If Your Legs Weren’t Working, What Would You Do?

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If you woke up one morning to find your legs didn’t work, would you go out and buy a wheelchair immediately? Or would you seek medical attention?

If the first doctor told you there’s nothing you can do and to just go buy a wheelchair, would you listen? Would you expect some exploration into why your legs aren’t working properly before being encouraged to accept your fate of never walking again?  Would you seek a second opinion? Would you go find someone who was an expert or specialist? Would you accept the advice of a general practitioner, knowing there are other professionals who dedicate their entire career to legs, the way they work and conditions that affect them? Would you want to see someone with a track record of helping people like you get walking again?

We have two legs and physical infrastructure, like nerves and muscles. Our bodies are designed to walk. If your body isn’t working the way it’s been designed to, shouldn’t you expect medical professionals to be concerned about that, rather than simply pointing you towards the most basic way of working around the problem?

If your legs weren’t working, would you expect friends and family to be concerned and to encourage you to get you back up on your feet? If they said to you “Walking is hard anyway. Using a wheelchair is much more convenient” how would that make you feel?  People might tell you that wheelchairs are more convenient, but that feels like a dirty big lie. They are expensive, and signify an ongoing cost that you wouldn’t otherwise have had. If you want to travel somewhere it will be inconvenient to take a wheelchair with you. Not only that, but an inability to walk exposes you consequential health risks.

Wheelchairs are a fantastic invention. Lots of people live wonderful lives without being able to walk. You aren’t against wheelchairs, and you aren’t making assumptions about people who are happy to use them. But you REALLY WANT TO WALK! You don’t want to rely on a wheelchair, you want your body to work the way it should. It’s important to you, and people encouraging you to quit and telling you that you’ll be fine without walking upsets and confuses you.

If your breasts aren’t feeding the way they should, you deserve to be treated in the same manner as if any other part of your body was not functioning properly. You deserve support and encouragement. If there is a genuine medical issue preventing your breasts from working properly, then you deserve help to get them working as closely to normal as possible, or at the very least, for someone experienced and knowledgeable to explain why.

We need to stop dismissing women with breastfeeding problems by simply encouraging them to quit. We need to stop being untruthful when we say there’s nothing that can be done when there are specialists they can be referred to. We need to stop insulting them by telling them it doesn’t matter how their baby is fed. For the woman who desperately wants to breastfeed, it matters a lot.

The Evolution of My Opinions About Weaning

Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/337345
Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/337345

I’m embarrassed to say that I used to be one of those people who genuinely thought women who breastfed past a certain age were doing it for their own, selfish reasons, and not for the benefit of their children.  I was raised in a family where breastfeeding to natural term was normal, but I went through that no-experience-yet-knows-it-all phase before I had kids.  I was confident that when I had kids I would breastfeed them, but that they would stop breastfeeding at around 12 months of age.

Fast forward around 6 months after my first son was born, and I had a more extreme idea – my son would self wean.  But “properly”.  I learned that the natural weaning age of children who are ecologically breastfed can be anywhere between 2 and 7 years of age.  Many children wean before 2 years of age due to our cultural practices of pushing children away from the breast by encouraging solids, independent sleep and separation from mum in an effort to promote independence.  My kids wouldn’t be like that. I planned to let them breastfed whenever and wherever they wanted, for as long as they wanted.

I’m ashamed of the fact that I briefly started holding other women to this holy-grail standard as well. I thought women who weaned their child without taking their child’s wants and needs into account were selfish – completely at odds with my pre-pregnancy ideas.  I believe I held these thoughts secretly, however if I ever personally made you feel inadequate because of these intolerant, naive views, I apologise.  You can mail me a hat and I will eat it, because I was wrong.  I have learned from my mistakes.

Until you have breastfed, let alone breastfed a 1yo, 2yo, 3yo or beyond then I say this with the utmost respect – you aren’t informed enough to be making decisions about when you will wean.  I sure as hell never planned to breastfeed anyone who was walking, talking or fighting with me about who is allowed to use the toilet first in the morning (true story).

