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Archive for February, 2012

I have just spent a lovely weekend at the Perth Writers Festival, which was held on the grounds of the University of Western Australia, a great spot. I’ve only ever been to the odd event here and there at writers’ festivals, but this time I went for the whole three days. There was a great mix of sessions from emerging and established authors, as well as some more thought provoking and ‘political’ sessions on religion, food and ethics.

The writing sessions I enjoyed most came courtesy of writers Rohan Wilson, Favel Parret, Janette Turner Hospital, Craig Sherbourne, Craig Silvey, Jo Nesbo, Johan Harstad, Charlotte Wood, John Birmingham, Eliot Perlman and Cate Kennedy.

I also went a particularly harrowing session by Nigel Brennan, a photojournalist who was kidnapped in Somalia, and a more delightful and hunger-inducing session on good food by Matthew Evans

The only down sides? The 15 minute wait for coffees, and the very rare Perth rainshower during Women of Letters which meant a move from the beautiful outdoor venue to a tent! And of course the amount of money I spent on a huge pile of new books…

If you went along, I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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I have just read this article in the Guardian and sighed when I read it. It refers to an article published a couple of weeks ago in the British Medical Journal (here is the article, but it requires a subscription/payment to read it all) where a research group (Fewtrell et al) questioned the policy in the UK to recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants for six months. Just to be clear, exclusive breastfeeding means that for the first six months, an infant is given breast milk only: no solids, no formula, just breastmilk.

This follows the WHO guidelines, and the Australian government recommends the same. I should emphasise that the researchers are not recommending formula over breastmilk, and they are talking about the introduction of solid food, not formula.

What are they worried about? Well, the researchers are worried about links between late introduction of solids and iron deficiency, a potential increase in food allergies, and of coeliac disease.

I’m sure that this is going to confuse mothers even more. Any new mum knows that they are bombarded with a huge amount of advice from friends, families, and experts. I know that when I had my first child, I spent a lot of time consulting baby books and the internet for every little thing. But with my second child, I didn’t have the time, or inclination, and used a much more intuitive style of parenting.

I didn’t manage to exclusively breastfeed for six months, despite knowing that it was recommended, and despite having every intention to do so. My first child started solids at about five months, but my second was grabbing food from my plate at four months and I knew she needed more than breastmilk. I didn’t believe that something magical happened at six months of age that was missing at five and a half months, and so I did what I thought was best for my children – which is what mothers have been doing forever.

I’m curious about how many mums do actually manage to breastfeed exclusively for six months. I am very pro-breastfeeding, and had every intention of doing so, but for us, it didn’t work out and I did start solid food earlier (even though I continued breastfeeding for about a year with them both).

Did you manage?

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I’ve had an article published today in the Medical Journal of Australia called Doctors and writing: stranger than fiction? It’s available here on eMJA, but it does have a paywall so is only for subscribers unfortunately. It’s in the paper version too which may be more readily accessible, especially to those of you in the medical field.

It’s been quiet here otherwise, but I should be more active soon. I’ve been trying to write the first draft of my second novel, and also been busy organising a new website which will be coming soon. On top of that, I’ve been a bit sick as I’m pregnant with my third child! I’ll post details of the new website when it’s available.

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