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7 things you should know about VISCOSE – is it natural or not?

I’ve done a lot of research when deciding on the most ethical and sustainable choice of fabric to make your clothes out of. Can you believe there are pros and cons of each option? There is seriously no clear answer to the question “what is the most ethical fabric?’ especially when you also consider accessibility, affordability and function.

I have certainly yo-yoed in regards to viscose. I have summarised my findings for you.

  1. Viscose (also known as rayon) is fabric that has been manufactured using natural materials – usually wood pulp, and often from sustainable sources like fast growing eucalypt trees or bamboo.
  2. The first patent for synthetic fibre was in 1884; but the first commercially viable fabric wasn’t produced until 1905.
  3. A chemical process is required to produce viscose. This includes using caustic soda and carbon disulfide to dissolve the fibre. And Sulfuric acid to then harden it to create a yarn.
  4. Caustic soda is approved for use even in producing organic cotton. But carbon disulphide is dangerous to the workers using it and the local environment; and the huge problem with viscose production comes when all of these chemicals are not disposed of correctly, polluting the environment, the air around factories and waterways and risking the health of local people.
  5. Very little or none of these chemicals remain on the finished fabric that most viscose is tested and certified safe for use. Look for an Oeko-Tex certification to be sure that the fabric has been tested safe from chemical residue.
  6. More modern technology has evolved and a better version of this process produces a fabric called Lyocell (also known by their brand names Tencell or Modal). This process is closed loop so those chemicals used are recycled back into the process, and is considered far more environmentally friendly.
  7. Fabrics made from recycled materials – whether it is used cotton/viscose or plastic bottles – are produced using a viscose method. Plastic bottles are crushed, broken into tiny pieces, melted and pushed through a device to make yarn. Recycling some of the 20,000 plastic bottles humans produce every single second of the day – that’s got to be a good thing right?

So, in trying to come to a conclusion, I have personally decided to avoid viscose in MAMAKU breastfeeding garments until I have the time to properly research and find the best supplier. So that I can be 100% certain that no being, no waterway or air was harmed in the process to manufacture.

Also, I feel the pull of nature and I love fibres that still have the energy and vitality of something that came from the earth. And I don’t get that feeling from viscose. It is so far removed from its natural form – bamboo or wood – so manipulated with substances I wouldn’t want to be exposed to.

I am excited to follow the technology of recycled materials, and I think if we as consumers continue to ask the hard questions and demand better processes that use less energy and create no pollution – then suppliers will catch up. Also – lets stop being a world that produces 20,000 plastic bottles per second! Don’t get me started! That’s a blog for another day!

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How to choose breastfeeding clothes whilst still pregnant– 5 styles to get you started

When you’re pregnant you tend to spend loads of time (and money!) getting READY. We research, we compare, we agonise, and we stock up on the things we need. For me personally, I bought lots of ‘dual purpose’ maternity wear and congratulated my self that I was going to be able to wear them for years breastfeeding, then the next baby, then breastfeeding again.

And sure, I got lots of wear out of them when I was pregnant and working, but to be honest, most of those clothes are still in my drawers having barely been worn since the birth of my first baby.

So why didn’t I wear them? Lots of reasons. Suddenly the season was wrong and the clothes were all too warm. They were too formal to wear with my pyjama bottoms around the house. Some of them had awkward access that just didn’t work as we were learning to breastfeed.

Also – I just felt like a whole new person after the birth of my first baby – it is true what they say – the day your baby is born a mother is born too. The clothes were perfect as I was jetsetting about attending meetings and managing projects, but I was new! A new mum, a whole new person – I didn’t feel like ‘me’ in those old clothes.

So, here is my guide to choose clothes to breastfeed in..

QUICK AND EASY ACCESS

In the early days breastfeeding a newborn baby you want clothes that have easy and quick access. Avoid anything that has buttons or zips that need to be undone. Baby will want to feed often – this is super normal – and zips or buttons would quickly become bothersome.

You also want WIDE access. What do I mean? When you are both learning to breastfeed you want to have a good portion of your breast available to manipulate, you want to see that you have a good latch and you don’t baby crowded by your clothes.

You may also want to consider access that lifts to show the breast below – that way the top portion of your breast and chest is covered. When you are learning and have a lot of your breast exposed, this may help you feel less exposed when breastfeeding out in public.

SEASON

Check carefully what season bubs will be born in and purchase accordingly – but also keep in mind that in these early days you will probably keep room temperatures ambient so a simple tank top you can throw a cardigan over would also be perfect.

5 STYLES

EMPIRE lift access has a panel that stops just on or below the breast and you lift this to access the breast. It is super easy to breastfeed in this style.

HEM lift access looks in most cases like an ordinary top but you lift to reveal a modesty panel underneath. Nursing access is usually by pulling aside or down the modesty panel.

DROP CUP is also a great option, especially at home. You unclip at the strap and the whole cup drops away. Some tops, but not all, will have a sling underneath to keep your top in place as you feed, or to allow for modesty.

NECKLINE access is also a favourite for new mums. Some breastfeeding tops are designed specifically for this access. Some will have panels for modesty, some will not. You may find, depending on your body shape that some ordinary non-breastfeeding tops are perfectly suitable for you to pull the neckline away – be warned though that they may eventually end up with a ruined neckline.

ZIP access tops are popular as they are usually invisible zips so the top looks just like a non-breastfeeding top. I would recommend saving these for later when bubs is feeding less frequently, or for when you have a special event. It is also good to note that whilst they look cute they may not work for everyone. If you have lower breasts, or larger breasts you may find some styles awkward to access your breast. You mostly need two hands to undo a zip, which also makes it hard when your bubs is very small – you may need to put baby down just to undo and do up your top.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

NATURAL fibres like cotton or linen are ideal when breastfeeding because they are breathable – and when your hormones are changing a lot (read – you might be sweating or smelling different than you are used to) this is a good thing. Try to choose cotton from Fairtrade and sustainable sources.

