Black Bean Brownies

I know what you’re thinking, I was thinking the same; beans in brownies? Whaaaaat? But trust me, it works. What’s more, they’re pretty healthy, so are a great guilt free treat for all the family.


  •  250g black beans (dried beans weigh about half the weight of soaked, so about 130g of dried to be on the safe side and follow instructions on the packet on how to cook)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder or cacao powder
  • 40g oats (I’ve substituted oats for flaxseeds before and they came out well or you could do half and half)
  • 40g blanched hazelnuts*(you can buy them like this, but if you have time to do your own then go for it)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 75g agave or maple syrup** (the real stuff)
  • 2 tbsp Xylitol/Stevia/unrefined sugar
  • 40g coconut oil (or veg oil if you don’t have coconut)  (40g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp plant milk (I use hemp because that’s what we have)
  • 100g chocolate chips or a chopped up chocolate bar
  • optional: more chocolate to melt and drizzle if you’re into that kind of thing

* If you have time, you could toast the hazelnuts in a pan to bring out their natural sweetness and hazlenuttiness (yes, that’s a word)
Keep them moving so they don’t burn – they’re done when they have some colour to them and they smell hazelnuttty.
** If you prefer sweeter brownies, add more sweetner or sugar, this is just what works for us. Taste after you’ve blended everything and then decide.

1) Preheat oven to 175℃ (345℉)
2) Put all of the ingredients, apart from the chocolate chips, in a food processor and  blend until everything is blended together – you might need to stop to scrape down the sides – you’re looking for a smoothish paste with no big chunks of anything, especially beans!
3) Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl and stir in the chocolate chips until everything is all mixed well.
4) Transfer to a square 8×8 baking tray or spoon into a cupcake tray.
5) Bake for 10-15 mins (depends on your oven, check after 10 mins)I usually bake until the top offers a bit of resistance when pressed and the sides of the brownie are beginning to come way from the sides of the tray, which is about 10 – 12 mins in my oven.
4) Allow to cool in the tray and then cut in to squares 

We keep ours in an airtight container. I’d like to tell you how many days they keep for, but they never last long enough to go stale!

Why I Don’t Make My Child Say “Sorry”

I don’t make my son say sorry… or please and thank you.

It’s nice to be nice and saying “please,” “thank you” and “sorry” shows people that we are considerate of their feelings, that we are grateful and polite. Manners are important. But here’s why I don’t make my son say “sorry,” “please” and “thank you.”

Why I Don’t Make My Son Say Please and Thank you

1: It would be hypocritical.

I like to think I have good manners, I would never deliberately be rude to someone – but do I always say please and thank you? No. Words matter, we all know that, but communication between humans often goes beyond words, most of our communication is nonverbal and we can express gratitude without saying “thank you.”

Often when I say “thank you” in everyday situations, it’s just a reflex – “ta” “cheers” “thanks” I say, without much thought behind the word. It’s just something I have been conditioned to say in certain situations.

Tone is important. The way we say things can show how we feel.

“Would you like a cup of tea?” My husband asks.

“Erm, I don’t think I do. Could I have a coffee instead?” I say as I look up from the TV and smile at him.

I didn’t say “please!”

“Here you go.” I hand my husband his dinner.

“ooh, this looks really nice.” He says before he tucks in.

He didn’t say “thank you!”

It’s difficult to convey tone in text, but you get the idea. I, as an adult, don’t always say “please” and “thank you” so why would I make my son say it? I don’t need him to thank me for everything I do for him and he doesn’t have to say please every time he asks for something.

“Mummy, more crispies” he asks with a cute little smile on his face.

That’s very different to him demanding crisps from me, which he has never done.

“Would you like something to eat?” I ask him


“What would you like?”

“Green beans!” he shouts excitedly (the kid loves edamame beans)

I want my son to use “please” and “thank you” because he understands why we use them. He’s two at the moment and his understanding of our complex social rules is only just starting to develop. This brings me to what we do around other people. Do I make him say “please” and “thank you” to other people? Nope. I want him to say it because he wants to, when he understands in which context we use those words – so I often say please and thank you on his behalf.

2: I don’t want to shame him or make him feel bad.

Picture this scenario:

You’ve invited friends around to your house for a party. You’re mid conversation with a couple of friends and you notice your glass is empty.

