Sunday, July 20, 2008

UK breastfeeding law demonstration on YouTube

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who attended the breastfeeding demonstration on July 18th. Thank you, too, to Will Bix for filming and to Alison Blenkinsop for her song, Protect me.

~ Veronika ~

Saturday, July 19, 2008


SHAME on the BBC six o’clock news journalist who said the BBC couldn’t show breastfeeding on the six o’clock news… when one of our protestors at yesterday’s rally was sitting down peacefully breastfeeding her baby.

Why couldn’t he show it? Because it is more offensive/violent/indecent than, say, a soldier returning from war with his legs blown off, a plane crash, a baby’s face bitten off by a dog? Because it is less suitable for the cultural mindset than say, seeing Myleene Klass in a skimpy bikini? Because it might permanently scar a five year old who was watching the news? Or was this his personal prejudice surfacing? I’ll bet if it was Myleene sitting there breastfeeding he wouldn’t have had a problem!!!!

Shame on the BBC for not educating its journalists that such attitudes are discriminatory, and only serve to perpetuate the cultural ignorance. That’s the second discriminatory and ignorant comment from a BBC journalist this week in regard to breastfeeding! Is it the Boycotting Breastfeeding Company????

One thing IS certain ~ if educated people are so darn ignorant about the necessity and beauty of breastfeeding, then what hope to do we have to get through to a culture which thinks breastfeeding is Unnatural? AKA, people like Katie Price/Jordan?

Gorgeous families travelled from far and wide to attend yesterday's breastfeeding rally in parliament square ~ amplifying the saying Actions speak louder than words. I was moved to see how many people turned up and were prepared to endure the ‘hell’ that is London.

The official line was that I could not use amplification to talk out as ‘parliament was sitting, and it would disturb them’. What? Above all that bloody traffic? What cobblers! And of course, they don’t WANT to hear what we’ve got to say, do they?

I was touched by the two kindly police officers on duty. We only had permission to gather on the concrete pavement, but they ‘allowed’ us to sit and picnic on the grass ~ clearly we weren’t a violent bunch. It’s a shame some MPs didn’t bother to come out and see that for themselves, or to even learn something from breastfeeding families. And they even allowed us to put up our placards (which you can’t do!!) There are all sorts of rules about what you can and can’t do near parliament…it’s ridiculous, to say the least.

One lady coming for the event was breastfeeding on a train that morning, only to have a woman say ‘aggh, breastfeeding. On a train.’ This is exactly the sort of attitude the government should be working to change. If they want women to feel confident breastfeeding in public, as they claim, then they need to get the messages out to everyone ~ have it right up there with “Coke, the real thing”, or Macdonalds or Weight Watchers adverts. There have to be breastfeeding billboards throughout the country. We need images everywhere so it seeps into the cultural mindset that feeding our babies, at the breast, is natural and normal. We need “Breastfeeding Welcome” signs everywhere we go in public. We need, in short, to start respecting our children’s needs.

Perhaps if the government was transparent about the short and longterm health costs (that is, in MONEY terms) of not breastfeeding, people might start to take notice. Perhaps if people had to cover their own health costs when choosing not to breastfeed, then we might see a seachange. Perhaps, if parents were adequately educated as to the RISKS of not breastfeeding (risks which might take years to surface or be considered noticeable enough to warrant attention), they might make better informed choices or seek out better support than is currently offered in many maternity centres.

I met another woman yesterday who said she was the only woman out of her 19 friends who breastfed. Indeed, when she gave birth all the staff in the maternity ward said ‘we don’t encourage breastfeeding any more’ WHAT? How can this be when a government spokesperson tells me that they’re doing everything they can to support breastfeeding?

If our government really wants to put OUR money to good use, then they should stop faffing with silly little laws which only serve to confuse the masses. Let’s face it, if most breastfeeding woman aren’t aware of their legal rights, then the average Joe Blow on the streets certainly won’t be. What came out of yesterday’s rally most strongly, for me, was the need to educate the MASSES. The government must create wall to wall advertising for television which gets through to even the lowest common denominator mind ~ information which tells every person in this country that breastfeeding is the only milk suitable for optimal infant nutrition, and that woman are free to breastfeed their child, of whatever age, anytime, anywhere.

How ironic to sit in the tube and on the 4.5 hour train ride home late last night (early this morning!) to see people totally absorbed in their newspapers dealing, once again, with knife crime. Why don’t we have articles in newspapers on full-term breastfeeding as a crime preventative? Oh, that’s right, we couldn’t promote breastfeeding positively or we wouldn’t get big bucks in from the fake milk companies.

This government, if it really does believe breast is best, should WALK THE TALK and ban all advertising of fake milk for infants and make it only available by prescription…and not one given by a standard doctor, because, let’s face it, how many of them even know the first thing about breastfeeding? They’re amongst the most likely of health care professionals to advise a woman onto the bottle.

Yesterday our families sang a breastfeeding song which will be available on YouTube shortly (written by Alison Blenkinsop), with a short commentary from me at the beginning. I’ll put a link on my blog as soon as Will, our cameraman, edits a piece down for us.

We presented the petition to Downing Street as well as the open letter to Harriet Harman. But let’s not stop there. Write to her, write to the Health Minister, write to your local MP (that’s what he/she is there for), write to the PM ~ make them earn the money you pay on taxes. Many of us limp from week to week juggling our bills and feeding our kids ~ these people live in very comfortable circumstances because of YOU. Your family contributes to their cushy lifestyle. They work in these jobs to work for YOU.

Ask them to explain the ‘sense’ of the breastfeeding aspect of the Equality Bill?

Ask them, why, if we’re already protected under the Sexual Discrimination Act 1975, they would
bring in something else which will confuse people? Ask them questions unique to your situation so they don’t send off some standard reply.

Ask them why, if maternity is nine months, they are using 6 months as their maternity cut off point in the Equality Bill.

Ask them why they don’t actively put money into advertising to the whole country about the necessity of breast milk and breastfeeding?

Ask them if they’re aware that fully breastfed children don’t grow up resorting to knife crime or depression? Ask them if they can find you a single criminal or someone suffering with major mental health diseases who had the benefit of full term breastfeeding.

Ask them why they say ‘breast is best for babies’ but refuse to come out and say ‘breast is best for children’? Why do they continue with the six month line?

Ask them who their lactation experts are in government? Who do they rely on for information?

Ask them why they didn’t speak up immediately a couple of months back when the papers ran articles about women being charged with indecency if they breastfed in public after the child was 6 months old? Ask them why not one single person from government bothered to stand up and publicly declare that this would NEVER happen?

Ask them why a bunch of cross party MPs would bother tabling an Early Day Motion against this 6 month mark in the Equality Bill, if it wasn't something to be concerned about?

And, finally, be sure to ask them why it should fall upon a woman to have to take legal action against someone for discriminating against her breastfeeding in public? As we all know, the law is a very messy arena with holes left, right and centre. The best answer we could get out of the government’s legal team regarding a woman’s protection under the Sexual Discrimination Act 1975 (which apparently provides FULL protection), is that, in such a case the judge *should* rule in her favour. Should? SHOULD????? Seems like building a house on sand, to my mind. Would you go to court on a 'should'?

You families have been incredibly proactive these past few weeks. Let’s not stop raising awareness now ~ keep talking, write letters to newspapers, to MPs, to friends. Don’t let our minority status (that is, being less than 1 in 5 who breastfeed after 6 months) get us pushed under the sand; hidden away in the government’s ‘pain in the arse’ basket. Get yourself, and all breastfed children, put into the ‘URGENT basket’.

The bottom line is, regardless of the lack of support from government, your baby has essential and fundamental human rights which NO ONE can deny. Our government might not deal in absolutes, but the European Court of Human Rights WOULD rule in the favour of a breastfeeding mother and child.

On a very positive note, I was thrilled to meet so many new faces yesterday, and to finally put faces to names. And again, I’m honoured, especially in these uncertain economic times, that so many of you bought expensive train tickets to come to the meeting. Some of you travelled a very long way.

It was lovely to sit and chat with lovely, like-minded families, and how ironic, I felt, that afterwards when some of us gathered by the River Thames, it was in a little park by the government's defence dept. At least they didn't rush out and get all defensive about our singing breastfeeding songs! The way some people have responded to us, you'd think we were a threat to the country. Hmmm, maybe we are? We're a threat to the status quo which thinks it's fine to raise babies on counterfeit milk.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Confusion over Harman's Equality Bill leads to demonstrations outside Parliament

A report from Veronika Robinson, Editor of The Mother magazine:

Families throughout the UK will demonstrate in Parliament Square on Friday (July 18th) against the discrimination inherent in Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill, which will only provide public breastfeeding protection for babies aged under six months.

Concern has been raised over the lack of clarity in law and how this will affect those families who choose to follow the World Health Organisation’s guidelines of a minimum of six months exclusive breastfeeding.

Editor of The Mother magazine, Veronika Robinson, says “It was this six month cut off point that started panic amongst breastfeeding mothers who, in accord with WHO and Government Health guidelines, seek to breastfeed well beyond this six month limit. They were concerned that they could now be discriminated against, for feeding a child older than six months when in public.

