Breastfeeding – Time for the Truth


I would like to have an honest, non- judgmental chat about breastfeeding – a topic that can evoke a lot of anxiety and judgement. I feel I can speak with some standing on this topic being a GP who sees lots of mothers and their babies but also as a mother who has breastfed and ridden the engorged, leaking roller-coaster. My own experiences have given me a deeper level of empathy for my patients and all mothers.


As a doctor I am aware of the numerous health benefits of breast feeding – both to mother and baby. A breastfed child has a reduced risk of being overweight or obese. The child also has a reduced risk of middle ear infections and a gut infection called necrotising enterocolitis. The rates of conditions such as childhood inflammatory bowel disease and coeliac disease are also lower in breastfed infants. The breastfeeding mother also reaps rewards; she can reduce her risk of breast and ovarian cancer and evidence also suggests that by breastfeeding a woman can reduce her risk of heart disease in later life. Sadly, despite all the health benefits, an Australian survey in 2010 found that whilst 90% of women initiate breastfeeding, only 15% exclusively breastfeed their infant to the 5-month mark.


My job as a GP is to support pregnant women/new mothers/families to make an informed decision that suits them when it comes to feeding their baby; I am not in the business of forcing my patients to do anything. So, whilst I am pro breast feeding given the evidence-based benefits, I am also a realist and know that for some women, and some families, it simply isn’t feasible.


Let me take you back to 2 years ago, and you really need to envision this moment in your mind. I was a new mum, a GP and I had my own expectations weighing heavily on my shoulders. We had a traumatic birth with an emergency C – section and the psychological scars were far more gruelling than the physical ones. I was lucky my daughter (in the beginning at least) was great at feeding on the breast. We did it our way – she fed sitting on me in an upright position, we introduced a bottle with expressed breast milk early so that my husband could help with the feeds overnight whilst I recovered physically, and emotionally. Prior to becoming a mother, I had spouted the recommendations I had seen in some of the literature to my patients about not introducing a bottle early due to risk of nipple confusion, avoiding a dummy due to the same issues. Within several days I realised that survival was crucial; with the severe sleep deprivation, ongoing vaginal bleeding, engorged breasts, cracked nipples and constipation – I was doing what I could for both my baby and I to survive and the literature could quite frankly get stuffed.


Thankfully, though, breastfeeding worked really well for us. For a while.


We hit 6 months and things started to suddenly deteriorate. The wheels started to fall off and I, being a type A high achieving personality, tried everything to rebuild the very rickety and dysfunctional cart. I was taking medication to increase supply, expressing and doing all sorts of kooky positions to encourage my child to feed. I distinctly remember the moment it went too far; my husband walked into the nursery, which despite it being the middle of the day was pitch black. He found me holding our daughter in the reverse football hold (hugged into my side), standing up, swaying from side to side, loudly “shhhh-ing” (any new mother knows this sound well) tears strolling down my face, a child attached to my nipple, my whole-body jerking vigorously (like I was Shakira on steroids) whilst I delicately balanced our child around my torso. “Preez this has gone too far” was his exact response – I still remember the look of absolute shock on his face. The lactation consultant (the second one I had seen for help) agreed with my husband – it had, in fact, gone too far. The lactation consultant’s response to me was “Preeya you’re either going to drop your child or injure yourself; it’s OK to stop, you’ve done an amazing job.” The tears streamed and they continued to for 2 weeks as I slowly weaned.


I drowned in a thick pool of guilt for a good 2 months. Perhaps the only thing that saved me was a close friend of mine going through the same thing at the same time. My mother telling me that you can only do what you can do also helped– and I had done all I could. Sure, I could have expressed day in and day out and fed expressed breast milk to my child, but that wasn’t going to work for me emotionally; some mothers are able to do it and I take my hat off to them.


Women, new mothers, even partners (male or female) are flooded often with breastfeeding advice; the slogan “breast is best” was campaigned heavily years ago. Posters, midwives, friends, mother in laws, woman in the café sitting next to you – everyone has an opinion on breast feeding and there’s usually a thick smear of judgement as they serve their opinion to you. When you’re already questioning yourself and your abilities as a mother, someone else chiming in can tip the balance.


