Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Birth Matters

I just read a blog post about why birth matters and some of the stories in the comments below.

I had a difficult first birth in hospital and a much more satisfying second birth experience at home with my good friend acting as a doula. The labour was really long and often arduous but I felt safe, nurtured and supported throughout by my husband, my friend and the midwife.

The two different birth experiences have turned me on to becoming a doula and a childbirth educator because I feel – like the author of that blog post – that birth matters and mothers matter.

Since the home birth of Lissy, I have started to blossom into a bit of a birth warrior. I want to change the way birth is viewed and managed in our culture. I want to let people know that it can be a positive experience. That home birth isn't weird or dangerous. That hypnobirthing and other birth techniques can be really effective. That the environment and even the well-meaning staff within a hospital need to be managed by the birthing woman's supporters so she can have the best, safest birth possible.

I have started to discover a whole community of like-minded souls and birthing experts at One World Birth

I enjoy my day job (freelance marketing consultant for a technology company) but have always felt the urge to make a difference, to do something special and important that makes the world a better place. It doesn't have to be on a grand scale. I just want to know that I'm adding to the sum total of happiness in the world.

The standard approach to birth in the UK is over medicalised and often at loggerheads with the emotional, psychological - and even spiritual - needs of the birthing woman. Routine interventions in labour can adversely affect otherwise normal births. See this short video clip by a Professor of Midwifery to find out how. 30% of births in my local hospital end in C-section. The World Health Organization recommends that the caesarean section rate should not be higher than 10% to 15%

Many pregnant women dread the birth process and aren't given the knowledge and the practical support they need to realise their bodies are designed to birth. After doing an NCT course with my first pregnancy (a total waste of time, I'd recommend a Natal Hypnotherapy course or similar instead). I came away with a lot of information on what drugs I could take in labour and exactly what could go wrong but no real tools I could use to have a safe, natural birth and to help manage pain without medical aid. I didn't realise that with the right conditions birth can be an empowering, calm, satisfying experience.

Yes it hurts, but pain without fear is easier to deal with. Simple things helped me immesaurably - like my birth partners pressing hard on my sacrum during a contraction, blowing out steady, long breaths and focusing on them, receiving light touch massage to calm me and boost my endorphins, and being encouraged throughout that I was doing well, that I could do it.

Also the Natal Hypnotherapy CD I listened to before bed from 32 weeks pregnant really helped to counteract my negative cultural conditioning around birth and allow me trust the process and let my body get on with it.

I think I would be honoured to give that support, emotional and physical, to a labouring woman. To help create the conditions that every birthing mammal needs to be able to birth without fear and difficulty: warmth, dark (or low light), privacy, safety. And for us humans, love and encouragement.

It's a big step for me. Even though I'm not planning to change careers, just include another one, having been a technology marketeer for most of my adult life it feels weird and scary to be contamplating something so different.

Is birth really the right area for me? Will I be good at guiding people through their birth journeys? Can I cope with the strange hours and complicated childcare needs that must arise when your committed to be a doula for someone whose birth could happen at any time three weeks either side of her "due date"?

Well, I'm going to start finding out. I've booked myself on the Introduction to the Work of a Doula Day in November.

A while back I sent off for a distance learning hypnobirthing course, thinking it would be easier to do around a small baby (who is now a small toddler!). I have enjoyed the reading but am disappointed with quite a few aspects of the course and keener than ever to be a childbirth educator but to do it my way.

I want to amalgamate the best techniques from all the different styles of hypnobirthing, and incorporate other tips and techniques from things like the Active Birth movement and the advice of respected childbirth experts such as Michel Odent and Ina May Gaskin.

I recently had the chance to make a difference to a friend, Jewels. She asked me to come over and teach her and her best friend and birth support partner some hypnobirthing basics. I went over for a few hours and over tea and cake talked about how to be a good birth partner and went through a few techniques for both mother and birthing partner.

She's had her baby and texted me to say she just kept thinking of the things we talked about and it really helped. Her friend texted me to say that Jewels had made birth look easy.

I can't wait to see her and find out more. I feel honoured to have been a small part of her beautiful birth, and only wish I could have been there physically for her too. She did invite me, but I was in France :-(

I am in the lucky position of having a good job that is part-time and so I can explore this avenue without having to leave the security of my job. I'm not sure how it will all pan out but I'm excited to be following a newly-discovered interest.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Les Bonnes Vacances

We've just got back from our first ever holiday park break, We LOVED it. It is so the way forward for families with young kids.

For £235 we enjoyed nine nights in a comfortable mobile home with:

+three swimming pools

+baby and bigger kids clubs

+nightly entertainment - OK it was pretty naff but Els loved it and I did find myself singing along and even doing some weird French 'Do the Macarena'-style dance on the last night.

Actually it wasn't £235 it was actually free. I'd been squirrelling away my Tesco Clubcard vouchers for ages (well over a year I think). I had £110 worth of vouchers and exchanged them before Christmas to get four times the value in my choice of experiences and goodies from the Rewards website. As of this year, you can now only get three times the value but that's not to be sniffed at.

So, Tescos covered our Eurotunnel and accommodation. Super bien!

We stayed at the Domain Du Kerlann Siblu resort in Brittany. The weather was good, the local beaches beautiful, the natives friendly and very accommodating of me practising my rusty, schoolgirl French.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Where Children Sleep

My one year old and eight year old girls share a very small bedroom.