In a predominantly bottle-feeding culture, like Britain, it is even more important that our government delivers strong, uncompromising and ongoing support for breastfed children of all ages, no matter where they happen to need breastfeeding. It’s vital that the government’s breastfeeding guidelines stand shoulder to shoulder with those of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.

Women who breastfeed for more than six months feel they will be discriminated against because they’re in a minority. Indeed, more than 4 out of 5 British-born babies don’t even receive the minimum of breastfeeding as set out by the World Health Organisation.”

Mothers are already protected by the Sexual Discrimination Act 1975; this was amended in 2008 and includes a reference to six months. The protection under the SDA75 is on the grounds of gender. This law is little understood.

In response to The Mother magazine, Barbara Follett, deputy minister for Women and Equality, agrees, “The law is not as clear as it should be. People are unaware of their rights and their responsibilities in this area.”

Mrs Robinson says, “The Equality Bill will make people even more confused, and it risks becoming the point of reference in law. Although the government insists the Equality Bill is relating to maternity, it has failed to answer why, if the SDA of 1975 does indeed provide full protection for all breastfeeding children, wherever and whenever they are in public, then why introduce a Bill which will only serve to confuse the general public?"

The petition, launched by The Mother magazine, was signed by 6000 people in just a matter of a couple of weeks. It will be presented to 10 Downing Street on Friday, along with an open letter to Harriet Harman, endorsed by more than 30 signatories, including Dr Michel Odent, Jean Liedloff and James Prescott.

OPEN LETTER to Harriet Harman on the Equality Bill (breastfeeding)

Dear Ms Harman

Please make Breastfeeding in Public EQUAL for all breastfed children

The Equality bill to encourage women’s confidence in breastfeeding, by giving them legal protection to nurse in public up until the child is six months of age, while well-intentioned, is short-sighted, and discriminates against breastfed babies and children over the age of six months.

This law will only serve to marginalise women, as well as to perpetuate a common breastfeeding myth: breastfeeding is not important or necessary after the first six months.

The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of six months, not a maximum. Both WHO and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding for a minimum of two years. Studies by James Prescott, PhD, show us that cultures which breastfeed for a minimum of two and a half years, as opposed to just two years, ‘are more peaceful, loving and have egalitarian behaviours’. These people have drastically reduced levels of violence, suicide and depression. In a time when we have such grave concerns over the increasing levels of teenage violence, surely the government should be encouraging a ‘preventative’ rather than a ‘band-aid’ approach. We simply can not hope to create a breastfeeding culture if it’s only legally permissible to breastfeed our children some of the time, or in certain places. Breast milk is a living food, not a waste product, and should be given the recognition, respect and status it deserves.

Science and psychology show us that the major neurons in the brain only get one chance in life to be ‘fired up’. Affectionate mother bonding through breastfeeding is nature’s way of ensuring this happens easily and successfully.

The nutrients present in breast milk become more concentrated as a child gets older. This means they don’t need to feed as often as, say a newborn, but get everything they need in smaller amounts. Despite the common belief that babies need to wean at six months because iron in breast milk is inadequate (a myth perpetuated in part by artificial milk companies), science reveals that, in actual fact, exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of seven months gives a baby iron stores for life.

Not actively supporting breastfeeding babies over six months, serves only one purpose: to pander to people who are completely ignorant of the necessity of breast milk and physical nurturing by the mother. That a culture which portrays the sexuality of breasts on the front of its newspapers and on television, will penalise older babies who rely on breastfeeding for food and emotional nurturing, is completely unacceptable.

Breastfeeding isn’t just about the ingredients and immunities in a mother’s milk. The affectionate, loving bonding which happens in the breastfeeding relationship is unique to this way of feeding, and can not be replicated with a bottle in any way, shape or form. Breastfeeding is a fundamental human right: millions of years of evolution have encoded every baby to expect breastfeeding and unfettered access to his or her mother’s breasts.

Creating a culture of closet breastfeeders, or women who will feel pressured to use artificial milk at six months so they don’t feel stuck at home, will not educate anyone, and most importantly of all, mothers and children will suffer. Why is the British government effectively encouraging the idea that breastfeeding after six months is a cultural embarrassment?

If women believe they can only breastfeed in public up until six months of age, they may choose not to even start breastfeeding. Studies show the direct link between Type 1 diabetes and cow’s milk in infancy. Many other diseases are linked to not being breastfed early in life. Four thousands babies die around the world every day because they aren’t breastfed. We may have the NHS to help the UK’s bottlefed babies when they become ill, but it is still a social and ethical obligation to ensure every mother knows the risks to her children if she chooses not to breastfeed, or if she cuts the relationship short before the child is ready.

On behalf of the more than 6000 signatures on our e-petition to Downing street, and the professionals listed below, I urge you to make breastfeeding in public ~ anytime and anywhere ~ safe, secure and sound for all our children, for however long they need to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding isn’t a lifestyle choice for time-rich mothers, but absolutely essential if humanity is to be emotionally, physically and intellectually functional. Ms Harman, please promise us that all breastfed children will be accorded legal protection in all public spaces.

Veronika Robinson
Author, The Drinks Are On Me
Lactation consultant
Editor, The Mother magazine
Mother of two daughters, breastfed full-term.

James W. Prescott, Ph.D., developmental neuropsychologist and cross-cultural psychologist

Jean Liedloff, Author, The Continuum Concept.

Dr Michel Odent, Author of Birth and Breastfeeding, Primal Health, etc.

Binnie A Dansby, Psychotherapist, Birth consultant

Kitty Hagenbach - Parent/Child Psychotherapist

Patrick M. Houser, Author, Fathers-To-Be Handbook & Co-Founder, Fathers-To-Be

Peter Hall, Practice manager GP surgery

Robert Verkerk BSc MSc DIC PhD, Executive Director of the Alliance for Natural Health & Scientific Advisor to the National Health Federation team on Codex Alimentarius

Dr Sarah J Buckley, GP/ family physician, Author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The wisdom and science of gentle choices in pregnancy, birth and parenting

Adam Maclean, Director of The Good Birth Company Ltd, Father of 4

Robert Holden Ph.D. - Founder of The Happiness Project

Sylvie Hétu, International Trainer, International Association of Infant Massage

Dr Richard House, Roehampton University

Melissa Corkhill, Editor, The Green Parent

Claire Scott, Director, Close Parent Ltd

B.J Sheppard, retired La Leche League leader

Alison Blenkinsop, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and midwife

Beverly Ashwell, Birth & Postnatal Doula (member of Doula UK and Nurturing Birth)

Emma Lewis, Doula & Lactation Counsellor

Belinda Beetham, Midwife

Tracy Botica, Midwife

Kim Atkinson, Health Visitor

Sue Cardus - La Leche League Leader for 25 years.

Liz Sheppard-Jones, Health Coach UK Ltd

Holly Paige, Researcher/writer on nutrition and human needs

Sarah Boyd, NCT antenatal teacher and birth doula

Paul Robinson, Assistant Editor, The Mother magazine

Gemma Guthrie-James, mother of three breastfed babies!

Dina Almuli Marketing & Events Officer, Real Nappies for LondonWomen's Environmental Network

Sharon Holdstock, Managing Director and full term breastfeeder!

Sandi Sharkey, teacher and mother of three breastfed children

Jenny Moore, Agent Administrator for Taylor and Francis.

Sharon Forbes. Technical operator and transmission controller for various broadcasting houses including QVC

Abigail Myles, Manager

Richard Malter Health Care Practitioner

The breastfeeding petition has now reached more than 6,000 signatures in just a few short weeks, making it one of the 20 most supported petitions (out of nearly 6,000!!) on the Downing St website.

It also the 4th most supported (out of 800) in the health section.
If you've not already signed it, please consider doing so. Although it is open till December, we're presenting the signatures to number 10 Downing Street tomorrow after lunch. Let your voice be heard.

And have a look at this lovely idea for getting the message across that the Equality Bill needs the 'age factor' scrapped!

Well done to TM subscriber, Denise, for this. She (with friends) will be holding a breastfeeding rally in Lincoln tomorrow. Congrats too to Nicola in Newcastle for braving the local (ignorant) BBC there ~ the radio host suggested that breastfeeding an older child would lead to pyschological damage. Hmmm, that's NOT what the studies show us. Indeed, if you want to see where the divorce rates are coming from, you don't need to look much further than the people who were bottle-fed or weaned off the breast WAY TOO EARLY.

Hi HO, hi ho, it's off to dowing street we go, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho!!!!

Really looking forward to catching up with friends, old and new.

Monday, July 14, 2008

TWELVE babies die in Glaxo Vaccine Trials....

At Least 12 Babies Die in Glaxo Vaccine Trials in Argentina

Trading Markets provides news of interest to investors: On July 10, it reported that at least 12 babies, who were test subjects in a clinical trial testing GlaxSmithKline's pneumonia vaccine, in Argentina died. (see below)

According to the Argentine Federation of Health Professionals, or Fesprosa, the pharmaceutical giant uses children from poor families, who are"pressured and forced into signing consent forms. This occurs without anytype of state control" and "does not comply with minimum ethicalrequirements."

Pediatrician Ana Maria Marchese, who works at the children's hospital in the provincial capital where the studies are being conducted, was highly critical: "because they can't experiment in Europe or the UnitedStates, they come to do it in third-world countries."

