Why It’s Okay For Mums To Ask For Help

tired-mom

Why It’s OK For Mums To Ask For Help

 

I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by women I would describe as ‘copers’. As mothers, most of my closest friends fall into this category; they don’t complain, they get on with whatever parenthood throws at them, they don’t feel the need for domestic help or night-nurses and they cope pretty well with sleepless nights. My own mother somehow managed to juggle fulltime work and two children (one of whom was sick), with not much help from my dad (as was the way with dads then), and still clean the house and cook everything herself to the point that we’d never even seen a fish finger.

Having these sorts of influences around you tends to make you stronger and more resilient to the hardships of parenthood because you realise that everyone is going through it, not just you, and if my social circle consisted of women who hired people to help them with all aspects of running a family home, I may have felt from early on that I ‘needed’ that too, that it was just the done thing.

But hold on a second. What if I do need it?? What if by believing for so long that I am a coper and that I can ‘just deal with’ having a child who hasn’t slept for 15 months, I’ve exhausted myself even more?

You see, I do see myself as a coper and on the whole, I have been to an extent. Although I crave time on my own to do the things I love, I also genuinely enjoy the kind of chaos that a house full of kids brings with it and I look forward to the day when my kids are older and all their friends want to come to our house because it’s so warm and inviting and there is always food on offer, just like it was at my mum’s house.

In wanting to be ‘that’ mum, my ego has prevented me from admitting when I need help, or admitting to how hard it is to survive on 4 hours sleep and be on the go all day, instead of answering with ‘it is what it is’ – which is what I do (with a smile on my face) when people ask how I cope – or admitting that I’m not as much of a coper as my buddies.

My baby is the best thing that has ever happened to me, I prayed so hard for him and I thank God for his existence every day. But I shouldn’t need to justify that I feel like that in order to be able to talk openly about how hard it is to be a mother in 2017.

You see, humans are pack animals. Going back to when we lived in caves, right up to not very long ago, humans lived in extended families and children would have the advantage of being surrounded by many different mother figures (mothers, grandmothers, aunts) who all had a role to play in their upbringing, while the men went to hunt / work. This is where the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ comes from. It does take a village, but the village has ceased to exist.

Nowadays, the men still go to work, but hey, so do the women. In these foregone days of extended families, the women would all chip in to do the cooking and cleaning and raising of the children, not just one woman on her own. But now, we’re expected to do all of that ON OUR OWN, regardless of how many children we have, and still go to work…

In our age of information, we also have a huge responsibility to not only protect our children from the dangers that lurk in cyber-world and out, but also to nurture our children in a way that our parents were never able to do. With access to information about child psychology at our fingertips, we have no excuse to stand back while our children suffer; we can use the information so readily available to us to work harder to be better, more conscious parents than previous generations were given the chance to be. But that, too, takes work, commitment and sacrifice, and those things take up even more time in a day that already has too few hours. And of course, all these things have to be done regardless of how little sleep we have had and, to add to that, we have to do it all with a smile on our face in case, heaven forbid, someone gets annoyed with our moaning.

Today I’m changing that. Not just for me but for any mum who is reading this and is wanting to tear her hair out from exhaustion, or whose head is about to spontaneously combust from the deluge of mental lists of all the things she needs to do but will still dutifully answer any questions of ‘how are you’ with ‘yes, great!’

I’m changing that because, mummies, it IS okay to ask for help. It is okay to voice your struggles. I’m listening.

I believe that we were created to work together, to NOT do it all on our own. And if the extended family isn’t an option anymore, then we need to be okay – finances allowing – with bringing someone in to help out.

I congratulate my ‘coper-friends’ on being able to do the awesome job they do, but I have decided, for my own sanity, to throw my ego out the window and be okay with asking for help and most importantly for my ego, not feeling embarrassed about it.

 

You can see this article on my author profile on The Huffington Post

 

You can follow Lauren Vaknine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurenvaknine

Lauren blogs at Organic Spoon which you can find here
Her Facebook page: Facebook
Her Instagram page: Instagram theorganicspoon

Her autobiography, ‘My Enemy, My Friend’, can be found here

 

Why Do We Choose To Have Children? My First Huffington Post-Featured Article

 

Family cuddling

Super excited to let you all now that I am now a regular contributor for the Huffington Post in their lifestyle and parenting section. This is a massive deal for my writing and I’d love you to follow me there and keep an eye on all my articles. My first one, posted below, is up there now and you can see it here 

 

 

Why Do We Choose To Have Children?

During one of my son’s infamous sleep strikes, I posed the question to my husband, ‘Why do people have children?’ It wasn’t a sarcastic, rhetorical question in the midst of a third consecutive all-nighter. I genuinely started wondering why people inflict such stress on their lives when they have the option not to. Children do, after all, hinder our lives in a way we never understood before having them.

My husband’s answer was a typically male pragmatic one: ‘Because we have an innate need to procreate.’

Although I don’t disagree with my husband that there probably is within us a subconscious, animalistic desire to procreate, I think there is much more to it than that, and only after having a baby myself and going through that first tumultuous year of parenthood can I understand the real driving force behind why we choose to have children.

Quite simply, it must come down to love. But why is that different to anything you’ve heard before? Well, because what I don’t think we’ve realised is that it’s not our need to be loved, but our need to love.

If we look at parenthood without love and simply gather all the other facets of it, this is what a typical day looks like: you are awoken around 5am, after having three to four hours broken sleep, and you have no choice but to muster the strength to smile and coo at your kids, get them dressed, get yourself washed and dressed and make them breakfast and packed lunches. They get impatient while you’re preparing everything so you distract them with TV, iPads and anything else that before becoming a parent you swore you’d never do. Then, if your children are like mine, the breakfast will probably end up on the floor being eaten by the dog.

You attempt to clean the kitchen as best you can before heading off to the school run then taking the younger one to playgroup, where all you want to do is talk to other human beings over the age of 18 but when you do, finally, sink into the comfort of a good old chat with another mum, your child has wondered off to hug another child whose mother ‘doesn’t like it’, so you have to release yourself from the only conversation you’ll be having that day that doesn’t involve singing your words, to tear your child away from the child whose mum doesn’t like him being touched.

Lunchtime no doubt ends up the same way as breakfast but… the hour of salvation has arrived: lunchtime nap time. But no, he decides that four hours broken sleep through the night, are, in fact, quite sufficient and you most certainly do not deserve any time to yourself so he thinks he’ll stay up, actually. You attempt to do the chores with him fluttering around, pulling pans out of cupboards and moaning because he is tired (!) then you get him in the car to pick up the older ones from school. Lo and behold, he falls asleep in the car. You curse to yourself but you let him sleep, because it won’t be worth your while later if he doesn’t, and you arrive at school… late.

Help the kids with homework, drink cold tea, and once again, mealtime. They might eat a bit, they might moan that they want something else, they might throw it on the floor. After a bit of play time (for them, not you – you are cleaning the kitchen for the fifty-third time that day), it’s bath time. They drench you in bath water then take every set of pyjamas out the cupboard until they decide that the very last one is the winner, and you have to refold the rest.

By the time husband walks through the door, kids are in bed reading, baby is fresh as a daisy, house is clean as a whistle but you look like Keith Richards on a bad day and you know you have to go through the whole rigmarole the following day, and the one after that, and so on…

Sound fun?

Now let’s take ‘love’ off the bench and put her back in the picture.

With love, he may have been screaming in your face for three hours before falling asleep but when he does finally fall asleep, you ‘waste’ precious minutes you could be sleeping just staring at the perfect form that you still cannot believe came from you.

With love, you may be exhausted beyond belief when she wakes at 5am but the minute you see her smiling face and smell the top of her head as she nestles into the crook of your neck, you forget you are tired and want to bottle that hug forever.

