This website’s content is based on my personal opinions and my experience as a mother and a doula since 1998.  I believe that pregnancy, labour, birth and parenting are not an exact science.  Every woman I work with has an entirely different experience, and so I am constantly learning.  Every culture has a variety of advice and usual practice particular to themselves and you will find as you embark on your journey to family life that you will be barraged with information – some of it conflicting,  some of it useful, some misleading and some easy to discard.  I believe that all information is valuable, must be taken on board and then you must learn to trust your own maternal instinct as to what sounds right and (subsequently) what works best for you and your family. As such, I have created this website to offer my opinion on various things you may encounter.  I do not intend to set myself up as the High Priestess of Pregnancy or the Fount of All Knowledge, but rather, offer you my experience in as friendly a way as I am able for you to either use or reject as you choose.

I prefer not to judge anyone as they make their journey to family life, but one of my doula sisters has recently published on a public forum the following comment about my website:

“The mis-information and limitations of this information lead me to believe that she has not trained in breastfeeding support with any of the recognised organisations. I do feel that myths and misunderstandings about breastfeeding are so easily passed on, that ANYONE who put themselves (sic) in a public role with regard to breastfeeding advice should be fully trained and conversant with the possible pitfalls. When reading … her own website, it seems easy to infer that breastfeeding is difficult and sore nipples almost a certainty.”

For the record, I am not a breast feeding counsellor, do not intend to become one, and hope that I do not give off that false impression.  I have personal experience inasmuch as I breastfed both of my children.  The first one, I was forced to stop after three months due to a hospital acquired drug resistant strep and staph infection which caused chronic mastitis and was untreatable by antibiotics.  I was advised by all experts I spoke to that I had to give up breast feeding in order to escape the infection.  I bear lasting scars (one of my nipples was half eaten away by the infection) and so for me, I suppose, breast feeding was a painful and difficult thing to do.  My second child I breast fed until she was two.  It was not easy the second time, I was plagued again by mastitis and struggled against infection (I was an undiagnosed coeliac which caused a lot of the problems the second time) but I persevered and continued with the support of a wonderful breast feeding counsellor (Anna Page) and am very proud and grateful that I did. Had I been told at that time that “sore nipples are caused by poor attachment and that qualified support is the first line of defense and cure” (my fellow doula’s belief) in either of these cases, I would have been even more upset than I already was.  Clearly in my case, “proper attachment” would have made little difference to my breast feeding experience at all.  

As a result perhaps of my personal experience, I try to give a balanced view of what women can expect when breast feeding and support whatever decision a woman makes – be it to breast feed (which is best for both baby and mother), or to bottle feed or to use a combination of the two. For whatever reason.  Sadly a great many women I work with also have trouble breast feeding.  Some are able to resolve issues with professional support, some are not.  I do not judge any of them or attempt to offer them a pancea or a blithe recommendation to check their baby's latch. I also provide the telephone numbers of recognised breast feeding experts (of which I am not one) so that you can get professional help as soon as you need it. Do not suffer in silence. Your first few weeks with your baby are vital to bonding and to spend them weeping salty tears of pain on your baby's face as you struggle to breast feed is not the best way to achieve that.

I always try to be upfront about all the choices you face during pregnancy, labour and birth and parenting, and certainly hope to explain that childbirth is called “labour” for a reason – it is hard work and painful – but worth it.  To lie about what you may hope to experience, I believe, may actually cause more harm than being as honest as I am able.  In the same way, to set you up for pain free breast feeding I think is as irresponsible as saying that labour can be painless – I hope that you experience no pain, but if you go into it expecting it to be easy and instinctive you may be sorely disappointed.  

I personally don’t believe judgemental statements or righteous stands are helpful when a woman embarks on motherhood and aim to support every woman no matter what her decision may be as to how to birth or feed her baby, or undertake any other aspect of pregnancy, birth or motherhood.  I hope that everyone who can gives birth in the way that they choose (which is most appropriate for them and their baby) and that they breastfeed for as long as they choose and they enjoy parenting as I have (and do), but I also hope that you escape judgement in whatever decisions you take.