Indeed, "Colombia and Panama were also chosen by GSK as staging grounds for trials of the vaccine against the pneumococcal bacteria." But one of the lead Glaxo-paid investigators, pediatrician Enrique Smith, is quoted stating: "Only 12 have died throughout the country, which is a very low figure if we compare it with the deaths produced by respiratory illnesses caused by the pneumococcal bacteria."

Since 2007, 15,000 babies have been subjects of the trial, so the death rate in the trial is 1 in 1,250. Question is, would they have died had they received antibiotics and not been in the trial? Fesprosa complained that the parents are pressured, and trial "occurs without any type of control..."If "the trials were authorized when Enrique's brother, Juan Carlos Smith, was provincial health minister" the legitimacy of the trial isquestionable, at best.

The world is bearing witness to the moral dissolution of corporate influenced medicine--a pediatrician is sanguine about the death of 12 babies in a clinical trial, claiming it is "a very low figure..."

This profit-driven culture has derailed medicine from its traditional ethical principles, rapidly converting into a ruthless commercialenterprise.

This medical tragedy is widely disseminated on internet blogs but ignored by the press--Why ????????????????????? Contact: Vera Hassner Sharavveracare@ahrp.org212-595-8974

Supporting lone parents who choose home education

Hi veronika, please would you include this link in your blog. There is only a short time left for people to sign it. It's to help lone parents on income support who home educate continue to do so. Once a child is 7 a parent is no longer entitled to income support and is moved onto jobseekers. This means many people won't have the option of home ed anymore.

Dawn x

Friday, July 11, 2008

Activist mothers unite

A picture paints a thousand words

Introducing (big drum roll....) Hathor the Cow Goddess

Natural delivery of the placenta ~ a response to channel Five's OUTLAW BIRTHS

One of my main concerns when watching Outlaw Births the other night, was the portrayal of how high the risks are for a placenta not coming out/or haemorrhage.

I felt so frustrated that something like that could be aired without any ‘traditional’ knowledge being mentioned. Clearly, it’s another example of tv production companies simply not doing their research/wanting to sensationalise the drama! A slow delivery of a placenta does NOT have to be dramatic or life threatening...

Our ancestress didn’t have to whiz off to hospital and be ‘shamed’ by a medical profession as the young American woman in the documentary was. In fact, our tribal sisters rarely had any such complications, primarily because their lifestyles were so very different from ours:

[] they didn’t sit around on their bums all day, they exercised every muscle in their day to day work, including in pregnancy and right up to the very end.

[] their diet was a simple vegetarian one, devoid of fats, meats and dairy

[] they trusted their body to give birth

[] most tribes didn’t socialize birth, that is, they birthed unobserved or were held by a birthing partner from behind ~ by being alone they were able to birth from their mammalian brain rather than trying to do it from their neocortex (the part designed for intellect, not instinct or birthing)

[] by catching the baby themselves, and bringing him/her up over the pubic bone and to the breast, the birthing mother's labia and perineum remained intact.

[] all tribes routinely used ‘heat’ after birth ~ that is, a birth fire, heated sand pit, hot ash in a cloth ~ all sorts of things to bring warmth to the abdomen

[] massage of the abdomen was also routine ~ this always helped with post partum healing

[] *if*, despite all this, a placenta was slow to come down, they tried one of three things:

~ sneezing (black pepper, dust, etc)
~ blowing (as in, blowing into an emptied egg shell
~ gagging (the mum would have an awful concoction of something or other)

These actions get the muscles going and send the placenta on its way…
HOWEVER the most obvious way (and Nature’s way) to get the placenta out is to
put baby straight to the breast because nipple stimulation contracts the uterus.

Despite my apprehension watching the documentary, and wanting to throw things at the tv screen, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my friend Laura Shanley and admired the three women who put themselves ‘out there’ for public consumption ~ no easy thing to do!

Clio’s birth reminded me of Bethany’s. It’s the way birth was designed to be…

Our medical profession has a long way to go…to understanding our mammalian birthing needs. And birthing women, I pray, will wake up from the cultural mass hypnosis that birth is dangerous, deadly and meant to be painful.

VACCINE PETITION ~ Big Brother all the way!

And another petition...this time against the plan to make vax compulsory in the form of, "if you don't vaccinate your child, we won't let him/her in school or give you child health benefits!"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Outlaw Births

The British unassisted childbirth documentary “Outlaw Births” will air in the UK tonight (July 9th) on Channel 5 at 9pm.

There is also this beautiful UC which was posted with an article that appeared in yesterday’s Independent newspaper.

The term “outlaw” refers to the fact that women who choose this route often feel ostracised by friends, family and society. UC isn’t illegal in the UK.

The synchronicity of this article and documentary coming out this week, has left me smiling. Just yesterday I met with my artist who's doing the illustrations for my new book ~ The Birthkeepers: reclaiming an ancient tradition. It's all about how nature designed women to catch their own babies (there aren't tears if you reach down and bring baby up to your chest ~ assuming no one has had their hands near you or babe)...and about how much we can learn from our ancestress. In fact, anthropology shows us through cross-cultural studies that in ancient times women didn't have all the conditions, ailments and problems of pregnancy, labour, birth and breastfeeding that our so common in our 'civilised' culture.

The dominant birth culture has us believing that birth is dangerous, deadly and painful. Yes, it IS if you go along with their model which is akin to birth rape. Women who choose to birth autonomously have a completely different experience. One thing's for sure, women have been well and truly duped by modern medicine to believe birth is dangerous.

My fingers are crossed that this is a sensitive and educative documentary and not another 'sensationalist' one....

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Parliament Square breastfeeding demonstration & presentation of petition/open letter

If you're planning to come to our family-friendly Breastfeeding Rally in London on Friday, July 18th, please note we are now meeting directly in Parliament Square (NOT Hyde Park) [spread the message to your friends!!!!]...and after presenting the petition, we can gather informally at Victoria Tower Gardens behind parliament to continue eating, drinking and, of course, chatting!

Meeting at parliament squ. will make it accessible for people with the 'littlest' walkers among them. Don't forget to bring food, drinks, hats/shading and whatever else you and your family need to be comfortable while there.

I'd love to hear of the placards you and your family are making, and what messages you're putting on them. My girls (now aged 12 and 10.5) are busy coming up with all sorts of things!
(I might need to do a bit of censoring LOL)

The nearest tubes are Westminster and St James's Park. If you and your family are coming along, please drop me a note in the comments section or by email ~ so I can get a 'rough' idea of numbers in order to co-ordinate my stewards.

Have a fabulous week, Veronika

Friday, June 27, 2008

Since when does artificial milk contain love????????

A reader kindly posted this link in the comments section.

If you find it as distasteful, unethical and downright wrong as I do, please write to MSN and the milk company! How dare they even suggest there is love in artificial/counterfeit factory produced gunk! AND to have it on a page about optimal nutrition for breastfeeding!

No baby in the world would choose that stuff over their mother's own warm, liquid love.

The world REALLY has gone bonkers!

The Tyra Banks Show ~ full term breastfeeding

American readers of this blog might like to know I'm appearing on The Tyra Banks Show ~ July 3rd in relation to full-term breastfeeding...which will then syndicated around the world. Hold your breath, she's no Oprah!

Calling All Lactivists

The Downing Street Petition:

The breastfeeding petition has now reached over 3,500 signatures in just a week. It is now in the top 10 petitions in their health section (out of over 600) and in the top 50 of ALL petitions (out of over 6,000).

Please keep spreading the word - UK wide breastfeeding 'picnics' are being planned for mid July to help raise the profile of this vital topic.

The Mother magazine invites you and your family to:
The Great British Lactivists’ Rally at Parliament Square

When: Friday, July 18th 2008

Time: 11.45am: gathering/picnic; 12.30pm: rally speeches; 1pm: presentation of letter/petition to Harriet Harman.

Where: Parliament Square

Why: For a peaceful demonstration about the Equality law (which discriminates against babies over the age of six months from breastfeeding in public).

Breastfeeding is necessary for the health and well-being (physically, emotionally and psychologically) of all babies and children, not just those under six months of age. No breastfed child should be ‘hidden away’.

What to bring: BYO blankets, food and drinks, hats ~whatever you and your family need to be comfortable for a couple of hours!

What else?: This event is for all people concerned with the health, well-being and rights of all breastfed babies and children, as well as their parents; anyone concerned with basic human rights! Come and listen to a couple of speeches on breastfeeding, as well as meeting other families passionate about this cause.

Nearest tubes and trains:
Westminster & St James's Park

Worth knowing: Breastfeeding supporters will be peacefully demonstrating outside the British Embassies in Australia on the same date.

There will be Breastfeeding Gatherings/Picnics nationwide, including Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Please don’t travel to London if you feel it will cause distress or discomfort to you and your family in any way. As much as we really want to highlight the cause, we don’t want to do so if it means babies and children (and parents!) are compromised.

If you want to organise a gathering/picnic in your city, town or village, and need some help or advice regarding letting your MP and local media know about it, contact the helpful team at The Art of Change.

If your child’s school hasn’t broken up on the 18th, and s/he wishes to attend the picnic, you could consider it ‘real life’ Citizenship Education.

