Why aren't we talking about vaginas?

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

What pops into your mind when you hear the words, “feminine health?” The words ‘vagina’ and ‘cleanliness’ enter mine immediately, notions programmed into me since I was a child. It was always so important to be clean downstairs, but a lack of understanding how has plagued my life with continuos bouts of thrush and BV, all because as a woman, I was misinformed and didn’t take the time to understand my body. Which i’m sure is more common than we will ever know.

You see being clean to me was always paired with the use of soaps and shower gels, non-specific in brand, cost or ingredients and being very thorough in scrubbing a very sensitive area, which, inevitably led to my continuos downfall. Now the whole “your vagina is a self cleaning organ…” never sat well with me, especially as until recently, I’ve more often than not suffered with odour filled discharge which has kept me embarrassed and even in the mindset that something was wrong with with me. Especially with all the lack of conversation amongst my female peers about such topics.

Even as I sit here typing this, part of me is squirming inside thinking about who may read about whats regarded as the most personal part of me, but since having my daughter last year, I feel I’m partly responsible for changing the narrative around experiences that she will commonly share as a woman and to be honest so that we can be informed and remove stigma from what is considered normal and what is not.

As I got further into my teenage years, in my female circles I started to hear more about pH but remained in the dark about what it truly was and of its great importance. When mentioned my thoughts would revolve around the words, acidity and alkaline, never thinking to venture more into finding out how this effects me, even with the symptoms I was experiencing.

There were times when I would have BV (bacterial vaginosis) month after month, just stuck in this cycle of symptoms, treatment, symptoms, and for anyone who’s ever had BV those tablets you have to take are nasty so it was not a pleasant experience. Still, I changed nothing, challenged nothing and suffered in silence.

It wasn’t until I gave birth to my son in 2014 following an extremely painful second degree tear that I began taking real notice of my vaginal health. In my healing, I sought to find out how to treat my vagina better than I had the previous 20 years or so and I’m still learning.

My breakthrough came not long ago when I decided to purchase some products specifically for optimal vaginal health from a brand called Empress Body. Their focus is to “promote healthy alternatives / living by holistic methods, with a range of organic, natural and vegan products.” Now i’m a big time skeptic and I’m definitely not one of those success story women you see on adverts talking about how a product has changed their life. But I can honestly say this brand has.

I’ve been using the Yoni Wash and Yoni Elixir Oil for about a month now and when I began, I was experiencing thrush like symptoms which abated within a few days of use. I feel a freshness I’ve never experienced before as well as a lack of odour and reduced discharge. The Elixir Oil has a number of additional benefits also including balancing pH and can be used internally. The fact that they’re 100% natural also makes me feel as though it must be working magic on my Yoni. My body is responding to these products because I made a choice to take control, challenge my preconceived thoughts about my body and bet on change.

So, my point is, we need to open up the dialogue around intimate issues in order to enforce real change, enforce sisterhoods rather than shaming one another into silence. Without brands like Empress Body, myself, as an almost 32 year old woman would’ve continued to self-shame and not arm myself with the knowledge to fix what I once thought was wrong. We need to change the generational cycle of conversations had with our little girls, big girls and grown women to create a space for acceptance, understanding and the freedom to challenge the ways of the past.

Say Hello to the Power that is Siobhan

Yoga asks for you to become mentally, emotionally and physically in tune with yourself, but to truly get the most out of it I think its just as important to have a connection with or understanding of your teacher. So ladies, please say hello to Siobhan, my incredible Vinyasa flow teacher and find out what motivates her to help others.


WHAT YOU DO: I try to ensure that I get a daily practice even if it is for only 30 mins. I initially start off doing breathing exercises (pranayama) and I then move onto sun salutations to warm up and then do a flow incorporating the poses that I am focusing on at that time. At the moment I am into my handstands and forearm balances. These are more difficult poses for me so when I want to have an easier practice I work on backbends as they come quite easy to me.


WHY YOU DO IT: Daily yoga and pranayama practice really helps me to relax and remain calm throughout the day. It has worked wonders on my anxiety and I find that I really feel the difference when I miss a day or two. By practicing in the morning I have a calm, worry free and happy day.


HOW LONG: Ideally I would like to practice for 1.5 hours everyday but often I have to cut that down to 2x 30mins a day due a hectic schedule. I also have wonderful teachers that I go to three or four times a week which are some of my weekly highlights.


FAVOURITE YOGA POSE: I have so many but currently I am working on my inversions. Inversions can really give you a different perspective as well as allow you to trust yourself more.