“Would you grab me another beer, love?” You call to your partner.

“Please…” they say as they look at you sternly.

“Please” you say obediently.

They bring you your beer and because you’re engrossed in a story your friend is telling you, you don’t look at your partner. Just as the beer touches your hand your partner pulls it away.

“Erm, what do you say?”

All the focus is on you now, your friend has stopped telling the story and your partner is staring down at you, holding your beer. You feel very small all of a sudden and you feel bad because clearly you’ve done something wrong.

You’ve paused for too long, prompting your partner to say: “What are the magic words?”

“Thank you.” You say as you can feel the blood flowing to your cheeks.

“Well done.” Your partner says.

I’m guessing the above scenario has never happened to you as an adult. It has certainly never happened to me, my husband would never embarrass me like that. Yet this is something we put our children through all of the time! As I said above, we don’t always need to say please and thank you, but we force our children to do it with complete disregard for their feelings.

Why I Don’t Make My Son Say Sorry.

I’ve separated “sorry” out from the other words because it is slightly more complex. Children will quickly learn that we say “please” when we ask for something or “thank you” when we receive something etc – those are pretty simple rules to follow, even if they don’t fully understand the meaning of the words or are unable to use them in other contexts. But sorry is different – to be truly sorry you have to be able empathise and you have to be able to make a connection between your actions and the person’s feelings. This is a complex process and toddlers aren’t able to do this yet. Don’t confuse mimicking emotions with genuine feelings of sorrow or empathy, empathy takes years to develop.

Making my child say sorry is only teaching them one thing: it’s ok to lie. If my son is incapable of empathising yet and isn’t sorry because he doesn’t know how to be, then making him say sorry is pointless. I want my son to say sorry with sincerity and because he understands the importance of the word (or gesture – a hug can say sorry too) not because he knows saying sorry will please me.

It reminds me of my time as a teacher, when I’ve asked a pupil to stay behind in class because they’ve misbehaved. Most of the time the pupil will be genuinely sorry, they didn’t mean to make the other pupil cry, things just got a bit out of hand. But sometimes, they aren’t sorry at all, but they’ve learned that by saying sorry, all is forgiven (and it’s usually the quickest way to go and join their friends in the playground) so they say it and it means nothing.

So what do I do if I don’t make my son say please, thank you and sorry?

Put simply, I model the behaviour I want to see in my son. From the moment our son was able to start handing us things, my husband and I would say thank you to him. When we ask him for something, we say please. We say thank you and please on his behalf so he can see us doing it. If he has done something that would normally warrant a “sorry,” we explain to him why someone is upset, angry etc and what he could do differently (“throwing hard toys hurts people and makes them sad, if you want to throw, then we can throw soft things”) Put simply, we lead by example.

And it works. My son says ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ he says ‘excuse me’ if he burps or wants to get passed us. He has recently started saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes and ‘pardon’ when he doesn’t hear what you’ve said. He doesn’t say all of those things, all of the time, but it doesn’t matter. He only says some of those things because he has heard us do it and probably liked our reactions to his super cute ‘yes pease’ and ‘fanku,’ but he is learning when to use them and he is learning by watching his dad and I and other people. His learning is happening organically and at his pace.

The problem as I see it, is that most of the time, parents are worried about what other people think of them or more specifically, what they think of them as parents. Having a child who doesn’t show basic manners, might reflect badly on them. Although most of the way our child behaves, is a reflection of our parenting, some things aren’t. Most things are children behaving in a way that is appropriate to their age and brain development. If people want to judge me because my son doesn’t say please and thank you on cue, then that’s just a reflection of their lack of understanding of child development.

Parents, trust that your little toddler is going to learn the things they need to learn and know they will do it at their own pace. Our job as parents is to lead by example. Be the person you want your child to become and they will follow.

We Need to Hear More Positive Birth Stories

I want to share the story of my son’s birth and the things I did that I believe helped me have a successful, natural birth. I want to share because I want to help remove the fear and negativity that still seems to surround childbirth. I know not all births go as planned, but I want to show that some do – in fact many do, we just don’t hear about them.

When my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby, I went into research mode and read everything I could find on what to expect when I got pregnant and what would happen to my body and why. I felt ready!

