NUTRITION DURING PREGNANCY

Pregnancy is the one time in your life where your eating habits directly impact another person. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet whilst pregnant plays such an important role in ensuring mothers and developing bubs are getting the adequate nutrients that they need whilst their body is going through a demanding and dramatically changing time. 

As is always the case with diet and exercise, everyone's nutritional and energy requirements vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. Some of these include your activity level, current diet, age, whether you have underlying injuries or illnesses, any food allergies or preferences, the list goes on.

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Nutritional and energy requirements during this time could also be discussed for days and in great detail, it will not be ALL covered here. Feel free to reach out if you have any specific nutrition queries. So I've wrapped up some key take-aways for you just as I did in part one, feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more or book a consult to discuss requirements specific to your needs.

I’M PREGNANT, THAT MEANS I CAN EAT FOR TWO RIGHT?

You definitely do not need to ‘eat for two’, as the old saying commonly suggests. It is more important as to WHAT you actually eat to ensure that you are setting your bub up for the best start to life and that you are fuelling your body with what it needs to grow a happy, healthy baby.

If the thought of eating for two excites you and has you going back for seconds for dinner or saying yes more often to the lunchroom cakes, think again. The initial stages of pregnancy actually requires very little change in your daily energy intake, so it’s time to put down the ice cream (sorry to be the bearer of bad news).

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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE KEY NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS DURING PREGNANCY?

The nutrient requirements for pregnancy cannot be based on the same criteria that is applied to those in a non-pregnant state, recommend dietary intakes (RDI’s) for almost all nutrients are increased to some extent during pregnancy. There is an increase for most micronutrients during pregnancy such as your B vitamins and folate and iron. The RDI’s for sodium, calcium, potassium and vitamin D however, are however not increased for pregnancy.

When it comes to your key macronutrients (carbs, fats & proteins), again in the first trimester energy requirements do not increase greatly.

PROTEIN: What is particularly important is to ensure you are consuming a minimum of 1.0g/kg/day of protein in the second and third trimesters. Protein positively affects the growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps your breast and uterine tissue to grow during pregnancy and it plays a role in your increasing blood supply.

Think: lean meats: (chicken, turkey, beef, pork), greek and natural yoghurt, nuts, tofu and seafood. I choose to supplement with True Protein Vegan Protein powder in Vanilla to help add a daily protein boost to my smoothies.

FATS: Be sure to limit foods highly processed and high in saturated fat (chips, biscuits, frozen or fried foods). Some healthier sources of saturated fats include beef, eggs and cheese. Look to consume and increase your intake of unsaturated and polyunsatured fats such as omega 3’s. These are vital to your growing baby to help fuel proper brain growth and eye development, particularly during the third trimester. Some good sources or saturated

Think: avocados, almonds, mixed nuts, salmon, flaxseeds, olive oil, butter, egg yolks.

B VITAMINS & FOTATE: B Vitamin intake is increased during pregnancy with many of the pre-natal vitamins containing these micronutrients. The increased requirements for B vitamins can easily be met as long as your diet consists of some animal products, so if you are a vegan it may be necessary to supplement your diet with vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 may also help to reduce nausea of vomiting in pregnant women. RDI 1.9mg/day

Think: animal products (such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, or dairy); it is also found in fortified breakfast cereals and enriched soy or rice milk.

FOLATE: Folic acid plays a key role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, including spin bifida. This is particularly important leading up to falling pregnant and within the first three months of pregnancy prior to the neural tube closing. It is advised to begin supplementing with folate or increasing this through your diet if you are thinking about starting a family or adding to your brood and continue especially throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. Recommendation of 400micrograms daily leading up to falling pregnant and within the first three months of pregnancy with the help of a folate supplement. 

Think: foods high in folate include asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, chick peas, dried beans, lentils & spinach.

IRON: In combination with sodium, potassium, and water, iron helps increase your blood volume and prevents anemia. During pregnancy iron requirements are increased because your developing bub draws iron from you to last it through the first five or six months after birth. Iron is often something that women can become deficient in during pregnancy, so it is so important to try to get enough of this through a varied diet. Your doctor will test your iron levels regularly and you may require a supplement to boost your levels if required.