It’s great to have an idea of what you want to achieve, and what your goals are.  It feels good to have something to aim for, and it feels really good when we succeed.  But what is perhaps even better, is keeping enough of an open mind to allow yourself to change your position.  You may learn something new –  something that makes you question your original opinion.  Your circumstances may change and your goals may turn out to be inappropriate for you.

Everyone’s story is different and you can only be the author of your own.  As it turned out, I didn’t have the self-sacrifice to allow self weaning, nor do I have the heart to take something away from my kids that that still means so much to them.  Miss 18mo breastfeeds mostly on demand.  Mr 4yo is night weaned with just a bedtime feed and a quick suckle when he wakes in the morning.

If you get involved in a discussion about when weaning should occur, then perhaps the best answer is that it should be whenever is right for that family.  I’m grateful that the embarrassment I feel for my previous naivety is overshadowed by the confidence that I have done what’s right for my family, and for that, I’m happy to eat as much humble pie as you can serve me.

 

 

Breastfeeding Through Pregnancy – Is She Getting Enough?

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For some mums, breastfeeding through pregnancy can be stressful.  One of the biggest concerns is  milk supply.

A lot of mums talk about their supply “drying up” during pregnancy.  I don’t know if this happened to me, because I just breastfed.  I wasn’t expressing milk or measuring how much came out of me.  I was still breastfeeding my son on demand (frequently – every few hours day and night).  I wasn’t focussed on letdowns or watching him swallow.  I just breastfed my son, and that’s all there was to it.

That said, something DEFINITELY changed at around 16 weeks.  My son’s stools and wind developed a foul, ripe odour that made my eyes water and my husband gag.  During pregnancy, your milk may change to colostrum, which is a natural laxative (to help your newborn pass their meconium).  I was very thankful that my son was doing all of his poo on the toilet at this age.

But as for whether or not I had “enough” milk, well, let’s look at the facts:
– Breastfeeding is about more than how many millilitres are being consumed.  No pump can measure how much love and comfort my son was getting from breastfeeds
– If he was still happy to breastfeed, then I was meeting his needs (whether his needs were nutritional or emotional didn’t really matter – whichever the problem was, breastfeeding was the solution)

If your child isn’t big on solids, don’t panic.  Keep your concerns about solid food in perspective – consider your child’s overall health and energy levels, not just what he’s eaten that day.

My son always breastfed throughout the night and in my second trimester, I night weaned him.  I felt he had increased his night time feeds, and it’s possible he was cluster feeding because my supply had been decreased.  However I feel it was more to do with the fact that I was pregnant and he was very aware that big changes were happening.

You may feel your child’s behaviour changes as your pregnancy progresses.  Considering the situation from your child’s perspective will allow you to address it more appropriately.  She doesn’t need more milk or food – she needs reassurance that life may change, but you will still be there for her.

We are always looking for new ways to doubt ourselves, but the truth is that women have been breastfeeding through pregnancy since the beginning of time.  If you’ve successfully breastfed up to the point of falling pregnant again, then you have every reason to trust your body’s ability to work the way it’s supposed to.

This information is general, and does not replace the advice of a medical professional.  If you have concerns about the health of your breastfed child I would encourage you to seek the support of an IBCLC.  You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM

 

My Experience With A Menstrual Cup (Guest Post)

 

Bree Miller has been an admin of Breastfeeders in Australia since it’s creation, over four years ago.  Here she tells us about her positive experience with a menstrual cup

Menstrual management was never really high on my list of priorities. Before I had kids I was on the pill almost non-stop so I rarely ever let myself get a period.

I was never a huge fan of tampons because they were uncomfortable and made me feel dry inside, and pads left me feeling dirty and damp. I didn’t realise there were any other options so I used them out of necessity. After I had my kids hormonal birth control sent me a bit bonkers so I could no longer use it, meaning I had to contend with my monthly mess again.

With the change in the shape of my body tampons now felt incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes painful so they were impossible to use. I was desperate to find an alternative that suited me. I tried cloth pads. While they met my needs in terms of reducing wastage and cost they still made me feel damp and it meant that certain activities, like swimming, were off the agenda while I had my period.

The only other option on the market was a menstrual cup. Honestly, the thought of putting a (seemingly large) plastic cup in my vagina freaked me out a bit. So I put it off for ages. About 2 years ago I finally gave in and built up the courage to order one. It arrived within a few days and thankfully it wasn’t as big as I had imagined and very soft and flexible.

