Do four things at once? Check. Lift multiple heavy objects in one arm, while carrying a wriggling baby in the other? Check. Eat more than I’ve eaten ever before, while still losing weight? Check. I am Mom, I have superpowers.

Being a mom has been the best health regime of my life. I’ve lost weight, become strong, more productive, and learned how to be better to my body. All the while appreciating the present moment more often than I ever did before. I’ve made this transition not by conscious effort, but simply by doing what felt right to do in taking care of my daughter.

I understand that these sorts of changes do not naturally occur for all parents. Modern parenting methods often, in fact, seem to try to minimize parenting effects on the body, taking a more hands-off approach. I suppose it is mankind trying to make life easier, but from where I stand, it seems to do the opposite.

I remember a bottle-feeding friend of mine, as she pushed her daughter in her pram, talk about how she was trying to make time for the gym in order to lose her baby weight. While I nodded in understanding, all my brain could say was, who needs to go to the gym when breastfeeding helps you lose weight, and carrying and taking care of your children is one of the best workouts out there?

This is why I love natural and attachment parenting methods. While I give my daughter all she needs to grow up feeling loved, appreciated, and strong, I am also giving the same to myself.

My daughter, Jade, and I walk everywhere. She doesn’t like the car, and nor should she really. Being outside in the fresh air and exploring the world around her makes going places just as fun as getting there. I carry her a lot of the time in my woven wrap, though now that she’s more mobile at age one, I also let her walk a lot.

I also share pretty much everything I eat with her. I never bothered, or planned to bother with, “baby food”. Instead I just let her explore and try what she sees me eating. This has also been great for encouraging me to eat right. I’ve always been keen to give my body the right fuel, but seeing the food I’m giving her gives me a whole different perspective on what I really want (her) to be eating.

Jade sleeps only when she wants to sleep. This isn’t to say there aren’t times late at night when I don’t have an influence, but it’s all done via kind persuasion. I’ll nurse her, rock her, sing to her, or just run around with her until she’s tired. Eventually, we’re both well worn out and ready to snuggle up in bed together.

Yes, I burn a lot of energy. Being a full time house wife and mom is a lot to take care of, especially when you’re doing it the rough and tumble, let your kids get messy and throw flour around so they can learn, sort of way that I do it. I love it though. Spending tiring day after tiring day watching my daughter learn and seeing the world through new eyes beats my old life of TV and PC games any day.

Of course, I need a lot of fuel as a result. Both from running around, and from breastfeeding. I eat four or more meals a day, and crave and consume many more natural fats that I ever did before. But, as proof that it’s good to listen to your body, I have lost weight and feel great in this routine. I am 25 lbs (11.3 kg) lighter than my pre pregnancy weight, and that’s with more heavy muscle on my body than I’ve probably ever had on me in my adult life.

Note, I didn’t enter parenthood thinking ‘I want to become an attachment parent'; it just happened. Rather than just accepting common practices, which are not always common for the right reasons, I instead asked myself what felt instinctively right. What was natural? Eventually, from talking with other moms, I realized what I was doing was called attachment parenting.

So, if you’re not part of the club already, do give it a think for the future. Attachment parenting may be baby-led, but the baby isn’t the only one gaining from it!

Breastfeeding is the healthiest and most natural way to feed our babies, a fact even printed on the side of formula packaging, yet the best way in which to breastfeed seems to be an area of some debate. When, for how long, and in what manner you feed has become a confusing bundle of mixed advice, leaving new mothers struggling to feel like they are doing the right thing.

But why does it have to be so complicated? Surely other mammals are not following a carefully thought out formula, taught to them by others, to feed their babies. Their little ones are hungry, so they feed them; end of story.

Here are some of the breastfeeding “rules” I’ve heard of and why I DON’T listen to them:

“Your baby should feed every X hours.” Have you ever heard the expression “don’t wake a sleeping baby”? Babies don’t like being woken up, so why force them?  Your Baby knows when they are hungry and they will tell you when they are. As long as they look and act like a healthy, growing child, than that should be enough to let you know they are getting enough nourishment.

“It’s bad to let your baby feed for comfort.” I believe this instinct is there for a reason. Perhaps to make sure mom is there in times of danger, or perhaps to help keep mom’s milk supply at the right level. Either way, I trust evolution. As long as you’re eating healthy, your baby is too. So relax, your baby will regulate their amount of intake to what’s best for them.