Think: green leafy vegetables, whole grains, oats, fortified cereals, lean red meat or poultry. RDI of 27mg per day for pregnant women.

CALCIUM: No need to stress about drinking more milk which is commonly thought of during pregnancy. The RDI for women and calcium whether pregnant of not is 1000mg per day for those aged 19-50yrs, 1300mg/day for those 51yrs +). From 2007 the Australian dietary recommendations for increased calcium intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding have been revised. Although the baby has a high requirement for calcium during the third trimester of pregnancy, (as it starts to develop and strengthen its bones), the mother’s increased capacity to absorb dietary calcium means that there is no need for extra intake.  Just make sure you’re still meeting your 1000mg/day.

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HOW MUCH MORE FOOD DO I ACTUALLY NEED?

As you progress through your pregnancy, your physical activity levels may change - the intensity, duration and frequency may reduce depending on your energy levels or if you are experiencing any contraindications to exercise such as pre-eclampsia, uncontrolled hypertension or pubic symphysis dysfunction. This will in turn affect your energy requirements.

Generally your basal metabolic rate (BMR) increases by the fourth month of pregnancy and can reach a 15-20% increase from its baseline towards the end of your pregnancy. These increases are mainly due to the increase in oxygen demands by your growing little bubba and the increased cardiac output; I don’t know about you – but I definitely noticed the shortness of breath when walking up a flight of stairs or performing activity that would normally not trigger a bit of huffing and puffing.

So if your body is working harder due to the growing demands of bub and your metabolic rate is increasing – what exactly does this mean in terms of how much extra food you can eat? As mentioned above, in the first trimester energy needs does not change dramatically. As you reach the second trimester your energy needs increase to an addition approximate 300 calories per day extra, and approximately 450 calories per day by the third trimester. So no need to go over board ladies – this could be achieved by adding in a piece of fruit with a serve of greek yoghurt and oats or a small sandwich (okay - or the occasional brownie).

I’VE BEEN EATING WELL BUT CONCERNED ABOUT WEIGHT GAIN – WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Firstly – you are pregnant so those scales are going to continue to increase and you may find yourself upgrading your wardrobe. Try not to stress over weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Look at these 9 months as a chance to fuel your body to grow a healthy mini-me and enjoy the break from high intensity and impact exercise (something I initially struggled to come to terms with, now I am loving the change and trying activities that I would previously not prioritise).  

When looking at the percentage of total weight gain during pregnancy in a normal, healthy pregnancy only about 26 – 30% is from body fat. The remainder comes down to the fetus (27%), extracellular/vascular fluid (15%) and blood (10%), with the uterus, placenta, amniotic fluid, and mammary glands accounting for the rest.

Are you feeling puffy and like you are retaining fluid? Don’t stress, overall water accounts for over half of the maternal weight gained during pregnancy and will disappear soon after you give birth to you little miracle. Pregnancy is most certainly not the time to be dieting or restricting your food intake (unless you have been advised to by your doctor). You don’t have to make friends with the scales, but make sure you do make friends with salad both during and after your pregnancy.

TOP TIPS FOR HEALTHY EATING DURING PREGNANCY

  • Enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables – choose plenty of different types and colours
  • Limit foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar – especially the refined stuff. Life is about balance, so enjoy these in moderation.
  • Ensure you are getting adequate iron from both plant and non plant sources
  • Be prepared: food prep each week some healthy snacks – veggie sticks, energy balls, some healthy whole grains to add to your lunch etc. Fail to plan = plan to fail.
  • Keep your intake of ‘good fats’ up – fuel that babies brain development
  • Don’t forget to drink plenty of water - almost all of my clients where pregnant or not are not drinking enough water on a daily basis. If you are pregnancy your hydration requirements are greater than those non-pregnant peers, so fill up that water bottle and get drinking!
  • Incorporate some healthy whole grains into your day, this also assists with adequate fibre intake.
  • Look at food as fuel for your baby – is what you are putting in your mouth going to benefit and nourish both yourself and bub? If not put it down & opt for something healthier.
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A WORD ON SUPPLEMENTATION