My family and I will be at the London gathering. If you’re planning to come along, please say hello! Afterwards, those who wish to, can gather at Victoria Tower Gardens behind parliament square to continue socialising with new and old friends.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You wonderful people!

It's been just one week since I set up the e-petition on the Downing Street website regarding the ironically named Equality law. We've already got 2858 signatures in this time. It's the 8th most supported petition on their health section. I'm humbled and deeply moved by how many people are speaking up about this! Well done.

I expect to give details of the Great British Lactivists' Picnic in late August where we'll, er, picnic!! and have a rally, then march to Downing St.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Breastfeeding Awareness petition to Downing street June 2008

Breastfeeding supporters, speak now about the new Equalities Law. You can petition by clicking on this link. An email will then be sent to your inbox which you will have to 'click'. It is so VERY easy to do. I urge you, if you really care about the rights of babies and children, to take 30 seconds to add your voice.

My breastfeeding years are over. My girls have had EVERYTHING they needed from breastfeeding. I've done this petition for YOUR children and your grandchildren, etc. Take action. Every extra voice truly does make a difference.

With love

~ Veronika

Legislation against love ~ the new INequalities law of breastfeeding in public

I’ve been left gobsmacked by this week’s news that the government is introducing legislation against loving your child: the Equalities Bill will mean that it will be an offence to stop a woman breastfeeding her child in public. Here’s the catch, though. This is ONLY valid until the child is six months of age.

At any time beyond that, a woman breastfeeding in public can be charged with INDECENCY. Yes, you read that right. In a culture of page three girls and pornographic magazines visible in shops where children can see women’s breasts being exploited for sexual gratification and lust, women who meet their child’s biological needs in public will be considered criminals.

The government apparently reckons it wants women to feel confident about breastfeeding. What rubbish! If it wants women to feel confident then the very last thing it should be introducing is a law about when you should cut off your love!

What Starched Fart in parliament came up with this madness? This is a blatant attack on a baby’s rights. This is politically-sanctioned CHILD ABUSE. Mothers, speak up about this! Don’t be bullied into closet breastfeeding and buying into the attitude that breastfeeding is still a cultural embarrassment.

Breastfeeding is what keeps humans sane, not to mention healthy! Humanity needs us to breastfeed or our children will grow up as intellectually and emotionally bankrupt as the idiots who make these laws. Am I angry? Yes, you betcha!

I can tell you right now, if I was still breastfeeding young babies or children, I would defy this law every time I was out in public. Laws are designed to protect people…this law does NOT protect babies or young children and their mothers. It makes them open to prejudice, attack and perpetuates the blind ignorance in our culture...I would fight this law to the highest judges in the land, and then some. Describing a woman as indecent for breastfeeding a baby over 6 months of age in public is undescribably stupid.

This law reveals the depth of our cultural wounding in relation to the feminine, to nurturing and to love and being loved. It also sends out the very wrong message that breastfeeding beyond six months isn’t necessary. So many people in the ‘health care’ professions are under the false illusion that breast milk is deficient in nutrients beyond six months. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We know from studies that exclusive breastfeeding for at least SEVEN months gives babies iron stores for life! And yet, what information do health visitors and the like keep passing out? Wean your baby at SIX months because there’s not enough iron in breast milk. And on it goes.

I was interviewed on BBC radio the other day and the broadcaster kept going on about the Nipple Police. Sorry, but how often do you see a nipple when a woman is breastfeeding? The nipple is the last thing you see!

If people feel offended by women who breastfeed in public, then they should look the other way. It’s not that bloody hard! I do it with things I find offensive….like butcher shops, babies plugged with dummies, babies in prams where they can't see the mother's face, parents verbally or physically abusing their children, mothers who smoke in front of their babies, toddlers in leashes, babies fed counterfeit milk which sets them up for all sorts of illnesses and diseases, and so on. If these things aren’t legislated against, then the love and nurturing of a mother certainly shouldn’t be. How crazy does our culture have to get before we wake up to ourselves?

I suppose women will start carrying birth certificates in case they’re pulled up because their chubby and healthy breastfed baby looks older than six months. Gosh, policemen might have to start carrying baby weigh scales around!

Can anyone else see the insanity of this law? All I hear are people from breastfeeding circles saying ‘it’s a good start’. BULL SHIT! This is NOT in the best interests of mothers or babies…it’s pandering to the ignorant, misinformed, uneducated and those out of touch with instinct. It will become the holy grail for all sorts of discrimination!

A baby’s need for love, comfort, warmth, security, enzyme-rich food and drink on cue from their mother does NOT change at six months.

Babies biologically expect to receive on-cue breastfeeding for at least nine months and, after that, who are we to dictate when and how they feed. It’s cruel, and the real criminal is the politician who thinks this is equality.

I make zero apologies for the depth of feeling I have for all the children who’ll suffer and be compromised by this ‘law’. I, for one, will NOT be shutting up about this.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bristol Breastfeeding Mums

If you live in, near or around Bristol and you're a mum who breastfeeds on cue, then you might like to take part in a project which will have a significant impact on those who work in the front line of maternal health care ~ that is, midwives, health visitors, etc., as well as new mums.

I'm involved in a filming project (not for TV broadcast) and will be in the area near the back end of June. If you'd like to know more, please drop me a line. I'd also like to hear from you if you're pregnant and due to give birth this month.

Love, Veronika

Breastfeeding Britain ~ BE THE CHANGE

Monday, May 26, 2008

Orgasmic Birth

Is it time women in the UK had the option of an ORGASMIC BIRTH?


With the alarming rise in Caesareans, as much as 34-50% in some London hospitals, many women will welcome the film 'Orgasmic Birth' as a ray of hope in a culture where medicalised births are becoming the norm.

Orgasmic Birth is a call for a revolution in birthing practices. A mother and child are inextricably connected on the physical and emotional journey they share during the pregnancy and birth. Science has now documented that our children are conscious and aware in the womb and at birth and they experience pain and pleasure as well.

How we birth our children matters. Are we displaying loving care for their sensitive nature and emotional intelligence or has mechanical and chemical intervention become the norm. These issues are at the very core of our culture and are part of the make-up of relationships, families, governments and society.

For a woman to experience an “Orgasmic Birth” is not a coincidence, nor is it about the big “O”. It is the result of the nature of the care she receives, her feeling safe and her being able to trust her body and the process of birth. This can come about through enculturation, education, environment and non-interfering support. Research now tells us what the best environment is for birth that will allow a woman’s body to birth naturally, even pleasurably.
When will we listen?

UK Premiere is on 29 May London followed by screenings across the UK. Currently scheduled in Glasgow, 4 June (in conjunction with the International Congress of Midwives), 12 June Brighton, Birmingham, Cambridge and Oxford and more soon to follow. These screenings are charity fundraisers benefiting AIMS, Doula UK, Fathers-To-Be, Fatherhood Institute, MIDIRS and NCT.

Orgasmic Birth’s Director, Debra Pascali-Bonaro is available for interview by phone and appointment.

She will also be in London 28&29 May and is available for TV/Radio appearances.
A preview clip is available on
Please access website to download more press details:

There are some great talking points on this subject with parents, midwives, doulas, doctors, antenatal educators, medical and health experts and sociologists. We have interviewees lined up in many of these areas.
Press contact: Patrick Houser:01892 890 614/07814040838

Information below(and attached) for screenings in London, Glasgow and Brighton
Please feel free to forward to friends and colleagues.

UK Film Screenings of ‘ORGASMIC BIRTH’
A documentary that examines the intimate nature of birth and the powerful role it plays in parent’s lives when they are permitted to experience it.

Powerful, passionate and thought provoking, with commentary by a dozen pre-eminent health professionals and many couples who share their birthing journey, Orgasmic Birth dismantles untruths about labour and birth that women have been told for generations. The women in this film are transfigured and transformed with the power of their own bodies.

Thursday 29 May London

Reception: 18:30 PM Hors d'oeuvres buffet included (cash bar/drinks)
Film: 19:15 PM Panel discussion to follow screening
Venue: Baden-Powell House, 65-67 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London

Debra Pascali-Bonaro, the film's director, will introduce the screening and afterwards
be part of a panel discussion with leading UK birth educators.

Tickets for this unique event are
Available at
A preview clip of this amazing film is available at

Proceeds to benefit AIMS, Doula UK, MIDIRS, NCT, Fathers-To-Be and Fatherhood Institute

In conjunction with the International Congress of Midwives
Wednesday 4 June
Welcome: 5:45 PM (Cash bar and snacks available)
Film: 6:15 PM
Venue: Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street, Glasgow

Tickets £10
Available at
Also at the ICM, Waterbirth International Stand 118
(and at the door)
01892 890614
Proceeds to benefit AIMS, Doula UK, MIDIRS, NCT, Fathers-To-Be and Fatherhood Institute

Thursday 12 June
Welcome: 7:00 PM
Film: 7:30 PM
Venue: Friends Meeting House, Ship St., Brighton
Panel discussion to follow the screening
Tickets £10
Available at
01892 890 614
Proceeds to benefit AIMS, Doula UK, MIDIRS, NCT, Fathers-To-Be and Fatherhood Institute
Additional screenings are scheduling for
Birmingham TBA; Cambridge TBA plus...

