Zita West is the founder of the Zita West fertility clinic, known for its unique holistic approach to natural fertility and IVF.
Here are Zita West's top 7 tips for boosting fertility:
Eat well - Nutrition plays such an important role when it comes to fertility. It’s really important to consume nutritious, nutrient-dense food prior to getting pregnant, because what you need to do is to be able to build healthy eggs and healthy sperm. You should eat a whole range of foods such as green leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts, good fats, yoghurt and beta carotene rich foods such as tomatoes, carrots and red peppers.
Get fit - Doing some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Whether it’s walking, running or something totally different, exercise releases the endorphins needed to maintain a positive state of mind during your fertility journey. However, men do not over-exercise... too much exercise – especially cycling – can divert testosterone away from your testicles and your sperm count will drop.
Have more sex - The truth is many couples do not have sex frequently enough, and when you’re trying to conceive, sex is obviously key. Although sex tends to become more stressful than enjoyable for many couples who are trying to conceive, it is absolutely essential that you are having sex at least three times weekly during your fertile period because sperm can live up to a week inside you so regular sex helps you ensure a constant flow of sperm for ovulation.
Cut out cigarettes - If you’re trying to get pregnant smoking is a big no-no. Smoking is hugely detrimental to fertility – to eggs and to sperm – not to mention the future health of the unborn child.
Reduce alcohol - The fact of the matter is that research shows us that on average, the more alcohol you drink, the longer it will take you to get pregnant and the less likely you are to be successful. For women alcohol may contribute to irregular periods, irregular ovulation and luteal phase defects, reducing chances of conception and for men, alcohol can affect sperm morphology and motility, and cause free-radical damage to the DNA sperm carries.I recommend you cut out or at least cut down on alcohol to boost your chances of successful fertility.
Stress less - Trying for a baby, especially when you’ve been trying for a while can be a stressful time - that’s why it is important to actively take steps to reduce stress in your life and find the stress-management techniques that work for you such as; yoga, meditation, swimming, running or just taking a long bath. I recommend acupuncture to my patients as it can help with help with blood flow to the uterus and the ovaries, and beta-endorphin release, which means a greater sense of relaxation and wellbeing.
Take supplements - I always advise couples, especially those with busy lives, to consider a multi-vitamin and mineral that contains folic acid, zinc and selenium. Many women we see are depleted in vitamin D to, so make sure you take that as a supplement as well. It’s also important to build omega 3 into the body prior to getting pregnant.
Visit Zitawest.com for more information
The brainchild of Central Saint Martin’s and Camberwell College of Art textiles graduate, Samantha Robinson, The Cross is one of the very first London lifestyle boutiques, selling an eclectic mix of fashion, homeware and gifts.
Tucked away in the idyllic, tree-lined streets of Holland Park, London the Cross opened its doors in 1996 and, contrary to the norm, Sam set out to support upcoming labels, knowing how hard it was to be stocked by the stores you love. Today, the Cross continues to search for designers under the radar as well as stocking well-known and established brands, their ethos being great style over fleeting trends.
1. Forte Forte ikat Maxi dress
2. Marloe blanket scarf, Bolam Style print shirt, Lena Skadegard necklace.
3. Matta top, Star Mela bag
4. Susannah Hunter leather initial tote, Hod top.
5. Necklaces by Pippa Small.
6. Lemlem dress, Star Mela bag, Liwan Lifestyle flip flops.
7. Tassel basket
8. Queene & Belle silk & lace camisole, Star Mela clutch, Pippa Small amulet necklace
9. Necklaces by Cressida Luxton, Rails shirt.
10. Henrietta Bevan floral dress, Lisa Taylor vintage silk clutch.
All items are available in store. Stay up to date and follow their instagram feed @thecrossshop
Open Monday to Saturday 10 - 6pm
141 Portland Road, London, W11 4LR
Kodomo.com was my second baby, in some ways.