Supplements should never replace a balanced, healthy diet and whole foods. However there are times when it can be useful or advised to supplement. As mentioned earlier I choose to use True Protein Vegan protein powder both in my pregnant and non-pregnancy state. Yes, it is safe to use protein powders during pregnancy (given you don't have a 'high' consumption of protein already). The Nutrient Reference Values for Aus & NZ for protein during pregnancy is 1g/kg of body weight per day. I recommend active individuals to aim for a minimum of 1-1.5g/kg/day. For me that equates to about 85g-127g of protein/day. To help shed some light on how you may reach this see below:

  • 1 serve (100g) of chicken is approximately 30g protein
  • 3 boiled eggs is approximately 21g protein
  • Serve almonds (15-20g) is 6-10g protein
  • Serve/scoop (30g) of True Protein Vegan 85 powder is 25g protein

From the above you can see how adding a scoop of protein powder can help you reach you daily requirements.

It is important to note that not all powders are created equal and trusting the brand you use, as well as reading and interpreting the nutrition label is essential in understanding the ingredients within the product and how much you should use to supplement your diet.

I choose to use True Protein as they have strict controls during processing to minimise the risk of contaminants and ensure a safe product. Their Vegan blends use all natural flavours with no artificial additives, artificial sweeteners or fillers, and the vegan variety is also easier to digest. If you are unsure about the use of protein during pregnancy or if the brand you are using is safe feel free to reach out to me.

FINAL WORD

Make sure you are choosing plenty of fresh, whole, healthy foods to give your baby the best head start possible and keep up the regular activity; the benefits of this to your physical and mental health and baby are countless.

No matter if you are trying for a baby or only have a few weeks to go before you meet your little one – it is never too late to start. Eating a balanced, varied and nutritious diet can help with fertility, keep you energized and healthy during pregnancy and assist in your recovery.

If you are looking for the right way to fuel your body during pregnancy to optimise the health of both yourself and bub feel free get in touch to discuss your specific nutritional requirements and arrange a consult.

To get 10% off the True Protein range use the code BROOKE10 at checkout.

Brooke x

I'M PREGNANT...CAN I STILL HAVE MY DAILY DOSE OF CAFFEINE?

When you are pregnant there is so much advice that people are willing to give you, some of which needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Whether it be about parenting methods, birthing interventions, sleeping arrangements or what food and drinks you should or shouldn’t be consuming, everyone has (and is entitled to) their opinion.

When it comes to food and drinks there are some recommendations from well-recognized bodies in terms of foods and beverages that should be avoided for a number of reasons to protect the health of both you and your baby. No doubt you will each know someone that went through their pregnancy who avoided everything from any form of deli meat, soft cheese and seafood to those that just couldn’t quite give up their Sunday morning runny eggs or weren’t bothered about washing every single salad item before it went into their mouth.

When it comes to beverages we all know that alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy as there is no safe limit. However, what about caffeine; how will it affect your morning cuppa when you are carrying a little one and what effect does caffeine have on the development of your baby?  When looking at caffeine and pregnancy there is a little more research within this area. Studies have reported that caffeine intake has been reported to be associated with a reduction in birth weight, however the exact level is still unknown. One study with more the 2500 women in the UK confirmed that a maternal intake of more than 300mg per day was associated with low birth weight or foetal growth restriction (300mg per day is about 3-4 cups of coffee using the instant variety).  It also found that an average caffeine intake of greater than 100mg per day was associated with a reduction in birth weight in the third trimester. Although the threshold for which the risk of foetal growth restriction and lower birth weights increases, it concluded that the risk was reduced in those women consuming less than 100mg per day (approximately one coffee per day). The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia pledged to determine a recommended intake of caffeine for pregnant women within Australia following the publication of these findings.

So what’s the recommendation?

Australian guidelines recommend you limit your intake to less than 200 mg per day, so that's about one to two instant coffees a day and two to three cups of tea. Be mindful that your favorite barista coffee will contain more caffeine than your home instants.