If your organisation would like to host a screening please contact us.
Orgasmic Birth Film Screenings are an excellent opportunity for fundraising.

Research shows: Men who respond to impending fatherhood by reflecting on the way they were parented produce happier children.Fathers Make a World of Difference!Now available, Fathers-To-Be HandbookPlease enjoy

Breastfeeding Love In Action

A story to warm your heart! The breastfeeding heart knows no bounds.

It also reminds me of another story I heard recently about a lady in Africa who breastfeeds 17 orphans a day in an orphanage. It's worth noting that she never had children of her own...kinda makes you question this big western myth of insufficient milk syndrome when a woman who has never had the hormonal responses to activate lactation can breastfeed so many children, so beautifully, day in and day out. It confirms everything I believe about breastfeeding ~ that it comes from the heart and that any woman with intact breasts CAN breastfeed, if she opens her heart.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Breastfeeding: Humanity's code for peace, passion and partnership

For those mums and dads who'd hoped to come to my Manchester talk (may 22) but couldn't because an evening was difficult with young children, well, due to requests for a daytime slot, we changed it to June 1st ~ a sunday, at 3.30pm - 5.30pm which seems to be much better for most families. Hope to see you there.

It's being held in the city centre and you can book tickets from the Art of Change. or phone 01342 823 809

Groups of five or more (or unemployed) £6 each
TM subscribers £7.50
Full price £8.50

Please note this is a 'ticket only' event.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Continuum concept and fine dining

Today's cuppa: Fancy joining me for a brew of lemongrass tea?

In my late teens, I worked for a professional babysitting agency in Adelaide, South Australia. My jobs were mostly for new parents who wanted to leave their newborn babe with a complete stranger (me!!) and go out for dinner. As one mum said to me, ‘where’s the romance in dirty nappies?’

When my girls were babies they were constantly with me, ROMANCING in my arms ‘continuum’ style, and sleeping in the family bed. I took my role as a parent very seriously and simply would never have abandoned my girls by leaving them with a babysitter ~ regardless of whether that person was a stranger or my best friend.

I made meals with my girls in the front pack, and they sat in my lap or their dad’s as we ate our meals.

When I became a mum to two children under the age of two, I would pop them in bed beside each other and breastfeed them to sleep. Most nights we’d eat at the table first, but occasionally Paul and I would enjoy fine dining while the girls slept. By fine dining I mean we ordered Indian take-away. We would sit on the end of the family bed and eat our dinner by candle light to the soundtrack of our precious daughters’ breaths. It would never have occurred to me to leave a tiny baby sleeping in a room without an adult there. Parenting IS romantic, if we choose it to be so; if we allow ourselves to truly fall in love with the creations we’ve invited Earthside. It’s a very romantic journey if you don’t take your life partner for granted, and you take each day as a sacred opportunity to give thanks for all that you are and all that you have. If you make magic in your marriage you don’t need to go out to dinner and leave your babies behind. Absenting yourself from your baby won’t fix your marriage if it looks like Swiss cheese.

Our culture sees my attitude to parenting as completely over the top, but I simply followed my heart. I imagined what it would be like for a little baby to wake up and not have a familiar heart beat or face or smell or touch. I imaged how unstable her world would feel and how she’d have to cry or scream to be ‘heard’. So I never left my babies in situations where they would for one minute feel unsafe. Our night-time parenting is every bit as important as our visible daytime parenting.

But in all those years I never felt like I was sacrificing myself or my life. I willingly obeyed my heart’s calling and listened to the inner prompts which encouraged me to nurture, nourish and protect my babies.

Paul and I have never gone out to a restaurant without our daughters. We’ve never felt the need to. Last night, while eating at the world’s finest restaurant, the dining memories of our early parenting years came flooding back in a joyful rush. I remembered, with love, all the bedside dinners and how the gifts we give our children are truly priceless. We may not always see how important our presence is at the time, but if we simply trust in our children and ourselves we’ll never have cause to doubt our parenting.

My Continuum Concept ‘babies’ are big girls now. Bethany is 12 and Eliza is 10.

Last night they took us out to dinner. Where did we go? Nowhere and everywhere! Home and away…

Bethany transformed the dining table with a cloth and brought in flowers from the garden ~ bluebells, daffodils and twigs of eucalyptus. She brought to the table a candelabra with locally-made beeswax candles. With table set, she poured Elderflower Presse into her late Nana’s recycled wine glasses and then seated Paul and I. She serenaded us by playing Moon River on her violin. And Eliza, resident chef, brought in our first course ~ Greek Salad ~ abundant with rocket and other mixed baby green leaves, kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes in flaxseed oil and lemon dressing.

Bethany then played Für Elise on the piano as Eliza served us her vegan Moussaka (recipe in issue 29 of The Mother, July/August 2008). That girl is a genius with food!

I’ve been overwhelmed by gratitude for many, many things in my life lately, and last night was just one more example of the richness I find in my days. I keep asking myself, ‘how did I get so lucky?’

The Continuum Concept years haven’t ended. They’ve evolved. I don’t carry my daughters in my arms any more, and they now have their own beds, but Paul and I still carry them ‘energetically’ in how we live our lives.

Being present for our children ~ REALLY present ~ is one of the greatest gifts they’ll ever receive. Our children are sponges for love and affection. When we enjoy the opportunities which are always available, we find abundance dancing through every cell of our being. It’s an abundance you won’t find in a bank account. It’s a richness of heart.

Have a gorgeous week
~ Veronika ~

Tea Leaves

A reader of this blog asked me the other day what tea I’m drinking as I’ve not been mentioning it in my entries. Oooops! Sorry. I’m mostly drinking water at the moment with a slice of lemon and a spring of spearmint from the herb garden, but I still love my fennel tea by day and the occasional valerian tea before bed.

I have two baskets with an assortment of teas so I shall remember to scour them for something tasty to share in blogland. For now, though, I'm about to make a juice or two for my goes beautifully with this hot weather. Mmm, carrot and celery and later apple with spearmint.

The ideal life

I was chatting on the phone to a friend down south the other day and asked her what her ideal life looked like. “YOURS!” she said. I laughed out loud. It’s funny how different other people’s lives look and also how sometimes it takes someone else’s view of our life to help us see it in a new light. My friend longed for a cottage in Cumbria.

Most people in our culture wouldn’t aspire to my life as it doesn’t represent the ‘currency’ valued in our society. I don’t have the fancy car, big fat mortgage, sizzling career, bi-lingual nanny and kids in independent school.

What I do have are two healthy and happy girls, a soul mate and best friend, and a work/life balance that few people ever achieve. I am writing these words by birdsong in the delicious heat of this glorious spring (early summer!). My little cottage, and the past nine years of what society would call ‘dead’ money by paying rent, has given me almost a decade of constant holiday in the heart of the countryside.

I am able to grow my own vegetables and herbs. Today as I walked around the garden I marvelled at the blueberry bushes, now in their 3rd year, absolutely heaving with baby berries. Ditto the gooseberries, strawberries, black currants, black berries, cherries, pears. ..and the plums and applies will yield a gorgeous crop too.

Here at the base of the Pennines I enjoy my life’s journey, a mere stepping stone in my soul’s evolution. I’m constantly aware of the blessed life I live and how very different things could have been had I made different choices along the path.

This amazing weather over the past week or so has seen us increase our daily three mile walk to two 3 mile walks a day. Together we marvel at the incredible beauty around us ~ birds, butterflies, bees, trees, baby rabbits, sunshine. This morning we walked through the woods, thick with bluebells, and down to the Eden river. People pay money to holiday in places like this and here it is on my doorstep 24/7.

I encourage my daughters to fully absorb the incredible power and energy in the earth, sky, sun and plant life around us. These days are precious. Eastern mystics tell us that ‘life is an illusion’. I’m loving this illusion and feeding off this Earth’s energy like a ravenous beggar. Daily, I’m nourishing myself with soul-food. And for that I give thanks. If that is what an ideal life looks like, then yes, I've got it!

Two million bananas????

I had the strangest experience the other day. I popped into a local village shop a few miles away and noticed that in the fruit and veg section, the only bananas on display were green ones. There were a dozen really ripe ones in a box on the floor to be thrown away. I couldn’t believe it!

I put them in my basket and when I went to pay for my goods the assistant said I couldn’t have them because they were rotten. “Er, no they are not. They’re ripe. Beautifully sweet in smoothies” I said. She was adamant that she’d take them away and get me some from the shelf. “Um, NO..they’re green. I don’t want them I want these”. She was beside herself.

A short time after leaving the shop I heard on the radio the ongoing debate about how much stuff Britons throw out each week. Among *our* rubbish were 2 million bananas. My bet is that most of those bananas COULD have been used…in smoothies, icecreams, cakes…all sorts of things!

Apparently we throw out a third of our food each week. Not in this house we don’t! I’m intrigued as to what people throw out and can only assume that it is processed stuff with use-by dates.

As my family’s diet relies on fresh fruit and vegetables there isn’t anything to throw out! We buy our seeds, nuts, etc., in bulk through Suma, the wholefood co-operative. Such things have quite a long shelf life so there’s no problem about getting through them.