After only two months of trying, I became pregnant (I was shocked too, I thought it would take longer!) and our journey to parenthood began. But then something happened that wasn’t in any of the books I read… practically uninvited, other woman started telling me their pregnancy and birth stories and they all had one thing in common – they were all negative experiences.

Now, having never experienced pregnancy before, they were not the stories I wanted to hear. I was told about terrible morning sickness, heart burn, stretch marks, back ache… then if I got through all that, I had a long labour to look forward to, complete with tears that would need many stitches and prevent me from sitting or peeing properly, then there would be the world and his wife down at the business end checking various things, the intrusive medical interventions because the baby would be stuck or be the wrong way round or I’d be too tired to push…argh! Luckily, I had every faith in  my body’s ability to grow and then birth my baby– but not all women do and I could see how someone else hearing those stories would have just added to any fear and uncertainty they already felt. I didn’t doubt my body’s ability to perform all its other functions, so why would I doubt its ability when it came to child birth?

I  had a very uneventful pregnancy, with a bit of sciatica towards the end. I loved being pregnant. I felt like I was part of something very special and I was doing something amazing. I had this little life growing inside of me and every time I felt him wiggle or kick, it made me smile. My body had actually made a human! I would lie there at night time, my hand on my belly, trying to imagine what he might look like and I would sing to him on my drive to work. It was the strangest feeling to think that I was never on my own because I was carrying this little person around with me. Enjoy your pregnancy, even if there are parts of it you struggle with. Know that every day that passes, your little human is growing stronger and bigger.

I’d read and been told that birth was like running a marathon, so it made sense to me to prepare both my body and mind for this ‘marathon’ (you don’t just rock up to the London Marathon without having done any training, right?) My friend had given me a hypnobirthing book and I practised the techniques every day. I taped a list of positive affirmations above my bed so I would see them before I went to sleep and when I woke up. I did light exercise and yoga to keep my body in decent shape, I sat and slept in the best positions for baby to be in the best position, I exercised my pelvic floor muscles EVERY DAY (those bad boys play a crucial part during birth and afterwards) and during the later stages of pregnancy we did perineal massage . I felt ready!

At around 3 in the morning, at 37 weeks and 5 days, my waters broke. I climbed out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. I was certain it was my waters that had broken and I was excited. I sat on the toilet for a minute or so to make sure it definitely was my waters, popped on a maternity pad and went in to break the news to my sleeping hubby. At that point, I wasn’t having any contractions that I could feel and I sat for a few moments to gather myself while my husband phoned the maternity ward. About 45 mins after I’d got out of bed, we were in the car and on our way to the hospital. (I had wanted a home birth, but because of a heart condition I have, I was advised that I would have to birth in hospital, under the care of my consultant)

We arrived at the hospital and I still couldn’t feel any contractions. The midwife examined me and I was 3cms dilated. About an hour later, I did start to feel the contractions and they started to become more intense and closer together – I knew each surge brought me closer to meeting my baby! I spent most of my time during those early contractions on my hands and knees, listening to my birthing music and visualising my cervix expanding. The sensation was like nothing I’ve ever felt before – but was it painful? I wouldn’t’ describe it as painful, no. Pain for me is a signal from your brain telling you that something is wrong and I knew that nothing was wrong and that my body was just doing what it needed to do. The surges were intense and they increased in intensity until I was fully dilated and then I was overcome with an overwhelming urge to push. Up to that point, I had allowed my body to do its thing, I was breathing my baby out, the contractions were doing all the work for me, but then came the moment when I just wanted to push. It didn’t take lots of pushing before he was out. There was a bearable sting as his head crowned and then the next surge pushed the rest of him out. At  10am, after what felt like an incredibly short labour, my son was born. The midwife passed him through my legs to me (I had given birth on my hands and knees) and I looked down at this tiny baby, that I had just brought in to the world. The midwife commented on my strong pelvic floor muscles (all those exercises paid off!) and described my birth as a ‘text book birth.’ I was hugely proud of what my body had just done.

We delayed cord clamping  until the blood had stopped flowing and I delivered the placenta naturally. I had one very minor tear and what the midwife described as a ‘graze’ and had a stitch for each. I was pooping and peeing without any issues that same day.