I’ll let you in on a hot tip – we mothers feel like a failure if we can’t measure up to the idyllic version of ourselves that we had envisioned. Being a mother and a GP I better understand the 1000 expectations on a new mother – hold it together, deal with vaginal blood loss after pregnancy, seriously painful engorged breasts but also smile, widely, and respond “it’s wonderful” when people ask you how the first 2 weeks have been. Be sure to prepare a cooked meal and start working on losing the baby weight. Oh, and breastfeed exclusively. Of course, in the ideal world yes, we would all do this. Certainly, the guidelines (and some of them do differ) advocate for exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age (newer guidelines now actually suggested the earlier introduction of solids to supplement this around 4-6 months when the infant is ready). But not every single woman can do this. Whilst this is ideal, and the health benefits are abundant, it isn’t always feasible. Don’t forget the infant born via surrogate or who is adopted; whilst donor breast milk can work this does not necessarily work for every new family. Is the formula fed child any less loved? No. Is the formula fed child less likely to make friends at school, share toys and have a fulfilled existence? No.  Some new mothers find breastfeeding a breeze, it works and continues to and, in those instances, I say go for it. Given the health benefits, breastfeeding is the ideal choice, but there is another side to the coin that isn’t necessarily wrong.


I have treated patients who stop breastfeeding within weeks or months of the birth when there are no issues, they never sought help or advice– of course, I feel a pang of “damn, if only I could have intervened maybe we could have kept it all going a bit longer.” By the same token, there are mothers who try literally everything – and it still doesn’t work. Let me share 2 stories so you can see better where I am coming from.


One of my patients despite taking Domperidone (a medication that can help increase supply) and expressing post feeds was struggling– her infant’s weight was not increasing as it should. Despite trying all efforts and involving a lactation consultant she couldn’t produce enough breast milk to meet the infant’s demands. I remember mentioning formula top ups to her when she came in for the 5th of 6th time exhausted, and I was now quite concerned she was struggling with postnatal depression – she broke down in tears, “I didn’t think anyone would let me.” Her words have stuck with me to this day, they rang in my ears when I was in the first few months of motherhood, “let” – we don’t need to “let” a woman “do” anything; it’s her right to choose how she feeds her child and it’s our job to support her. This mother was exhausted, not tired, actually “not a single scrap of energy left” exhausted because between feeds and expressing after feeds she did not have a single moment to herself. She started topping up her breastfeeds with formula – so she used a combination of milks- and a new, calmer woman walked into my office the week later.


After having my nephew and her second child, my sister in law developed a severe bout of mastitis– she was admitted to hospital with kidney failure. I was in another state with my newborn, feeling rather helpless, but spoke to her multiple times a day. I’ll never forget her devastated phone call from her hospital bed – she was alone, my brother in law had to take their new son home because she wasn’t well enough to look after him and herself. She was absolutely broken being separated from her children and husband and to add to that, she was told she shouldn’t continue breastfeeding as the health risks to her were too great.


Some women do not have a choice when it comes to breastfeeding. Some women try everything they can and it doesn’t work. Some women need to top up the breastfeeds with formula because they can’t exclusively rely on their own supply. And I don’t think it’s fair that these mothers be made to feel adequate or like a failure.


I have heard the people, sadly some in my own profession, who do not ever advocate for any formula use even referring it to “poison.” I’ve had a patient come up from the food court under my clinic in tears; someone had commented it was “unfortunate the child wasn’t getting proper milk” the child was born via surrogate; the mother did not have the option to breastfeed. I’ve seen my friends and patients scared to admit to people, even me, that they are topping up with formula – scared of the judgement. “Breast is best” can make mothers think if they are unable to do use their breast to feed their child they must be inferior or suboptimal.  Please know that as a GP I wholeheartedly advocate for breastfeeding – I try my best to support women and often involve lactation consultants (who are nurses, midwives or doctors) who are specialists in this area to help my patients – but sometimes you can try everything and the puzzle pieces still just don’t fit. And sometimes, after we have tried throwing the kitchen sink at the dead horse (yes, I’ve merged 2 analogies on purpose to demonstrate the energy invested), permission to stop breastfeeding, or top up with formula, can save a mother.


So, my advice is simply this. Breastfeeding has many health benefits to mother and baby and the bonding that occurs is truly magical. I remember often looking down at my daughter on my breast thinking how incredible it was that I was feeding my child. If you can do it, if it’s suitable – go for it. BUT – not everyone can do it. Breast might be best but it does not mean that everything else is wrong. I am the mother of a 2-year-old, I did not breastfeed for as long as I had hoped or envisioned but my child is articulate, kind, cheeky and creative – she gives me cuddles, says “love you Mummy” whilst she pats my face and burrows her head into my neck when she is tired or upset–how I fed her had nothing to do with any of that.