I started buying organic food consistently about nine years ago. I do believe that, because organic stuff is more expensive than chemically grown food, I have an attitude of reverence for the meals we eat. I simply wouldn’t pay good money for food and then throw it out. I’m not that insane!

I’ve spent years growing vegetables and because I know how much time they take to grow, and the nurturing required to yield a good crop, again, I simply wouldn’t take any fruit or vegetable for granted.

The disposal mentality of our culture is widespread. We throw out food, nappies, formula milk tins…and the list goes on. We’ve a lot to learn from indigenous cultures about having an eco-consciousness.

Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Breastfeeding Awareness Week is with us ~ 11th – 17th May 2008

This week I’m speaking in Birmingham at a conference for breastfeeding experts. This year’s theme for the week is ‘every drop counts’.

We need to bear this in mind when people around suggest we wean before our child is ready.

I’d love to hear from you if you’re doing anything to promote breastfeeding awareness.

My freckles have names

The locals are dropping off like flies as the temperature here in Cumbria warms up to rather delicious standards for my body. I don’t use sun block and don’t use it on my children. Raised in Australia where the mantra is ‘slip, slop, slap’ to get everyone using sunblock, I was the eternal rebel.

For me, holistic sun protection is about recognising how important the sun is to the human body and not to be afraid of it. Sensible sun protection means gradually building up your exposure to the rays. It means using a hat or long sleeves or sitting in the shade.

We’ve been indoctrinated to see sun block as protection from the sun….it’s time we connect the dots and see that those countries which use it the most actually have the highest rates of skin cancer! Time to think again?

If you really want to protect your skin there are two key things you can do

[] avoid wearing sunglasses unless necessary (like driving into the sunset) as the brain receives a message that it is ‘dark’ and won’t send messages to your skin to ‘deal’ with the sun

[] avoid unnatural fats in your diet. Studies show that when we have fried foods this affects our skin’s ability to deal with the sun. stick to fresh raw foods as much as you can and avoid fried foods.

Compulsory vaccination for the UK ~ speak now to protect our children

Rumour has it that the government want to introduce compulsory vaccination in the UK.

All I can say is “not in my bloody lifetime!”

If you’re concerned by this Big Brother threat then I urge you to scour your back issues of The Mother and send copies of Joanna Karpasea-Jones’ vaccine articles to your local MP and get him off his butt to stop this nonsense!

Call for vaccine opt-out penalty

"Tough sanctions are being proposed for parents who refuse routine vaccinations, such as MMR." …as reported by BBC news yesterday.

Labour MP Mary Creagh said "children should have to prove they are vaccinated before they start school to improve uptake of MMR".Should we trust British politicians with our children's health:- ( I don’t!!!)

British Government's Reckless Disregard for Child Health SafetyThe Hannah Poling Case
autism and other health problems from vaccines for British childrenSir Sandy's medical contemporaries behind the Wakefield witchhuntStrong Evidence Vaccines Cause Autism - A Population Level Rechallenge in JapanRisk to Children & Government Scaremongering

Fundamental rights

I heard recently about someone saying that The Mother magazine is too fundamental. Darn right we are! She felt that The Continuum Concept wasn’t really practical for most people.

The in-arms phase
is fundamental
to our lifelong health and wellbeing.

Parents may be too selfish, ignorant or neglectful to parent in a continuum fashion, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t vital for the child. It is absolutely fundamental to them. As for practical, well, personally, I think that is just an excuse. So yes, I agree, The Mother magazine is fundamental. And there’s a reason for that: our children need ‘fundamental’ child rearing.

Monday, May 05, 2008

WAHM ~ what it means to me to be a work-at-home-mother

I knew that I wanted to be a writer long before I had children. In fact, I was a child myself when I made that decision. I was blessed to have a mother who stayed at home with her children for my entire childhood. It’s a gift which will stay with me for my lifetime. It’s something that I now consider so priceless I’m in awe of the life path she chose.

My mother was (still is!!) amazing. She ‘worked’ from dawn to way beyond dusk each day...not in a paid profession, but as a mother. She spent hours making us a beautiful home and a massive edible garden, growing a huge number of trees so we could be self-sufficient. We had olives, avocados, paypaya,figs, carob trees and all the fruit trees imaginable. My youngest brother’s placenta was buried under the pear tree, and boy, did that tree yield some incredible fruit!

She always learnt new skills and was able to build us amazing structures in the garden from wood; she made us a flying fox, and lovely doll houses, castles and so on. One of the things I most love about my childhood is that my mum actually WANTED to be with us…she played with us. We felt this genuine affection and care. I remember once we were all playing hide and seek in the garden (and the garden was a few acres so the ‘seeking’ bit of the game could take a while) and we just couldn’t find her anywhere! Turned out that she was under the upside down wheelbarrow! I remember at the time thinking my mum was a genius. Move over Einstein.

My mother sewed me gorgeous dresses and dolls. And yet, while blessing our lives with her talents and skills she also fulfilled her own needs by studying various philosophies and esoteric traditions. My mum would rise at about 4am and do yoga on the lawn, then meditate and squeeze fresh orange juice for all of us when we woke up. Our house was always clean and tidy. I don’t think she ever watched a daytime soap. In fact, she never just ‘sat’ in front of tv when it was on...nope, the ironing board was out, or clothes were mended.

My mum managed to do all this and look after a 700 acre property single-handedly. Having land in the Australian bush is no easy job. Bore pumps break down, horses get hurt, droughts cause damage, etc.

She was, in essence, a single mum who raised eight children. My dad worked overseas for months at a time…and was only ever home briefly. To me, she was a superwoman. From my mum I learnt that women can do ANYTHING.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to stay with my children too when I became a mother. In my childhood mind I figured that being a writer would enable me to ‘work’ and still be with my children especially if I ended up becoming a single mum or my husband died. The reality, as I’ve since found out, is that you can’t write when your children are around. Writing involves being able to follow through on a train of thought without being interrupted by “can I have this…can I have that…can we…” Writing, for me, is something to do when the house is clean, the children are asleep and there are NO distractions.

Bethany was six and Eliza was four when I began editing The Mother magazine. I’d written some children’s stories before that time and Cycle to the Moon (at night while they lay sleeping) but I had spent their early years as a stay at home mum ~ and unlike many mothers who claim they had to go back to work because motherhood was boring, I simply never found that. I thoroughly enjoyed their company and the little lasses always kept me on my toes…there was simply no room for boredom. We’ve always spent a lot of time going out for walks, first when we lived in New Zealand and Australia (where the weather is far friendlier!!) and for the past nine years here in the north of England.

I’d been lent a copy of Compleat Mother, a natural birth, pregnancy and breastfeeding magazine published out of Canada, which felt like ‘coming home’. It gave me a real sense of community when I first came to the UK. When the founder, Catherine Young, died of breast cancer, I felt moved to start a magazine to continue the light she’d held for many years. I’m pleased to say Compleat Mother is still going strong to this day.

The Mother magazine is an entity in its own right with a broader base of articles (covering health, education, finance, ecology, global citizenship, etc) but our ethos is similar.

Being a work at home mother is a completely different kettle of fish to being a stay at home mother. I simply couldn’t do what I’m doing now if I had little kids. I WOULDN’T do what I’m doing now if I had a baby or toddler. I feel it would be cruel to the mother-child bond. A blog reader asked me the other day why I never had more children. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction in ‘producing’ a magazine every two months…it’s like a little birth each time and I never fail to be excited when I pick another copy hot off the press. If I was to have another child I would no longer ‘work’ …whether on this magazine or writing books, doing talks, etc., while the child was young. Clearly I wouldn’t sit on the sofa all day (unless I was breastfeeding continuum-raised triplets!) ~ my in-arms baby would learn about my ‘work’ life from being with me in the garden or around the home or village or in town.

But my life as a magazine editor involves putting myself into the ‘artificial’ and unhealthy electromagnetic world of a computer onto a daily and regular basis. Although we don’t have broadband (and are probably the only house in the UK to still have dial up LOL and I certainly would never have wi-fi, the exposure of the computer isn’t something I’d inflict on a baby or child. As anyone who’s read The Drinks Are On Me will know, I’m very concerned about the rise in the number of women who NAK (nurse at keyboard) for this reason.

My girls are of an age where they disappear for hours on end doing their own projects and activities and playing with their friends in the village. It’s in those times that I ‘work’, or, more often than not, I wait until they’re asleep at night (that’s getting trickier now they’re older and protest at their ‘early’ bed time of 9pm ~ “but the sun hasn’t even set!”).

Life’s infinitely easier now that I’m no longer dealing with administration, publishing, mail outs etc…and for that I’m enormously grateful to The Art of Change for being partners in the business.

Working from home means I can spend all day in my PJs if I want (I don’t!). It means I can have a cup of fennel tea or piece of fruit when my body wants it, rather than a boss imposing eating and drinking times on me. It means I can hang the washing out when the sun makes an appearance. Working from home means that I can check emails while Eliza is cooking (she doesn’t like anyone in the kitchen while she’s creating) or Bethany is playing the violin or piano. It means I’m with my growing daughters full-time and we can enjoy long walks along the fields by the fell (hills) or dip into the woodland or picnic at the local stone circle. It means I can create my own working hours.

It also means my children don’t have to miss out on being able to ask me questions when the urge arises, or if they have other needs to be met.