I had been lucky enough to enjoy a career as a luxury travel writer in the years before getting pregnant with my first daughter Lola who, if I’m honest, was a very lovely surprise about 6 weeks after we got engaged (I blame the champagne wave!) I wanted to continue traveling as a mother and I felt strongly that the experiences she would have would very much shape the person she was to become. I accepted that infinity pools, sweeping marble steps to a hotel bathroom and late nights in the resident bar were to be a thing of the past but I wasn’t ready to embrace Disney and all-inclusives just yet. Kodomo.com was born of my desire for quality information for parents, sourced by other parents who had actually visited the place (it’s appalling to me how much online is clearly just sourced from a press release) with useful information on local doctors, family-friendly restaurants and ideas on what to do when outside the hotel.
Cass on holiday with her daughter Maya
Getting everything designed, written and live took nine months (hence it is like my middle child) and, while there were days I questioned my sanity for undertaking such an epic task, I’ve loved every minute of it. Lola is now nearly 6 and we have another little girl in the house, Maya, who is ten months. Lola thinks nothing of hopping on a plane; Maya has already been to Croatia, Thailand and Spain. Next stop? North Carolina in July where I went to university. The jetlag may be seriously unfun with tots in tow, but to see the confidence and ease with which Lola travels now, her constant yearning to learn more about other cultures and her love of a good hot curry makes it all worthwhile. Hopefully her sister will be the same and, as we are privileged enough to be able to travel as we do, I’m ready to find out.
Cass’ top tips on travelling with babies and small children:
I used to find it impossible not to take my entire summer wardrobe away with me if I was going somewhere hot. Today, I keep things as limited as possible. It’s rare to go anywhere these days where doing laundry isn’t an option, most of it doesn’t get worn anyway and, unless you’re heading to rural Siberia, you can buy nappies and so on when you get there. Pack what you need for the flight and the first day or two and leave the rest at home. It makes the toing and froing from airports far more bearable.
Heading to the east coast of America this summer as we are, I’ll let the girls stay up later than normal for a few nights before we go but accept that this may make no difference to the time they go to bed and get up once we’re there. Kids and jetlag don’t mix; sometimes we’ve managed to dodge it and other times it’s been hell. But, hey, Lola and I had some magic moments watching the sun rise in LA a few years back, even if it was four days in a row!?
Night Nannies was founded by former TV journalist, Anastasia Baker in 1999. She has two children and carried on working at the BBC when her first child was born but found she struggled to hold down a demanding job alongside motherhood when her second child arrived. Anastasia saw a gap in the market for mums with newborns, who craved two or three nights a week of uninterrupted sleep. Here she shares with Marloe Musings her top tips to try and get your baby to sleep through the night.
Many people assume if your baby is up all day, he will sleep all night – this is not always the case. The baby is usually so over tired and over stimulated, that they have difficulty settling at night. A baby with structured and regular sleeps in the day tends to be more content and therefore usually sleeps better at night too.
Whatever action you take do stick to it for at least 2-3 weeks. It is no good for a couple of days as this is not long enough to get rid of bad habits.
By Edwina Langley – Grazia Online
‘If I’m honest I still find it slightly odd to say ‘vagina’,’ says Chloe Delevingne, ‘and it really shouldn’t be like that'.
‘I do think it’s really good that women of all ages are getting rid of the stigma of being able to talk about [their] vaginas – and not wincing or freaking out about it.’
This is the issue The Lady Garden Campaign (LGC) hopes to address.
Set up by Mika Simmons, founder of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, who tragically lost her mother to ovarian cancer in the year 2000, LGC’s aim is to get women talking about their nether regions to dispel the myth that it’s a taboo subject. With research uncovering that a third of women are too embarrassed to go to the doctors for gynaecological concerns, it’s the not talking about vaginas that’s the problem. Early detection of gynaecological cancers – cervical, ovarian, vagina, vulva and womb – is the key to successful treatment. Not getting checked out puts women at great risk.
‘I want to change the way that people think, and women think, and talk about their bodies. And get them to know the symptoms are very complicated,’ explains Mika. ‘[My mother] was diagnosed and died within 9 months. I knew there wasn’t enough awareness [about it]. I saw over and over again through friends, family, friend’s mums – women were not being diagnosed early enough. I had this urge to do something about it.’