It is advised that to be particularly mindful of your caffeine intake during your first trimester due to that time period being the greatest risk for miscarriage. However if you love your daily dose of coffee and have multiple cups per day, reducing your intake when pregnant may be something that you struggle with. You may also be more likely to experience the nasty withdrawal symptoms such as persistent headaches and further feelings of fatigue, which is just what you need when you are already feeling that way through growing a human within you.

It is important to consider other sources on top of your standard coffee also as caffeine isn't just found in your tea and coffee. If you’ve been indulging in some chocolate with your coffee or enjoy a soft drink with lunch these count towards your daily intake also. You need to be aware that the amount of caffeine is not adding up from other sources, for example one serve of the following equates to the listed amount of caffeine:

  • Serve of instant coffee: 80-100mg
  • Serve of filter coffee: 140mg
  • Black tea: 20 - 70mg
  • Green tea: ~20 - 40mg
  • Coke 355ml: 20-35mg
  • Diet Coke 355ml: 20-50mg
  • Pepsi 350ml: 40mg
  • Red Bull 260ml: 77mg
  • 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: ~ 50mg
  • 50g bar of milk chocolate: ~ 25mg.

If the thought of giving up your daily dose of caffeine or missing out on that warm cuppa, especially with winter coming, why not try having a cup of warm lemon water (great for your digestive system and immunity) or caffeine free teas whether loose leaf or in bags. There are so many different flavours to select from chamomile, peppermint, apple & ginger. Alternatively if you prefer to stick to your barista brewed coffee you could opt for decaf or a single shot only.

Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to give up your morning latte or regular shot of espresso (if you can – great!). Ensure you stick below the Australian guidelines of 200mg/day or speak to your doctor if you are concerned.

Brooke x

SHAPING YOUR LOWER BODY - BENEFITS OF UNILATERAL MOVEMENTS

Squats, deadlifts, leg press; all great compound exercises that are effective in building strength and conditioning your lower body.

Often overlooked though are the unilateral or single leg movements that should be incorporated into your workouts if you are after shape, tone and strength through your lower body.

I am a big lover of unilateral movements. I find them very challenging and it helps you realise what areas or sides of the body require a little more work when they are singled out.

Unfortunately I’ve recently started to avoid the single leg movements for the lower body and will do for the remainder of my pregnancy as it started to contribute to some pelvic girdle pain. I can honestly say I’m missing my lunges and single leg squats. But for those of you that don’t have any PGP and are looking to change up your leg routine a little and start seeing some changes to your lower body, I highly recommend incorporating some unilateral exercises.

Unilateral movements are fantastic for:

  • Increasing your strength – that one leg has nowhere to hide and can’t rely on its buddy to help it out of the exercise. All of the focus is in the one leg at a time. When coupled with a healthy diet assists in improving muscle tone and shape of the area due to the recruitment and activation of various muscle fibres.
  • Improving your balance – standing on one leg can be challenging at the best of times. When you add movement into that or some added resistance it will really challenge both your balance and posture, leading to:
  • Improved core strength and stability – your core muscles need to work harder and remain activated to assist in balance throughout the movements, resulting in a stronger core.
  • Assists with muscle activation and recruitment – performing unilateral movement’s forces you to focus on the specific muscle groups you want to recruit to successfully complete the exercise. This helps build that mind-muscle connection and activate muscle fibres that might normally go unnoticed when performing a normal squat or deadlift.

Some of my favourite single legged exercises for shaping and toning the lower body are:

  • Bulgarian split squat
  • Back stepping lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Single leg hamstring curl
  • Single legged press
  • 45 degree side single leg press
  • Single legged deadlift
  • Pistol squat
  • Cable kickbacks
  • Donkey kicks

When performing single leg exercises form is super important and in benefiting from the results and avoiding injury. Be sure to start with body weight or light resistance. Some of the above exercises also really challenge your balance so are great at assisting to improve this and your proprioception. To make them more challenging keep the tempo to a 1:3 or 3:1 ratio or even super slow, add in some bottom half pulses or isometric holds to really feel the burn.