Working from home means that my family and I can find a great work/life balance that works for all of us. My husband now works from home with me which means after all these years I have the space and time to actually write (and not just edit other people’s writing) as the girls have another parent available for when I’m not, and the same goes for when I need to pop away for a lecture/workshop.

I don’t regret the choices I made, and nor does my husband. I don’t pine for a career I could have had if I’d stayed in the media after giving birth. Actually, becoming a mother has completely opened my eyes to what a manipulative and bullying industry it can be.

I love the work I do and being in ‘ethical media’, but the bottom line is that my children come first. They know this. Both girls fully support me in my life’s work and recognise the importance of showing women and men how to empower themselves. Neither of them want me to stop what I am doing.
For all the hours I spend on The Mother magazine and related projects, I think of myself first and foremost as a stay at home mother, rather than a working mother.

Every mother is a working mother, whether she chooses a career or not.


~ Veronika ~

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Mother magazine

I’m heading off to Forest Row for a few days but wanted to share my new look website before I hopped on the train

The new design is courtesy of my lovely new web mistress, Karen Arnott. THANK YOU KAREN! It's great to have a feminine feel to it at last after six years.

If you need web design, logos, brochures, baby announcement cards, flyers, corporate stationary, wedding stationary…have a look at Karen’s website:

Have a great week ~ and keep cuddling the kids! The cuddle you forget, or don't get around to giving today because you're too busy, can't be caught up on tomorrow.

~ Veronika ~


A few of my favourite things…apologies to Julie Andrews!

When women honour the newborn period and fully embrace their Babymoon ~ avoiding copious visitors, trips to supermarkets and sitting on the computer reading blogs and forums. I love it when mothers and fathers simply choose to BE with their baby and savour those rare, precious weeks instead of trying to keep pace with life and everyone else.

I hold holy and sacred those who practise love and respect in the marital relationship ~ where each partner reveres the other, and relates in a functionally-evolved way, rather than ‘reacting’ to things. I love it when I see soul mates that truly ‘get’ what a loving relationship involves.

I have the deepest respect and understanding for people who ‘own’ their anger/jealousy/frustration/discomfort/awkwardness and take responsibility for the feelings that course through their veins ~ rather than forcefully trying to ‘dump’ or ‘project’ their PAIN or GUILT on another person who is merely showing them what exists within them already. NOBODY on this planet has the power to make us feel something. We choose it!

I love it when parents value the uniqueness of childhood and don’t place it on the back burner behind what they perceive to be more important things like a career, public opinion, mortgage, 3 overseas holidays a year, 2 TVs in the house and a new conservatory. I am all FOR honouring that childhood comes first.

I am in awe of women and men who embrace change, no matter how darn scary or challenging, and allow themselves to grow into new, better and happier beings.

I am humbled when people recognise humans are designed to live in a ‘natural’ field, rather than an artificial electromagnetic one ~ and take steps to change their life.

I love people who are actively taking responsibility for their part on the planet ~ not just by doing the rote-induced reduce, re-use, recycle…but going way beyond that by simply saying ‘no’ to consumerism in all its disguises. I love that people are recognising that ‘less is more’ and we simply don’t need all the things our culture insists are vital to modern living.

I am completely FOR the pioneers and bioneers who are putting their heads above the parapet ~ for better or worse ~ and leading humans to a new consciousness. It’s no easy road they travel and only another pioneer could truly recognise the personal and professional sacrifices involved in acting out and speaking out.

I LOVE the people behind the scenes who never receive an MBA or community award ~ yet they’re doing great works for our world. I love the little known charities which bring hope and pleasure to many.

I am in awe of new life and one of my greatest pleasures is growing vegetables and trees from seed.

For every ‘for’, there is an ‘against’. For every ‘against’, there is a ‘for’. It only ever requires that we have the wisdom within to recognise both sides.

That’s duality. That’s life, folks!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Death by chocolate?

I had to laugh tonight when I heard a news report saying the researchers were seeking 150 women for an experiment: to eat chocolate each day for a year. Yep, I can see women racing up for that one.

The research is to find out if chocolate will reduce heart disease.

Five million adults in the UK suffer from cardiovascular disease. Studies show us that breastfeeding in infancy DRASTICALLY REDUCES the incidence of this in adulthood. As usual though, rather than promote something like that, our culture looks for a band aid.

But back to our ol’ friend chocolate. Many women I know seek comfort in chocolate. They pop the kids to bed at night and then look for their secret (or not so secret) stash and try to find the nurturing and nourishment they so desperately need. It’s symptomatic of the culture we live in ~ there’s no extended family or village to help us in our role of mothering and we’re left, not only holding the baby, supervising the other children and keeping house, but also running errands and meeting everyone else’s needs but our own. By the end of the day, most modern mothers are completely ‘spent’.

Personally, though I love the taste of a ‘good’ chocolate, my body isn’t keen on it. Chocolate keeps me awake all night ~ the caffeine in it affects me as strongly as coffee.

I thought that perhaps by moving to raw chocolate things might be different, but if anything, it was far worse. I had severe heart palpitations. It happened every time I had some. So, despite all the apparent health properties and claims about it being a superfood, chocolate is not a staple in my diet.

If you did hear the report about finding a link between chocolate and heart disease and think you might try eating it each day for a year, remember this ~ commercially produced chocolates contain sugar, fillers and an assortment of non-nutritive ingredients. There are, of course, ‘better’ brands on the market, like Booja Booja or Shazzie’s vegan raw chocolate, but for the most part, chocolate isn’t just chocolate.

In New Zealand there is a restaurant chain called Death by Chocolate. Clearly it’s meant to sound indulgent and fun, but perhaps there’s a certain amount of wisdom in it.

I can’t help but think that chocolate, like coffee, is perhaps meant for ceremonial purposes, or to ward off insects!, rather than to be taken as regularly as oxygen. Because, let's face it, chocolate on its own doesn't taste that fab without additives such as a sweetener, whether that be toxin-inducing white sugar, or virtuous agave syrup.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our tortured teenagers

The media this week has been dominated by the desperate situation this country faces with the many teenagers who are dangerous and violent.

For me, the greatest tragedy lies in the fact that the commentators keep shouting out ‘jail, boot camp, the army’ with not one single person addressing the issue of how these teens became this way. The closest they get is saying the parents should be held accountable for their teen and learn to discipline them more!

I believe every human being is born ‘good’. Babies aren’t bad!

Next week I’m speaking in Brighton about Humanity’s evolutionary blueprint: BREASTFEEDING.

As humans, we are born expecting the breast at birth. We are born expecting to see our mother’s face constantly for at least nine months. We are born expecting to hear her heart beat constantly for at least nine months. This doesn’t happen if a babe is bottlefed and kept out of a mother’s constant body contact. When we don’t meet these very basic biological needs, the PAIN is with these kids for life. The symptoms are manifesting on our streets and in an overworked health care system.

In Britain, 200 000 kids are born each year who never even make it to their mother’s breast. They never receive colostrum (the first syrupy liquid from the breast at birth and for the first three or so days). Colostrum contains tryptophan which is vital for developing serotonin. The one thing all criminals, depressives and other perpetrators of violence have in common is a drastically reduced level of serotonin! Breastfeeding not only provides the ingredients our brains need for developing optimally, but it also provides us with mother love in a way that bottle feeding doesn’t. Studies show us over and over again that breastfed babies receive more love, pleasurable touch, eye contact and interaction than their bottlefed peers. No wonder we have mental health problems of epidemic proportions.

If we want a culture where we’re not scared of our kids (and, let’s be honest, teenagers ARE children) then we have to meet their biological expectations ~ quite simply, we have to stop abandoning our babies to bottles, dummies, car seats, cribs, day care centres, and bedrooms separate to their parent’s room. NONE OF THESE THINGS PROVIDE the physiological benefits of affectionate mother bonding.

Sending violent teenagers to bootcamp or the army reeks to me of ambulance at the bottom of the cliff mentality. As Jeannine Parvati Baker used to say: the wound reveals the cure.
What wound do these teens have? Let me tell you, the cure isn’t to be found in more violence and aggression.

life beyond this one

Another headline this week sits on the fact that food has gone up an average of £15 per week per family of four. These prices are based on staples such as milk (aggh, leave it for the baby calf to drink), thick white bread (aggggh, denatured wheat and chemicals which turn to glue in the digestive tract).

I was in my local town tonight, here in Cumbria, and the petrol forecourts were heaving with panic buyers in preparation for the oil refinery strike in Scotland. Many pumps were empty.

I don’t understand this about humans. We KNOW that our way of life is going to change…we KNOW oil is on the way out...but what are people doing, in their own lives, to prepare for this time of transition?

Ever noticed that the day before a public holiday that people go shopping and buy a month’s worth of food? How can you possibly starve to death in a couple of days? You can’t!

I am staggered that people rely so heavily on things like milk and bread. When the time comes for people to truly be self-sufficient I can’t help but wonder what will happen to us as a species. In our culture, we have no sense of co-operation or partnership ~ on a mass level, that is. Obviously there are many individuals who are preparing for the times to come and who are willing to work with others.

We can’t continue this ‘head in the sand/the oil depletion won’t affect me’ thing for that much longer. When things start hotting up, one thing’s for sure, THIS GOVERNMENT will not be here to help you. The politicians will only look after themselves.