Mika was approached by her neighbour, Dr. Susana Banerjee – who had been taken on by the Royal Marsden Hospital as the Head of Oncology for Gynaecological Cancers – to fundraise for research into treatment. ‘I said, “Yes, I will definitely help you fundraise – but only if I can also do a campaign”,’ says Mika. ‘Which is how Lady Garden Campaign was born.’
The Lady Garden Campaign Committee
She pulled together a committee of ‘powerful women’ – ‘women who worked hard and wanted to make change’ – and who also had had experience of gynaecological cancers. Chloe Delevingne was one such woman.
‘When I was 21 I had a scare,’ Chloe explains. ‘I had pre-cancerous cells on my cervix and I had to have half of it removed. At that point, there wasn’t much information about things like that. I was [before] the age of even being allowed to have a smear test, and if I hadn’t recognised the symptoms from my studies I wouldn’t have gone and got checked.’
At the time, Chloe was studying Biomedical Science and Tumour Biology at University College London. She happened to be writing her dissertation on HPV and cervical cancer and noticed some unnerving parallels. With symptoms including pain after sex, abdominal pains and irregular bleeding, she knew something wasn’t right. ‘So I went and had a smear test. They came back saying that I had pre-cancerous cells, and I had to go and have the procedure.’
‘For me a big part of the campaign is to do with awarenesss. Making women aware of the symptoms of the different types of cancers and being able to be confident enough to go to a doctor if you think you’ve got something wrong.’
For Chloe, the eldest Delevingne sister, known for preferring life outside the media spotlight, this was a brave move.
‘I found it quite nerve-racking,’ she admits. ‘But do you know what? The support and the response we’ve had from everybody has been so positive and so brilliant it kind of makes it a lot easier. When I first got involved and started telling people about it, it was remarkable, the amount of girls who have actually gone through the same thing as me and I had no idea, close friends of mine. It just drives you even further.
‘I think a lot of people are scared of the idea of a smear test – it really isn’t that bad,’ she continues.
‘It’s also about trusting yourself, knowing [when] you don’t feel right. It’s about awareness and building confidence about feeling free in ourselves to discuss what’s going on.
‘I grew up in a household full of girls and my father really struggled with the idea of talking about periods and stuff like that. But it really shouldn’t be a bad, unspoken thing. I mean, adverts of a sanitary towel come on the TV and my father goes: ‘Oh my god, oh my god!’…
‘It’s about educating everyone,’ she says.
LGC were approached for a Mother’s Day collaboration with the luxury motherhood accessories brand, Marloe London.
Founded by Marina Sevier and Chloe Riddell, Marloe London create luxury cotton and bamboo hand-dyed muslins that are a whole lot more than mere swaddles, acting as blankets, scarves, sarongs, whatever the modern day mother requires. They contacted LGC with the idea of designing a one-off coral and aqua muslin to be launched on Mother’s Day, sold exclusively at Selfridges – with 100% of profits for the month going to Mika’s Gynaecological Cancer Fund.
‘I had a very minor scare,’ explains Marloe London’s co-founder, Marina, ‘and I had two weeks of not really knowing what was going on and really worrying about it. I was aware of The Lady Garden Campaign and I just thought, my goodness, it’s so important for everyone to be checked regularly and we can all be very shy and embarrassed… It really stuck a chord with my experience. And I thought a campaign that’s out there trying to, in quite a tongue-in-cheek way, get women to talk openly about it – that’s really important.’
LGC jumped at the chance. ‘I loved the collaboration around Mother’s Day,’ says Mika. ‘Obviously I don’t have a mum anymore and I thought it was really lovely to do something on that day. And the quality of their products… Often we get a lot of brands approaching us, but these two young women, in their own right, are doing something quite similar to us: being very brave in trying to create something new in the world, which is very enabling for mums… I was inspired by what they were doing.’
