutrition workshop I’ve learned how to put myself back on track. And surprisingly, it’s not as time-consuming as I’ve assumed it to be. It just takes knowing what to pick up at the supermarket and health shops; and throwing it all in a blender.

Vicki Edgson, the nutrition consultant, made a smoothie for me. It contained coconut water, almond milk, blueberries and avocado. It was sooo good and of course, it was a nutritious meal in a glass. Thank you Vicki!

Blueberries and Avocado Smoothie

To find out more about Mermaid Maternity Retreat’s workshops, see their website.

A couple of weeks ago, I returned to Mermaid Maternity Retreat for a workshop on routine. Now, routine isn’t something I personally ascribe to: I prefer there to be an element of surprise in my day.

But for a baby, a growing person, routine is a good thing. Routine establishes a rhythm to the baby’s day. It gives mummy a chance to plan. And for both, it establishes structure and the possibility that baby boy or girl will sleep through the night.

In other words, routine is the Holy Grail of being a new mummy. Hence the workshop …

Mermaid Maternity RetreatTrue, there are books – numerous books on the subject. I’ve read the odd chapter in one of them. But for me, they read like an instructions manual. And I guess that works for a lot of people. The OH (formerly the bf) can be spotted regularly perusing a certain how-to-baby-manual, to calm his ‘what do I do next?’ concerns. And I followed suit, motivated by his enthusiasm for the book which I had rushed to buy one evening in Foyles on Charing Cross Road.

But the whole routine thing didn’t sit well with me. Baby boy wasn’t having any of it and I was struggling with the idea of nurture over nature.

So when I went along to Mermaid’s workshop, I went along excited at the idea of discovering the secret to a happy baby and also somewhat cautious that a baby cannot be programmed like a cyborg in the latest sci-fi.

Stepping into the the calm and reassuring environment of Mermaid, I made my way into the glass-ceilinged room where the workshop was being held. And for the time I sat in the room, it all started to make sense: the truth about the baby’s daily rhythm; what a routine actually means; and how to help your baby stay jolly during the day.

By the time I left the workshop, I felt somewhat wiser but I’m not sure if I actually felt confident.

*flash forward to the next day*

I followed the advice from the workshop and I promise you it felt like baby boy’s routine had fallen into place over night. Suddenly, he napped when he was ‘supposed to’ and he actually started sleeping through the night. There have been a couple of middle of the night hungry cries but let’s just put those down to growing pains or appetite.

The workshop gave me the confidence to listen to my mummy instincts. It also taught me about the cycles in a baby’s day. And most of all, it reassured me that I needed to listen to baby boy to keep him happy.

To find out more about Mermaid Maternity Retreat’s workshops, see their website.

Since I gave birth in July, life has been pretty busy. When you’re your own boss, there isn’t such thing as maternity leave and each day with a newborn is a steep albeit very rewarding learning curve. People say nap when the baby naps but that theory goes out the window as a working mother; a term that feels all grown up as I write it.

So when I was invited to review the treatments at Mermaid Maternity Retreat which is located on the King’s Road, just opposite the Town Hall, I leapt at the chance. I had been invited to their press day a couple of months back but that was also the day when baby boy decided to come into the world. The irony of the retreat’s opening on the King’s Road and baby boy’s arrival at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital wasn’t lost on me. It all seemed like perfect timing! And how zeitgeist with the royal birth and a few other celebrity announcements.

On the page, the Mermaid Maternity Retreat seems like a good idea. But in reality it is a godsend. The concept for this centre is to help new mothers in their first few months with their baby. Services include picking up the mother from hospital and taking her with baby as well as partner to the retreat. The retreat offers rooms for mothers to stay in with their babies where there is round-the-clock expert care on hand. Imagine a health spa for new mothers. Sounds blissful, doesn’t it?

Mermaid Maternity Retreat

There are also drop-in services at the retreat: from beauty treatments to post-natal (as well as pre-natal) workshops on offer, which I am planning to write more about in future posts. But for now, I’ll focus on the post-natal massage which I can confidently say was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

The purpose of the post-natal massage is to help the body along in its post-natal recovery, mostly in the name of drainage. Needless to say during pregnancy and birth, my body took quite a battering and now it needs a little assistance to get working like it used to. But aside from the technical benefits, this massage was also pure magic when it came to relaxation. Priscilla was amazing! By the time I walked out of the retreat I actually felt like the last several months hadn’t happened. I felt that good, as I wheeled baby boy in his pram along the King’s Road. I felt like I had gone on holiday and was now arriving back.

It also helped that during my massage, baby boy was left in the expert hands of the Baby Room where a wonderful midwife seemed to have cast her spell on him. I had turned up to the retreat with a grisly and hungry baby who probably didn’t fancy being parked elsewhere whilst his mummy went off for some pampering, or that’s how I saw it when I reluctantly left him behind. But when I returned to pick him up, I found a very content baby in his cot. He looked so happy that I had to ask the midwife, ‘what did you do to him?’

It was at that point that I completely understood Mermaid Maternity Retreat. Whilst baby boy comes first in all that I now do, what I was reminded of is that mummy has to look after herself too. And guess what? The world isn’t going to fall apart if mummy takes an hour out of her day for some pampering. In other words, that old adage ‘a happy mummy is a happy baby’ can be true.

I’ll be returning to the retreat a few more times over the next month when I will be reviewing the retreat’s nutrition, exercise and routine workshops, because not only does this mummy want to get back to feeling yummy but as I’ve discovered, the key to a healthy work/life balance is routine.

See Mermaid Maternity Retreat’s website for more information on their services.