“Baby should feed for X minutes each feed.” When I first heard this rule I heard something like 30 to 40 minutes is what should be expected, and with a newborn baby who took about that long, everything seemed grand. Then as time went on, suddenly my daughter started feeding for only 5 minutes at a time. I would try to coax her back on, but this would only upset her. I was worried she wasn’t getting enough! So I asked an adviser at the local breastfeeding group about it, and she cleared things up. Apparently some babies just get really efficient at it, and only need to feed 5 minutes at a time. I stopped pressuring Jade to eat more, she was happy, so I was happy. This was yet another reminder in baby knows best!

“You should try to get baby to drain both breasts at each feed.” Different babies feed differently. Some will want to go on to the next breast as soon as they’ve drained the first, some will be full off of one. It’s best to listen to your individual baby’s needs. For my Jade, she’s happy with just the one at most feeds.

“Switch which breast you use each time you feed.” This rule is to prevent you from losing the ability to feed from one breast or the other from lack of use, which can happen. However, don’t panic! Yes, you should make sure you are not forming habits that leave you only feeding from one breast all the time, but at the same time, think of this more like the ‘don’t always carry your bag on the same shoulder’ rule. If it makes sense to feed twice from the same side for whatever reason, that’s ok. You don’t need a mobile phone app or a bracelet or anything fancy like that to track what side you last fed on and rule your life. Let yourself relax and feel free to wing it a bit! Also, if you need an idea which breast you haven’t been using the last feed or two, just give them a squeeze!

Real Concerns of Breastfeeding

Sore nipples. Ok, so sore nipples are not fun. I’ve been there. When Jade was a newborn she was what my baby book called a “barracuda baby”, meaning when she fed she meant business. Blisters plagued my new-to-breastfeeding nipples, and I got to the point where I wasn’t sure I could take much more.

Some use shields to fix the problem, but these are controversial and I would mark them as a last resort, because feeding too much with nipple shields can inhibit your baby’s ability to feed straight off of the nipple. So what is a good solution? A midwife I talked to suggested Lanolin.

Lanolin is the oily wax in sheep’s wool which protects their coat from water. It’s all natural, and is fine to go through baby’s digestive system, making it a perfect soother for abused nipples. It made all the difference for me, and I would recommend buying a tube before baby arrives just in case.

For peace of mind though know that sore nipples, if you get them, are temporary! As long as your baby is latching on correctly (baby’s top lip right above the nipple, their lower lip a good mouthful below), the soreness will only be from your nipples adjusting to the new situation and will pass. Hang in there; any breastfeeding mom will tell you it’s worth it!

Milk Leakage. This problem is pretty much gone for me now but it was quite an annoying issue when Jade was a newborn. So, how to best solve it? For me, I purchased several pairs of organic cotton and hemp breast pads which work great during the day and are quite comfortable. They can also be easily thrown in the wash. You just have to make sure to switch them out for new ones whenever one starts to get damp, which I found usually happened on the breast that wasn’t being used during a feed.

As for night time, since I don’t wear a bra while I’m sleeping, I found having a small muslin against my breast and one to exchange it with within reaching distance was the best solution, especially for night time feeds while bed sharing.

Diet. You’ve probably heard there are things you should consume, and things you shouldn’t, while breastfeeding. However, there are some varying opinions in terms of do’s and don’ts. Here’s my take on it:

Do’s – Eat as much of a natural diet as possible to give baby the best energy possible.

Don’ts – Junk food, processed sugar, caffeine, alcohol. If you shouldn’t be eating it, neither should baby!

I think a lot of women don’t realise how much of what they eat actually gets into their breast milk, but let me assure you, it does. I made all natural lemon squares the other day and the next day Jade’s poo smelled like lemons!

Finally, note that I did not put raw meat or eggs on my “don’ts” list. As long as ingredients are carefully sourced from healthy, naturally raised stock and are eaten fresh, I consider these ingredients to be more of a gain rather than a loss. There are, after all, added nutrients to raw foods that are cooked away otherwise.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Why breastfeed? Because the list of benefits is beyond anything else!

Breastfed babies have better immunity, less allergies, are less prone to obesity, often grow to be more intelligent, and have a lesser chance of SIDS.

Moms who breastfeed are less vulnerable to postpartum depression, more relaxed, naturally lose weight, have a lower chance of breast cancer, and are able to form a tight bond with their baby through breastfeeding.

And to top it all off, breast milk is available free and on-demand! No heating or mixing up formula with a crying baby in the background, no worrying about transporting milk and keeping it refrigerated, less mess while baby eats, no sterilising bottles, and no worrying about baby getting too much or not enough.

Why breastfeed? Because breast milk is nature’s (w)hole-in-one!