This week I’d like to recommend a book called The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins ~ it’s about going from oil dependency to local resilience. Read it and find out how to make YOUR town a transition town. Don’t leave things till it is too late. Panic and fear won’t serve anyone. Embrace change, take little steps now…and empower yourself and your family into a new, ethical and realistic lifestyle.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Compensation for vaccine related autism...

Well, the UK government might still like to pretend that vaccines are perfectly safe, but...(read this!)

US Court awards compensation for vaccine-related autism

In a secret ruling that has only just come to light, the US Court of Federal Claims has conceded that the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, which was in vaccines until 2002, caused autism in the case of one child.

The ruling is one of 4,900 cases currently being considered for compensation payments, and it is feared by health officials that it could open the floodgates for even more claims.

It also appears to support the controversial findings of Dr Andrew Wakefield, who, in 1998, suggested a link between the vaccine and autism. (veronika's note: but he's still being hauled over the coals here in the UK!)

US Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler's November ruling, was one of three test cases into the MMR-autism link that was being considered by a three-member panel. In his conclusion, Keisler said that "compensation is appropriate".

The case involved a child who, when she was 18 months old, received nine vaccinations in July 2000, two of which included thimerosal. Within days, the girl, who had previously been healthy, suddenly exhibited no response to verbal direction, loss of language skills, no eye contact, insomnia, incessant screaming, and arching. A diagnosis of autism was confirmed seven months later.

In its defense, the US government said the girl had a pre-existing mitochondrial disorder that was aggravated by the vaccine. The US court concluded that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine can cause autism.

(Source: The Huffington Post, February 25, 2008).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The metaphysical side of miscarriage

The following questions were asked in relation to comments in my last posting.

Can I ask a very personal question then Veronika? One you do not have to answer. Do you hold that your miscarriages were down to emotional imbalance in yourself? How do you live with that? Excuse my boldness. I speak as one miscarrier to another.

I see the four miscarriages I’ve had over the years as symbolic of where I was at those times in my life. I also see them differently than I did when the first one happened. The short answer to your question is ‘yes’. Today’s blog is the long answer to your question.

At 19, I became pregnant to someone I was in a steady relationship with ~ though it was definitely not planned (consciously). [I don’t believe any pregnancy is unplanned, though they may happen unconsciously].

My boyfriend was in University and the news of my pregnancy was, to him, like a death sentence. He was a ‘good’ Lutheran lad from a well-to-do family and had great plans for his career as a medical laboratory technician. He ‘demanded’ I have an abortion. I told him where to go. I’d been on the pill, but like my mum who’d conceived twice while on the contraceptive pill, it wasn’t fool proof. Thankfully, I also learnt quite early on not to continue putting synthetic chemicals and hormones into my body.

I was absolutely petrified of being a single mum at 19 (and clearly, 21 years later I am so glad I didn’t become a mother then ~ not in terms of age, but in terms of knowledge). I’d been living with my older sister who became a single mum at 24. I’d witnessed her journey and I looked after her child each night so she could go out to work. It was not a path I wanted for my child. Despite the fear, I knew I wouldn’t have killed my child simply because the father was worried about tainting his reputation. In hindsight, I see that I did contribute to the death in some way.

My baby died at about 13 weeks ~ the time people usually wait before telling others as the chances of miscarriage are very high in this first trimester. My baby ‘shrivelled up’ and died…and stayed in my womb. I see this as very symbolic of the child registering the emotions that I was feeling ~ the fear of being a mum and yet not wanting to ‘get rid’ of the baby ~ and also the rejection by the father. So my body ‘held on’ until such time as the surgeons dragged it out of my body. When I came out anaesthetic, I was crying my eyes out in desperation for my baby. The surgeon told me to shut up and said “don’t be stupid, the baby was dead anyway. There have been times in my life, like that moment, where I’ve really despised men for their incredible insensitivity.

The relationship continued for a couple more years by which time alcohol featured in my life a lot more. How’s that for emotional imbalance and dysfunction?!

My next pregnancy, at 21, was a real shock to my system, not to mention another complete surprise. How did that happen again? The months went by and my tummy grew bigger and bigger. Again, my boyfriend wanted nothing to do with ‘a baby’. I ended the relationship and moved interstate back to my home town when I was about six months pregnant. I’d obviously stopped drinking when I knew I was pregnant but by then the damage had been done. When I see pregnancy studies which say it is safe to drink ‘x’ amount a day/week during pregnancy, I cringe. Personally, I wouldn’t touch a drop now.

I hadn’t told my parents I was pregnant and really wasn’t sure how I’d break the news.

At some point though, I figured something wasn’t right. I’d wake in the morning to my tummy pulsating. And then I had blood in my knickers, but it was strange blood ~ unlike when you have your period.

Anyway, it turned out that my baby had died and the pregnancy was what is called a hydatafoid mole…essentially the baby grows into a tumour resembling a bunch of grapes and it just keeps growing. The blood loss I experienced was a ‘grape’ or several grapes breaking.

Again, I see the way the ‘death’ of the baby (miscarriage) happened as being a manifestation of what was happening in my life…the not wanting to ‘let go’ of the baby, but also being very scared of being a mother and telling my family.

I suppose in some ways, at a cellular level, I carried the shame of single motherhood that my mother had worn when she become a mum at 16. She was new to Australia, and could hardly speak English. The man she became pregnant to (the love of her life) abandoned her with the gift of money for an abortion. What is it with men??????

I have absolutely NO issues with single mums (though I believe the ideal for a baby is two loving parents) and yet I’m sure back then I had taken on some of my mum’s stuff. Her first baby was back in 1959…a very different world! Her greatest fear for her daughters was that they’d have babies outside of marriage. When I left home at 16, my mum’s words of advice were: don’t bleach your hair, don’t wear make-up and don’t get pregnant. Darn mum, sorry. I did all three!

My next two miscarriages happened within my marriage and I find it interesting how the ‘body’ of the baby just came away naturally as if having a period. The grief I felt was huge, don’t get me wrong ~ I REALLY ached ~ but the way my body released the baby so easily is very telling of how different I was, as a person, by then ~ and also that I was in the safety of a very loving marriage.

Why did I miscarry then? I don’t know. Although thrilled at the pregnancies, I’m sure the usual fears of ‘how will I cope with another child?’ permeated every cell of my being. It could have been that I was still busy nourishing two other young children and at some level didn’t feel ready to add to the brood.

One thing I feel very strongly about when it comes to miscarriage is that pregnancy is a co-creation ~ and that the soul choosing to incarnate may have gotten everything needed for its journey/evolution by having the opportunity to be in that body/in your body for just a few weeks.

We look at life in quite a strange way…that anything less than three score year and ten is a life cut short. I see pregnancy ~ no matter if for a few days or weeks or full-term ~ as a complete honour. It is a privilege to provide a temporary earthly home for an incarnating soul.

My miscarriages have shown me that the job of a mother, as the host body, is to offer the most optimal environment ~ and that HAS to include being emotionally balanced. The relationship we have with our partner ~ whether he is in our life or not ~ is an important part of that emotional balance. But even if he is clueless to his partner's needs, it doesn't mean a woman can't or shouldn't take 100% responsibility for the important role she is playing.

I still feel someone’s death or a miscarriage deeply, and often painfully ~ I feel that at an emotional level. When a friend phones to tell me she’s miscarried, it hurts deeply. I don't hurt for the baby ~ the soul has made its choice ~ I hurt for my friend and the grief she's going through.

At the spiritual level, I understand that everything is as it should be. That there is no right and wrong.

I also trust that if the ‘conditions’ were right in the womb, there would be no miscarriage. So what makes the right condition in a womb? And why do some babies survive in utero against all odds? I think that’s where the answers have to lie beyond the physical (i.e.) metaphysical. I also know, that if a soul is meant to incarnate on this Earth, nothing will stop it getting here! But let’s make every baby’s journey Earthside the best it can possibly be. We don’t need more Hitlers, Husseins or Mugabes in this world. Have a look at what these men had in common…and you’ll understand my passion for conscious conception, peaceful pregnancy, gentle birth, full-term breastfeeding and conscious parenting.

I’m passionate about encouraging ‘peaceful’ pregnancies. One of the things I’ve found so discouraging in our culture is this push for women to work throughout pregnancy. Culturally, we should be supporting women to use this sacred time as a natural sabbatical ~ to dream, create, sleep, be in nature, meditate, listen to beautiful music. Sadly, the ‘need’ for money or belief we never have enough, pushes women to listen to outside forces rather than their inner wisdom. Entire pregnancies are consumed with women working till the last possible moment because of the fear of not enough money.

So, to the question: how do I live with myself knowing that I ‘created’ my miscarriages? Like everything else in can either spend your days regretting or learn from the experience. My husband and I have chosen not to have more children, but one thing we both know for sure is that if one ‘snuck’ through the net, so to speak, that baby would be welcomed 100% ..there’d be no worrying about how I’d cope or where we’d fit another babe into our life or any other niggly questions. I wouldn’t waste a single second ‘freaking out’ that I was pregnant. We both would be completely accepting and joyous and celebrate every second of the journey together.

I hope that answers your question, Libby.