With love, you may crave the adult interaction but you know how utterly fortunate you are to be able to call yourself a mother, and how you’d give up adult conversation forever to hold onto these precious early days.

With love, you may look like Keith Richards after a two week bender, but you know that you have spent the day raising children, sustaining the lives of other human beings who love you and trust you and fall asleep in your arms because they know it’s the safest place in the world and that thought fills you with a warmth that will return to your heart every time you think about it.

The rewards of parenthood are not too dissimilar from the act of giving and receiving presents; we like to receive gifts but giving a gift stirs up a totally different sort of happiness in us.

Being able to love a person to the point where your fragile heart breaks into a million tiny shards if they so much as graze their knee, changes us as humans. It completes us, even more so than being loved. Being loved back by them is just the super sweet icing on the cake.

Love & health,
Lauren ❤

 

 

The Power of Amber And Where To Buy

iris-bluebird

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of crystals. It’s not too different to food, really. Anything that the Earth provides naturally must be there for a certain reason and if we utilise them correctly, we can reap the masses of benefits they provide.

Long before having Braxton, I found Iris Bluebird (real name Hannah), who made amber jewellery. I’d heard quite often about necklaces and anklets for teething babies and looked into it a lot as I always thought it was a lovely gift for friends with teething babies, and I wanted to know that I was buying top quality amber.

Hannah stocks only top quality, raw natural Baltic amber and threads them with knots in between each one to make it safer for babies, and with safe clasp options. There is also the option of adding other stones to give extra benefits. We added turquoise for Braxton for added ‘cooling’ when teething seemed hot and burning.

Everyone comments on how lovely his necklace is and although it is advised that you remove necklaces on babies for nap times, we personally leave his on. As his neck got thinner and the necklace stretched a little over time, he started being able to put it in his mouth – which was funny because for the first year of his life he never even noticed it was there – so we sent it back to Hannah and she adjusted the size for us.

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Here he is during his 1st birthday cake smash wearing nothing but a nappy and the necklace! Aside from how beautiful it looks, we really do notice the difference in his behaviour and how bad his teething is when he doesn’t have it on, so we truly believe in the power of amber. Of course that is anecdotal and who knows for sure, but it’s a belief of ours so we decide to go with it!

My dad decided to jump on the bandwagon after after eyeing up Braxton’s necklace for a while, and decided he wanted a bracelet for himself to help his aching joints, so I ordered one from Hannah and we designed it to look a little more masculine! My dad loves it and doesn’t take it off.

Recently, I ordered an anklet for myself with amber alongside my favourite stones: blue lace agate, amazonite, rose quartz and some howlite, which helps with calmness, concentration and creativity. It looks so pretty and I just love having my favourite stones so close to me all the time. Here it is:

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If you’re thinking about buying amber for yourself or your children, I highly recommend Hannah. Her website is irisbluebird.uk.

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If you want to understand more about the benefits of amber, read on…

In the meantime, love & health,
Lauren

Amber is an organic material made up of fossilised resin – Baltic Amber (considered to be the finest) was formed from the resin of coniferous trees 30-60 million years ago. It has long been honoured by humans for it’s energetic and healing properties.

There are various theories about how Amber actually works: the first is that the warmth of the skin releases tiny amounts of healing oils (succinic) from the Amber, these are absorbed through the skin into the body. The healing effects of succinic are said to be calming, analgesic, anti-pyretic (temperature reducing) amongst others. A second theory is that Amber is electronegative and wearing it against the skin produces negative ionisation, which leads to a positive effect on the body.

What succinic acid is and how it benefits you.

Succinic Acid (also called Amber Acid) has been used in Europe as a natural antibiotic and general curative for centuries. Succinic acid makes up a large part of natural baltic amber. Succinic Acid is also a natural constituent of plant and animal tissues.

polished amber
Polished Raw Amber

Natural Baltic Amber contains as much as 8 percent succinic acid by weight.

It is very important to your body. It is used in the Krebs Cycle which is involved in the intermediary metabolic process. Another name for the Krebs Cycle is the Citric Acid Cycle.

A powerful anti oxidant that helps fight toxic free radicals and disruptions of the cardiac rhythm, succinic acid has been shown to stimulate neural system recovery and bolster the immune system, and helps compensate for energy drain in the body and brain, boosting awareness, concentration and reflexes, and reducing stress.

Even before mankind knew that there were things called acids and antibiotics, the people of Europe recognized that amber had magical curative powers. They used it when we today would use an antibiotic.

Now that modern science has discovered what succinic acid can do, it has confirmed what the people of Europe have known for centuries.

The ancients wore natural Baltic amber necklaces and bracelets, made from amber stones and chips that washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea, that were thought to have magical curative powers. They surely had no idea that they were high in succinic acid, but they knew they worked magic on their ills.

They used amber in other forms, as well. They made medicines from powder, chips, and stones. They applied amber oils to their bodies to cure ills and slow aging. Amber chips and oils were burned to improve the air in their living quarters and repel flies, mosquitoes and other insects. .

A Dominican Monk, Albert The Great, born in 1193, called Natural Baltic Amber Succinium and stated that it was the most effective of the leading medicines of the time. In order of effectiveness he listed them as Succinium, ocastoreum, mors, camphor, tartarus, and aurum. Amber tinctures were made from beer, wine and water. People found them effective against everything from stomach aches to rheumatism.

When the plagues devastated Europe during the middle ages, amber was used for fumigation. Burning amber is both aromatic and irritating. And that is due to the high content of succinic acid in the smoke.

The Prussian Priest Matthaus Praetorius recorded that in 1680, “During the plague not a single amberman from Gdansk, Klaipeda, Konigsberg or Liepaja died of the disease”

Even today aroma therapists use Amber smoke to cure people of a wide range of ills and to revive energy.

More modern Europeans used the curative properties of amber in many ways. Recognizing its properties as an antibiotic, they have used, and continue to use it, for amber baby teethers, baby teething necklaces, spoons and pipe mouthpieces. Aristocrats of the 17 th Century brewed tea in special amber containers.

In the 20th Century, European scientists and military doctors led the way in following up on the ancient knowledge. They found that it would help improve the bodies immune system after exposure to radiation from industrial accidents.

It has also been found to help the immune system combat infections, help cure hangovers and work against other toxins.

Research at the University of Hamburg, Germany confirms the safe and positive effects of succinic and fumaric acids in cellular metabolism.

Dr. Veniamin Khazanov of the RAS’ Institute of Pharmacology at the Tomsk Scientific Center says “For aged people, succinic acid has proved to be indispensable. It is capable of restoring the energy balance at the cellular level, which is often upset as the years go by, and helps the patient regain his youthful energy.” He says also that it has proven the equal or better of many commercial drugs and is significantly less expensive.

You can see clinical test information at Clinical studies on succinic acid (succinates) antixodant effects.

And once again following up on what the Europeans have known from their use of amber for centuries, science has found that it helps cure a hangover by helping the body rid itself of the toxins that cause the hangover. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/4/prweb517372.htm Deadly Hangover: Beyond the ‘Morning After’ .

Succinic acid is now produced commercially. And it is approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Amber cures are now widely available and can be purchased online. You can see what is available at Amber Cures.

Source: http://www.chamberofcommerce.pl/amber-succinic-acid/

Braxton’s 1st Birthday – Ideas & Inspiration For A Healthy, Organic Birthday Party

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I can’t believe my baby boy is 1! In one way it feels like the year flew by and I can’t believe he’s 1 already, but then again it also feels like it went very slowly. Having the postpartum arthritis flare for 6 months did make that part go very slowly-I remember wishing those days away so I could get to the point where it passed (which thank god it did)-but I also used to feel so guilty on those days because I didn’t want to wish any part of Braxton’s 1st year away. Thankfully it passed fully when he was 8 months and I was well enough to start chasing after him by the time he started crawling!