Ella has a cabin bed, Lissy has a cot bed, there's a small wardrobe with drawers for Ella's clothes and Lissy's clothes are stored in our bedroom because there's nowhere else to put them. Both girls' toys and books are in the recess under Ella's bed.

I love where we live but the lack of space can sometimes get me down. My hubby and I go round in circles discussing the 'what ifs-maybes-but hows' of bringing up our family in a nice area (pretty, lots of green, safe, quiet), near to most of our friends and also to Ella's dad (due to our shared childcare arrangement) but with a more liveable amount of space. On one average income that's a tall order in Oxfordshire.

A documentary photographer from Oxford has a new book out that shows children from different cultures and their bedrooms. Where Children Sleep shows a 4 year old from Romania who sleeps outside on a mattress, an 8 year old who lives with his family on top of a large dump and a 15 year old trainee geisha who sleeps on the floor in a teahouse. Have a look and let me know what you think. I, for one, realise how hugely lucky both me and my girls are.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Free Kids Tights Please!

I got sent some super cute, super soft tights for my one year old and eight year old from a company called 'Tights Please' asking if I'd like to offer my blog readers a chance to win some free tights.

Well, times are hard for many of us and while I hope that buying tights for your daughter(s) won't break the bank, getting something (anything!) for free has gotta be a good thing.

And since there are only 70 odd people (I'm not saying you're odd, you know what I mean..) who subscribe to my blog and many of those may not have girl children - or even children at all - and there are ten pairs of tights to win I'd say you're in with a pretty good chance of getting your hands on a freebie.

Seeing as it's nearly back to school time, (is that the sound of jubilant whooping and ecstatic ululations I can hear? Not from me matey, me n my ex operate a 'one week with me, one week with you' policy in the summer hols so my time with my biggest little darling goes by in a flash) Tights Please are offering opaques in any colour to fit in with your child's school uniform. Not got a school-aged child? They do them in sizes baby to 14 yrs so fear not.

You can enter here and if the landing page hasn't been updated please rest assured that the closing date for entries is now 4th September so you still have time.

Check out the rest of their school tights here.

Oh, and if you have the legs for it check out these fab bondage-style tights cool or what?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Breastfeeding Flashmob Video!!

To mark the close of World Breastfeeding week, here's a video I'm very proud of.

Well done Rose from Nurture With Soul for pulling together such an awesome event (with a little help from yours truly!). It was a very special thing to be part of and I'm glad our hours on the phone and at our PCs were fruitful in the end.

Thank you to the 170(ish)nursing mamas who took the time to come to London and help us highlight the UK's low breastfeeding rates and prudish attitudes to breastfeeding mums.

Breastfeeding Flashmob Video - London Paddington.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Larmer Tree Festival

Larmer Tree was sweet, small and safe. There were lots of interesting workshops - we took Lissy to a baby music session and Ella did loads in the craft tent including making a photo frame and a puppet.

The weather was awful - too much wind and rain which really dampened our spirits. Coupled with a teething baby in the grips of a heavy cold the weekend was more trying than fun.

But there were some lovely moments: Ella and I dancing in the woods; escaping from the rain into a yurt where we ended up making friendship bracelets and God's eyes from colourful yarn; doing a Bollywood dance workshop in 1950s fancy dress and wellies and - best of all - Ella refusing to come and watch the headlining band, Asian Dub Foundation, because she wanted to keep watching the performance poetry. A proud moment.

We have now decided that next year we will only do local festivals where we can retreat top the comforts of home afterwards and we will leave ticket-buying to the last minute so we can check weather forecasts. I must be getting old! But it's not as much fun being at an outdoor event in torrential rain - unless you can numb/warm yourself with copious amounts of alcohol, cover yourself in mud and become one with the elements. Something I would opt to do sans enfants...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Family Festival Packing List

OK so this may not be the most interesting blogpost in the history of the internet, but I hope you'll find it useful.

We're off to Larmer Tree Festival this weekend (I am so excited!!!) and I thought I'd share our family festival packing list with you. Why? To save you the hassle of starting your own one from scratch of course.

This should be a good starting point for any camping trip or family weekend away. Here goes:

Festi Tickets
Festi Programme
Mobile– fully charged
Small mirror
Dummies & holders

Mummy's bag:
Camera – fully charged
Fancy dress incl sunglasses and white shoes & socks (its a 1950's theme)
Dress & matching warm up eg leggings/tights
Yoga trousers & top (let's see if I actually make those 9:30am yoga workshops!)
Warm socks (bed)
Flip flops (wear?)
Other shoes
wellie socks
Wilkinet baby carrier & instructions
Hairbrush & band
Make-up bag (include lipstain, sheer foundation, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara,blusher)
Body glitter
Large mirror
Make up remover wipes
Sunscreen lotion
night moisturiser
Toothbrush & toothpaste
Nail cleaner
Sanitary protection - mooncup/tampons
Batiste (a life saver - dry hair shampoo. Also has the added bonus of making your hair look thicker. Love it!)
water bottle

Daddy’s bag:
Bed socks
Pants x 3
Socks x 2
T-shirts x 2
Warm coat
sun hat
Fancy dress stuff?
Rucksack for daytime
ear plugs
Toiletry bag
Toothbrush & toothpaste

Ella’s bag:
Bed socks
Pants x 3
Socks x 2
T-shirts x 2
Cardigan/zip top
Warm coat
sun hat
wellies & wellie socks
Toothbrush & toothpaste
hairbrush & bands
Bubble wand