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Dear Motherhood



Dear Motherhood,


I have held back from this conversation for fear of being judged, of being deemed ungrateful or whinging. I suspect a lot my comrades feel similarly to me but are reluctant to tell you how it really is. What I now know about you, nearly 2 years on, is that you are a tricky beast and every woman has a unique relationship with you.


I find you difficult a lot of the time. For a type A, controlling, perfectionist personality you can be a struggle. Before becoming a mother, I was used to writing lists of jobs (and crossing them off gave me the greatest satisfaction), working my butt off and reaping the rewards. I was used to “Preeya – great job” or a medal if I excelled at something. I was used to being in control.


Then you came along – and you brought the wonderful Miss S with you. The first 8 weeks were fairly horrific I have to say – I was sleep deprived, trying to master breast feeding and dealing with intrusive ruminating flashbacks after an unexpected emergency C section. I was suddenly at home with a new born, an unwanted scar (and its associated pain) and a truckload of emotional baggage. Whilst breast feeding was fairly easy for Miss S and I, like most mothers and babies we did have our rough patches. I wasn’t used to trying my best at something, using all my knowledge and still struggling. I wasn’t used to failure, and those first few months were tough as I wrapped my head around the notion that not only did I not have control anymore, I wasn’t excelling despite trying my best.


I often wonder if being a GP and helping women with similar issues (breast feeding, emotional trauma post birth) made me more conscious of my failures –I would try and tell myself to snap out of it, I knew what to do – but my own advice and knowledge weren’t working; in fact, my expectations were making it all harder.  


I found that despite preparing home cooked meals for my small family, managing a somewhat tidy home and having done a 30-minute walk with Miss S, I could still feel like a mammoth failure when Miss S rejected the left breast for her afternoon feed. My day could come crashing down because of a single breastfeed that went wrong or because I felt incompetent to settle Miss S at witching hour. I became very aware of the fact that I could write long lists and have ambitions for the day and tick none of the jobs off because Miss S refused to be put down in her rocker. When she was older I would spend time preparing meals in the thermomix only for it to all end in tears (for me!) because she rejected the mush I was offering her.


Because of you I have found myself sobbing uncontrollably multiple times over the last 22 months. Sometimes the tears are due to feeling incompetent or under prepared for the breastfeeding challenges/toddler tantrums/stresses of balancing a career and you. Sometimes the tears are because I feel utterly grateful for our beautiful little girl – I can be reduced to tears because she pats another child when they’re upset or seeks me out for a cuddle. Somehow motherhood, you bring me my highest highs and my lowest lows.


As a GP I am aware that when it comes to you women can be very hard on themselves. I’ve had women come into my consulting room devastated that they are failing their child because they can’t breast feed despite having tried everything. I’ve seen mothers who have blamed themselves for every single illness their child has struggled with, thinking it is somehow their fault. When it comes to you, mothers are their harshest critiques. When it came to me, I was no different. I would constantly expect more of myself– why wasn’t breast feeding working as I had envisioned? Why couldn’t I get all the jobs done I had planned for the day? I could always do better, according to me.


And then I encountered the competitive aspect that you incite in some women – the “competition” of motherhood. I had heard about this phenomenon from my patients but when I saw it first hand, finding myself slowly taking the delicious bait in front of me multiple times, I was horrified. Mother’s would boast that their child could sit at 5 months and “oh can’t Miss S sit yet?” like we were lagging behind in the race. Later I encountered mothers at swimming and music lessons who would tell me that their child could speak in 4-word sentences – “oh are you still on 2 words are you?”  And the competition didn’t stop there -suddenly women were happy to judge each other on how they had birthed their child. The badge of natural birth was often worn proudly, and loudly, and those of us who had been forced down the C-section path were made to feel like inferior mothers. If you couldn’t birth your child naturally, how were you going to do the rest of it was the sentiment. I very aware of the fact that if Miss S and I had been in a third world country we would have died given the events of our labour and so to me, the birth a woman had is irrelevant as long as both parties survived. What I have learned is that when it comes to you, motherhood, women can become competitive about the most trivial issues, and the key is surrounding yourself with mothers you who roll with the punches, admit to the struggles and compare stories for comfort, not competition.


