Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Love Vessel

Today's Cuppa: calming chamomile

I was out amongst The Muggles today…and found myself desperately holding back tears as I witnessed a vicious attack. Unfortunately, it was one of those attacks where cultural taboos prevented me from stepping in, something I now regret.

Standing in the queue of Penrith Post Office, I watched a man go ballistic at his son when he discovered he hadn't brought money to pay for a parcel they were sending. It turned out the father didn't have any cash on him either. He *could* have apologised to the teller and said, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience, can you hold this parcel till we go and get my wallet?" Instead, he emotionally (and mentally and spiritually) pummelled his teenage son to the ground. That *we* can do this to those we love the most is mind-numbing. A bonded parent would have found other (harmless) ways to express frustration. To have inflicted such psychic violence and torture on this boy in public, leaves me questioning how he behaves when he's not on best behaviour in front of twenty plus witnesses. I have had similar feelings watching twenty stone men raising their body against tiny toddlers in supermarkets saying "You just wait till we get home!"

I was energetically shattered by witnessing this attack, in much the same way as when I've seen CCTV footage of brutal physical beatings on tv.

A short time later I was in another building when a man in his fifties started his tirade. When his wife asked if he'd finished the shopping, he loudly and rudely said "If you stopped minding everyone else's business and got your fat arse over here, we'd have had the shopping done."

Mantra-like, I chimed in the four walls of my mental prison ~ "It's none of your business, Veronika! It's none of your business, Veronika! It's none of your business, Veronika! It's none of your business, Veronika!"

Holes formed in my tongue as I forced myself away from them. I'd have liked to ask the man, gently of course, if he had any idea of how nasty and vulgar his tone was to her ~ the love of his life. Was it necessary to speak to her like that? And to ask her, "WHY do you allow him to speak to you like that?"

Where is the love? Where is the LOVE??????? Don't you know, can't you FEEL, that violence only breeds more violence?

Look into each other's eyes. You're not enemies. You're connected by Divine Thread. To hurt each other, is to hurt your self. Why would you inflict such pain on yourself?

This hostility is so alien to me that when I witness such scenes I beg the gods to transport me back to my own planet. "Please, have mercy!"

I'm no saint by any means, and live an imperfect life, but the widespread dysfunction which exists in our society is truly frightening. All the ideas I want to instil into the mass consciousness about love, bonding and optimal parenting, are simply foreign tongue to the masses.

I would never stay in a relationship in which I was treated with anything less than respect and love.

Back home now, in my humble Love Shack, I can breathe again. Drawbridge hoisted up firmly, I reflect on a species so far out of touch with the good and brilliant within them. What a waste.

Creating a space of love must start with our self. When we're able to love and respect every aspect of our being it becomes impossible for another to enter that space in an attitude of anything less than reverence, love, gratitude, humour (not sarcasm) and harmony.

Really simple science = we're mostly made of water, a vibrational, magnetic substance. Fill your inner vessel with peace and purity and you simply must attract the same back into your life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Empowered Mothering

Today's Cuppa: Pure, living water (aka breast milk direct from source)

We are at our most empowered, as mothers, when we do not rely on modern technology to fulfil our role. This has been brought home to me many times this week when observing and listening to the many people caught up in the flooding of central and southern England. There are countless babies at the mercy of other people who are bringing in clean water so parents can make up counterfeit milk.

My heart absolutely goes out to everyone devastated by these floods…as much as to the 200 people who died in floods in China this week, and the 500 who've died in the Hungarian heat wave.

It does remind me, though, just how far removed we are from our natural mothering instincts that young babies aren't even drinking from their mother ~ someone who could offer them 'living water' on tap regardless of external influences.

We think we can replace breast milk with something as inadequate as a static 'formula'. We even have the cheek to call it 'milk', as if we were offering our babies the elixir of life! Collectively, we have allowed our culture to hypnotise us into thinking breastfeeding is an embarrassment, something reserved for primitives.