Baby Lissy’s bag:
Warm sleeping bag
Full body coat
Rain mac
Dresses x 2
Leggings x 2
T-shirts x 3
Socks x 2
Cardigan/zip top
Lots of nappies
baby blankets
Toothbrush & toothpaste

Lissy changing bag:
travel changing mat
bum cream
spare clothes
food pouches & snacks
water bottle
sun hat
changing mat
nappy sacks
fabric bib
snack box
Full blackout shade

Tent,Stakes, poles, mallet
Doormat (seems overkill but hugely useful for keeping the tent floor clean)
dustpan & brush (ditto)
airbeds x 2
sleeping bags x 3
yoga mat & under bed rolls
El duvet & pillow
Parents duvet & pillows
Extra blankets
knee pillows
2 x face towels, 3 x flannels
Torches & batteries
Camping chairs
Foldable stools
Picnic blanket
Bungee cords
Duct tape
Swiss army knife
Bunting Flag

Food items
Porridge & sultanas&fructose
Snacks eg flapjacks,nuts
Pasta & sauce & salad
stirfry veg, ready-cooked rice & sauce
Picky bits incl sliced bread,cheese,houmous,antipasti veg, olives,veg&normal ham
Beans and veggie sausage tins
Kara (non-dairy milk for me and Liss)
Coffee & filter jug (just cos we're camping there's no need to put up with instant coffee!)
herbal tea bags incl redbush
cooking oil
Baby food pouches
Baby snacks
bowls & cutlery forks/knives/spoons x 3
Bib (washable)
tea mugs x3
Camp Stove & fuel
Can opener/bottle opener
2xsaucepans (1 lid)
sharp knife & chopping board
wooden spoon
Ella water bottle
Washing up bowl & liquid & scrubber&brush & 2 x dishtowels
few clothes pegs

Bin bags - large and smaller
loo rolls
Hand sanitizer

First aid
El ear moisturiser & cream from docs
lavender essential oil (for burns,cuts,insect bites etc)
Lissy chest rub
Echinacea & dropper & cup (Lissy's getting over a heavy cold)
teething granules

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Little Bit (Squirt?) of Lactivism

Our flashmob went really well. About 170 mamas turned up and nursed their little ones for around 20 minutes. The atmosphere was serene yet charged - I felt all tingly and part of something special :-)

Here are some breastfeeding flashmob photos

My first foray into 'lactivism' was sweet, exciting, and heartwarming. I really enjoyed seeing so many nursing mothers together and I felt proud of us all. Some mums had travelled quite a distance to be there for just twenty minutes.

Why did we do it? Read this post. There should be a video on YouTube in a week, I'll post the link when I have it.

Despite mine and Rose's best efforts I don't think the media picked up on it as much as we'd have liked. Although Melinda Messenger (who supported our campaign) was interviewed on Channel 5 about it - and I think Pregnancy & Birth magazine may run some info on it. Well, they asked for a photo so I'm hoping they will print it....

A friend invited me to a La Leche League meeting recently. La Leche is a really friendly bunch of women devoted to making breastfeeding good for you and your baby. The organisation started around fifty years ago with the aim of helping mothers to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, information and education.

Here are a couple of quotes from mums who have used the (free) service:

"It took me until I was pregnant with my sixth baby to discover La Leche League (no, I didn't know how to pronounce it then either!) I went along to a local group meeting and at last, here were people, who knew what they were talking about, who understood my desperate need to breastfeed the baby I was carrying. This time I succeeded and then went on to breastfeed baby number seven too"

"I am a lone mum of two. I breastfed my daughter, now four years old, for three weeks, giving up after a difficult pregnancy and delivery and a lack of support. I breastfed my son until two months ago when he was 13 months old. I thoroughly enjoyed it"

Good stuff. I think more women will try, or persevere with, breastfeeding if they get the right support. I found the first two weeks quite tricky (and sore) with Ella but had some great advice and hands-on help from breastfeeding counsellors and my Health Visitor and went on to feed her until she was 12 months.

I'd like to feed Lissy for longer - but I have no particular age in mind. I will stop when one of us doesn't want to do it any more (it will probably be me first!). I have a different view of 'extended' breastfeeding since I've been exposed to mothers nursing toddlers. A couple of my friends have done so, and I have seen a few mums at La Leche League and at the flashmob nurse infants older than 18 months.

I understand that some people may find that strange or uncomfortable, I admit I used to before I became more accustomed to the idea by seeing people doing it and understanding why they were doing it (instead of presuming it was the mother's inability to let her baby grow up!! I honestly used to think that).

In fact, it's a huge boost to a child's health to breastfeed to two years of age and beyond. Something the World Helath Organisation now recommends as a worldwide policy ie not just for developing countries. Here's some more info on the health benefits of extended breastfeeding.

But hey, if I don't make it to two years because I'm fed up of it then that's OK too. And if you're a confirmed formula feeder for whatever reason - choice, circumstance or having tried breastfeeding you now want the freedom to drink more wine and buy tops and dresses without having to consider how easily you can get your tits out of them - that's cool.

We mamas have got to do things our own way. My way may not be your way. But I will never apologise for being passionate about something and promoting something I believe in. Over the last few months of helping Rose organise the flashmob I've come to realise just how passionate I am that every woman in the UK (and beyond) should have the support and information she needs to give her baby the best start in life by breastfeeding her baby as long as she can.