It was at 7 months that my mum told me all about you– she concisely wrapped you up for me and my outlook on you changed. “Preeya you’re too hard on yourself, you’re a wonderful mother but no one is going to give you a medal for this job darling.” I actually felt myself take a deep breath- a real breath where the air fills the bottom of your lungs. It was my glorious epiphany– much like when Cher on Clueless realises she loves her step-brother- this was my moment in front of the fountain. I finally had your measure motherhood. I wasn’t going to “win” when it came to you or “succeed” –there was no race or battle, it was a journey and everyone’s was different. I needed to take things less personally – Miss S’ rejection of her lovingly prepared puree or the left breast at the afternoon feed was not her way of telling me she hated me. It wasn’t personal.


Some women adore you – some relish being a mother so much they have 5 children and “can’t get enough of babies” as one woman told me. That isn’t me though and for a long time I’ve felt ashamed to admit that, fearing that I am somehow less of a mother. Truth is, I find you challenging because I have very high expectations of myself and I bring that baggage to motherhood. I choose to work part time because I love my job and I enjoy the intellectual stimulation and satisfaction that comes from a hard day at work. But, the 3 days of work can be tricky with childcare drop offs, packing bags, getting us dressed and out the door–but that is a choice I’ve made and so far, it works for us. I am sure my experience of motherhood is significantly shaped by the fact that my husband is a training plastic surgeon who is studying for the biggest exams of his life – I often find myself looking at my friends with husbands who work 9-5, envious of the help they get at bath and bed time as I battle the dinner, bath, bed beast alone for 7th night in a row. And perhaps that’s why I think I am not ready to join you again for a “second” as they say – I’m content sitting on the sidelines for now. Give me a year or two, and a husband who isn’t training anymore, and then we can talk.


What I have learnt is that you work differently for different women. To find you a challenge (and admit that) should not be something to be ashamed of. Miss S is my soul – and whilst I knew love before, I didn’t know it to this degree until I met her. When she smiles my soul smiles with her and when she touches my face and says “Mummy pat pat” I know that I am the luckiest woman in the world. So, I am grateful for you, for the journey you provide, for the growth and self-reflection you have forced me to do. Whilst I am still a type A perfectionist I know now not to apply all my standards when it comes to you – I try to go with the flow and let the small stuff go – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.


Whilst I may not tick all the boxes or get a medal I’m at peace with you now– I’ve learned there is no “right way” of doing all this and that realisation gives me a great deal of comfort and confidence. I’ll curse, praise, hate and adore you many more times in the years to come – please don’t take any of it personally motherhood, I certainly don’t anymore.


Love Preeya

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Vaccines, Herd Immunity and “Wholesomeness” Explained


I am pro vaccination.


This shouldn’t come as a shock to you – at least I don’t think it should.


After posting on Instagram recently about childhood vaccination I had several direct messages that bluntly questioned my “wholesomeness.” One person actually wrote “you’re not very wholesome are you?” in response to me discussing the meningococcal B vaccination for children. When I was scrolling through the comments I thought “wow you’re questioning my wholesomeness? That’s a big call.” I was a touch offended to be honest. Do people equate “wholesome” with homeopathic natural remedies? If I prescribe a tablet to manage someone blood pressure (to prevent stroke and heart attacks) or antibiotics to treat their urinary tract infection am I somehow no longer “wholesome”?



Firstly, I’m a general practitioner who practises evidence based medicine. For those of you who just looked at that sentence and thought “she does what?” I don’t blame you! Essentially I, like most of my colleagues, rely on the evidence to direct our clinical practice – the years of studies that included thousands of people to tell us how we should safely clinically practice to help patients and prevent harm. Despite the wonderfully catchy tune of “Rock a Bye a Bear” – The Wiggles are extremely unlikely to fix your blood pressure so this intervention doesn’t fit into the category of evidence based medicine and thus I will not be prescribing it.


Let’s start with some blunt facts. Thanks to immunisation, diseases like diptheria and polio have virtually disappeared in Australia. Rates of meningococcal C have declined since the 1 year old vaccination was introduced on the schedule. Hospitilisations from diseases like rotavirus (which children are vaccinated again on the Australian schedule) and chicken pox are lower; much lower. It’s my job as a GP to counsel patients with the facts and let them make an informed decision.  I have patients questioning vaccination, or flat out refusing, and I try to keep an open mind, hear their concerns and address them. Everyone is entitled to their opinion – I appreciate that.


