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.