Someone sent me a link to a breast versus formula article in The Ecologist. It takes a very firm stance, something I've not seen before as articles are usually very careful to take a 'breast is best but formula comes a close second' point of view. Here it is. What do you make of it?

Some of my best mates use formula exclusively and I in no way judge them - or you - for doing so. It's a fairly meaty article, I just want to know what you think...

Ferel free to share your thoughts on breastfeeding, bottle feeding, extended breastfeeding, flashmobbing etc too!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Baby Cake

My gorgeous little girl turns one tomorrow. Lissy is the apple of my eye, the song in my heart, the smile on my lips. While pregnant, I sometimes wondered if I would love her as much as I do Ella. I realise that with every baby, a mother's heart stretches to hold even more love than was possible before. Of course, that's not the only thing that stretches with a new baby but we won't go into that here ;-)

To celebrate, tomorrow after Ella and I are back from school I'm having a few girlfriends over with their babies for tea and cake. Mummies will be tucking into pecan and walnut brownies and peanut butter cookies which I made using recipes from my newest cookbook 'Baking Made Easy' by the gorgeous Lorraine Pascale. My baking used to be hit and miss, but thanks to Lorraine now it's a hit every time.

Babies will be tucking into the sugar-free yet oh-so-scrummy Banana and Raisin cake. I adapted a recipe from a library book - 'Superfoods for Super Kids'. It's been such a huge hit with the whole family and it's perfect for taking out on picnics or in lunchboxes. Recipe is below - let me know how you get on with it.

On Saturday we plan to go to Bucklebury Farm Park with some friends. It's in the village where Kate Middleton grew up in. That has no relevance to anything but I thought you might find it interesting. I'm getting quite excited about their new attraction - a Jumping Pillow. It's a curved inflatable, a bit like a giant bouncy castle without the sides. I just hope adults can have a go too!

Baby-Friendly Banana and Raisin Cake

2 beaten eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup butter or coconut oil - softened (available from health food shops)
1 cup wholemeal or spelt self-raising flour (Spelt has less gluten than normal flour and so is much easier to digest)
(optional) 1 tsp vanilla extract or scraped beans from pod (or Waitrose does a fab vanilla bean paste)

Preheat oven to 180C/250F/Gas Mark 4. Mix eggs and bananas. Stir in rest of ingredients. Transfer to oiled loaf or cake tin, cook for 30-40 mins until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Melinda Messenger Supports Boobies for Babies!

The date for our flashmob is fast approaching. Just finished the Press Release (see below). If you want to be a part of it just join our Facebook group at for the full details

BREASTFEEDING FLASHMOB to challenge low breastfeeding rates.
Melinda Messenger champions first ever celebration of ‘boobies for babies’
Time: 2pm Friday 24th June, central London.

An expected 200 breastfeeding mothers will all nurse their infants together in a flashmob, championed by ex-Page 3 favourite Melinda Messenger and organised by two mothers from Henley-on-Thames.

The mothers want to celebrate National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and call for a more breastfeeding-friendly UK. The flashmobbers also want to highlight our country’s shockingly low breastfeeding rates.

Overall, only 45 per cent of UK babies are exclusively breastfed at one week, 21 per cent at six weeks, 7 per cent at four months and only 3 per cent at five months of age (source: Office for National Statistics). This shows there is something seriously wrong with the breastfeeding culture in the UK. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the NHS both recommend exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age. WHO also recommends breastfeeding alongside other foods for at least two years.

Many women feel inhibited about breastfeeding in public despite the equality act passed in 2010 that protects women, allowing them to breastfeed their baby anywhere regardless of the baby’s age. The sight of a nursing woman is rare in the UK, contributing to the feeling of unease felt by some people when seeing a woman breastfeed in public.

Of the 1,200 women who took part in an online poll run by Mother and Baby magazine and supported by the National Childbirth Trust, 60 per cent felt that the UK frowned on breastfeeding mothers and 65 per cent intended to not breastfeed in public for fear of being stared at. Two thirds maintained that feeding their baby in public had been a stressful experience, and more than half of these had been asked to move out of a restaurant, cafe or coffee shop when they were feeding.

Mother of three and winner of 2003 Celebrity Mum of the Year Award, Melinda Messenger, says: “The law says mums have the right to breastfeed anywhere but they can be put off by uncomfortable looks and embarrassed stares so we need to challenge British reserve and celebrate the act of breastfeeding in public.”

The flashmob is an independent group of nursing mothers who hope to achieve the following through this mass nurse-in event:

• Encourage mothers to feel confident when they breastfeed in public.
• Help those who do not feel comfortable around nursing mothers to feel more at ease.
• Call for a more open- and healthy-minded attitude to breastfeeding for future generations.
• Remind people of the breast’s primary purpose, a natural part of our existence.
• Get breasts in the media for the right reason.

The originator and main organiser of the flashmob, Rose Tolhurst, says ‘”I was amazed at how the Facebook flashmob group grew so quickly. We have over 500 members.There are so many passionate breastfeeders out there who all want to do their bit to tackle society’s prudish attitudes towards breasts. If we can encourage even a handful of women to breastfeed their babies confidently in public then this flashmob will have been successful. This is not a breast versus bottle issue - it’s bigger than that. This is breast versus society!”