I don’t think I have ever been so excited for my period to come, I just wanted to test it out. It took me two or three cycles to get my groove and fall in love with it. I eventually worked out that I must have a shorter vagina than normal and the stalk (the part that you grasp to remove it) irritated me a bit, but this problem was easily solved by turning the cup inside out. Alternatively it could be cut shorter or off completely.

Once I worked out which folding method suited me it was a breeze. It is the most comfortable form of menstrual management I’ve ever used. I never find myself too damp nor too dry. I could wear it for up to 12 hours so I rarely needed to empty or change it outside of my own home, even at night or on heavy flow days. And I was saving a bucket load of money on disposable products not to mention that my conscious was clearer because I was no longer contributing so much to landfill. I became more aware of my bodies cycles. And my menstrual pain decreased significantly.

Yes menstrual cups do take some time to get used to (usually 3-4 cycles). They are not for everyone. But the benefits of giving it a try well and truly outweigh the bother of learning a new technique for managing our bodies.

Bree Miller

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Green your cycle and get 20% off all JuJu products including JuJu Menstrual Cups and JuJu Cloth Pads.  Use the coupon code BreastfeedersAus at the checkout at www.juju.com.au.  Limit of 1 use per customer.  JuJu is the only Australian made and owned brand of menstrual cups.

 

There is no affiliate relationship between Breastfeeders in Australia or the Peaceful Lactivist and JuJu – the discount code is just a discount code, no commissions are being earned.

My Breastfed Child Doesn’t Eat Enough Food

Messy Mixed race baby eating food in high chair (Blend Images via AP Images)
Messy baby eating food in high chair (Blend Images via AP Images)

The worry about a lack of solid food is a big one, with many parents feeling that perhaps they need to wean their child from the breast in order to coerce them to consume more.
Here are some things to consider before you make any drastic decisions:
The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years. There are no if’s or but’s that come along with that recommendation. If your child is under 2 years old, then breastmilk can still be an important part of their diet.
According to Australian Government statistics, 63% of Australians are overweight or obese. From a cultural standpoint, it’s possible (maybe even likely) that your expectations of how much your child should eat are too high.
• Our stomach is supposed to be the size of our fist. If you feel your child hasn’t eaten very much, have them clench their hand and consider their meal in relation to the size of their fist. Suddenly a dozen grapes seems like a lot of food!
• Are you comparing how much your child eats with other children? The World Health Organisation recommends that children who aren’t breastfed receive 1-2 cups of milk and 1-2 meals per day MORE than their breastfed counterparts.

Where are your concerns coming from?

It’s normal for a child’s growth to slow down. In the first few months, our children gain a huge amount of weight very quickly. Both of my kids doubled their weight in the first three months of their lives. My son was born 3.330kg. If he continued to gain weight at the same rate as those first three months, he would have weighed 40kg by his third birthday. As your child continues growing, more of their energy will be spent developing their brain (you will see head circumference increase) and becoming active and mobile.
Which brings me to my next point. Is your child active? My two kids don’t eat a lot of food. But on this dreary, wet day that we’ve spent stuck inside at home, they’ve jumped on the beds and lounges, and laps up and down the hallway. They have been yelling, laughing and climbing on things. Kids who are malnourished don’t have the energy to run around and have fun.
Both of my kids have been quite wakeful, so I can relate to the temptation to blame a lack of solid food intake for this. However when my son was around 12 months old, I kept a diary of what he ate and how long he slept (including the frequency of his night wakings). It only took about a week to see that there was absolutely no relationship between how much he ate for dinner and how many hours he slept at night. In fact, the night he ate a really good meal of chicken and bacon pasta, he woke more frequently than usual.
There are many reasons why your child may be waking at night, and this is something that can be looked at more closely with an IBCLC or other professional. However the idea that our kids should eat themselves into a coma every night feels unhealthy.
It’s my personal opinion that a lot of the fears about breastfed kids and the volume of food they eat stems from an insecurity about breastfeeding, and whether we are “enough” for our kids. I believe this insecurity comes from the fact that breastfeeding past infancy is unusual in our culture. If you look at information besides what is the accepted norm in Australia, you may find yourself feeling much better about the value of your breastmilk for your toddler (see here, here and here).
Our obsession with our children and the amount of food they eat stems from our culture’s lack of appreciation for breastmilk teemed up the incidence and acceptance of obesity. Recognising this can help you look at the situation more objectively. This can collectively help us all to raise a healthier generation of Australians.