Anyway, his 1st birthday was a very special milestone for us and we wanted to make it special and do as much as we could ourselves. It was very important for us to make all the food organic and dairy free (and mainly sugar free and gluten free too) as that is how we live our lives and we wanted his party to reflect that. We made everything ourselves except for the sandwiches. We were going to make a heap of different salady bits but people love a mini bagel at a tea-party so we kind of felt like we should keep everyone happy so we had those catered!  Everything else is super healthy and homemade with love by Daniel and I.

I wanted to share with you guys all our homemade birthday party ideas as you’ve all been such a great support over the past year. Hope you like all the ideas…

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So, we’re very much into gender neutral stuff for Brax, but we happen to have lots of blue dotted through our house anyway, so it made sense to have a blue theme and we decided to add some yellow to brighten it up. I got 3 paper tablecloths from Tesco which were blue and white polka dot and we covered the table with them. We also bought some paper pompoms from Etsy and hung them above the table

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We decided it would be really special if we made some of our own decorations so we went to Hobbycraft and bought some plain white mache letters. We had some paints at home already so we just painted them in our theme colours and stuck them a bit higgledy-piggledy onto some card then decorated with blue and yellow ribbon. We had some random stickers in my craft drawers and I think we went a bit overboard but we just stuck some animal stickers on there for good measure! (In case anyone is wondering, the sideboard is from Graham & Green!)

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Our other DIY crafts project was to make a timeline of Braxton’s 1st year. We did this by getting coloured card from Hobbycraft and ordering retro prints from Photobox (apart from the last one as we took that on the day of his birthday and only had time to do a quick-print at Boots). We got some number stickers and stuck on the number of months. We hung it up with some twining which we secured at the back with sellotape and bought little pegs (also from Hobbycraft) and used those to hold the pictures up. We painted on the title at the top with acrylic paint and used stencils for the patterns in the corners. (The frame above the sideboard is from a gorgeous little boutique interiors shop in Bushey. It didn’t have mirrors in it but we took it to a mirror shop and had the mirror put in.)

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(Vintage sideboard from Old & New in Camden)

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Organic salted popcorn and organic vegan chocolate buttons in glass jars make for a great healthy twist on the usual marshmallows and sugary sweets. The jars look really old-school and make it more special than just putting everything in bowls. We have had these jars for a while and got them from Country Life Interiors in Bushey, Hertfordshire.

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How cute do these look! Mini milk bottles from BluePonyCo on Etsy with yellow and white paper straws. I filled them with organic grapefruit juice and organic elderflower cordial.

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So what was on the menu?? Well of course I had to make my baby boy an epic death-by-chocolate birthday cake that was also super healthy and although the frosting had some sugar (organic, raw cane), the rest was sugar free and the whole thing was also dairy and gluten free. It was awesome! I also made my vegan, dairy, gluten and sugar free carrot cake cupcakes with a frosting using Natvia icing sugar which could honestly just as easily have been normal sugar it was so yummy. Fruit skewers are always a winner and just make the table look so colourful. I used pineapple, melon, strawberries, black and green grapes and blueberries. I also did blueberry cups instead of cupcakes in the cupcake stand. I also made a fennel, dill and pomegranate salad and had some quinoa chips in bowls. All the cakes used Natvia natural sugar substitute and Biona Coconut Palm Sugar

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We were desperate to do a cake-smash photoshoot after seeing pictures of them on Pinterest so when making the chocolate cake which needed 3 tiers (so 3 cakes of the same size), I just made one extra in a smaller springform cake tin and sprinkled the top of it with sprinkles and put a candle in. Scroll down to see the end result!

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Blueberry cups were a winner. My niece and nephew love fruit so I thought this would make it more fun and it’s just a different take on using cupcake cups. The kids loved them.

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Sorry for the ‘silhouette’ shot! But it shows the banner and teepee that we bought him as his 1st birthday present quite nicely 🙂 Banner from Etsy, Teepee from Mama Portrafi on Etsy

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And here he is… Braxton naked with a chocolate cake! He was actually way too gentle with it and we had to help him bash it up a bit. But once he got that first taste in his mouth he realised how yummy it was! (Amber necklace by Iris Bluebird.)

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I really hope you like all my birthday party ideas. Feel free to share with your friends!

Happy birthday to my baby boy, Braxton ❤

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Why I Choose Not to Vaccinate My Child

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I’d like to say that I’m writing this post after being inundated with requests from people about why I don’t vaccinate, but that’s not the reason. You see, the people around me who have any sort of opinion on our choice not to vaccinate, fall into 4 categories:

1. My fellow natural-parenters, or non-vaxxers (yup, there is a huge community of us! We congregate every week to try to figure out how to destroy modern medicine and the world with our crazy, hair-brained ideas)
2. Acquaintances who reside within the cyber-world of my Facebook news-feed; you know, people you’ve known for years and haven’t seen for longer than you’ve actually known them and who know nothing about you other than what you choose to share on Facebook but who would be offended if you deleted them (sometimes I still do). They never leave nice comments about anything interesting you do, or nice pictures you put up. Sometimes you think that perhaps they’ve ‘unfollowed’ you but oh, no, there they are! You’ve shared a very inoffensive article about vaccinations and they’re right there, within 3 seconds of the post being shared, telling you how silly you are for not realising that the reason you didn’t die of Polio is thanks to these wonderful vaccines. Thank god for these people. I’ll go right away and have the Polio vaccine so that I don’t die.
3. My Actual friends, most of whom do vaccinate their children, but who have enough respect for me to ask questions to understand my reasoning for not vaccinating. They educate themselves on why I do what I do, so that they can get a better understanding for themselves. One of my best friends actually said to me that after all these years of learning about it through me, she kind of agreed that it was right not to vaccinate, but that she didn’t have the time that is required to devote to a child’s natural immunity when not vaccinating. I totally respected her honesty!
4. ‘Friends’ who never ask questions, just talk about me to other people and ask them (not me) questions like, ‘what do you do about having your child around Braxton, isn’t it dangerous because he’s not vaccinated?’ They make unfounded, ill-informed judgments to other people before ever asking me ask a question.

I do believe that every group is aware of the fact that non-vaxxers do hours upon hours upon days upon years more research than the average vaxxer, and for that I hope they can only have respect, even if only a little bit.

The point here is that no one actually asks me to write a post like this, but many people do ask me for information about vaccines and how I came to my decision not to vaccinate.

Now, on to the nitty gritty. In a (rather large) nutshell, here is why I don’t vaccinate:

  • Ingredients – Adjuvants: vaccinations contain adjuvants such as aluminium and mercury that are seriously neuro-toxic,  destroying the central nervous system. This can lead to ‘minor’ disabilities or fatal ones. Aside from neurological damage, the other thing in jeopardy is the immune system. By using toxic vaccinations we prohibit the baby’s immune system from developing naturally and learning how to work properly; that is, how to fight illness itself–which is what it was created to do.
  • Ingredients – Other: I have huge issues, ethically and health-related, with things like monkey kidney cells, aborted human fetal cells, gelatine and egg proteins being injected into our children.
  • Pharmaceutical company and government lies: most childhood diseases are NOT fatal, we have just been told they are. We are so used to believing everything we are told by governments and healthcare professionals that we follow blindly, without questioning. Why don’t we question it?? Leading on from this, the safety and efficacy issues surrounding vaccines due to negligence on the part of these pharmaceutical companies. Who benefits most from these vaccines being administered 48 times by the age of 6?