Our son was at my breast within 30 minutes of being born – my body had grown him and now my body would continue that journey through breastfeeding. Putting him to my breast felt like the most natural thing in the world to do and I can only imagine how comforting it was for him after being pushed out of his safe world inside of me.

So what happened that I wasn’t expecting?

The anaesthetic injection I was given for the stitches, bloody stung!

After I’d given birth, I fainted…twice. Once on the toilet and once on my way back from the toilet. Once I was back in bed and had had a drink and a snack, I was fine.

I didn’t get my water birth. I have a heart condition which meant my birth was consultant led. The midwives wanted the ok from my consultant before they’d let me in the water – everything progressed so quickly that my son was on his way out before the consultant had come on duty.

I definitely wasn’t expecting everything to happen as quickly as it did.


I know that sometimes, with all the will in the world, things don’t go to plan and that natural birth you wanted doesn’t happen – but in the absence of a medical issue, there are things you can do to make a positive, natural birth more likely.

Before Birth

  1. Have Confidence in Your Body: Know that your body can absolutely do this! Like all mammals, we are designed to procreate, if we were rubbish at giving birth, our species would be up the proverbial creek!
  2. Prepare Your Mind: This links to the first point. Take time daily to repeat some positive birth affirmations. Programme your mind so that when the time comes to meet your baby, you will be there full of confidence and free of doubts. Read other positive birth stories, watch You Tube videos of successful natural births. Don’t watch things like One Born Every Minute, not all births are like that!
  3.  Prepare Your Body:I know this one isn’t always easy, given a lot of women work right up to their due date, but eat well and when you can, rest! Sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry – listen to your body. Sleep on your left side, sit up straight or slightly forward, do your pelvic floor exercises (I can’t repeat that one enough) do your pelvic floor exercises! Do light exercise, some pregnancy yoga and later in the pregnancy, perineal massage. Be proactive at doing what is best for your body and your baby.

On The Day

  1. Do It In The Dark: Oxytocin, doesn’t like the light. Oxytocin is needed for contractions to happen. Bright lights and noise are not a friend of oxytocin. Turn down the lights when you go in to labour, play music/sounds that you find relaxing. If you’re scared or stressed, it will slow labour down or even stop it.
  2. Limit Examinations: You need to feel relaxed and internal examinations can break that relaxation. Knowing how many centimetres you’re dilated is not going to speed things up and could have a negative effect on you if you are not as far along as you thought. Only have examinations that are absolutely necessary. You can refuse any examinations.
  3. Keep Trusting Your Body: It’s easy during the throws of labour to doubt your body – ‘can I really do this?’ The answer is yes. It may feel more intense than you expected, but your body knows what it’s doing (women in comas have given birth) let it get on with it and know that billions of women before you and like all your female ancestors, you can absolutely do it!
  4. Get Off Your Back: We are not designed to give birth on our back – the only people who benefit from you lying on your back during birth, is the medical staff. When you’re on your back, you are literally pushing up hill, against gravity, you also reduce the size of your pelvic space. Lying on your back will make birthing slower, harder and increases your chance of tearing or needing an assisted birth. Giving Birth Upright – 9 Huge Benefits | BellyBelly  Get on your knees, get on all fours, you can even stand!
  5. You Don’t Need All The Drugs: Ok, this is a controversial one and each person’s pain threshold is different, but just like lying on your back puts you at greater risk of needing an assisted birth, so does the use of drugs during labour. There are also risks to baby which you need to be aware of. Do your research on this one and make an informed decision. Pain relief in labour | NCT

Remember, you too, can have a positive birth experience and when you do, remember to share your story with other women – together we can take the fear away from birth.


Have you had a positive birth experience you’d like to share? Please leave your story in the comments, I would love to read them and I’m sure expectant mothers out there would too!

Easy Mushroom Stroganoff


Like most of my recipes, this is pretty simple to make and can be adapted to suit your own pallet.

This serves 2 adults


1 cup of cashews

2 cups of water

1tspn of nutmeg

1 green garlic bulb plus stalk (that’s right, I said ‘bulb’ not clove. Use in place of and like an onion. If you can’t get hold of green garlic, use 3 garlic gloves and one medium sized white onion)

200g of chestnut mushrooms, sliced.