Let’s talk about herd immunity. Lots of people believe that despite being unvaccinated they are protected thanks to “the herd” – they essentially rely on the rest of us who do vaccinate ourselves and our children. The herd was great 20 years ago when it was strong, but with immunisation rates falling the herd immunity is dropping – it’s starting to look like a bunch of limpy meerkats as opposed to the lions you might have been envisioning. Herd immunity works on the notion that if the majority of people are vaccinated than those who are not are still protected because it’s unlikely anyone will get the stated illness and so it’s harder to contract it. If the majority of the herd is vaccinated and someone brings measles or rubella from overseas then the disease can’t spread as easily because the majority are protected. The herd is meant to protect the children who are too young to be vaccinated (children for instance don’t get the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine until 12 months) and those who cannot be vaccinated due to significant allergic reactions or underlying chronic diseases that weaken their immune system. It wasn’t designed to protect large number of people who simply choose not to vaccinate.


Quite frankly I don’t like being leaned on– I don’t think it is my child’s job to protect unimmunised children against vaccine preventable diseases (there are some kids who truly can’t be vaccinated due to allergies and I’m not talking about them). The burden is getting heavier and heavier to carry with the immunisation rates falling. More and more people are bringing in vaccine preventable diseases from overseas and its spreads much easier given we have a weak herd with more and more unvaccinated people in it. And that leaves us, the vaccinated ones, at risk too. No vaccine, likely any medical treatment, is 100% effective. If everyone around you has measles, despite being vaccinated you still have a chance of contracting it.


There are loads of myths about vaccination. The main one I have to address in my clinic is the myth that the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR) causes autism. There was a paper published in the Lancet in 1998 that made this claim – however, that paper was later retracted by the journal and an investigation into the research data was found to be fraudulent. Numerous respected bodies like the American Academy of Paediatrics have looked into these claims and there has never been a link between autism and the MMR vaccine found. The other debate is that vaccination is not natural – OK, honestly, I don’t even know what “natural” is anymore. If you drink soft drink or eat a cookie or apply moisturiser or live in a house or drive a car or use a bus or a train then none of that is natural either – they are all man-made things that would not naturally exist. So, what’s the difference? Antibiotics are not natural and yet we know they can cure diseases like tuberculosis, meningitis and whooping cough – so the same people who decline vaccination because it isn’t natural – do they decline treatment for potentially lethal but treatable diseases? Where does the line stand?


At Miss S’ childcare they require proof of vaccination under the Victorian Government’s “no jab no pay” policy. Whilst I hear the argument that the Government shouldn’t be able to control everything, I am honestly grateful for this initiative. I don’t want my child exposed to vaccine preventable diseases. I have seen a child hospitilised with whooping cough struggling to take a single breath – I don’t want to that to be Miss S. Will and I see our job as parents to give our daughter every opportunity in life so that she can grow up to be a kind, contributing member of society. We see our job as protecting her from harm as best as we can – yes she might graze her knee when she trips over or get a knock on her head now and then but we certainly won’t put her at risk of meningococcal or other potentially fatal diseases.


I know this might generate some hot debate, some eye rolling, some fury. But my medical practice (and modern medicine in general) is based on evidence, on the published medical papers that define how we as a profession practice. We can, and should, all have opinions but we must all be as informed as possible.


In short, please don’t question my “wholesomeness” because I am pro vaccination. And I won’t question yours because you use electricity.



If you would like to know more about some of the myths and facts related to vaccines you can refer to this resource ($File/full-publication-myths-and-realities-5th-ed-2013.pdf) or speak to your GP.


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My 5 Key Tips for Flying with Kids



Will and I have always loved travelling and have continued to trek around since Miss S joined the family. Sure, it’s different with a child (and it should be – we would never risk taking her to malaria ridden areas for instance) but you can still do it.


Whilst travelling with Miss S is wonderful – the actual flight in itself can generate a lot of anxiety – and I mean a lot. I spend up to a week planning for the long flights – snacks, toys, naps, clothes – I am not kidding – this is a military grade operation. But let me tell you – my planning and type A personality has made all our flights much easier (Will has actually said this out loud) and after flying to Greece, India, Bali I can share my top 5 tips for flying with kids:



  1. Pack a “go to bag”


The nature of this bag changes depending on the age of the child. But I am referring to the small bag of essentials (in addition to your “in case of disaster” big carry on) that stays with you for take-off, landing, turbulence. It never goes in the overhead – it’s the bag of essentials you could need at any point in the war zone of flying with kids – consider it your armory. When we went to Greece with Miss S at 8 weeks the armory had 2 nappies, wipes, nappy bags, a spew rag and a dummy. It was a large sandwich bag that we clutched onto for dear life. A new born is constantly passing motions so there were regular nappy changes – and if any clean ups were needed it was easy – take the sandwich bag and make the magic happen. Now at 14 months the go to bag is a small sack with small toys, 1 book, water bottle, 3-4 snacks, Flopsy (Miss S’ soother that she ONLY gets in the cot unless we are flying – because we will use anything and everything people!!) and wipes. This is the essential stuff. If the aircrew try and take this off me for take-off or landing I will fight to the death – this is the stuff we NEED to survive when she is locked on our lap – the bag holds the key to distraction and bargaining. And it works! Try a small bag with the essentials – ONLY the essentials in here; keep it compact!