Co-organiser of the flashmob, Anna Higgs, adds “It’s time for us breastfeeding mothers to take a stand. Boobies are for babies too, and we want to remind the general public that breastfeeding in public is normal and is not an antisocial act. This is particularly important since according to a recent BBC documentary ‘Is Breast Best?’ the UK has the second lowest breastfeeding rates out of 36 European countries.”

Rose and Anna recruited the breastfeeding mothers through Facebook and by posting a ‘call to arms’ on various parenting and pro-breastfeeding websites such as A straw poll of the flashmobbers reveal that 63% have received uncomfortable looks or comments from strangers while feeding in public.

Some of the mums in the flashmob have been made to feel acutely embarrassed by ill-judged comments from staff in hospitals, famous high street stores and coffee shops. For example, Kelly Parsons Kelly Parsons was having a cup of tea and feeding her 14 day old baby in Starbucks, Sutton. Even with her discreet nursing apron on a member of staff took offence and asked her to do it somewhere else next time.

(For further personal stories and contact details please see end of this document)


Media enquires to:
Rose Tolhurst – Flashmob Main Organiser rose_tolhurst(at)yahoo(dot)com
Anna Higgs – Flashmob Co-organiser annacolette(at)gmail(dot)com

Additional Information:
Rose Tolhurst blogs at:
Anna Higgs blogs at:

WHO Breastfeeding Facts and Statistics
NCT Document summary: Key Baby Feeding Statistics from the 2005 UK Infant Feeding survey.
The Office for National Statistics performs its Infant Feeding Survey every five years. The figures from the 2005 survey were published in March 2008.
Breastfeeding Online Survey 2009 of 1,200 women: commissioned by Mother & Baby, supported by National Childbirth Trust
National Breastfeeding Week Info for 2011:

Breastfeeding in Public Stories

Steph Martinon and her two week old baby had been invited to a 1st birthday party by one of her oldest friends. A week before the party Steph had made a joke on Facebook referring to herself as ‘feeding like a cow’. She got an immediate phone call from her friend asking if she was breastfeeding. Steph answered that she was and the reply was ‘Oh. Well maybe you shouldn’t come, I don’t wan’t my friends and family feeling uncomfortable’. Steph was very upset to miss out on the opportunity to introduce her brand new baby to her old friends and subsequently lost her friendship because of it.

Eugena Keene was having to stay in the class room with her four year old autistic son, as he was new to school. While she was breastfeeding her 14 month old baby the head teacher asked her if she would only feed in the staff room as the children were starting to 'catch on’ and she thought it inappropriate to feed the baby in front them.

Kelly Parsons was having a cup of tea and feeding her 14 day old baby in Starbucks, Sutton. Even with her discreet nursing apron on a member of staff took offence and asked her to do it somewhere else next time.

Robyn Cooke was feeding her seven week old baby at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the same hospital she gave birth in. Her baby was not gaining weight as it should, a term called ‘failure to thrive’. The paediatrician had recommended she switch to bottle feeding and Robyn was giving what she thought may have been her last breastfeed when a receptionist shouted across a busy room for her to feed in the toilets!

Thankfully this was not the end of her breastfeeding experience. With no help from the paediatrician, Robyn discovered the breastfeeding clinic at the hospital. The clinic discovered that her baby had a tongue tie which was fixed with a small incision. Subsequently, her baby started to thrive with no need to switch formula.

Abbie Kennedy was induced at 39 weeks due to Pre-eclampsia. Although Toby was born healthy, Abbie struggled to get him latch on. The hospital, Firmley Park in Surrey, pressured her into formula feeding which she did not want to do. She lied to the hospital staff that her baby had fed well so that she could get discharged. Once home, she sought out help from the midwives who were unwilling to help, and also suggested she give her baby formula.

With the support of her mum, Abbie expressed breastmilk and fed it to Toby in a bottle. Abbie sought out breastfeeding support groups, but no matter what he wasn't able to latch. She pumped for him for 9 weeks. Resigning herself to the fact that he'd never breastfeed, one day he latched on and fed like a dream. He is 2 years and 2 months old now and still breastfeeding. Abbey never discovered why he couldn't feed, although she suspects it was due to an undiagnosed tongue tie. She felt very let down by the NHS and if it wasn’t for her own determination would not have been able to give her baby the best possible start in life.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Breastfeeding in the UK

I've just watched 'Is Breast Best?' on Iplayer: watch it here

I was shocked to discover that the UK has the 2nd lowest breastfeeding rate in 36 countries. Did you know, only 3% of UK women are exclusively breastfeeding their babies at 5 months?

As one girl in the programme said, there aren't enough women breastfeeding in public for it to be considered normal.

A new mum friend of mine, Rose, has started an amazing initiative to help normalise breastfeeding in public. She is organising a breastfeeding 'nurse-in' at a central London location in June (during National Breastfeeding Awareness Week). We are aiming to get 100+ women feeding their babies at the same time. This has never been done on such a scale in the UK!

To ensure the element of surprise, we're not widely publicising the date,time and venue. For these details, nursing mums can join the Facebook Group 'Breast Feeding Flash Mob'.

The direct link to the Facebook group is:

The Facebook group has only been going for a few weeks and already has 365 members. The idea is really taking off. Please spread the word to any nursing mums you know.

BTW - I am in no way against bottle feeding. Some of my good friends bottle feed their babies and I fully respect their right to do so. I understand that not all women find it as easy and convenient as I do. However, I am passionate about promoting breastfeeding and helping women to feel confident to do it in public.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Get Your Kids Out for a Walk - Without Whingeing!