Half a packet of vegan Quorn pieces (roughly 140g) or other meat substitute

Salt and pepper to taste.


1) Place cashews, water and nutmeg in a blender and blitz until smooth. Place to one side.

2) Chop garlic and fry on a medium heat until it starts to colour.

3) Add mushrooms, don’t stir until mushrooms start to colour otherwise you’ll get slimy mushrooms and no one wants that!

4) Add Quorn/meat substitute and Cashew cream and simmer until Quorn is cooked through, about 10-15 mins (or cook meat substitute according to instructions) Add more water if you want a thinner sauce.

Serve with rice, quinoa, couscous or even pasta.

Banana, Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Banana, Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

In my constant quest to find sweet treats that are guilt free and good for me, I came across a recipe for banana ice cream made from nothing other than bananas! I added cocoa powder and peanut butter and created something super tasty.

This recipe is dairy free, soya free and with no added sugar, is a great treat for the little ones.

These quantities make enough ice cream for two adult portions.


  • 2 Frozen bananas
  • 1 tablespoon of organic cocoa powder (I use Green and Blacks organic and Fairtrade cocoa powder)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter (I use Meridian smooth peanut butter. 100% peanuts, that’s it!)


  1. Peel and chop the bananas and pop them in the freezer overnight (or at least 4 hrs if you want the ice cream that same day. As long as they’re properly frozen, you’re good to go!)
  2. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and on the fastest setting, blitz everything together.
  3. At first the mixture will resemble bread crumbs but keep mixing and it will transform into smooth ice cream in front of your very eyes!


Totally Naked Bars


Totally Naked Bars (or whatever shape you want to make them)

This recipe is really simple! All you need to make these delicious treats is a food processor and about 15 minutes.

I’ve made these into little balls, bars and discs – it all depends on my mood.

I use measuring cups, but if you don’t have them, there’s no reason you can’t use teacups, the ratios are more important than the weights.

You will need:

2 cups of pitted dates

1 cup of cashews

2 heaped tablespoons of Fairtrade cocoa powder


Blitz the cashews in your food processor until they are the consistency of breadcrumbs (this is important if you’re making the bars for children under 3)

Add the dates and cocoa powder and process until everything is thoroughly combined

Tip the mixture out and have fun moulding into whatever size and shape you desire!

That’s it!



Introducing My 5 Month Old to a Potty

When I first read about Elimination communication, it seemed that if you were not going to go for the ‘all or nothing’ approach, then you wouldn’t be doing it properly and it wouldn’t work. There was no way that I was going to risk covering myself and the carpet in our rented house, with my son’s poop and pee, so I decided that I would wait until a more ‘normal’ age to begin potty training.

I am lucky enough to have been able to take a whole year of maternity leave, which means I’m with my son all day, everyday and during the evening because we bedshare.  At around 5 months I began to notice little things that he would do before he pooped, so for a few days I decided to really observe him and see if I really could tell when he was about to poop or pee. After those few days, I was convinced I knew what his signals or cues were, so I decided I was going to give EC or baby led potty training a go. I found a great site and discovered that I didn’t have to plunge head first into sans nappy world and risk losing our security deposit! I could keep using nappies as a poop safety net and still give EC a try.

I know all babies are different, but here are some of my son’s “I need a poop” cues.

In the morning (usually around 6am) he gets a bit ‘kicky’ and he latches on and off the breast. Those are his first cues, then the moaning starts. At first these same cues could also mean he wanted to do a big burp, so I’d scoop him up and usually he’d bring up his wind (he has always brought up his wind really well) and then he’d happily go back to sleep. As time went on, it became apparent that he was waking up around the same time and then doing a poop in his nappy, so I started putting him on his potty when those first signs appeared at what had become his morning poop time and into the potty the poop went. Result!

During the day was a little more tricky. At first I would just take him to his potty after a feed or a nap and hope for the best and most times he would do a wee or a poop.

Then, as I started to watch him carefully, I recognised those same cues as his morning poop; latching on and off, kicking and moaning – he also stared mouthing my shoulder or neck if I was holding him.

We’re doing well, we rarely have pooped filled nappies, so are using less of them which is better for the environment and the purse!

