3 top tips

  1. Listen first, really hear what it is that someone is saying – it may not be what you’re expecting
  2. Don’t assume you’ve had the same experience even when if their story sounds similar to yours, because we all experience our stories differently.
  3. Encourage others to think for themselves first and only offer advice when invited to do so – even then, offer it lightly & don’t be offended if your advice isn’t taken… remember, this isn’t about you!


It was 15 ½ years ago and I can picture it now; my brand-new baby son was a week old, post-natal depression had me in its grip and my dream of being-the-perfect-mum was in tatters.

I’d planned to breastfeed my little one, just as my mum had done, successfully, before me (she told me often, so I was in no doubt…) but it was so hard. He was so hungry, and I struggled to feed him enough… but I could not face giving up and telling my mum; what would she think?

On my other shoulder sat my mother-in-law, who was firmly in the bottle-feeding camp, again, telling me often… I loved both these women dearly but had lost track of myself in the overnight life-change and all the black OR white, one-OR-the-other advice that was so well-meaningly given. Who was I and what did I want to do in this so-very-new role?

The answer arrived out of the blue, literally, as a navy-uniformed midwife (one in a series that week) showed up and properly listened to me. Her solution was simple… I could choose AND I could choose to do both, breast feed AND bottle feed… what?! Oh yes please. Why had no-one said this before? Why had no-one listened?

With a huge weight (and myth) lifted, I chose exactly how I wanted to feed my baby; at last we bonded – the joy! – and his dad shared in the closeness too, also taking his share of the feeding and bonding… a true win-win. I can picture that conversation now; that seemingly fleeting connection that’s stayed with me so powerfully for so many years. I wonder how she would feel now if I shared this story with her?

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