Tag Archives: Bed Sharing

Reflections on the Continuum Concept

Link to Continum Concept Article

First published in JUNO magazine, Issue 28, Summer 2012; http://www.junomagazine.com/

Stone Age Parenting

Our babies are born with the same desires as a baby born in Stone Age times. It is our environment and culture which has so radically changed, affecting how we parent our children today. Living in a fast-paced, materially and technologically driven age we need more than ever to listen to our inner voice, for the sake of our children’s and our own wellbeing.

I am bringing up my son, Ewan, in the 2010’s in modern day Britain. However, in as many ways as possible I parent him as our Stone Age ancestors once did. This includes baby-wearing, sustained breastfeeding and baby-led weaning, bed-sharing, using natural toiletries and medicines and attempting elimination communication (also called potty or natural toilet training).
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Toddler wearing

Frist published in ‘Mothering’ magazine, April 4th 2012

Ewan in his Tula
Ewan in his Tula

An evening Ceilidh

It is the evening of our friend’s wedding. We dance enthusiastically at the ceilidh, a hundred bodies dressed in their finest, moving in tune to the music. Instinctively I swoop to avoid a flying arm, my free hand reassuringly touching the blonde mop nestled at my chest. As I move to the rhythms of the music my son unlatches himself from my breast, drifting contentedly into sleep. He nestles comfortably into my body, his eyes heavy, his breathing steady, as all around him people twirl to the rhythm of the music. Tummy full of milk, he is comforted by the familiar sounds of my heartbeat and voice, my smell and the touch of my hair on his face, sleeping soundly on my front for the rest of the evening. Conscious of his every movement, I am free to join in the evening’s celebrations, safe in the knowledge he is with me.
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Bedsharing: one way of letting our children in

Our young children are our most vulnerable members of society. It seems somewhat crazy that as parents we go to such lengths to separate them from us, buying and using a myriad of plastic containers to achieve this. Why do we own so many containing devices? Are we afraid of letting our children in?

Reactions to bed-sharing

We don’t own a cot. If friends ask about Ewan’s sleeping habits I am open and honest about where he sleeps; we bed-share. Whilst some people respond with understanding and support, the look of horror on some people’s faces is almost comical (yet also upsetting). They ask questions such as ‘how do you cope?’, ‘aren’t you scared he’ll never leave?,’ doesn’t he wake you squirming in the night?’, ‘how do you maintain an intimate relationship with your husband?’, ‘it must surely be only for comfort?

People are simply curious and interested in what we do, often unsure of how or why we practice bed-sharing. These comments reveal some of the commonly held myths prevalent in the West surrounding bed-sharing, a lack of understanding and awareness around this most natural of human behaviours.

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Travelling with our little one

Welcome to the June edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Vacation and Travel.

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are sharing ideas, inspiration and information on travel and vacations! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I could write a book or two about travelling; however, aware of my audience, I shall attempt to be brief!  

The travelling bug

I have been described as a ‘roamer’ and a gypsy because of how much travelling I do. Indeed, I cannot sit still for long and love to explore. Perhaps this is why my son is so active, and why I married a fell runner and climber! I caught the travelling bug after completing a gap year at the age of 18, where I lived in Nepal, teaching Tibetan refugee children. This was a life-changing experience, which has greatly influenced my life choices. When I met Rich, my future husband, we pursued our shared love of mountaineering and travelling by escaping to the mountains of Wales, Scotland and France as often as possible. On graduating, disenchanted by a stressful job in London, I moved to Vietnam to teach English in Hanoi. Living in Vietnam gave me the opportunity to travel a lot in South East Asia. Richard joined me as part of his sabbatical from IBM, where we travelled together round Vietnam, China, Nepal and Tibet, before returning to the UK, where we shortly after got married, spending our honeymoon in Kenya and Zanzibar.

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Stepping out of the box and dealing with criticism

This post is part of the; Authentic Parenting May Carnival

My son, my teacher

My son is my greatest teacher. In our first meeting our eyes locked as he looked, all knowing and serene, into my eyes shining with wonder. He communicated, with a depth amazing for a newborn, that it was all OK, that he would show me the way. Each and every day he keeps this first unspoken promise, teaching me to listen to him and to my mothering instincts, to really trust nature.