HOBBIES: Belly dancing, or any dancing, horse-riding, playing the clarinet, hiking, traveling, eating, yoga.


BENEFITS OF YOGA: The greatest one of all is falling in love with yourself. Self love, self care. Opening your mind and heart, and then of course there are the physical benefits which are endless. Flexibility, stretching, strengthening, balancing endocrine system, balancing circulation… I could go on.


POSITIONS PEOPLE CAN DO OVER XMAS WHILE WE'RE CLOSED: I would suggest doing sun salutations to warm you up and then work on hip and shoulder openers. The festive season can be a very stressful time and it's important to take time out doing yoga and getting away from it all. Hip openers such as half shoelace and full shoelace, pigeon pose. Shoulder openers are most poses with clasping hands behind back. A great one to do would be locust. Also work into all your warriors to maintain strength and grounding during the festive season.


EASY POSITIONS FOR PEOPLE TO DO TO EASE THEM BACK INTO HEALTHIER REGIME: Restorative poses will be perfect for easing yourself back into a healthier regime. Try to do a lot of floor work and incorporate bridge and supine twist into your flow. Now is a good time to ask father Christmas for some straps and then lying on your back work into your hamstrings by using the straps.


Please find below images of yoga poses you can perform from home to maintain strength and help keep you limber throughout the indulgent Christmas period!  From the Mother Nature's Recipes team, we wish you all a very happy holiday break!

The Benefits of Pregnancy Massage by Hayley Woollard

The main reason why I wanted to learn pregnancy massage is because my sister fell pregnant last year. This was my first experience of being around a pregnant woman and it was a shock to see how the vast changes to her body could put her in so much pain at times. I wanted to help her but didn't really know how. 

Pregnancy puts your body through some incredible changes and a lot of stress can be placed on the back, neck, shoulders and abdominal muscles which is why pregnancy massage is so important in providing relief to this growing discomfort.

Pregnancy Massage is also great for the emotional and physiological wellbeing of both mother and baby. Stress felt by mum can transfer to baby, pregnancy massage can supply deep relaxation to mum and baby as well as enabling them to connect with one another.


It can also help by:

-Reducing pain caused by pregnancy

- Encouraging better sleep

-Reducing blood pressure

-Improving mood, reducing anxiety

-Reducing fluid retention


Some studies have even shown that women who receive regular massge during their pregnancy tend to have shorter labours with fewer complications.


Stages of Pregnancy


Second Trimester 14-26 weeks


Mother may have more energy at this stage as nausea usually subsides but lower back and upper spine muscular strains start to occur. Skin becomes itchy as it stretches, varicose veins may start to appear and mother may start to feel heartburn and shortness of breath as stomach is pushed up.


Third Trimester 26-40 weeks


Insomnia- due to movement of baby/need to urinate

High Blood Pressure

Swollen Limbs- massage helps lymph drainage


Shortness of Breath- massage encourages deeper, easier breathing by relaxing chest muscles.


The focus during massage at this stage lies in relaxation, gentle strokes and side lying. The benefits of pregnancy massage aren't just superficial, regular massages during pregnancy can promote emotional, physical and mental wellbeing to both mum and baby.

Pregnancy in the workplace

“He was going to give me a warning because of all my antenatal appointments”

Are we in the year 2016? Because lately I’ve spoken to so many women who were struggling with their pregnancies in the workplace due to ever-present philistine attitudes towards procreation. 

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking with one of my pregnancy yoga attendees and she told me how she was pretty much forced to go on maternity leave by her manager.  As her ‘too frequent’ antenatal appointments were disruptive to the workplace and as a result she was to be issued with a warning. It infuriated me as it just acted as a reminder that so many pregnant woman are working with little or next to no knowledge of their rights or entitlement within the workplace. So many employers are getting away with mistreating pregnant women because of the simple fact that women do not realise that they don’t have to accept it.

 One of my Aquanatal attendees told me she was fired, actually fired after she told her employer she was pregnant, But of course the reason for her firing was made out to be something unrelated. However with no previous problems in the workplace and a few weeks from being contracted as permanent, it was pretty suspicious that she was suddenly unsuitable for the role.  When I spoke to both women about what they were going to do about how they’d been treated, they were almost dumbfounded as though they were unaware that they had options, or a reason to fight.

So I wanted to write this to show pregnant women what they are entitled to and the services that are in place to help them. Working Families is a fantastic charity dedicated to helping families and carers. Below is a link to their Maternity Calendar detailing everything you’re legally entitled to during and after pregnancy. 

