My mission: Nurturing Family Connections

Most women I talk to are already on the verge of giving up.

Phrases they use are:

  • I’m desperate
  • I’m about to give up (breastfeeding)
  • I’m lost
  • I’m exhausted
  • I’ve been let down so many times, I don’t know who I can trust any more
  • I really want to breastfeed but I don’t know where to begin
  • Please help!

This phenomenon which I call ‘firefighting’ is, of course, never an individual’s fault.

The reasons are multiple:

  1. Our culture values the ability to ‘put a brave face on’, ‘just carry on’, ‘bounce back (from birth)’ and simply ‘get on with it’, ‘stop complaining’. 
  2. There is lack of recognition of women’s work, mothers’ work which often goes unseen. And I don’t just mean endless amounts of housework chores, nappy changes. These tasks are thankfully, happily and more increasingly regularly shared between partners and spouses these days. However, in the first months and – according to some psychologists – years, mothers are the primary carers of babies and young children. The good news is that this secure bonding will pave the way for subsequent meaningful relationships and a healthy emotional literacy in these same infants and children. However, this amount of relentless emotional demand put huge amount of pressure on the primary carer (usually the mother), especially when done alone, in isolation.
  3. So we carry on, because we don’t want to ‘be trouble’. We listen to 

-our mother in law trying to help by giving ‘just a bit of formula’ (‘after all it didn’t do us any harm’), 

-our neighbour to let the baby cry for just a little while longer before we go to them (after all we don’t want to make a rod for our own backs),

-our ex breastfeeding friend who had to pump for hours each day just to keep her supply going (which was obviously helpful to her, but for you… might be creating an unnecessarily huge oversupply)

  1. We hide and feel guilty as we have been labelled the ‘brestapo’, ‘breastfeeding nazis’ and all sorts of other names, at the very least on social media (not necessarily by real people, most likely formula company trolls)… just because we expressed a desire to breastfeed at some point in the past.
  2. We don’t want to overreact, as it might actually be normal?? (Why didn’t anyone tell me that a baby not producing poos for 5 days at 3 weeks of age is NOT within the range of normal and needs some urgent attention?)

So we carry on. 

We might give up breastfeeding because a ‘happy mother = happy baby’, no? Oh, that is if the said mother doesn’t end up with raging feelings of guilt, shame and grief that can last months, years and even decades unless dealt with in proper therapy. (I will never forget my poignant conversation with a 95 year old lady who was still evidently grieving the loss of her breastfeeding relationship with her child who was in her 70s by then.) A simplistic slogan is no more than … well, a slogan. 

Or we might ‘panic’ when our nipples bleed, our baby start losing significant amounts of weight, we land in A&E with mastitis or the daily formula intake is beginning to outweigh the breastfeeds that we don’t exactly look forward to anyway any more.

So as a LAST resort, we call the lactation consultant. Because, of course, our society hasn’t put a value on breastfeeding support yet (I’m hopeful for the future), so what little there is on the NHS largely depends on luck, which midwife is on shift when you give birth etc. and IBCLCs (what are they anyway) are EXPENSIVE! 

Although any ‘decent family’, no matter what class, background or religious belief will quite happily spend, buy, borrow, inherit, remortgage (almost ANYTHING) just to have enough for the unborn baby. The list is endless:

  • Blankets
  • Toys
  • Nappies
  • Cot
  • Pram, pushchair, travel system
  • Soothers
  • Baby bouncer, rocker
  • Baby monitors
  • Baby entertaining systems with lights, noise, shite noise, pink noise, your favourite Spotify playlist
  • Baby Einstein electronic toys (after all how on EARTH will your baby learn cause and effect any other way)
  • Baby massage classes
  • Baby signing classes
  • Playpen
  • Slings
  • Changing table
  • Changing bag
  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pillows
  • Bottles
  • Steriliser
  • Breast pump
  • Breast pads
  • Breast cream
  • Baby lotion
  • Nappy cream
  • Etc. etc.

SOME of this stuff is of course essential (about 3-5 items), helpful (maybe another 2-3) or nice to have (a further 2-3). And by all means head out and source as many of them as you like. But… 

Our society and local community may have forgotten a few tiny bits and bobs though: this baby will need to EAT. To survive. To be loved. To be kept healthy and safe.

Breastfeeding does it ALL.