Man made fibres from natural materials like viscose are popular in breastfeeding clothes because they drape nicely and wash easily. Historically the chemical process to produce these fibres are dangerous to workers and the environment and clothes possibly even retain toxicity. The good news is that the technology for these fibres are improving all the time. If you are not sure, ask the supplier about how the fibres are made and what assurances can be made about the safety of the material.

BABY CARRIERS

If you are planning to use baby carriers (seriously the best thing since sliced bread – you should definitely add this to your research list) – you may want to consider some tops with higher necklines, and definitely with natural fibres. Baby will rest their head on your chest and in humid climates that layer of cotton will help prevent a slippery sweaty mess!

DON’T FORGET

If you don’t get anything in preparation – you can easily get something once bub has been born. Send your partner on a shopping mission, get online, or bundle baby into a carrier!

Sign up to our newsletter to get ensure you get the next guides on how to choose breastfeeding fashion – like what to wear when exercising, or what to wear when travelling. Plus loads more!

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10 Fun ways to find your MAMA TRIBE

When I was 6 months pregnant with my first, we bought our home and moved an hour and a half north of Sydney. We knew absolutely no one. We were confident we would stay good friends with all our Sydney mates, and we have.

My gorgeous midwife would visit for prenatal appointments and every time would ask me ‘how about your support network, who are they, where are you going to find them?’. I would answer her questions positively but my inner monologue was less engaged, I didn’t see it as a priority. Making new friends was not my forte.

However, she is a very wise woman and I took her advice. One piece of advice I always pass on to other expectant mums is to attend an ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association or La Leche League in other countries) meet up BEFORE baby arrives so I know where to turn to for support if I do need it the early days. And I did. I went to an ABA meeting and met some lovely women. After Jack was born I went back and met more lovely women.

My best friend gave me my first baby carriers and joined me up to the local babywearing group and I went along to local meet ups.

I found the local natural birth support group and went along to meet other women who loved talking about birth.

I started to see familiar faces, women who clearly had the same interests as I did because we went to the same groups.

Then, I took a big breath, and threw myself in the deep end. On one of the group pages of like minded parents I specifically asked for friends – well, friends for Jack… but really friends for me!

Women who had met me and recognised me suggested other groups, play groups, coffee catch ups. All of a sudden I had loads of appointments and was meeting other women craving connection too. Now Max is nearly 18 months and some of those women are dear friends, and we have developed our local tribe of mothers. I feel supported and connected.

So, here is my guide to find your tribe.

  1. Attend your prenatal or post natal groups offered by your local community health centre or hospital.

This is a great starting point. Everyone is in the same boat, your kids are the same age and you have lots to talk about. Make sure you start a private Facebook group so that you can connect online or reconnect later when everyone is ready.

If you meet someone in particular that you gel with, remember to sit next to them and strike up a conversation. Make a date to meet at the park/café in the next week.

 

  1. Get along to your local ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association or La Leche League) meeting. Go back to the next one, and the next one. If you like it keep going regularly!

 

  1. If you have a baby carrier go along to your local babywearing group (search on facebook). Don’t worry about what type it is, or whether you even use it. Just be yourself, and hope to meet someone you like! If you like it, go back again!

 

 

  1. Find your local KANGATRAINING class. Kangatraining is a dance-based exercise program that you do WITH your baby (actually, they’ll love it so much they will probably fall asleep) and is especially designed for the post natal period.

 

Instructors are especially trained to ensure safety for new mums and exercises are modified to heal and strengthen your core. It is easy to do more harm than good exercising after birth, so if you can’t find a Kangatrainer and are looking at other exercise targeted at mums, make sure to ask if they are specifically QUALIFIED for the post natal period. If you see any running, jumping or crunches run WALK for the hills!

 

  1. On the exercise note – do a Facebook search for your local MEGA (Mums Exercise Group Australia). This is a non-profit forum for free or low cost exercise, and often will have localised walking groups.

 

  1. Find a nature playgroup. Search out your local bulk food or organic co-operative or produce swap. Search on Facebook, ask on a local Buy Sell Swap page, ask at your local organic or whole food café. These are often run by parents and sometimes have a playgroup associated for socialising, Our local one is called ‘Environmental Group’ and has a dedicated nature playgroup that meets every Thursday in a different location. It always popular and this is where most my local tribe have found their way.

 

Don’t have a nature playgroup or can’t find it? Maybe it’s time to start one!

 

  1. Maybe you are like me and love talking about BIRTH? This is a timeless topic that all us mums have in common! Search on Facebook for your local Homebirth group, or VBAC group, or even contact a local Doula to see if there’s a supportive group near you, or maybe start one with her!

 

  1. Local Community garden – so many communities have these repurposed green spaces run by dedicated volunteers. This could be a great place to meet like minded folks and get your kids involved in a great project.

 

  1. Still coming up short? Why not ask your chiropractor/naturopath/acupuncturist/etc at your next appointment if they know of any mothers of kids similar age that you could maybe get in touch with as you are searching out a playgroup?

 

  1. See another mum wearing a MAMAKU Breastfeeding top? Go up to her and say hi!

 

It can be really hard to put yourself out there! But finding your tribe will be really rewarding! We’re all in the same boat so just try to be yourself and you will eventually gravitate to others who are like you!

Make sure you sign up to our newsletter to get access to our community – maybe you will find your tribe there!