What I Learned From Not Being Able To Breastfeed

I have been writing about the importance of breastfeeding for years, so it was rather ironic and very shocking to me when after feeding my son for four years, I was then unable to give the same gift to my daughter.

She was born pink and perfect, save for the fact that her digestive system just didn’t work. Over the months we went back and forth with our breastfeeding relationship. I offered her the breast as often as I could, though she continued to refuse it. I fought to get her tongue tie cut and I finally managed to get her to latch with the use of nipple shields. For a blissful few months we managed four to six five minute feeds a day, and I was hopeful that this would continue to grow, though the majority of the milk sat undigested in her tummy. But as the weeks went on, the milk made her more and more uncomfortable. She squirmed away from the breast, and when she did latch it would only be for a minute or two.

Then she had major surgery, and after that try as I might I could not get her to feed. When I did manage to coerce a few sucks, she would be so uncomfortable and distressed the rest of the day that I felt guilty and awful for pushing her.

I continued to express daily, wanting to build a stash of milk she might someday drink, and keep my supply up in case she should suddenly take to the breast. But as the months went on it became apparent that it wasn’t going to happen.

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Is Natural Parenting a Fad?

As you wade through photographs of another Mum’s £2000 sling stash, or catch an oh so carefully planned glimpse of a ridiculously expensive custom made cloth bum, you could be forgiven for thinking that this whole “Natural parenting” movement is nothing but a poorly disguised cover for mass consumerism, more about making a fashion statement than it is about the baby.

To the casual onlooker it can seem utterly daunting and unattainable to be one of these “Natural parents,” and often the real message of the movement is distilled amongst the competition of the latest must have accessories.

Of course, for many of these mothers who become collectors of slings and nappies, it is a passion, a love and a hobby, one which brings them joy and compliments their parenting choices, but never overshadows the real importance – that of parenting their child lovingly and naturally.

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The Power of Language

“Why do you have to be so unkind?”

“You make me so angry!”

“Why do you have to be like this?”

When our children test their boundaries, when they are worked up, overstimulated, unwell or for a multitude of other reasons, their behaviour can be drastically affected. Suddenly your sweet little boy or girl has turned into a ball of defiance and your patience is quickly pushed to its limits.

When this happens, for many parents their first response is to point out the negative aspect of their child’s behaviour. They accuse. They blame. They go on the attack. But rather than making the child stop and think, it has the opposite effect.

The child becomes defensive. They feed off the negative energy and their behaviour becomes even worse. When they hear : “You are such unpleasant company today!” “Why can’t you just be good?” “I can never trust you, why do I bother taking you anywhere?” they feel like they have to live up to your negative expectations. “Mummy thinks I’m a bad child, so I may as well be.”

When they feel attacked, they are no longer working in harmony with you, instead, they are battling against you. Perhaps they feel they can do no right, after all, everything they do makes you say harsh words to them.

But when their behaviour is no longer acceptable, what can you, the parent, do to restore harmony and uncover the sweet child you used to know?

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Answering The Question “Mummy, Where Do Babies Come From?”

“Mummy, where do babies come from?”

I still remember the very first time my son asked me this question. I was in the changing rooms of a busy clothes shop trying a few things on, and every single cubicle was full.

Out of the blue he piped up, “Mummy, where do babies come from? How are they made?” and I heard every other person in the room burst into laughter and then go totally silent as they waited to see what my response would be!

In this video I share how I approached what could be a difficult question for some parents to answer, and how to make sure you don’t overload your child with more information than they are ready to hear.

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