Now let’s crack that shell wide open…

Ingredients and Adjuvants

Taken from Arjun Walia’s article in Collective Evolution: Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant. Despite almost 90 years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science’s understanding about their mechanisms of action is still remarkably poor. There is also a concerning scarcity of data on toxicology and pharmacokinetics of these compounds. In spite of this, the notion that aluminum in vaccines is safe appears to be widely accepted. Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences

So there we can see that aluminium in vaccinations can result in autoimmune issues IE lupus and rheumatoid arthritis (that explains the huge increase in autoimmune diseases in early childhood); long-term brain inflammation–things like encephalitis–can be caused by vaccines, which can lead to epilepsy in some cases; neurological complications–these can start with ‘minor’ problems such as delayed or impaired speech, developmental issues with fine motor skills and ADHD, to the more severe ones like MS, depression and autism. It can also cause–and has been known to cause–polio,  SIDS, brain tumours, childhood leukemia and many more.

How many of you reading this would feed your child a spoonful of aluminium or mercury willingly? I’m willing to take a bet that not many of you would. Yet when they are hidden in vaccinations people seem more than happy to go along with it and it baffles me. These same parents are opting for organic food options where possible, because of the pesticides in food, yet will happily have these toxins injected into their babies. How brainwashed have we become that we are OK with that?? ‘If they give it to everyone it must be OK,’ is what a HUGE number of people I know have said. NO. It’s not OK. Just like Thalidomide in the 1960s wasn’t OK but they gave it anyway, resulting in thousands of children being born with unthinkable deformities. Science is constantly proving itself wrong by coming up with newer ideas, so how can we ever know that what we are being given now is the safest thing? Where chemicals and toxins are involved, we never can.

I’ve met so many people over the years who say things like, ‘he was talking really well, then all of a sudden just stopped talking,’ or, ‘out of nowhere she developed this allergy,’ or ‘I really don’t know why his behviour is so bad, he used to be fine and it just started all of a sudden’. A lot of young children are being diagnosed with Leukemia these days, more than ever before. We know there is a link between the Vitamin K injection and Leukemia but there is no one telling the parents of these children that there may be a link. These things don’t just come out of thin air–we have to give them the fuel to be triggered. We, as parents, need to start making the connection between these changes in our children’s health and vaccines, because the pharmaceutical companies certainly aren’t going to let us find out themselves, therefore doctors will never know either.

A mother I met at a baby group said to me that after the MMR her son was so ill he was rushed to hospital with what they thought was meningitis and ended up in intensive care for 3 days. I didn’t actually get to the bottom of what was diagnosed. She told me it came on within 24 hours of the vaccine so I asked her what she thought of that. She said, ‘the doctors said that sometimes babies can react to vaccines but it’s likely to be harmless.’ ALARM BELLS!!!!!!!!!!! But apparently alarm bells only for me and not for her. It amazes me that she was that blaze about the fact that her child could have died and she will probably go on to give him the rest of the vaccines in the program.

So why is aluminium used in vaccines? Aluminium gels or salts help the vaccine stimulate a better response. Adjuvants help promote an earlier, more potent response, and more persistent immune response to the vaccine.

The long and short of it is that we know for sure that aluminium does affect brain activity. Here are some of the other ingredients in vaccines:

  • Antibiotics which are added to some vaccines to prevent the growth of germs (bacteria) during production and storage of the vaccine.
  • Egg protein is found in influenza and yellow fever vaccines, which are prepared using chicken eggs.
  • Formaldehyde is used to inactivate bacterial products for toxoid vaccines, (these are vaccines that use an inactive bacterial toxin to produce immunity.) It is also used to kill unwanted viruses and bacteria that might contaminate the vaccine during production. (This is an ingredient that people are looking to avoid with shampoos and soaps, so why would we be ok with it being injected?)
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and 2-phenoxy-ethanol which are used as stabilizers in a few vaccines to help the vaccine remain unchanged when the vaccine is exposed to heat, light, acidity, or humidity.
  • Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative that is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose to prevent contamination and growth of potentially harmful bacteria
  • Monkey kidney cells – see below
  • Human fetal cells yes, cells from aborted human fetuses
  • Pig gelatine

When Dr. Jonas Salk started developing the Polio vaccine, the ingredients he used included the minced up spinal cord from a 9-year-old deceased patient, water, blood, flies, feces, and human cell matter. This mixture was injected into the brains of monkeys, most of which died instantly or became paralyzed. Undaunted, Salk plugged away eventually creating the commercial version of the polio vaccine, developed in part from “the feces of three healthy children in Cleveland.” Ironically this infamous father of the polio vaccine just recently was exposed for his role in illegal experiments on mentally ill patients. While today’s formulations don’t contain feces, they are still derived from live hosts including cows, monkeys, pigs, chicken embryos, and human diploid cell.

Cell matter is extracted from these hosts, combined with toxic chemicals like Thimerosol (mercury), formaldehyde, aluminum hydroxide and a variety of other substances, before being injected into our bodies.

In the end, in 1977, Salk testified with other scientists that 87% of the polio cases which occurred in the US since 1970 were the by-product of the polio vaccine. The Sabin oral polio vaccine (OPV) is the only known cause of polio in the US today. Polio was actually eradicated before this due to improvements in hygiene, sanitation and nutrition once the war was over and good food was more readily available. And Marco Cáceres tells it exactly how it is:

What is conveniently omitted from government information about Polio and its eradication is that the reason the number of polio cases in the U.S. dropped so precipitously following the mass introduction of the Salk vaccine in 1955 was not medical, but rather administrative. Yes it’s true, in 1952 there were 52,879 reported cases of polio in the U.S. And yes, in 1955 the number went down to 28,985, and by 1959 it had dropped to 8,425. But first of all, it’s important to note that the numbers were already declining significantly prior to the initial use of the Salk vaccine. In 1953, there were 35,592 cases of polio in the U.S. So there were other things going on in the U.S. at the time totally unrelated to the Salk vaccine.

More importantly, though, in 1954 the U.S. government simply redefined polio. Yes, the government can do that. It does this kind of stuff occasionally in order to help it meet its public policy objectives when it is unable to actually achieve them. When it comes to government and public policy, the truth is seldom absolute. That’s just the nature of the beast.

So once more, it teaches us the lesson to THINK FOR OURSELVES AND DO OUR OWN RESEARCH.

According to Dr. Bernard Greenberg, head of the Department of Biostatistics of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health:

“In order to qualify for classification as paralytic poliomyelitis, the patient had to exhibit paralytic symptoms for at least 60 days after the onset of the disease. Prior to 1954, the patient had to exhibit paralytic symptoms for only 24 hours. Laboratory confirmation and the presence of residual paralysis were not required. After 1954, residual paralysis was determined 10 to 20 days and again 50 to 70 days after the onset of the disease. This change in definition meant that in 1955 we started reporting a new disease, namely, paralytic poliomyelitis with a longer lasting paralysis.”

As Marco Cáceres said:

“Under the new definition of polio, thousands of cases which would have previously been counted as polio would no longer be counted as polio. The change in the definition laid the groundwork for creating the impression that the Salk vaccine was effective.

Don’t forget, you can AND SHOULD, ask your doctor’s surgery for all vaccine inserts before you agree to them. They have a duty of care to give these to you. You can then read the side-effects and ingredients. This is so important. Once you see it with your own eyes you may feel differently about giving the vaccine.

Natural Immunity

One of the most important reasons I don’t vaccinate is because I believe in natural immunity. We were created with in-built immune systems for a reason, and we need to teach them to work. Our obsession with vaccinating against every single possible illness and our over-use of antibiotics is killing our immune systems. What will eventually happen if we continue this way is that we will go back to how it was when Europeans invaded tribal areas and infected these people with diseases because they had absolutely no immunity to them. We’ve evolved as civilised beings to have immune systems that produce antibodies for all sorts of illnesses. All we have to do is build those immune systems up naturally and with the right attention and we will teach our bodies how to fight these diseases and become stronger for it.