Add 1-2 of these exercises into your next leg routine, or perform a circuit of 3-4 of them on a regular basis to help see some changes to that lower body.

Brooke x

WEIGHT GAIN DURING PREGNANCY

A topic that can be controversial, overwhelming and at times difficult to accept.

If the thought of jumping on the scales each week and seeing your weight increase despite regular exercise and a healthy diet scares you, you are not alone.  However when you are growing a little human inside of you, expect to see the numbers on the scales increase from month to month.

If the thought of eating for two excites you and has you going back for seconds for dinner or saying yes more often to the lunchroom cakes, think again. The initial stages of pregnancy actually requires very little change in your daily energy intake, so it’s time to put down the ice cream (sorry to be the bearer of bad news) as your body just does not need excessive additional kilojoules at this stage, but more on nutrition during pregnancy in one of my blogs to be released shortly.

When it comes to weight gain during pregnancy, there is no one size fits all approach (much the same as diets and exercise). Those of smaller frames and lower pre-pregnancy BMI’s (less than 18.5kg/m) are encouraged to gain more weight during pregnancy than those of normal or overweight BMI’s as it helps to reduce the risk of delivering a low for gestational age infant. However high weight gain can be associated with other complications. Mummy’s to be that are carrying extra weight and falling into the overweight or obese categories on the BMI chart (25 – 29kg/m & above 30kg/m), prior to falling pregnant are encouraged to gain less weight throughout the course of their pregnancy. This assists in reducing the risk of delivering a large for gestational age infant (weighing more than 9 pound) and other pregnancy complications associated with weight gain such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and post partum hemorrhage.

What is right for you?

Try not to focus on numbers. Any studies show that the overall the average recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy are between 11 – 16kg and again these vary greatly from each expecting mother due to the variety of personal and pre-pregnancy weight factors.

Weight gain in the first trimester is relatively small with a total of about 1-2kg. This increases in the second and third trimesters with an average gain of about 0.4kg/week. Again, this is varying for everyone, but can help to be used as a guide. If you spend the first 12 weeks becoming best friends with your toilet bowl, you might find that you actually lose weight in the first trimester. Or you might put on 5-6 kg in the first and then notice that this slows during the second and third.  Those that had a higher pre-pregnancy weight may actually find they lose weight due to following a healthier diet and trying to incorporate regular activity into their week. As hard as it may be initially, try not to compare yourself to anyone else during this time. This goes for post pregnancy weight loss also. Every one is different. As long as you are fuelling your body correctly, eating a variety of nutritious whole foods and incorporating regular movement, your body will do what it needs to do and take care of the rest.

Where does the weight come from?

Try not to stress over weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Look at these 9 months as a chance to fuel your body to grow a healthy mini-me and enjoy the break from high intensity and impact exercise (something I initially struggled to come to terms with, now I am loving it!). The reason I say stress less is because when looking at the percentage of total weight gain during pregnancy in a normal, healthy pregnancy only about 26 – 30% is from body fat. The remainder comes down to the fetus (27%), extracellular/vascular fluid (15%) and blood (10%), with the uterus, placenta, amniotic fluid, and mammary glands accounting for the rest. Are you feeling puffy and like you are retaining fluid? Don’t stress, overall water accounts for over half of the maternal weight gained during pregnancy and will disappear soon after you give birth to you little miracle.

What are my thoughts?

As a coach I encourage regular tracking of various measures depending on my clients goals. Subject to these goals, regular tracking is a good tool to monitor your weight gain both when you are or are not experiencing pregnancy. You do not have to weigh yourself weekly, or at all if for that matter! I know many mum’s that didn’t step onto the scales at al during their pregnancy besides their mid wife appointments, however if you are one to pay a little more attention to detail or know that you have trouble making the right food choices, then it can assist with making sure that you aren’t gaining excessive amounts of weight, or not enough.