This information is general, and does not replace the advice of a medical professional.  If you have concerns about the health of your breastfed child I would encourage you to seek the support of an IBCLC.  You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM

Guest Blog – What’s a Postpartum Doula & How Can She Help?

14022342_10209093928159831_861745312555816785_nHave you ever heard of a Postpartum Doula?  We welcome Alisha Bourke, who is here to blog about being a Postpartum Doula for us.  You can follow Alisha on her website, Facebook or Instagram

Becoming a mother is the most amazing and significant event in a woman’s life. As she births her baby, she is also reborn – no longer is she the woman she was before. The emotional adjustment in this transition is incomparable. She is strong, powerful and courageous but also vulnerable.

We have been brought up in a world where we are told we can be anything we want to be. Where we are encouraged to follow our dreams and have amazing careers because anything is possible. This is great for equality, but as new mums in this modern world, being everything to everyone can be hard.

It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child but we have lost our villages. We don’t have the support there once was to care for a new baby, a new family dynamic and ourselves too. We are so proud of being able to achieve everything – why should raising our children be any different? Why should we need help when we have been taught to be independent and do everything for ourselves.

Bringing a baby into the world is such a huge adjustment for everyone involved. Why do we overlook planning for after baby arrives, when this is our most vulnerable time? When we are more tired than we have ever been in our lives, when we are healing from our births and learning to breastfeed – our emotions and hormones are in overdrive and we are faced with this overwhelming reality of what it looks like to be a mother and a parent.

We live in a society where we are proud to be up walking the same day as giving birth or going to the shop. We don’t allow ourselves the time needed to rest and recuperate, to really drink in all the deliciousness of a new baby. We know all the usual chores still need to be done so we just do them… That is where a Postpartum Doula can help.

A “Doula” meaning to mother the mother, is a support person, someone that is there to help you with your transition to motherhood. A person who will encourage, empower and support you. As a Postpartum Doula I want to be there for you! For whatever you need, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Having birthed four babies myself, I have lived in a world where I have been too proud to ask for or accept help. Attempting so many things whilst adjusting to this new family dynamic. Taking on so much, with so little sleep and so many hormones and emotions in running wild. This is not the way it has to be. We need to go back to the old days, build our villages, surround ourselves with people that want to help and make this transition easier and more beautiful.

It’s an honour to do that for my clients – to relieve some of their burden by giving an extra set of hands to help with light housework, cooking or entertaining other children. To be able to help with her new baby so she can rest or have a shower. To usher visitors in, and back out again if so desired. To help process the events of her birth and offer emotional support in her role as a mother. To help her establish breastfeeding and demonstrate some basic baby wearing and yoga stretches (to help the body recover) and to give her time until she is ready – she doesn’t need to rush. I want her to believe in herself and her ability to be an amazing mother.

When you hire a Postpartum Doula during your pregnancy, you can look forward to enjoying your newborn baby, instead of worrying about how you will manage everything else.

“You’ve got this Mumma. If you need an extra set of hands, mine are here waiting to help you”

Preparing to Breastfeed – Plan Your Support

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During pregnancy, there seems to be a lot of focus on birthing, but very little on what happens once your baby is born.  One of the biggest factors that can make or break a woman’s success in her breastfeeding journey is the support she receives.