Did you know that your employer is suppose to do a risk assessment during the early stages of your pregnancy? Or that regardless of whether your pregnancy is considered high risk and you have two appointments a week, your employer is legally obligated to allow you to attend? These are just a few of your many rights during pregnancy. If you are mistreated at work and feel as though you have nowhere to turn, it’s always a good idea to talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau or if you have one, your union rep within the workplace.

Do not allow yourself to be subjected to mistreatment all because you’re ill-informed. Pregnancy can be hard enough without unnecessary additional stress. The mental and physical wellbeing of yourself is key, as those emotions stirred up in pregnancy can continue after you’ve given birth and affect your relationship with your baby. So be healthy and focus on what’s important, your family.

Working Families Maternity Calendar:


Citizens Advice


My passport nightmare

"I will put a note on the system" these words will forever haunt me due to my recent traumatising experience with the HM Passport Office. Having just about gotten over my initial trauma of missing my flight to the French Alps for a well overdue anniversary trip with the other half, I was very kindly presented with the opportunity to go on my first family holiday, munchkin and partner in tow. Of course I accepted and the only thing standing in my way was getting my son's passport.  Now, this was in early September and we flew in early November so with a well known three week turn around time for a child's first passport I didn't have a worry in the world...boy was I naive.

Tip no 1.  Use the post office Check and Send service to send off the application, using the Check and Send service will cut out any time wasted on errors on your application and they will also provide you with a application number which is essential when chasing up the process of the application.

I thought I was in safe hands as I had used the check and send service and I even received a text message two days later from the HM Passport Office saying that they had received the application and I should expect the passport to arrive within three weeks.

So I waited, three weeks went by, then three weeks and one day, three weeks and two days, on the third day I decided to ring up nice and calmly to just, you know find out when it had be sent out.

Tip no 2. Ring up the passport office the week after you send the application to check the processing details, they will NOT text you regarding any additional information they may require in order to complete the application.

I proceeded to be told that a letter had been sent to my countersignature requesting additional information, all of which would have been fine, had they informed me of this. Instead, I had wasted three weeks waiting for a passport that was pending based on a letter that I never knew existed! It didn't help that they had sent the letter to my countersignatures workplace, who works in a hospital where personal post would never reach her in a million years! To add insult to injury, they stated that the examiner who processes the application couldn't call her but had to resend the letter to her home address, thus adding an extra couple of days to this entire diabolical process and to my stress levels that were slowly growing by the day. Cue meditation and yoga.

Tip no 3. Where possible try to ensure you put your countersignatures home address on the application. If this isn't possible and they've contacted your countersignature, ring up the passport office and request that they resend the letter to their home address or warn your countersignature to be on the lookout for a letter being posted to their workplace.

Thankfully my countersignature was a good friend of mine who was on the ball and drafted a letter with the information they required the same day she received it. I then personally posted it recorded delivery and rang up everyday after to ensure it was received, which it was a few days later. By this time we had around three weeks left until we flew. So I continued to ring up every other day to find out what was going on, only to be told nothing as the examiner hadn't added any notes on the infamous system. Until, I received a text message from the passport office to say that I should receive my sons passport in the next seven days! Hallelujah!.....so I thought.

So at this point all peace is restored, I'm feeling great, reassured in the fact that it was printed and on its way, but then a week went pass and no passport. Anxiety levels spiking once again, I called the dreaded passport office once again, only to be told that they sent the passport out, via courier, to the wrong address. The wrong address!!! They read a digit of the address in my application incorrectly and scanned it as the wrong address. 

Tip no 4. Please, please please ensure you write your address (especially the numbers) clearly on your application.

So, from this point on, a week and a half before I'm due to travel everything quickly spiralled downhill. I was ringing the passport office everyday trying to find out why the passport hadn't been resent to the correct address. Everyone had a different answer, the courier needed confirmation from the Peterborough passport office, I can't call the Peterborough office directly and neither could they, all the people at the HM Passport office could do was email the Peterborough office and wait for a response. I played piggy in the middle back and forth until the Thursday before I was suppose to fly the following Wednesday. I was told by the courier that the Peterborough office had requested the passport be sent back to them rather than posted to me with at the correct address. Well that was it, I was in floods of tears down the phone to a poor lady within the courier department who clearly wanted to get me off of the phone ASAP and transferred me back to the useless people I had been speaking to almost everyday at the passport office! 