Hygeia Halfmoon, author of Primal mothering in a modern world, recalls being evacuated in Hawaii after a natural disaster ( I can't recall if it was an earthquake or erupting volcano) and sitting in a large centre with all the evacuees. All the babies were screaming from hunger as there was no access to formula or fresh water. She was the only one breastfeeding. Can you imagine how heartbreaking it would be to know you could feed a number of other children from your breasts, had they not lost their sucking reflex by being introduced to bottle-feeding?

Empowered mothering doesn't rely on man-made products, be they drink, food, sleeping prisons, monitors, bottles and so on. Your body, mind and heart contain everything needed to parent beautifully and with integrity for the reciprocal bonding of mother and child.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Unassisted birth observational documentary for Granada TV

To follow is an invite from Granada TV.

Here in the UK there is a growing interest in Freebirthing and I am presently working on an observational documentary for Granada TV on the growing movement in the UK and how women are increasingly choosing to have a more natural birth for their child.

I would love to speak with women who are planning an unassisted birth for their baby and who are passionate about their reasons and their right to choose. If this is you I would really appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about your experience and future plans.

To reassure you it will be a positive and informative documentary that hopefully will answer questions about this type of childbirth. We are interested to know if you had a bad experience in hospital that has lead you to this decision?

Your identity would be protected if this is something you would require and I would like to reassure any expectant mothers that we will not intrude on your labour with a film crew - there are ways we can capture the birth without the need for other people.

I can be contacted by email on or telephone 0207 261 3806 so please do get in touch as your involvement is important to us.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Breastfeeding myths

Bethany in Forest Row last weekend.

Today's Cuppa: Ginger and orange tea

I mentioned in my last blog entry the constant tug of war within me ~ isolating myself from society, or being very much part of it and educating others.

One topic which certainly has the old tug of war rope chaffing my stretch-marked belly is that of breastfeeding. I've endured a lot of flak in the past year and a half over appearing in the Extraordinary Breastfeeding documentary. Unfortunately, the programme did very little to educate the ignorant masses who still see feeding our infants and children as something optional or even unnecessary, if not downright disgusting ~ something akin to urinating in public. The mind boggles. Clearly some people really can't tell the difference between a living food and a bodily waste product.

Those people aside, one of my biggest frustrations is related to people who work in the parenting field who perpetuate myths.

The biggest ones are:

1.) It's normal for breastfeeding to hurt ~ expect sore nipples

Nipple pain is either caused by an infection (such as thrush or herpes) or, most commonly, by incorrect latch-on. It's important for all mothers to know that nipple pain is completely avoidable, and not a 'normal' part of breastfeeding, and that the first sign of discomfort for any mother is a warning bell that her baby isn't latched-on properly.

Nipple pain is never a matter of bad luck,
but to do with breastfeeding mismanagement.

In order to increase breastfeeding rates, we have to ensure women are given correct information so they can avoid discomfort, and enjoy breastfeeding for the pleasurable experience it was designed to be.

We would see a tripling of breastfeeding rates (according to the British Medical Journal) if women gathered in breastfeeding groups to learn about breastfeeding. A sad consequence of our nuclear family society is that most women don't get to witness breastfeeding until they have their own baby. How tragic, given it is something so fundamental to the survival of the human species. Breastfeeding has become a dying art. Without breastfeeding, humanity as a species will deteriorate, and then die out.

2.) Bottlefeeding allows dad to bond with baby ~ so get expressing.

Breast milk was never meant to see the light of day, and we do the baby, mother and the father a disservice to suggest bottle-feeding as a way of bonding. Our aim as parents should be to raise our children optimally, not to compromise them in any way. Bottle-feeding is a massive compromise and should be reserved for emergencies, not used as a lifestyle choice.

When a father feels 'left out' by the breastfeeding experience, this is to do with subconscious memories of his own feeding experience in infancy.
Had his needs been fully met in infancy and childhood, there'd be no reason for him to feel left out as a parent.