Dr Tetyana Obukhanych, author of the book “Vaccine Illusion” has studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions. She earned her PhD in Immunology at the Rockefeller University in New York and did postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. and Stanford University in California, and this is what she has to say about it:

“The reason I am concerned about such contamination is because I believe that the exposure to yeast, egg, animal, or human proteins in the context of immunogenic (antibody producing) stimuli has the potential to result in sensitization to these proteins or even to break human immunologic tolerance to “self.” The latter is especially relevant to infants, since their immune system is only starting to make the distinction between “self” and “foreign.” Setting this distinction the wrong way from the start, in my view, is likely to pave the road to allergic or autoimmune manifestations.

Immunity is an ancient concept that refers to the observation that many acute infectious diseases occur only once in a person’s life, usually in childhood. The examples of such diseases would be measles, mumps, rubella, or whooping cough, to name a few.

Natural immunity is, in a way, a tautological expression because immunity can only be acquired naturally at this point, only through the exposure to an infected individual, although occasionally such exposure would go asymptomatic while still establishing immunity. Nevertheless, because there is a common misconception that vaccines also confer immunity, it is sometimes necessary to use a qualifier “natural,” when referring to immunity, to distinguish it from vaccine-based protection.

For live attenuated viral vaccines against communicable diseases, we can expect a very short-term protection (3-5 years). This estimate is indirect and comes from the statistical analysis of vaccination timing relative to the disease occurrence in vaccinated individuals. This is the only empirical evidence we have for the average duration of protection for certain vaccines.

There are other vaccines (e.g. for non-contagious toxin-mediated diseases, such as tetanus or viral diseases spread through animal bites, such as rabies) or even vaccines like Hepatitis B and Gardasil®, where an empirical estimate of the protection duration cannot be made at all, because we simply lack scientifically meaningful data to make such an estimate.”

What she is basically saying is that other than the illnesses we mentioned above, even most common allergies are down to vaccines, that a new immune system (that of an infant) needs to build natural immunity to common illnesses, that the science behind vaccines isn’t conclusive at all, and that even if they do slightly protect against some illnesses, they do it for a maximum of 5 years. The cons definitely outweigh the pros.

Now, if vaccines are safe for our immune systems, why can’t we give them to children who are immunocompromised?

There are, however, things you can do to keep your child’s immune system strong and protected. These are:

  • Breastfeed. Breastmilk provides the only sort of antibodies that can protect against disease because they are specifically tailored to your baby
  • Don’t vaccinate. Ironically, by introducing toxic vaccinations into your baby’s body, you are prohibiting their immune system from working properly. Many cases of bacterial meningitis happen after vaccinations
  • Organic diet. Every single thing we eat that is not organic contains chemicals. The more chemicals we consume, the weaker our immune systems become and the less likely we are to be able to fight disease effectively. A fully organic diet free of pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones and steroids, along with immune boosting superfoods, purified water, heaps of vegetables and freshly cooked food, daily, will contribute to strong immune health.
  • Limited use of antibiotics and paracetamol. Antibiotics kill off all the good bacteria in the gut (in the same way that dairy does) and, like vaccines, teach the immune system how NOT to work. By nursing children supportively through illness, the immune system is left to figure out how to work and it becomes stronger. Of course, there are times when antibiotics are needed, but as a whole, we do not need to be giving them to our children for every infection. The same goes for infant paracetamol–we must allow the body to have fevers without suppressing them. Dr Jayne Donegan has a wonderful booklet about nursing children supportively through illness. You can download it here
  • Cut out dairy, it just kills the immune system. You can read more about that on my post about dairy here
  • Educate yourself. Learn how to spot the signs of each childhood illness, educate yourself about each one and nurse the child through it supportively, with homeopathy, nutrition, breastmilk (where possible) and loving care.

 

Big Pharma and Government Lies

Many “scientific” studies are literally nonsense. This is not a conspiracy theory. For example, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper not long ago showing that one-third of “highly cited original clinical research studies” were eventually contradicted by subsequent studies, but we don’t see the subsequent studies, we only see the original ones they want us to see. The supposed effects of specific interventions either did not exist as the original studies concluded or were exaggerated.

Similarly, pharmaceutical company whistle-blowing has become a much more regular occurrence; we have now seen dozens of cases where employees of these companies have come out saying that they were made to ‘modify’ clinical trials to work in favour of the vaccination or drug in question, or that the research showed either lack of safety or inefficacy from these vaccinations (or both) but that the vaccine went ahead to be sold anyway. This leaves the question: how can we trust the term ‘clinical trial’ anymore? If we know some of these trials have been modified illegally to work in favour of the pharmaceutical company manufacturing them, how can we trust that any of them are effective or safe?

The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program wouldn’t have needed to be set up if there was no such thing as vaccine injury. What’s worse is that many of the cases that have gone to court have been hidden away from us, but after much research, you can see that billions of dollars have been awarded from pharmaceutical companies to families of vaccine injured children.

Why was Vaxxed withdrawn from Tribeca? Why was its director, Andrew Wakefield, struck off after trying to do enough research to expose the truth on the MMR? Why have hundreds more physicians been struck off for the same reason? Why does the anti-vaccination movement exist at all? We have nothing whatsoever to gain out of it, unlike Big Pharma.

These huge conglomerates work alongside the government to ensure swift sales. I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist, but perhaps conspiracies were born for a reason. If you think I sound a bit loopy, I highly recommend you read Deadly Medicine and Organised Crime, by Peter C Gotzsche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s leading medical research institute. You may think I’m loopy, but this guy literally cannot be discredited.

Even if you don’t want to look at the science, we must ask ourselves: what about all the parents speaking out about their vaccine-injured children. There are thousands of them, people who talk about their child changing overnight. Just search the internet and you’ll see how many of them there are. Surely we cannot help but be drawn in by these tragic and deeply personal accounts from real parents about their children.

Non ‘Essential’ Vaccines

I am very quickly going to touch on the nasal flu vaccine here because it is a hot topic at the moment and so many people have approached me about it.

Firstly, I do understand why mums who haven’t got any background on this ask their friends if they are giving it to their kids but guys, this is our children’s health we are talking about. It worries me how many people I’ve seen on Facebook saying ‘Who is giving the nasal flu spray? Not sure if I should or not’, then loads of fellow mums commenting saying things like, ‘We gave it and she’s fine’, or ‘We do it every year, all fine here!’  Just because someone replies that thier kids are ‘fine’ doesn’t mean anything. They’re not giving you info about the ingredients, the long term side effects, and all the other background info like pharmaceutical company benefits. All vaccines contain toxins, are they aware of this when they say things like ‘it’s only a little spray up the nose’? The nasal spray flu vaccine is not a ‘simply spray up the nose’ It’s worrying that because it isn’t in injection form people think it’s harmless. If anything it’s even worse than the flu vaccine injection because it contains the live, attenuated virus which means that when your child has it, they shed it to everyone around them for 2 week afterwards. What would happen if that child was around a child with cancer, shedding a synthetic form of flu? The synthetic versions enter the bloodstream not the cells so you don’t get full immunity like you do when you contract an illness naturally where it goes into the bloodstream AND the cells. Children’s immune systems THRIVE from being able to process illnesses naturally (that is, without medicines to bring down fever).