So, then I proceeded to do what any responsible parenting adult does,  I rang my dad (I still call him daddy actually), sobbed my heart out and as dad's do, he fixed it. He managed to speak to someone who could help me. Do you want to know how? By the almighty power of COMPLAINING. I had been back and forth with countless people on the phone, 'complaining', he's on the phone for five minutes and he gets asked "would you like to speak to someone in our complaints department?" Errrrrr YES PLEASE! It was an incredibly emotional eureka moment. Why had I not thought of this before? Seriously it was insanity.

Tip no 5. If you are being pushed from pillar to post with a passport enquiry, or any enquiry anywhere, ask to be put through to the complaints department!

My dad spoke to a gentleman within the complaints department who said he would look into my situation for me and call me within the hour. Clearly by this point a certain amount of skepticism had me not holding my breath. But in all that is good in the world this wonderful man called me, within the hour, he told me that he'd spoken directly with the Peterborough office, via phone amazingly and that I had two options. Wow, after eight weeks of waiting, debating and getting nowhere, I had options! This was incredible! I could have the passport sent by courier to my home or I could collect it from the HM Passport office in Victoria. Well there was no way in hell I was risking another cock up! I rushed up to Victoria the next day and collected my sons first passport! The elation that washed over me was.....indescribable.

So parents, don't go through the same thing I did, check once, check twice and then exercise your right to complain!

Here's to dads and to knowing competency does still exist in some shape or form amongst large organisations and workplaces.





My baby is finally here!


Whilst the physical design of the website has been executed pretty swiftly by the incredible Michaela Olexova, I feel as though I've been travelling towards this moment for over a decade. Throughout my life I've been haunted by the feeling that something is missing, never knowing what or why. This journey I've embarked upon, having my son, feeling hopeless and inspired all at the same time in the aftermath, it has all been building to this point of me finding my purpose in life. Creating something that is mine out of an experience so wonderful and being able to touch others who are still travelling on their way to resolution.

When Michaela sent me the first draft of the website, I burst into tears on the phone, unable to hold back how overwhelmed I felt at her ability to create something so beautiful that I could never quite visualise for myself. She was able to build something so wonderful because she believed in the entire ethos of Mother Nature's Recipes and for me that's the greatest part of it all. 

So I want to take this time to reflect and thank those that deserve it. Thank you Michaela for all of your effort, commitment and love, thank you to my parents and two older brothers, Owen and Ciaran for not even knowing 100% what I'm trying to achieve but still just believing in little old me. Thank you to the Oli Bennett Charitable Trust, in particular Joy Bennett, for that phone call and allowing me to express enough passion for you to lend your support.

There are no words to explain how I feel for the future.


Naturally Made for Mother Nature's Recipes


I'm what some may call the complete opposite of a social butterfly, since my school days I've had anxiety at the mere thought of public speaking, the notion of networking events is usually met with an awkwardness that would put Mr Bean to shame. But as I slowly transition into fitting in my big girl shoes I find myself growing, trusting myself with the knowledge that I'm capable of all that I set in my sights.

I do however, love meeting people who are in the same self-employed boat as I am and speak about what they do and all they want to achieve with such vivacity that I'm nearly jumping out of my seat. In my quest to find a brand to use for the Home Spa Beauty Therapy service soon to be launching, I came across a woman who met this description and much more. Her name is Kadifa Jones, owner of the award winning Naturally Made For You body care range. I had previously received some samples of her absolutely lush products and was hooked on the smell alone. From Tahitian Coconut Oil to Pink Himalayan Salt Body Polish I was in heaven and just had to have a meeting with her.

So, I found myself in Pret with a uncompromising toddler on the loose, who seemed to get away with attacking EVERY SINGLE packet of crisps on display by flashing the staff a smile every now and again (if only adults could get away with the same)? In walks Kadifa who greets me with a goodie bag filled to the brim of her products! I felt so embarrassed that I had nothing to offer her, well...it was a toss up between a box of Organix raisins and a pack of Pampers baby wipes! The point is I was overwhelmed by her generosity.

We felt each other out and completely found that our ambitions and passions aligned which is something so rare when meeting new people. She was completely understanding of my sons intermittent shrieking at being strapped into his buggy to end his attack on Pret which won me over even more so.

I had pretty much decided I would be using her products exclusively from the offset but I left that meeting empowered by the fact that the person behind the brand was just like me. It was then I knew that we wouldn't just have a supplier and customer relationship, but something much more...