3.) Babies need iron by six months of age

I've just read a 'natural' parenting magazine which allowed the iron myth to be published…again undermining successful, exclusive breastfeeding beyond the six month age.

There are so many studies which prove that a breastfed baby has plenty of access to adequate iron in breast milk (regardless of the mother's iron status!). The confusion and misinformation regarding infants and iron has been taken from formula fed babies' tendency towards anaemia, and reliance on synthetic iron. The vitamin c in breast milk allows the iron in it to be utilised by the baby.

If you are seriously concerned about your baby's iron levels, then keep up with exclusive breastfeeding! As soon as you introduce solids you are reducing the body's ability to absorb iron. Sadly, the most common foods introduced to babies (rice, cereals, etc ~ in the belief they'll supply iron) are the worst things that should be introduced in the first or second year of life. If you must introduce solids, stick to RIPE, raw fruit and NEVER introduce any food before six months of age. Anything else is a massive insult on a premature digestive system.

My own daughters weren't introduced to solids until the end of their first year of life. They've never had commercial baby food. Their 'weaning' foods were organic bananas, avocados, strawberries, pears, apple, etc.

Later in their second year they had some lightly steamed sweet potato, pumpkin and broccoli. It wasn't until their third year they were introduced to the meals Paul and I were having. They've always been good eaters and not fussy about fruit and vegetables as commonly reported amongst children. Sure, they have their likes and dislikes, but for the most part they eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, seeds, whole grains and nuts.

4.) She's ready for solids

There's so much pressure to introduce solids to babies. I believe it is all part of the cultural bulldozer which seeks to separate mother and child. It's all heavily camouflaged behind the idea that when a baby is putting things in her mouth, or having a growth spurt, that she's ready for food. Breast milk IS FOOD!

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly labours under the misguided belief that babies should be fully weaned as soon as their first teeth appear. How much would she eat if her mouth contained just two, tiny pearly whites?

Why does common sense go out the window in so many aspects of child rearing?

5.) Formula milk is as good as breast milk

Formula is a static product. It shouldn't even have the world milk tacked onto the end of it. No matter how many artificial and synthetic vitamins and minerals the companies add to it, it is impossible to come remotely close to what nature intended our children to feed on for their first few years of life.

Recently I was sent a press release by a group of breastfeeding mothers in London showing some statistics regarding their ideas on breastfeeding; dismal to say the least. One of the quotes in the release went something like this: "Anyone would think formula was poison and that I was murdering my baby by giving him formula instead of breast milk."

Well, the more you educate yourself about breast milk, it's pretty hard to conclude anything else. Personally, I would put it in the category of poison.

I would move the earth (and moon) to give my children breast milk. Formula wouldn't even be a last resort!

There are so many reasons why I get frustrated by the constant pushing of infant formula. It isn't just about its complete inadequacy in providing optimum nutrition, but also because it simply can not provide for our long term emotional and mental needs. There are biochemical nutrients in breast milk with are absolutely CRUCIAL to our long term emotional health. Formula can never provide for this.

Work done by the marvellous James Prescott PhD shows that by breastfeeding for 2.5 years or longer, an absence of suicides and depression was found in most cultures. Breastfeeding bonding (affectional bonding) is imperative in a culture which seeks to live peacefully.

Some of the leading health problems in the world related to sexual, social, mental or emotional dysfunction (such as rape, suicide, depression and homicide) are found in cultures with next to non-existent breastfeeding in infancy and childhood.

Breastfeeding statistics are appalling. As a culture we have NO excuse for this!! We consider ourselves in first world countries to be rich ~ nothing could be further from the truth.

In the US, for example,

6.8% breastfed at 12 months
2.7% breastfed for 24 months or more
1% was breastfed for 30 months or more

How is it that 97% of children are not even meeting the minimum age set for breastfeeding by the hugely conservative World Health Organisation? Have we simply made it too easy for women to choose fake milk? Tribal cultures wouldn't even be able to comprehend such statistics. They don't have incidences of women 'choosing' not to breastfeed or believing that they can't breastfeed. They just do it!