Another important thing to mention is that schools have not taken any measures to care for children who suffer from any of the side effects–serious or less serious. No measures have been taken to deal with any aftermath. Simply put, there is nowhere near enough science behind this. Immunocompromised children and adults will be harmed more by the artificial virus and the adjuvants within it that shed than if they were to come into contact with the natural virus. This is something we should all be declining and honestly, we should be calling for a boycott. Why should those of us who choose not to give it because we know of the potential side effects, end up with our children sick and compromised because of something that, quite frankly, has not had even a fraction of the research it should have. Lastly, schools get points from OFSTED when they do it and get the title of ‘healthy school’. Excellent. So once more it’s about points and money rather than the health of OUR CHILDREN.

Long and short? Let’s not make decisions based on what our friends do. We must do the research!

And just to pick up on what I said earlier about people advising their friends to give vaccines because their kids are ‘fine’, let’s think about what ‘fine’ actually means. Just because the child doesn’t have autism or another illness that people do, rightly or wrongly, associate with vaccines, doesn’t mean it hasn’t harmed them. Unless children have no behaviour or developmental issues, have strong immune systems, no allergies, no autoimmune conditions or other chronic illnesses and no stomach problems, then they are not fine. Even then, how do we know what will come later? We have no idea what goes on inside the body that builds up over time. We should not be advising other parents simply based on our child being ‘fine’.

Summary

I could go on for a lot longer but I don’t want this post to scare people off because of its length, so to summarise, vaccinations seem to be causing more harm than good. We are fully able to encourage the maturation of our children’s immune systems with the right lifestyle, we just have to be dedicated to that lifestyle. Our modern amenities also ensure perfect conditions for being able to treat illness naturally and effectively, something they weren’t able to do years ago, before improvements in hygiene, sanitation and access to all sorts of organic food options, which ensure improved nutrition.

We have to understand that illnesses don’t just come from nowhere; like fire, they need fuel. If your child has a slew of allergies, or even one random one, or behaviour problems, delayed development, or even an autoimmune disease, despite what the medical institution would have us believe, these aren’t just born out of thin air, they are triggered–there is always a root cause.

My belief is that yes, we are all genetically predisposed to all sorts of illnesses, but with the right care and attention, and by not fueling those dormant illnesses, we need not ever awaken them, even cancer. I was genetically predisposed to autoimmune issues because of the gene mutation MTHFR (you can read about that here), so how was my already compromised immune system (that we had no idea was compromised at the time) to survive such a brutal attack? It didn’t, my arthritis was triggered by a vaccine at 18 months.  We are seeing such a huge increase in childhood leukemia, ADHD, autism and brain swelling, alongside all these autoimmune diseases, it can’t possibly be a coincidence.

Of course I understand why people vaccinate–why would we not just do what we’ve always been taught will keep us healthy? My own parents did it, but if you ask my mum now she will tell you that she wishes she had had the information at her fingertips that we have now and she would never have vaccinated me and indeed my whole family are supportive of our decision not to vaccinate Braxton. This information IS at our fingertips now so we must utilise it.

I urge you to do your research before vaccinating. You may still be too scared not to vaccinate, but we owe it to our children, especially in the age of information, to research as much as we can instead of blindly following what we are told to do just because we know no other way.

I hope this post helps in some small way.

Because I am often ridiculed, have abuse hurled at me, and am told I am crazy, I will end with this, to remind people that sometimes things aren’t always as they seem, and most times, the people behind things like vaccinations are the ones who know all about the truth. It’s now up to us as humans to realise that we are not sheep and we do not have to follow in a herd. Personally, I have never been happier than now, when I am finally OK with being the wild horse in the herd of sheep:

“The tendency of a mass vaccination program is to herd people. People are not cattle or sheep. They should not be herded. A mass vaccination program carries a built-in temptation to oversimplify the problem; to exaggerate the benefits; to minimize or completely ignore the hazards; to discourage or silence scholarly, thoughtful and cautious opposition; to create an urgency where none exists; to whip up an enthusiasm among citizens that can carry with it the seeds of impatience, if not intolerance; to extend the concept of the police power of the state in quarantine far beyond its proper limitation; to assume simplicity when there is actually great complexity; to continue to support a vaccine long after it has been discredited;… to ridicule honest and informed consent.1”

1) Statement from Clinton R. Miller, Intensive Immunization Programs, May 15th and 16th, 1962. Hearings before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce House of Representatives, 87th congress, second session on H.R. 10541.

Love & health,
Lauren

References:
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/02/15/the-top-6-reasons-why-parents-are-choosing-not-to-vaccinate-their-kids/
https://www.mercola.com/article/vaccines/neurological_damage.htm
http://www.naturalnews.com/033834_vaccines_ingredients.html
http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2012/06/13/interview-with-phd-immunologist-dr-tetyana-obukhanych-by-catherine-frompovich/

http://www.thevaccinereaction.org/2015/07/polio-wasnt-vanquished-it-was-redefined/

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor or healthcare professional. This blog post is intended solely to express my own views and decisions about vaccinations after many years of research. You should always do your own research before making healthcare decisions.

Veggie Steady Cook

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Hare Krishna!

I was asked by a dear friend if I’d like to be involved in Veggie Steady Cook, a fun vegetarian cooking demonstration in one of the tents for the Janmashtami festival (Krishna’s birthday) at the Hare Krishna Manor in Watford.

I spend a lot of time at the manor, and over the past 4 years have been learning about the culture, taking yoga there and making some amazing friends who have taught me how to be a better person through learning about Krishna Consciousness.

When Braxton was born, the wonderful president of the manor, Srutidharma Das, kindly offered to do a ceremony for the baby, and it was wonderful. Braxton seemed very happy and content there – probably because he was so used to hearing the chanting from all the chanting I did during pregnancy and labour. I grew up in a Jewish home, so at first it seemed a little counter-intuitive, but I do believe that we all come from the same God, regardless of the title we give this God, and chanting just makes one feel that little bit closer to God, to Love, to the enlightenment we all crave. It is a form of meditation that almost transcends you to somewhere else, and I have never taken part in a kirtan where I didn’t leave feeling better than I did when I started. Titles don’t really matter to me; what matters is that I continue to grow, to evolve, to learn, to become a better human being. The friends I have met through the Hare Krishna Movement have taught me about this and I continue to embrace anything that makes me a better person. Even my husband embraced it and it has become a big part of our lives. I highly recommend reading Radhanath Swami’s book – The Journey Home – a story about how a young Jewish boy growing up during the counterculture in 1960s Chicago, became the head of the Hare Krishna movement and one of the most respected spiritual figures in the world.

So, when I was asked to help out at Janmashtami I was really excited. We honestly had the best day creating some incredible vegetarian dishes and we had a little cookbook made out of all our 37 recipes. There are still some available if you are interested!

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Please join the Veggie Steady Cook Facebook page for more info and to hear about all our recipes.

Here is a video of me doing one of the shows

Here are some pictures from the day…

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Love & health,
Lauren

 

PARENTHOOD: THE BATTLE WITHIN – THE THINGS I SAID I’D DO VS THE THINGS I ACTUALLY DID

 

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I had an idea of the kind of parent I wanted to be long before getting pregnant. In fact, when it came to certain aspects of parenting, my mind was quite made up. I felt that my years of research about health and diet, and my subsequent remission from rheumatoid arthritis, had led me to look into things that most women don’t need to look into until motherhood approaches so I felt fairly confident that I had accumulated enough information by the time my baby was due to confidently make those decisions.