I’ve not quite managed to catch all his pees, he can easily sneak them out, but I have noticed he goes very still and quiet when he is peeing – I’m usually too slow to get him out of his happy and onto his potty, so for now I take him to his potty at regular intervals for a pee stop.

Along with visits to the potty, I am also teaching him the signs for poop and toilet. At almost 7 months, he can’t do those signs yet, but I know he’s taking them in and will eventually be able to tell me when he needs to go.

My experience of EC has been a really positive one. I feel like I know my son a lot better and I’m more in tune with his needs.

I appreciate that some mums have to go back to work sooner and can’t dedicate the time needed to this pathway, but if you’re able to, then I say give it a go! You’ve got nothing to lose and another bonding opportunity to gain!


Just as I was about to post this, my son, who was happily playing on the floor with his toys, let out a huge fart. I scooped him up and took him to his potty only to find he’d already done the business and leaked up his back for added fun! No one is perfect, eh? 😊

Beaming Baby Best for Bottoms


I did dabble with the idea of using cloth nappies, but instead opted for disposable ones. However, I would only use disposable nappies if I could find an eco-friendly nappy that was as good as the leading brands, otherwise I would have to bite the bullet and embrace reusable nappies. I discovered Beaming Baby and have never looked back! So, why do I like them so much and why should you swap to Beaming Baby?


Beaming baby ticked my first box. Including the packaging, they are over 75% bio-degradable. According to Beaming Baby: ‘that’s 40% more biodegradable than standard disposable nappies; this is the most biodegradable disposable nappy currently available in the UK.’ Most of the nappy biodegrades within 4 years instead of the 400 years that a standard nappy takes. 400 years! That means those standard nappies that go into landfills will still be there when our Great Great Grandchildren are changing their babies’ bottoms! I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit well with me! Beaming Baby’s environmentally friendly philosophy extends beyond their nappies. Their factory is currently building a wind farm to help them achieve their goal to be carbon neutral, thus reducing Global Warming for our children. They have a biodegradable water resistant outer sheet made with natural cotton and cornstarch paper. The absorbent layer is fortified with 100% natural cornstarch. The packaging is bio-degradable. They are totally chlorine free (yes, chlorine is used in nappies, that surprised me too) and contain only clean plastics which are used in the velcro patch and elasticated back and side panels.

Better for Baby’s Bottom

Apart from the reduced chemicals, Beaming Baby have also introduced a ‘Revolutionary Naturally Breathable Layer’ which allows your baby’s skin to…well, breath. (There’s also no nasty ‘nappy’ smell that you get with standard nappies) This is combined with a GM free Absorbent Core to keep the wetness away from baby’s bottom for up to 12 hours, so no need to wake baby in the middle of the night. Beaming Baby nappies are also infused with Chamomile, so are great for babies with sensitive bottoms!

The nappies have stretchy panels on both sides and at the back, so they move and stretch with your baby.

Great Service

If you order the nappies before 2pm, Beaming Baby guarantee next day delivery. Perfect if you’re on your last few nappies!

If your little one has a growth spurt and no longer fits the nappies you have, Beaming Baby will pick up any unopened nappies for FREE and replace them with the next size up. How’s that for service.

And as an extra bonus, Beaming Baby donate a percentage of their profits to various charities.

Beaming baby offer free trial packs, why not give them a go for a happy baby and happy planet!

Am I really a danger to my baby?

Last year, at 8 weeks old, our son was hospitalised for two weeks due to a urinary tract infection caused by an undiagnosed PUV. It was an awful time. Within hours of arriving at the hospital, our little baby was connected to a heart monitor, a drip and a feeding tube.  I began expressing milk so they could feed him through the tube and measure input and output.

Once he was more stable, we were transferred to our own room on a ward. He looked lost in the big cot he had been put in and soon became unsettled, I knew that all he wanted was to be held. I sat with him in my arms, being careful of all the wires and tubes, unable to breastfeed because he was still being fed through the tube. He eventually fell asleep and I put him back in the cot and tried to get some sleep myself. Fifteen minutes later, he woke up and so I sat holding him until daddy came back to the hospital and took over while I got some sleep.