We went geocaching with friends today and loved it.

What's geocaching? It's an activity that's been going for over a decade apparently. Today was the first time I've heard of it.

Basically, it involves going for a walk with your GPS (SatNav should be fine if you've got pedestrian as well as road maps) to seek hidden treasure. How exciting is that?! You visit the geocaching website, find a cache in your area, enter the coordinates into your GPS and decode the clue to pinpoint the exact location.

Usually they're little tupperware boxes - the one we found today was hidden in a hollow at the base of a tree covered with moss, leaves and twigs.

The deal is you take out the item/s you fancy and put back treasure of your own. Oh, and sign the notebook you'll find in the cache with the date, what you took and waht you left in the cache (which in our case was filled with little knick knacks like colouring pencils, small plastic toys, a tube of hand cream etc).

The cache isn't really the point, it's the journey that's the fun bit. And feeling like you're on a mission - and part of a secret, global game. Apparently, there are well over a million caches around the world and around 6,7000 caches in the UK.

Our coded clue from the website was goobledygook to me, until my more experienced friends explained that you just need to divide the alphabet in half, write out the second half of the letters directly under the first 13 letters and exchange the letters based on the encrypted clues given. So:


B can be exchanged for the letter below, which is O
Q in the clue is decodes to a D

The best thing is, we got to walk in the beautiful countryside around Ewelme with our friends and our kids with no whingeing. Well, Ella did have a little grumble on the way back but to be fair she had hurt her foot a little by tripping over the undergrowth so was keen to have a rest. Still quite a contrast to yesterday when she complained constantly about her feet aching during our 20 minute amble to the churchyard and back to get some fresh air. Bless.

I think more geocaching is in order to build up my darling girl's rambling legs (like sealegs but less wobbly).

Should help with losing the ole baby weight too which has attractively settled around my middle and is currently being honoured with wine (only a little mind you, I'm breastfeeding. But it is a weekend..) and dark chocolate. Yes, more exercise is definitely in order chez nous. And who can resist a little outdoor treasure hunting?

To find out more, and sign up (for free) visit

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Breastfeeding Flash Mob LONDON

Fancy getting boobs into the media for the right reasons? Want to help promote breastfeeding, and help normalise feeding in public?

The Breast Feeding Flashmob London Needs You!

To coincide with National Breast Feeding Awareness Week in June 2011, an independent group of mums is organising the UK’s first ever 'Breast Feeding Flashmob*' in a central London location.

If you would like to be involved please join our facebook group -

Please help us spread the word and let’s make history
Thank you :-)

*Despite the group name, actually flashing your boobs is not necessary! Dictionary definition of a Flashmob (or flash mob): A group of people coordinated by email and social media to meet to perform some predetermined action at a particular place and time and then disperse quickly.

Monday, 28 February 2011

In The Pink

Well, after my last (clearly very controversial) post, I thought you might need some light relief. I know I do. Rest assured, the vaccination debate will continue to rage on at Part Mummy Part Me - and as a result you may well find youself becoming dis-illusioned in the true sense of the word.

But for now I am feeling flippant and fun.

Loving being a mummy, but feeling a bit mumsy I have not only gone blonde for the summer - as per usual - but have added pink bits. Something I've hankered after for years and can now indulge in for a while now that the meetings in London have been replaced with mum and baby meet ups.

Because 'crazy colours' tend to be semi permanent, fading after a few months, I am flirting with the idea of a few purple streaks next time. Or maybe both pink and purple? Hubby is getting in touch with his inner hairdresser - he even did the blonde for me. Not a bad job hey?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

MMR, Autism and Why I'm Not Vaccinating

I recently had a chat with a friend who is worried about getting the MMR due to her nephew becoming autistic shortly after the jab. The current official medical line is that there is no proven link, but many medical professionals and researchers are still saying otherwise.

Please, please look into this for yourselves so you can make an informed decision. Here are a couple of short articles to get you started:

I will be posting a lot more on childhood vaccination as I have been reading a lot about it and am completely appalled by the lack of scientific for their efficacy, and the reality of what is actually in those shots we allow our babies and children to get - and what harm they can really do.

Vaccination seems to be a sacred cow. Something you can't talk about in mum and baby groups for fear of being a pariah or labelled a freaky conspiracy theorist. Believe me, when you start scratching the surface it is a murky world of half truths and lies - and big, big profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

My eldest daughter is fully vaccinated (MMR too) I had a few concerns about MMR but her dad urged me to press ahead and I didn't even think to do my homework on the vaccinations she had as a baby. I mean, they've got to have been fully tested right? Vaccination is responsible for wiping out smallpox and other nasties right? Hmm, think again.

I had a gut feel that vaccination wasn't right for Alicia, I was only barely aware that you could choose not to get them done - or at least pay for separate shots privately to avoid toxic overload.

So, I started to look into the topic with what I admit is a huge a bias. That is, I didn't want her to be vaccinated at all and I wanyed to find out if that was a sensible choice and to reassure myself that I was doing the right thing for her.

I've read so much, and retained so little of it as per usual, that I am convinced I'm making the right choice. I only wish that I had known what I now know when Ella was a baby.

I will post more on this topic over the coming months, along with resources and links so you can do your own research too if you like. If your kids are already vaccinated but you know friends who haven't gone ahead yet please encourage them to at least look into the subject.