The most annoying thing that happened, however, was the condescending comments from friends who already had kids; ‘Oh, just you wait,’ they’d say, ‘you’ll change your mind once your baby arrives. It never happens how you think it will.’ Or something equally derisive. It really riled me up, and it happened a lot; about my hopes for a natural birth, my desire to breastfeed and my excitement at after all these years of running a health-food blog, finally being able to nourish another human being fully and totally. Were they right though? Would I change my mind when I was exhausted beyond measure, covered in sick and hadn’t showered for three days? Would I give up on breastfeeding because my body was battered and bruised from the birth and I needed someone else to take over? Would I give into an epidural because the pain was beyond anything I’d ever imagined? Would I offer ready-made microwave meals because I was sick of my expensive, organic, freshly prepared meals being chucked over the kitchen walls and wasted? I knew motherhood was going to be a challenge, but I also believed that if I’d made a decision based on health, there was a 99% chance I would stick to what I said I’d do because I’d spent enough years learning about the power of natural healing.

But not every parenting decision is based on health so here we are, ten months down the line, and of course there are things I’ve done that I said I wouldn’t. So I wanted to make a brutally honest list of all the things I swore I’d never do before I was a parent and see how it compares eight months on. ‘Brutally honest’ might not mean me guiltily admitting to all the things I didn’t keep to, it could be me proudly – yet with a degree of uneasiness (because of people’s reactions) – declaring the things I persevered with. But this is by no means a judgement on anyone else, it is simply an account of my first ten months of parenthood; the hardships and the happy times, the fear and the guilt, the exhaustion and frustration and the overwhelming, all-consuming, enduring feelings of love.

Let’s start from the beginning:

  1. Pregnancy

What I said I’d do:

Eat as healthily as possible, no fizzy drinks, no caffeine, plenty of exercise, embrace my changing body.

What I actually did:

I ate totally organic, apart from when we ate out, had no fizzy drinks or artificial sweeteners, one chai tea latte in nine months (God how I missed Starbucks) and minimal gluten, dairy and sugar. I started off exercising then had a bleed due to a low lying placenta and got put on bed rest, so God had other ideas – but the intention was there! (I won’t lie, being ‘forced’ to lie around reading, writing and watching boxsets was pretty awesome.) I spent £50 on the best prenatal supplements on the market that were suitable for the gene mutation I found out I had which inhibits the body’s ability to process folate, and I also took probiotics, Vitamin B12, iron and Vitamin C.

In terms of my changing body, I loved being pregnant. It was the first time in my life that I truly loved my body. I loved it for all it had achieved and all it was doing to keep my baby alive. I adored my bump and miss it now. I did embrace my pregnant body because I appreciated the miracle it was. My post-pregnant body, however, well, that takes some work to embrace!

 

  1. Labour

What I said I’d do

Before ever hearing of hypnobirthing I always knew I wanted to give birth in as natural a way as possible. Even as a teenager I dreamt about the day I would birth my baby, and in these daydreams the process was a calm, tranquil experience. When I once voiced the desire for a natural birth to someone I would consider, at best, an acquaintance, during a group discussion about childbirth, her response was: ‘why the hell would you do that? Do you think you’re going to get a medal at the end? Why put yourself through the pain if you don’t have to? Don’t be a martyr.’ Was it because she’d already had two children and opted for an epidural that made her say it? That perhaps if I managed to do what she didn’t want to even try it would prove that it wasn’t impossible? I’m not sure. But what I do know is that she was not the first person to have a reaction like this and when I finally got pregnant and went on the hypnobirthing course, I learnt that decades, if not centuries, of scaremongering has led people to view birth in this way. Learning about how the female body is built to give birth, how as women we are intrinsically wired to be able to get through it, about how, before doctors were present at births women supported other women by encouraging them to move around, stay upright and breathe, no matter how long it went on for, strengthened my belief in my body even more.

The day the course finished my husband told me that he was always going to support whichever method of birthing I wished to adopt but he never actually believed I’d be able to do it and assumed I’d resort to the epidural when things got tough but he now understood how brainwashed we all are by society, doctors and the media about how agonising and traumatic childbirth is and he now totally believed we could do this, as a team, and not only were we going to do this, but we were going to make sure it was the most amazing experience of our lives. We were going to bring our baby into this world in as calm a way as possible. And no, not because I thought I was a martyr but because I believed it was what was best for me and my baby.

What I actually did

I hypnobirthed my way through twenty-four hours of labour without pain-relief and I gave birth to my beautiful boy in the birthing pool and lifted him up to my chest myself. I didn’t scream and I didn’t swear. Was it the hardest thing I ever did? Of course. Was it worth it? Without a doubt.

I’m not saying it in this brusque way for acknowledgement or praise, nor is this a judgement on anyone who chose another method of childbirth. I’m simply highlighting the fact our mindsets without a doubt determine our capabilities. If I had said, ‘I’ll get as far as I can without an epidural but if it’s too hard I might have it,’ then I would have had it; of course it’s going to get hard – it’s childbirth! It just wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to feel it. I wanted to experience what my body was capable of doing and I wanted it to be a non-traumatic experience. But still, people didn’t accept that I’d done this myself. I’ve had people say, ‘you’re so lucky you had a good birth.’ I’m sorry, but it wasn’t luck. Doesn’t that take away from all the work I put into preparing myself? People had advised me to just get the Hypnobirthing CDs and book and that would do that trick, but I didn’t, I went full-throttle and did the course. I read book after book about natural childbirth, childbirth without fear, the history of the fear of childbirth. After the hypnobirthing course, I did the daily hypnosis and meditations and my husband and I practiced the affirmations and massage techniques every night and, when the time came, I stayed calm – a feat in itself! – and breathed my way through it. I had learnt that staying calm would ensure the labour didn’t regress so it was a conscious effort, I certainly wasn’t staying calm because it was easy, or not painful. I made a conscious effort to not scream or swear, to breathe deeply, to visualise my baby coming into the world calmly. My husband had learnt how to take control of the situation, how to care for me while we laboured at home, the right things to say to the midwives to keep the experience in the birthing centre as calm as it had been at home. It wasn’t luck, it was a choice and I find it almost offensive when people try to take away from the effort I put in. There are of course situations where women end up having to have emergency cesarean sections or other interventions, it could happen to any of us, but I truly feel that my efforts contributed to the natural birth I ended up having.

 

  1. Breastfeeding

What I said I’d do

I wanted nothing more than to breastfeed my baby. My journey to remission from autoimmune arthritis taught me how dangerous cow’s dairy can be for the immune system (and immune problems are what lead to autoimmune diseases) so I didn’t want him on cow’s milk-based formulas. My research had also taught me how important breastfeeding was to ensure that he got as much immune boosting goodness and antibodies as was humanly possible. This would also help prevent him from ever getting JRA himself. That was all well and good, but I’d always had the world’s most sensitive nipples and I although I knew I had to breastfeed, I honestly didn’t know how I would get over the nipple thing. But just like with the birth I knew it would come down to mindset. Everyone told me I wouldn’t be able to do it but I just had to keep telling myself that despite how hard it would be, I would just have to persevere, there would be no other choice. I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which taught me not only about the importance of breast milk in the early days, and the innumerable other benefits of breastfeeding, but also about all the obstacles I could potentially face and how to overcome them. This was key as it prepared me for things I may not have otherwise known about and what I have since learnt from friends who chose not to continue breastfeeding, was that it was due to lack of support and preparation. If you are aware of the obstacles you are likely to face, like how to deal with mastitis, low supply, sore nipples, blisters and tongue tie, along with solutions, you are more likely to continue. In my mind I had prepared for it to be ‘work’, just like childbirth, and I had made a decision to persevere no matter what.

What I actually did

This is such a controversial one, and I don’t want this to seem like a list of all the things I soldiered my way through (trust me, there are things I gave into later on in the list!), but a bit like with childbirth, I found people getting very defensive about breastfeeding. They didn’t do it so kept going on about how ‘lucky’ I was that I ‘could’ do it and they’d proceed to tell me why they couldn’t. Brace yourself for another brutally honest and perhaps provocative statement: the obstacles I faced with breastfeeding were far worse than those of any of my friends who told me they ‘couldn’t’ breastfeed.