Chloe felt the same and even agreed to front the collaboration. ‘I actually had one [of their scarves] – I got given one when I had my daughter (Juno) with her name on it. If I’m honest, I used it more for other things, like as an actual scarf.’
‘[LGC and Marloe London] are a match made in heaven,’ she says. ‘Because it talks to young mothers. 100% of the money goes straight to the charity, which is insanely generous.’
‘Marloe London is a brand that is really attempting to get to the yummy mummy crowd,’ says Mika. ‘And it’s not that I don’t think what we’ve done so far won’t have reached them, but I thought it was a really lovely opportunity to specifically target them.’
If you’re looking for a gift for your yummy mummy, or someone else’s, or a gift for any yummy woman – you! – this is a strong, and worthy, contender. Just make sure the recipient is aware of the gynaecological link. If my conversations with these inspiring women have revealed anything, it’s this: the importance of keeping such conversations going.
And if that means talking about vaginas morning, noon and night, then I am all for it.
The LGC limited edition scarf is on sale now at marloelondon.com & selfridges.com. All profits go to the Gynaecological Cancer Fund until 30th April and 25% thereafter.
Vanessa, a talented artist and experienced portrait painter, lives and works in London. She studied painting and sculpture at Charles Cecil Studios in Florence. She makes work from life on many subjects in different mediums from figurative portraits, nudes, landscapes to bronze sculptures and works on paper.
Vanessa in her studio in West London
Can you tell us a bit about your art...
I'm interested in painting how I see life - portraits mostly as I find them the most challenging. The variety in people is pretty endlessly fascinating.
Which artists have most inspired you? And, who do you consider to be the greatest portrait painters?
I can be inspired by many things ranging from the colours in a chocolate wrapper to a Velazquez! He is the tops in my hierarchy of portrait painting.
Velazquez, Infanta Margarita Teresa in Silver Dress, c. 1656
How is painting children different to painting adults?
I treat them all the same they watch peppa pig, get bribed with sweets and hung upside down by their ankles when they don't sit still.
What has been your favourite portrait you’ve painted and why?
"Molly Whuppie" which I like as it has a dark and strange folk tale behind it and because I nailed it with the brushstrokes.
What is the secret to a great portrait?
It's a bit of a mystery and some magic! I wish there was more of a formula.
Is a portrait dependent on the model being in front of you? How do you get a little wriggling child to hold the same position?
For children it's difficult, I do insist on having some life sitting time with them (even if its just in 3 minute bursts for a quick colour study whilst they watch cartoons on my laptop that I position at eye level!) as it's important for me to get to know them a little and get something of their character.
To discuss a commission and for further information on Vanessa's work, please visit vanessagarwood.com
If you have ever felt the stress of 21st-century living wrap itself around your heart and turned to a double espresso and a faint hope that tomorrow will be better, then this book will show you how to slow down, listen to your body and find a more natural, holistic way of life. Xochi Balfour changed her life from her little London kitchen and, as The Naturalista, has been blogging about her experience of balancing and simplify ing her life in harmony with the natural world.
Xochi photographed by Rahel Weiss
Xochi recently published her first book, The Naturalista: nourishing recipes to live well. She holds regular retreats with her husband Ben and works with teachers near and far to deepen her understanding of what it means to be well in the 21st century. Through her nutritional therapy coaching, she works with individuals to rebalance and re-empower themselves through holistic nutrition, mindful self-practice and daily ritual.
An energising winter recipe: spiced turmeric and nutmeg milk
Turmeric is a powerful natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to its brilliant bright yellow pigment, curcmin. This makes it great for busy mothers and little ones as winter opens up and viruses and lurgies abound.
This spicy drink brings it to life with sweet dates and fragrant, antibacterial nutmeg, while calcium-rich sesame and omega-filled flax and chia provide good nourishing oils and plenty of long-lasting energy.
If you have a high-speed blender, you can use almonds or cashews here; if not, cashews are easier to break down, and a better option for a smooth texture.
Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately, warm or at room temperature.
For more healthy and delicious recipes look at The Naturalista: Nourishing Recipes to Live Well