Here's a few resources I have found easy to read and useful:

Free report signed by medical professionals concerned about the dangers of childhood vaccination: OK so if you're a PhD student you can refute everything in here as just 'opinion' but I think it puts forward some of the major points of concern around vaccination and there are other fully referenced publications, proper scientific reports etc I have read which back up these views.

The Vaccination Bible - Lynne McTaggart this is a great book, it really helps you to make an informed decision

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Make a Wishbomb

Ok it's time to get rid of the baby weight (and the weight I put on before I got pregnant!).

I really want to be 9 stone again - the same weight I was when I first met my lovely hubby three and a half years ago. I was running regularly at the time, went out dancing a lot and didn't have quite so much of a chocolate addiction. So, I know I need to add much more activity into my life and rein in my sweet tooth.

Unfortunately, my weak ankles and fallen arches do not make me a great candidate for running. Since I've stopped running my back is so much better. Unfortunately I am so much podgier too. Perhaps some fast walking with the buggy will do the trick..although my ankle is still not good. I went over on it again four days ago - and this time dropped Alicia.

How stupid of me to be holding her again. Well, my ankle was feeling much better and I was wearing a support, and I was doing the short walk across the road to accompany Ella from my car to her school. It didn't seem worth it to pop the baby in the buggy. I have truly learned my lesson.

Anyhow, I digress. I completely subscribe to Stephen Covey's philosophy “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” It's the only way to get anything done. I tend to have a million and one goals, plans and dream whizzing through my head and bumping into a hundred and one items on my mental 'to do' list. I'm not sure that will ever change, but as from today I am making a firm commitment to keep weight loss as my main priority until I am 9 stone once again.

To this end, I have logged my goal (to be 9 stone by 1st July 2011) on wishbomb I'd love your support and encouragement. It will really help me stay focused on my goal. Visit Wishbomb a search for me, 'Anna Higgs'. I think you need to register first (it's free). Maybe you want to start a goal of your own on Wishbomb? After all, they do say 'what gets measured gets done'.

Wish me luck! Any weight loss, exercise tips etc gratefully received.

Anna xx (currently 11 stone 6. Eek. Although that was on the scalkes in Boots fully clothed and with shoes on. Very heavy shoes on obviously!!)

Monday, 24 January 2011


I've sprained my ankle and can't drive. Bit of a bugger when you live in the country with no real bus service to speak of.

I had a spectacular fall outside tesco superstore in Reading en route to visiting a friend. I was holding Alicia in my arms, walking towards the trolleys.

Thank god my mothering instincts kicked in and I somehow managed to keep Lissy in the same position in the air while I crumpled in a heap around her. It must have looked pretty amazing. I couldn't get up for ages, thankfully a nice elderly couple held Lissy for me while I recovered.

I had a weird blackout thing for a few seconds too, I'm not sure if it was before the fall ie the cause of it, or after the fall from the shock of nearly chucking my child onto the concrete!

My friend came to collect me and we spent a nice day at her house, me hobbling about rather pathetically when not elevating and icing my poor ankle. A mum from school picked Ella up for me and took her back to her house where she has stayed - electing to have a sleepover seeing as hubby couldn't collect her until much later and I can't drive her to school tomorrow morning anyway. What a star that mummy is.

Hubby came to get Lissy and me after work - his friend collected him from our house so J could fetch our car from Tesco carpark.


Am now deep into doing my online tax return. Oh joy. Nearly finished it.

Looking forward to doing Notes' 'I Love Me' theme tomorrow. I could do with a good rant. I have one forming about boobs actually. Not mistakes. Bangers. Norks. Tits. Watch this space ;-)

Friday, 21 January 2011

What I Want & What I'm Doing

Haven't posted for a while. Alicia's 3 week long nighttime coughing fits peaked a few days ago and left me a frail husk of my former self. I was ill without actually being ill. Ill from lack of sleep. Barely able to boot up my lappy.

Alicia was completely fine during the day, she'd wake up with a choking cough around 2am and not really settle afterwards. Luckily, three nights of garlic socks and a few drops of echinacea in orange juice (vit c helps it work more effectively)three times a day has ended the ordeal for us all.

I have a lot going on at the moment, or I'm about to anyway. I'm talking to my boss tomorrow about starting work. My plan is to squeeze in a few hours a day when Alicia naps - with the possibility of doing more on the weekend if needed. This is all because I can't bear to leave her with a childminder just yet.

I'm sure I can find someone to take good care of her. It's just that I want her to be loved, kissed, cuddled and tickled all day long too. Something a paid professional may not do. After all, they get paid to care not to love. A subtle difference but to me a huge one when Lissy's only 7 months.

I'm also about to start my home study course to become a hypnobirthing practitioner. I have always wanted to have a job or hobby that enables me to make a difference - to improve the world in a small way. I think, I hope, that this new venture will tick that box for me.

I'm passionate about helping other women give birth without fear, which is exactly what hypnobirthing did for me. It's something I should be able to easily fit around my day job and my family. I plan to do a one day course each month to start off and see how it goes from there. My sis is doing the training too so we will be study buddies and help to motivate each other when we start designing and running the courses. Watch this space ;-)

My other short term aims are to really focus on moving my body every day (yoga, walking) and to listen to my body more around food. I am in the grip of chocoholism at the moment and have a disturbing propensity to eat and eat and eat - totally ignoring the fact that I'm full. Food for a treat, for entertainment, out of habit, in lieu of alcohol, fags and other naughties...I want to learn to eat from hunger instead. The good old fashioned way.