By LEARNING ABOUT BREASTFEEDING AHEAD OF THE TIME, and ensuring ONGOING SUPPORT, you potentially save hundreds of pounds (have you worked out the cost of formula for 6 months exclusive or even partial feeding?), not mentioning the cost of mental health and emotional wellbeing (can you put a value on it) for mother, baby and the rest of the family… 

***

Following from the reasoning behind why you need to seek help at the earliest possible time, before things escalate… sometimes BEFORE there is even a problem:

Isn’t it what you’d like to model to your children?

Starting with a baby: when they cry – you pick them up. It doesn’t spoil them as at this early stage 

their NEED= their WANT. 

You go to them and they feel safe. Or you may never put them down as that may well be the case for many of our families. 

You are not spoiling them, you are co-regulating them. 

(Nils Bergman is worth researching in this context, he has dedicated his lifetime’s work to this area.

Also check out attachment theories.)

I have written a series of articles around this subject which go a bit more in depth, titled ‘Babies are Humans’:

Later on, through childhood, you, the adult, is there to help your children regulate their emotions. The human nervous system doesn’t fully develop until age 25. When a child cries, you hug them. When they throw a tantrum, you try your best to stay calm and use a soothing voice to influence and regulate their state of mind. When they are sad, you sit with them and listen to their woes. 

Here is a short piece I have written around this:

Whether you have had a positive experience of being brought up in this way, or a less positive version of it, perhaps downright awful, you are THE ADULT now. It is your responsibility to be there for your children, but this is only possible once you have ‘sorted yourself out’. And I don’t mean 22 years of deep psychoanalysis. 

I mean taking care of YOUR needs in the moment:

  • Who holds YOU when you cry?
  • Who forgives you after you throw a little tantrum?
  • Who gives you a hug when you’re sad, grieving, upset?
  • Who settles YOU after a nightmare in the middle of the night?
  • Who looks after you when you are sick?

It’s taken me a large part of my adult life to get to the stage of realising thinking about your own needs is NOT SELFISH. It’s bare essentials. 

And none of us is meant to go it alone:

  • Gift yourself the attention you deserve. 
  • Find someone who listens. 
  • Reach out to someone who resonates with you and ‘heals’ you in the traditional or metaphorical sense of the world, who lifts you up and you feel energised and lighter after spending time with them. 
  • Treat yourself to a calm space where you can just BE, reflect, relax, be held. 
  • Spoil yourself with hiring someone to save you time, energy, stress and a headache wading through millions of pages of information until (and if ever) you find what you’re looking for. 

Prevent a heartache by giving yourself the time AHEAD of the time. 

Invest a BIT (of time, attention, effort, money etc.), so you can save a LOT later. 

***

My answer to this problem is changing the way I think about, offer and provide support to my clients.

I like to think about my support to you as a CONTINUUM. After all, you don’t just eat once a week and expect it to sustain you for 7 days. Or a better metaphor still: starve yourself for 7 days then binge for a whole day. 

It’s time we started thinking about caring for mothers (to be) and babies (mother and baby DYADS) in a way that requires more subtle 

-preparation

-forward thinking

-planning ahead

-regular small chunks of ongoing support

-connection with local like minded community

-professional support at your fingertips

-access to high quality, evidence based information, vetted by your support network of experienced parents and qualified professionals

-sustainable tools for you and your baby to be HELD and helped THROUGHOUT this fragile, exquisitely beautiful and spiritually ‘permeable’ life stage.

For this reason, I suggest you book my packages, which are relatively lower cost (per hour) and more sustainable, but most importantly MORE EFFECTIVE in terms of prevention than booking me or a colleague AFTER the ‘explosion’ has already happened. 

My website has details on some suggested packages, but by all means, come and talk to me. 

Let me know what YOUR BUDGET and YOUR TIMELINE is for my continued support and we work out a plan that will be precisely and sensitively tailored to YOUR NEEDS. After all your needs are unique, as well as your family set up and your baby’s needs.

These could be applied antenatally OR postnatally, so come any time. 

We can break down your needs into ways of support e.g.

  • Whatsapp or other messaging
  • Email
  • Zoom or other video call
  • Face to face

Or any combination of the above. 

Your individual plan will include my recommendations to free community services too, which are JUST as valuable a part of the bigger picture of your wellbeing and support package for you and your precious bundle. 

If you have older children or other commitments, we can work around those, as time can be a sticking point when trying to book ‘standard’ services.

I can work around your commitments and include some

  • Night support
  • Weekends 
  • Emergencies

I take a thorough history BEFORE we start working together, so I have full knowledge and information regarding all your needs, requirements and goals, so I can prepare to give you the most carefully thought out and researched service possible.

Sounds good?

Book a free 30 minute clarity call with me to see if we’re a good fit for each other.

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