  1. Go to a breastfeeding education class (the Australian Breastfeeding Association run them regularly in a variety of locations) and take a support person – your partner, mum, dad, best friend or whoever you plan to lean on.  It’s great to have a support person with you, just in case you are a little forgetful during pregnancy, or in case you suffer from brain fog or sleep deprivation once bub comes along.
  2. Find out of the Australian Breastfeeding Association have a local support group.  Find out when and where they hold meetings.  It can be a great comfort to go along to a meeting with your new baby, where all of the attendees actively support breastfeeding, and probably have breastfed in the past, if they aren’t currently breastfeeding.  You can also call the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM.  They have trained breastfeeding counsellors available 24/7 and you don’t need to be a member to access this service.
  3. Identify which of your friends and family are going to understand.  Which ladies have breastfed their kids?  Which men have supported their partners while breastfeeding?  Identify who will help you get through your bad days instead of encouraging you to quit.
  4. Ask your hospital if they employ an IBCLC (an international board certified lactation consultant – a health care professional who is trained and experienced in lactation), and if so, how you get access to them.  What days and times do they work?  Will you need to make an appointment with them?  Will they visit you during your hospital stay?  Can you see them after you have been discharged?
  5. What other public services are available?  Is there a local breastfeeding clinic?  Is there an IBCLC available through a local community health centre?  Do you need an appointment or can you drop in?
  6. What private services are available?  Are there any IBCLC’s working in private clinics?  Are there any that will come and see you at home?  How much do they cost?  Do they bulk bill?  If you have private health insurance, will you be eligible for a rebate?
  7. Are there any online support groups available?  The Breastfeeders in Australia Facebook group have over 16,000 members – that is a massive amount of collective knowledge!

Identifying your support network during pregnancy will help boost your confidence – knowing there are so many people there to help you succeed will be uplifting.  Don’t wait until you are tired, upset, hormonal or distressed before looking for support.  Preparing in advance will save you time in the long run.

Learning To Accept Help

Women Helping Each Other
Photo credit to tseringpaldron.com

I find it hard to accept help.  I’ve never been very good at it.  I am a proud person and hate feeling “needy”.  I am the eldest of 6 kids and learned fairly early that I needed to be independent and self sufficient; but then I also needed to be helpful, nurturing and strong for my siblings.  While I find it hard to accept help, I love to help other people.

I had a very difficult time establishing breastfeeding with my son, so I set out to share my experiences in the hopes that this would be helpful to other mums.  It felt really good to be able to help people.  I’m not going to lie, I have an ego, and I’m proud to be able to help people.  But more so than that, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  It makes me feel like I’m a good, worthwhile and valuable person.  Although I’ve felt the warmth of gratitude and appreciation, the best bits are the feelings from inside of me – the satisfaction of feeling like I’m a good person.  As a person who is quite extroverted and externally motivated, it’s really special to know within myself that I have done well.  Most of my life, I’ve relied on praise from other people to feel good about myself.

Some mums are like me and they don’t like to accept help.  This may be because they are too proud, too ashamed, or just so used to saying “No thanks, I’m OK” that the words escape their lips without them thinking it through.  In the past, I would say I have been afraid of accepting help from people, for fear that it makes me look incompetent.  I was a big girl, and I thought I could do it all by myself.

Then I had an “aha” moment.  If I feel really good when people allow me to help them, will it feel good for other people if I let them help me too?

For some reason, I always thought offers of help were only ever borne from pity.  I realised I was wrong.  People offer help because they care about you, and they want to make your load a little lighter.  I was doing my friends and family an injustice by refusing to allow them to do that for me.

So now when my mum says she’s going to pop over while I’m not home to do a little bit of cleaning, instead of saying “It’s fine, don’t worry about it” I say “Thanks mum, that would be lovely”.  When I’ve been sick and my sister offers to bring over some dinner, instead of saying “No, I’m feeling better now” I wonder if she’s going to bring over one of her amazing curry dishes.

The simple transaction of offering and accepting help strengthens our bonds and can leave all of us feeling a little bit better about our personal value and the value of those around us.  It’s something we can all feel good about if we let ourselves.

When Your Pregnant Friend Isn’t Interested In Breastfeeding

Photo credit to www.perfectbabyshower.com.au
Photo credit to www.perfectbabyshower.com.au

It can be heartbreaking when something you feel really passionate about, is of no interest to a close friend. Besides the obvious benefits, I personally have found so much joy and confidence as a woman and mother through breastfeeding, that it makes me sad that someone close to me won’t get to experience the same. It’s been good for me to breastfeed, and I want good things for the people I care about too.