Which path

There are moments when I am swayed by mainstream society, becoming a sheep plodding along the well trodden, comfortable path, craving approval, normality and recognition. At such times all I must do is stop, question, and look to my son to steer me back to the right path. Yet this path is little travelled in this modern age, weeds tangle and knot as tree trunks lie haphazardly blocking the way, ancient wisdom and primordial practices, half lost, so difficult to find amongst the debris.

Walking this lonely path I eagerly look for other like-minded souls. I find a few and stumble upon others who are supportive and appreciative of this alternative style, even if they choose not to practice it themselves. I also begin to search the virtual world, one of the many wonders of our modern age, sharing my parenting style through writing. I find a growing online community who listen, applaud and reflect on my words, as I in turn listen and learn from theirs.

Support groups are also a lifeline to me, one an informal weekly meeting between local mum friends, the other a local La Leche League group. I also find wisdom in natural parenting literature, including research about the benefits of attachment parenting, which helps affirm my belief what I am doing is right. My cousin recently pointed out that my parenting is an example of research-based practice, which to a certain extent is true, although my son is by far greatest teacher, research often backs-up my practice.

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Dear Bonnie Fuller; response to Time’ Breastfeeding Mom Is Nuts Like Other Extreme ‘Attachment Parenters’!’ posted 11th May 2012. Part Four

In response to; Bonnie Fuller; response to Time’ Breastfeeding Mom Is Nuts Like Other Extreme ‘Attachment Parenters’!’ posted 11th May 2012

  • I have made breastfeeding ‘the entire focus of [my] life’

This is wholly untrue. Nursing is a significant and integral part of my life, because it is one of the main ways I mother my child. However, it is not the focus of my life. It is one part of the whole, a part which enriches our lives, makes life easier and happier for us both.

  • I clearly have no time to inspire him with my efforts ‘to passionately pursue interests that can open uphis mind to ‘his own life possibilities’

This is an outlandish preposition. I hardly know where to start to defend nursing mothers from this slanderous attack. How you can equate breastfeeding with narrowing the life possibilities of their children is beyond me, but somehow you have managed to. Many women who choose to practice sustained breastfeeding are brave, passionate, strong women, who make the decision to carry-on beyond the prescribed social norm because of their convictions and knowledge of the many benefits. This in itself is a fantastic role model to follow, which cannot be faulted.

  • I have to carry Ewan ‘every single minute of the day’, and I ‘need to sleep with’ him in my bed, ‘even at risk of suffocating or crushing’ him.

I do not have the time or space to explore the fascinating topics of baby-wearing and bed-sharing in this post. Both these accusations again display your ignorance of attachment parenting. You are extreme in your views because you know so little about these behaviours, which again have been practiced for millennia and are still common in much of the world. Both baby-wearing and bed-sharing  are hugely misunderstood aspects of human behaviour; bed-sharing like sustained breastfeeding a cultural taboo in our society, baby-wearing often viewed as a ‘hippy’ activity which few ‘normal’ parents would choose to do with the option of a pushchair available. These are highly variable, complex activities which cannot easily be pigeon-holed or judged.

Continue reading Dear Bonnie Fuller; response to Time’ Breastfeeding Mom Is Nuts Like Other Extreme ‘Attachment Parenters’!’ posted 11th May 2012. Part Four

Part Six: Recovery and breastfeeding policy

Proud Mummy and Daddy, a little shell-shocked, on day three (Daddy's brithday!)

Recovery

Is hospital the best place to recover from giving birth? Once returned to the main maternity ward I failed to sleep at all. All around me was a tremendous din of crying babies. Surely there was something seriously wrong? All the newborns were crying; was it from shock, from separation from their mothers as they lay alone in plastic cots, seeking milk and the familiar warmth of bodies they had so recently left? The primeval sound haunted me. They were communicating in the only way they knew. Why was everyone ignoring them?

Breastfeeding policy

Is hospital the best place to learn how to breastfeed? An unfamiliar, clinical, stressful environment full of risk fuelled rules? I was instructed to feed Ewan in the communal nursery because it was apparently too risky to feed him in bed. I repeated the process of getting out of bed (no mean feat having just had a serious abdominal operation), and slowly pushing Ewan in his cot to the nursery. I was prohibited from carrying him in case I, his mother, dropped him. I managed to feed him sitting upright in a bright room. I was exhausted. The room was filled with other women who looked in a similar state of shock and dishevelment. I craved a familiar environment in which to recover and bond with my son.
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