For me, the scales have never been my friend and I prefer to use other techniques such as measuring my waist and hips to track my progress - particularly when I was competing. Each to there own for monitoring weight/measurements, I am not saying there is a right or wrong way to do this. For many, your doctor or mid wife may take regular measurements for you and you may find that that is enough. For me, I have found that weekly measurements are great to record in my pregnancy diary and when looking back over the weeks, I am in awe at my body changing to accommodate our little human. I actually also found this regular method reassuring. During my first trimester and early in my second trimester my weight wasn’t changing much at all and it took sometime for my bloat to actually look like a baby belly however my measurements were going up. This helped me to see that I was still growing and things were going the right way.

Since falling pregnant I have taken weekly measurements of the following and recorded in my pregnancy diary:

·       Weight (kg)

·       Waist (cms)

·       Belly button (cms) (this is a great one, as tends to be where I am getting a lot of growth)

·       Hips (cms)

·       Bust (cms)

Again, you do not need to follow this; I am simply sharing the tools I use to monitor my pregnancy. If I miss a week of recording I don’t stress.

Overall

If you are concerned about your weight gain or loss throughout pregnancy always speak to your doctor. Whilst is can be difficult having to step out of your favourite One Teaspoon shorts, go up a size in the underwear department and upgrade the work wardrobe, try to embrace the journey that your body is headed on. Pregnancy is most certainly not the time to be dieting or restricting your food intake (unless you have been advised to by your doctor). You don’t have to make friends with the scales, but make sure you do make friends with salad both during and after your pregnancy.

Make sure you are choosing plenty of fresh, whole, healthy foods to give your baby the best head start possible and keep up the regular activity; the benefits of this to your physical and mental health and baby are countless! 

Brooke x

P.S stay tuned for an upcoming blog on nutrition during pregnancy.

WEIGHT TRAINING WHEN PREGNANT

I'm still trying to fit in some resistance training each week as I progress through my pregnancy.

I've always loved a good high intensity workout with minimal rest that would get my heart rate up. It doesn't take much to elevate my heart rate these days and I have had to scale back on the intensity, duration and exertion in my workouts. 

For my resistance sessions I have decreased the weight used, number of reps and sets and increased my rest periods. 

Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to give up resistance training, or any form of activity that you enjoy for that matter. There are many benefits to continue incorporating resistance training into your weekly routine, given that you have consistently undertaken this form of exercise prior to falling pregnant and have no contraindications. Regular activity during pregnancy is beneficial to both you and your baby, not just physically but for your mind and spirit also. 

Here is one that I did recently that uses some great compound movements that ensures a safe, relatively short and effective workout. I use a combination of my heart rate together with the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to ensure I stay within a safe intensity level for my fitness level. 

3 sets of the following, rested at the end of each exercise for various periods to keep at an RPE of ~13:
12x Barbell deadlifts
10x kettle bell curl to push press
12x Barbell back squats

To increase the intensity of this workout up the weight, reps or sets. 

If you'd like a safe and effective exercise program whether pre or post natal and wanting to get in some workouts whether in the comfort of your home or the gym get in touch with me brooke@balancefitnessandnutrition.com.au

I'm loving my DS Flex - Women's Active wear that keeps me comfortable as my body continues to change.

I encourage you to keep physically active throughout your own pregnancy and make time for you. Movement does great things for our mental and physical health, so keep moving, keep positive and always listen to your body.

Brooke x 

Video can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/balancefitnessnutrition

IS IT TIME TO MIX UP YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?

It has been shown that cross training is an effective (and fun) way to reach you fitness and weight loss goals

When we continually do the same thing over again our clever bodies adapts to the energy systems used and become more efficient.

This is why you may feel that you stop seeing results in terms of a weight loss goal you may have, that your best time of a 5k time trial is just not improving or that you just can't seem to increase the weight on your bar in the squat track in pump of the gym.

Depending on your goal there may be one form of training that works for you. However incorporating a mix of strength and conditioning, plyometrics, stretching and endurance/steady state based training into an exercise plan can often be more effective than one of these on their own.

So do you regularly hit the pavement, gym or prefer it in the pool? It might be time to change it up to challenge your body and fitness trying something different - even add in a few intervals to your usual lap routine, an incline to your daily jog or some time under tension to your weights.

Keep the body guessing!

Brooke x