I got mastitis twice, my nipples bled, cracked and got blisters, Braxton had tongue-tie and couldn’t latch, and I found it excruciatingly painful. I remember the first few days not just because of that unbearable pain, but because of that insufferable feeling of hypersensitivity when he was feeding that resulted in me making the most stupid faces and moving my limbs around in frenetic hysteria that somehow needed to be controlled so the baby wouldn’t feel it. I sometimes think that the first few weeks of breastfeeding were harder for me than twenty-four hours in labour. And then the cherry on the cake…The postpartum hormones had caused a flare up in the arthritis that had been in remission for years, so by the time Braxton was eight weeks old, I could barely walk and some days, even holding him was a struggle.

Everyone, including my husband, my mum and my mother-in-law told me to stop breastfeeding. ‘Happy mummy happy baby,’ they’d all say. Well I’m afraid I don’t agree, and I actually hate that statement. We make a choice to have a baby and although we have to look after ourselves, the baby should be the priority. You know what makes a happy baby? When he grows up without arthritis. So I continued. The mastitis passed and I learnt how to avoid it in the future. We had his tongue-tie cut and after a (long) while, he eventually learnt how to latch. The nipples grew tougher and therefore were less sensitive and eventually it became second nature. It wasn’t easy during the four months of arthritis flare from the ages of two to six months, but then again, would preparing bottles have been any easier? I think it may have been more hassle when I think about it. He’s now ten months old, on only two or three feeds a day and I am so happy I chose to continue and unlike with the birth, of which people’s views don’t bother me, I do wish more people would acknowledge that I really struggled with breastfeeding, in every way possible, and so yes, I did put my baby before myself and I would appreciate people’s understanding and support and to know that the fact that I breastfed isn’t a judgement on the fact that they didn’t, but it would be nice for them to say, ‘well done!’

 

  1. Calpol

What I said I’d do

I had learnt about the importance of fevers in children and knew that bringing down a fever with paracetamol would inhibit the body’s ability to process the virus. I was shocked when learning about this, as all my life I’ve been taught that if you have a fever you must bring it down. No wonder we have so many suppressed toxins in us. I made my way through pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding issues with my homeopathic home kits so I knew I’d have to treat my baby with it too.

 

What I actually did

It’s all well and good when it’s yourself but when your baby is screaming in discomfort you feel so helpless that you’d do just about anything for them at which point you have an internal battle with yourself about getting him through it right now versus what is best for him long-term. He got chicken pox at four months which, although really bad, I was able to treat with homeopathy, oat baths, breast milk and lots of skin on skin, but at five months we both got a chest infection which, with me, led to pneumonia as my immune system was so low from the flare up.

I felt worse than I’d ever felt before in my life with a raging fever that had me shaking violently, with unbearable muscle aches and pains in my chest that made it feel as though I couldn’t breathe. If I felt this bad how must he feel? I wondered. He looked so tiny and helpless and our usually happy, content little boy was miserable. I somehow had to keep feeding him through my shakes which was the hardest part as I felt absolutely dreadful but he only seemed to calm down himself when he was feeding. So I just tried to feed through it and finally understood the term ‘the strength of a mother’, and kept repeating this phrase to myself over and over. I knew that bringing down his fever would be the worst thing for him long-term so I somehow managed to hold off on the Calpol but once his fever had passed I gave him some Calpol to ease his discomfort. I’ve now given it three times in his ten months, which is three times more than I wanted to, but I still haven’t given it for a fever and still strongly believe that this is what is best for his immune system. I actually haven’t given it to him since he was 7 months and we have managed to treat his teething naturally.

 

  1. T.V.

What I said I’d do

I assumed I’d let him watch a minimal amount of carefully chosen television programs, but that mostly, if the TV was on, it would be with DVDs or nursery rhymes or other such things or if he was eating in the kitchen I’d put my favourite radio station on.

What I actually did

He’s pretty much in front of the TV every time I need to do something. When I get showered every morning he’s crawling round my bedroom floor watching telly, when I am preparing his food and he sits getting impatient in his highchair the TV goes on – as you can imagine he’s not overly enthusiastic about listening to the latest podcast of Desert Island Discs – and when I leave him to play in the playroom I put his DVDs on. Suffice it to say he watches way more TV than I thought he would. Do I feel it’s a problem? No. We go to music classes and playgroups at least twice a week, we socialise with other friends with children and I play with him and read to him a lot. Hopefully he’ll survive this major parenting faux-pas!

 

  1. Using My Phone While Feeding

What I said I’d do

I really didn’t want to use my phone around him. Firstly, because I can’t imagine that wifi is very healthy for young bodies when exposed to it constantly, but also because even though I have grown up in this age of communication, I cannot bear when you are talking to someone and they are looking at their phone. And no, husband, I don’t care if you were already on your phone before I started talking to you!

Anyway, I didn’t want Braxton seeing me on my phone all the time. I wanted to connect with him and watch him while he was feeding, or playing, and use my phone only when he was asleep.

What I actually did

Why doesn’t anyone tell you just how many hours a day you will be feeding for during those first few months?? I would literally sit on the couch all day with him resting on a pillow while he intermittently fed and slept. If this went on all day, when else was I supposed to get back to emails and messages? So I would have him lying in one arm and type with the other. I did try to keep it as far away from his head as possible.

A few months passed and I promised myself that when he was old enough to actually know what I was doing and start to look at the phone and acknowledge what it was, I’d stop. But that time has come and gone and I’m afraid I still use my phone around him. My husband leaves the house for work at 5.30am and gets back at 7pm, which means it’s just me and Braxton together all the livelong day, and you know what? Some days, he decides he doesn’t want to nap, or to play on his own, or to even give me a single, solitary moment of peace, even in the toilet, so therefore I have resorted to using my phone around him, lest I’ll never get back to anyone. I’m sure there are mums out there who put their phones away until the baby really isn’t around, but, alas, I am not one of them. Shoot me now.

 

  1. Not Vaccinating

I said I wouldn’t vaccinate, and haven’t given one single vaccination and never will, but that is a whole other article – which I promise I’ll write soon!

 

  1. Judging people’s parenting choices

I guess, if I’m being totally honest, like everyone else, I was a bit more judgmental before having a baby; why is she giving her child an iPad at the table, don’t give him Calpol again, sending to nursery versus not sending to nursery, friends who didn’t breastfeed for a millisecond versus friends who are still breastfeeding at five years old, friends who cook everything from scratch versus friends who can barely navigate themselves around their kitchen. But we’ve all done it, haven’t we?

Motherhood is the most exhilarating thing you will ever do; it fills you with sensations of love you could never even begin to understand before having a baby, but it is also harder than you could possibly imagine and if it has taught me one thing it is that everyone is trying to muddle through the best they can. Everyone loves their children as much as everyone else and all we want is the best for them. We may not always be doing the best, but we try. Yes, I still believe that if we make a decision to bring a child into this world, there are sacrifices we need to make and we should try hard to do things that we know will benefit them, even if it is difficult for us, but on the whole, let’s stop the judgment and support each other through this remarkable, exhausting, laborious yet extraordinary journey we call motherhood. Whether or not we agree with someone’s approach, let’s end the bitchiness and judgements and empower one another through this odyssey of uncertainty, instead of pushing each other down. If we are mothers to our babies, we are sisters to each other, and sisters may argue, but in the end they would kill for each other. So let’s get together with our mummy friends, despite how different we may do things, and have a glass of wine together. After all, none of us ever said we’d stop drinking!

Love & health,
Lauren