Which sparks me to answer Notes to Self Plus Two's McLinky thing (which I missed due to extreme sleep deprivation and general malaise): 'What do you want for you in 2011?':

1. To have a firm, fit, healthy body I'm proud of. Translates into - get back to 9 stone by May and look good in shorts this summer.

2. To make more money. Shallow, yes. I want to buy a house in a year or two. A 3 bed one, ideally with a study or dining room where I can work from. We love living in this idyllic village but our rented 2 bed bungalow is a bit of a tight fit now there's four of us. I dream of buying one of the big houses down the road. But the 3 beds here are around £430K way, way out of our league. At the moment anyway. Just until I come up with my Plan For Affluence.

3. To be a brighter light. I have a sun tattoo on my arm, partly because as a Leo that's my birth planet but mainly to remind me to be the source of warmth, happiness, inspiration and light in my own and others' lives. I want to start fulfilling this - be a better wife, mother, friend. Spread more happiness and love in my corner of the world. Make a difference. Light up peoples' lives - especially my loved ones'.

Monday, 10 January 2011

What Blogging has Made Me Realise (I Love Me Monday)

The lovely Notes to Self Plus Two has started an initiative to help us mummy bloggers reconnect with the 'me' in 'mummee'(geddit?): the 'I Love Me Mondays' blog linkup.

As she so rightly observes, us mums usually start blogging because we want to hold onto our sense of self in the often wonderful, sometimes terrible, nearly always all-encompassing role of Parent.

The 'I Love Me Mondays' writing theme for today is 'What have I realised about me through blogging?'. I have realised:

1. That being a (good) mum is the most important thing in the world to me. Seems obvious but when I started my blog I was more focused on the 'Part Me' bit than the 'Part Mummy'. Through writing about family life (amongst other things) I have realised that it is the source of my most magical, magnificent moments and is the strongest influence on my self-development. Being a Mummy has, is, making me a better Me.

2. I have had a really interesting and varied life so far. Writing this post made me realise that. I intend to keep living life in glorious technicolour (with a few ad breaks so I can put my feet up and have a cuppa and a biscuit, natch).

3. I seek validation and praise. Yup, I'm all too human. Before blogging I genuinely thought I didn't care about what people I'd never met thought about me and that I didn't need friends+/family to tell me how fabulous I am because we just know we're in each others' fan clubs.

Blogging introduced me to the joys of reading uplifting comments - from friends and strangers - and the abject despair of spilling your guts or writing something witty and true only to find no one has read it. Or rather, no proof that anyone has 'heard' you in that crowded space they call the blogosphere. No comments on a post = extremely disheartening (hint, hint).


Thursday, 6 January 2011

Themes are My New Resolutions

Happy New Year!!

This year I'm doing away with resolutions (who really keeps those past January anyway?!) and opting for themes instead. Yes, themes like movies and books have. Life imitating art. But not in a pretentious way. It's a less committed approach than resolutions but achieves a similar thing i.e. focusing your efforts on what is important to you at the moment.

My themes for 2011 are:

+Fitness & health

These are my main dishes in the scrumptious feast that I hope this year will be.

I've recently discovered that the main thing is to focus on the main thing. It's the only way to get anything done. I've used that approach to do yoga EVERY DAY in December. Good huh? Especially for a laidback busy mother of two.

As a creature of impulse afflicted with a horribly low boredom threshold, I find my life is often so jam-packed full of dreams, schemes, projects and amusements that I don't achieve the goals I want to. I try a little of everything which is lots of fun but I end each year in much the same place - both physically and metaphorically speaking.

So, this year I will narrow my focuses (foci??) and aim to progress in my two main hobbies: yoga and djembe drumming. I will also make my choices this year based on enjoyment and stop doing things because I feel I 'ought' to. That's the 'Fun' theme.

I don't really need a reminder to make this year fun, but I often get myself in a tizz trying to do the right thing by everyone else and forget to prioritise things that make me smile, things that are fun for me (and we all know that a happy mummy makes a happy family!).

Don't worry, I won't use this as an excuse to slip into my old hedonistic, excessive ways. I won't shirk my true responsibilities. But I will be saying 'no' a lot more than usual...and 'yes' to things I might have been to afraid say yes to last year. Confused? All will be revealed in the fullness of time..

And so to the fitness and health theme. Hmm. Me and the rest of the world right? Lose weight, drop a dress size, run a marathon, get leaner, faster, eat less sugar, more veg. B-O-R-I-N-G.

I'm going to use my previous theme (fun) together with this theme and do positive, easy things I enjoy that also help me take baby steps towards being a fitter, stronger, more supple, healthier, happier mama.

My first mission is to improve my body image - without necessarily improving my body. I believe we can all feel better about ourselves right now - not put off self acceptance to that magical time when we are lighter and/or smaller.

To this end, I'll be trying out different (enjoyable) techniques to help me love myself more just the way I am. Squidgy mummy tummy and all. If you want to follow my adventures in self love (god that sounds sooo dodgy!) then you need to read my secret(ish) new blog. Email me at annacolette(at)gmail(dot)com with 'Body Image' in the subject line and I'll send you the URL.

My second mission is to add some green smoothies into my life. I'm aiming to have one a week in February and will gradually crank that up. The Green Smoothie is an easy and - hopefully - delicious way to get more fruit and veg, curb your sugar cravings and lose weight. Sound good? Here are some green smoothie recipes to get you started.

What do you want your themes to be for 2011?