But if your friend has expressly stated to you that she’s not interested in breastfeeding, what can you do?

You can respect her decision.

You can continue leading a positive example by breastfeeding your children.

You can refuse to give lactivists a bad name by pushing her after she’s already said no.

You can tell her you are there for her if she changes her mind, and you can leave it at that.

Please don’t insult your friend by suddenly “randomly” sharing lots of information on Facebook about breastfeeding in an attempt to passively convince her to change her mind. Please don’t assume your friend is selfish, ignorant or a bad parent just because she has made different decisions to you.

Think of it like door-knocking salesmen. You’re quietly going about your business at home when someone rudely knocks on your door and starts talking at you about crap you’re not interested in. They appear to be reciting from some terrible script and they don’t really give you any opportunity to ask a question or state your opinion without being steamrolled by another barrage of their premeditated speech.

Their foot is practically jammed in your doorway so that you can’t politely back out of their spiel. They aren’t interested in how their product is going to fit in with your personal circumstances. Not that you’d give them any information about your personal situation because they’re being so god damned rude. In fact, you’ve mentally taken a note to steer clear of this brand for the rest of your life, because you want nothing to do with a company that uses such rude tactics to get you on board.

Don’t be that kind of friend.

Be the friend that remembers that unsolicited advice SUCKS. Be the friend who graciously accepts her choice without question. Focus your energy on helping people who actually want your help. If you need to redirect your energy, please check out Breastfeeders in Australia on Facebook – literally thousands of women seeking support there.

She knows you breastfeed, and she knows it’s important to you.  If she changes her mind, she’ll remember your kindness, and maybe she’ll ask you for help.  It might not be this time, it might be when she has her next baby.  And if that happens, every word you didn’t say will be worth it.

Are Breastfed Babies Clingy?

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There’s a perception that breastfed babies are more clingy than those who are not. Is the term “clingy” fair or accurate?

You’re the mothership
Your baby grew INSIDE OF YOU and lived there for 9 months! Up until the day your baby was born, your body is all your baby has ever known. Your baby wants to be near you because you are your baby’s home. Compared to the womb, our world is loud, cold, bright and possibly scary. Everything is unfamiliar, except for you. Being away from you is alien.

Your baby doesn’t realise you are two separate people
That’s right. Up to several months old, your baby doesn’t realise you are two separate beings. Being away from you feels inherently wrong.

You’re (probably) his Number 1
Are you your baby’s primary carer? Aside from feeding, are you also doing the majority of the nappy changes, baths and clothes changes? Is your face the last thing your baby sees as he goes to sleep? Being away from you means he won’t be cared for.

You have the milk
Your baby enters this world with one goal – to grow. Your baby knows the milk comes from your chest. Being away from you means he will starve.

Our babies are very vulnerable when they are born. They can’t feed or protect themselves. Our babies are dependent on us. Staying close to the person who grew you, feeds you, protects you and cares for you is not merely “clingy”. It’s a calculated plan to stay alive. As a species, we have evolved by staying in close proximity to food and shelter, and away from danger.

The word “clingy” is about emotions, but your baby’s need to be close to you is about instincts. When you consider your role in this new human’s life so far, alongside their experience living in our world, how can you describe that “DON’T LEAVE ME!” cry as a sign that your baby is “too emotionally dependent? If I was under the sea, would you describe me as “clingy” to my air tank? No! My attachment to my oxygen would be considered a logical move to keep myself alive.

You may have niggling concerns that breastfeeding has caused this perceived “clinginess”, and it may be pointed out that you’re the only one who can feed your baby, so you must have caused this issue. The truth is that breastfeeding isn’t the problem – it’s a good solution. And in any event, there are still babies who are not breastfed that will be clingy for the same reasons outlined in this post.

quote-a-newborn-baby-has-only-three-demands-they-are-warmth-in-the-arms-of-its-mother-food-grantly-dick-read-64-89-62It’s true that you will, naturally, be preferred over daddy or nana. Try to keep the situation in perspective – this is not your baby’s flaw, it’s her survival tactic. When she’s not so small and precious, she will learn to trust those around her that have consistently demonstrated they can care for her too. In the meantime, try to see yourself through your baby’s eyes. You are a life source.