If we didn't have formula milk companies we wouldn't have stats like those above. We'd have a 99% breastfeeding-from-mother rate, and in cases where a mother was unable to breastfeed due to illness (or death) a wet nurse would be available for the child. In my book, The Drinks Are On Me, I take a look at the spiritual and emotional reasons behind a woman's belief that she 'didn't have any/enough breast milk'.

Every time I see a breastfeeding myth perpetuated, I see breastfeeding slip further away from humanity's grasp. We simply won't survive many more generations without this optimal source of nutrition and bonding. A destructive culture has no choice but to destroy itself. Violence is like a cancer.

How will we ever explain to future generations that we had the evidence for full-term sustained breastfeeding, but as a culture we chose to ignore it?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

To meet a kindred spirit

Today's Cuppa: Calming Chamomile

I'm still recovering from what has been, and still is, a busy week! Bethany's having her secondary school induction week at the moment, which she loves, and just had her violin exam too. Bethany couldn't get into the two nearest secondary schools (thank goodness!) as they were full, so she's going to a very small one in Alston, an isolated community at the top of the Pennines in the UK's highest market town. She has 17 in her class which is very unusual for a mainstream secondary school. The school she would have been expected to go to has about 1800 pupils. The one she's at has 200. There is a very strong sense of community and friendship there and from everything I've seen and heard, the staff seek to make the environment as warm and nurturing as possible. Today she's spending the day with her fellow classmates and teachers swimming at a leisure centre so they can all get to know each other better. She's already had offers from new friends to come and visit their house.

We went to Forest Row, East Sussex last weekend to witness the wedding of Richard House, a columnist for The Mother magazine, to Silvie Hetu, an infant massage instructor.

The ceremony was held in the beautiful gardens of Emerson College, an Anthroposophical teacher training college. Although Richard and I had never met in the flesh before, we've always shared a deep passion for the optimal well-being of children, particularly through allowing them to 'wake-up' to this world gently, and in their own time.

Weddings are always a good reminder of all we hold dear in our own marriage. It's particularly moving when the words of a ceremony honour the idea that when we are one with our self, we are then able to fully love and marry another.

At the wedding, and later that night at a party on a biodynamic farm, I met women who read The Mother. It's always humbling to have a personal experience of our readers and to hear their mothering or grandmothering story.

An absolute bonus, and no doubt a divinely inspired orchestration, of Richard's wedding being in Forest Row (even though he lives in Norfolk) was that we got to spend time with the Durdant-Hollamby family [publishers of The Mother magazine] who live there. If ever there was a family to model your own on, this family's the one!

They truly 'walk the talk' and their goal to be the happiest family in the world is contagious and deeply inspiring. I've been telling my friends ever since, that "everyone needs a family like the D-Hs in their life!"

As a family we got to witness the unusually strong 'alternative' community that exists in Forest Row, no doubt initially instigated by the Steiner school and college there. Many families home educate their children.

As I type, the view out my window is one that has nurtured my soul for eight and half years ~ the unspoilt countryside, the hills, the trees. I used to take the silence and fresh air here for granted! Having done the tortuous route of the M6 (stuck on it for 11.5 hours!) and M25 I will never forget how blessed I am to live in this sanctuary of outstanding natural beauty.

I find myself wanting to hang on to this rural and peaceful lifestyle forever and being torn with finding a place which offers kindred spirits and a sense of community like Forest Row does. My children are emerging into the world and have such different needs to me. I'd happily camp at the top of a mountain, hermit-like, for half a century, but I feel it would be wrong to deny my children the experience of duality. I experienced many aspects of life before having children and don’t feel the need to partake of most of it anymore, yet I'm aware that every experience we have in life is valid.

I expect to be a full-time mother for another seven or so years until my little birdies fly the nest, and then my deep desire to live in a log cabin in the wilderness can manifest. Until that time, I welcome with open arms the kindred spirits who also walk this world and seek like-minded soul-mates.