A day or so later I was told that I could breastfeed him again. Now any breastfeeding mum knows that breastfeeding is not all about the milk, it’s also extremely comforting and soothing for a baby to be on the breast, this is more true when the baby is in a strange environment with strange faces, smells and sounds. Once our baby was allowed back on the breast, he didn’t want to be off it! This usually wouldn’t have bothered me at all. However, in a hospital setup, this was made very difficult. My bed was on one side of the room and he was connected to the various tubes and wires in his cot at the other side of the room. I knew that that particular set up wasn’t going to work for us; I would have to get out of bed every time he wanted to feed and sit in the uncomfortable chair by his bed to feed him/comfort him and more importantly, I would miss those early cues that let me know he needs me. That would have been a new experience for all of us. My husband asked the nurse if it would be possible for us to swap our son’s cot bed to a normal hospital bed so my son and I could share – he would have unlimited breast access and I would be able to get some sleep. We were told that they couldn’t do that for us as the “NHS don’t advocate co-sleeping because it increases the risk of cot-death.” I was told it was dangerous. My husband was told he couldn’t stay overnight in the room with us and given a ‘family room’ and I was left alone with our baby.

That night, my baby cried and I went to him, I fed him and held him until he fell asleep. I shuffled back to my bed and 30 minutes later, he cried again. So again, I went to him, soothed him and as soon as I put him back in his cot, he woke up again and he wanted to go back on the breast. This happened throughout the night.  I sat in the chair next to his cot, absolutely exhausted, terrified of falling asleep in case I dropped him. I stood up to feed him as I didn’t trust myself not to fall asleep in the chair. I felt sick. It was the first time in the 8 weeks of living with my son that I felt like I was a danger to him. I called my husband and he came straight to our room and took our son from me. I had some milk I had expressed into a bottle, but he wasn’t interested in the bottle, he cried and cried until he was back with me and my boobs!

The next day a doctor came in to take some bloods, she asked how I was, I told her I was exhausted due to being up all night with my son. “We’re not used to this setup,” I told her, “we bed-share at home. I’m not used to having to continuously get out of bed through the night and he’s not used to having to cry to wake me.”

The doctor looked at me with a look of horror on her face –“that is so dangerous!” she exclaimed. “It causes cot death.”

Women have been sharing a bed with their babies for thousands of years and rates of SIDS in countries who routinely bed share are incredibly low or none existent! What is dangerous, is not giving women the correct information!

Even while my son was having his brain scanned after a seizure, we were warned of the dangers of bed sharing – it seemed everyone was an expert on where my child should be sleeping. However, none of their opinions were evidence based.

While we were in hospital, NICE had just published their newest guidelines on co-sleeping, guidelines which didn’t differentiate between safely sharing a bed and falling asleep on the couch with your baby. They listed all the things that could lead to an increased risk of SIDS (prenatal and post natal smoking, drug taking, alcohol consumption and premature birth) which happen to be the same things that increase the SIDS risk in babies who are left on their own in a cot. While the report tells parents the dangers of co-sleeping it doesn’t tell parents how to co-sleep safely. It fails to highlight the benefits safe bed sharing can have for the breast feeding mother and her baby. In my opinion, this latest report does nothing to dispel the fears of mothers or to give them the knowledge and confidence they need to make an informed decision. Furthermore, it’s not until you read the full report that you see that NICE say that there is not enough evidence to say that co-sleeping causes SIDS, only that there may be an association. What concerned me the most was that women were being told by health professionals that they are putting their baby in danger by bed sharing, so in order to avoid this ‘danger’ women were moving away from the bed to feed and onto chairs and couches.

My son is nearly 6 months old now and we still bed share. We didn’t at the beginning, when I first brought him home he slept in his co-sleeping crib, but it soon became apparent that the best way for us all to get the most amount of rest was to bring him into our bed – it felt like the most natural thing in the world and the most convenient for us.

There are lots of places you can get good co-sleeping advice from, unfortunately new mums aren’t pointed towards these places by health professionals. I’ve included some links for those who want more information and advice.

The sad thing is, my experience in hospital is what some women experience on a nightly basis because they’re too scared to bring their baby into bed with them, no wonder some women give up breastfeeding in those early weeks!

Bed sharing and SIDS

Safe Sleep Seven – a guide to bed sharing safely

Co-sleeping information