  1. Use your weapons


On the spectrum, I’m probably on the stricter side as a parent – my mother reminds me of this a lot! Miss S does not watch TV or play with screens and eats very healthily – as you would have seen on my Instagram. BUT – anything goes in the air. I have toddler games on the iPAD in case, Will has weird games on his phone to distract her if needed (though I suspect he actually normally plays these and uses her as the scapegoat!). I pack all her favourite snacks – wholemeal apple and sultana bars, frittata, broccoli nuggets, cheese, yoghurt – it’s all in there. If she wanted a Big Mac on that plane I would probably give it to her – it won’t kill her, but an unhappy kid for 6 hours might kill us. Eat what you want little girl – let’s just get to that beach!!




  1. Pick the time carefully


Will and I used to fly for 5 hours longer through 7 different countries if we could save a couple of hundred dollars when we were younger. You just can’t put kids through that though. You know your child best so pick the flight time when you know they are easiest – even if you have to pay a bit more. We know Miss S sleeps in her cot through the night and isn’t a good night flyer so we pick day flights and it works for us. Some would say “you’re wasting a day flying” – and trust me they have, but we retain sanity (so does Miss S) and we all get there a lot happier so it’s worth it for us!




  1. Keep them comfy


Kids are more susceptible to ear troubles when the plane ascends and descends. The reason is that they have smaller eustachian tubes – this is the tube that connects the nose and middle ear so essentially ensures the middle air has air in it. Middle ear pressure equalisation is harder for kids which is why they are more prone to ear pain. It doesn’t matter what it takes, children should ideally be sucking or chewing when the plane changes altitude. When Miss S was little I would chuck her on the breast ASAP so that she would swallow and help equalise the pressure. Later it was the dummy. Now we give her a favourite snack so she chews – do whatever you can to save them the distress. Most of us have experienced painful ears in a plane – imagine being a little one with no explanation as to why it’s happening – prevention is key here!! On our way over to Bali Miss S was having huge top molars rip through her gum and had been an irritable and grumpy bear – so a dose of Ibuprofen pre- flight was a pre-emptive tactic we used which helped I suspect – you will never really know if you’re pre-emptive battle plans work but if they’re happy, and no harm is done, who cares!




  1. Go in with the right mind set


A long flight with kids isn’t easy so Will and I board that plane in battle mode- I’m fairly sure I resemble Xena as I walk onto the aircraft. I will do whatever it takes to keep Miss S happy and healthy on that flight. On the recent Bali flights we walked up and down the plane at least 10 times each – we picked spots we could stand near exit rows and let her walk around. Little tips like 2 parents not eating at the same time makes life easier – we always ask the hostess to drop the second meal later so that we are not both struggling with a baby and tray tables. Finally, it’s worth reassuring yourself that you’re taking a baby not a bomb on the plane – I remember Mum telling me this before we flew to Greece with an 8-week-old. I was worried about upsetting people with a crying baby. I distinctly remember Mum telling me Miss S was a child and despite peoples stares if she cried she wasn’t a weapon, she was a child and we had all been a child at some point. FYI my mum gives excellent pep talks! My biggest tip would be do not worry about everyone else on that flight – there are other children and parents in your position and its a finite period of time. Just do what you have to do and if your child cries no one will implode – these are exactly the words I tell myself when Miss S chucks a wobbly.


When you feel the sand beneath your toes and see the huge smile on your little one’s face in the pool you realise it was all worth it – I promise you!



After our long-haul flights, these are our go to tips. This doesn’t even broach the topic of preparing for travel with kids from a health point of view – medical kits, vaccinations etc – that’s a blog all on its own. I hope you can find 1 or 2 survival tips in here to make your next journey that little bit easier! Happy travelling!





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My Go- To Healthy Toddler Recipes


  1. Broccoli Nuggets

Miss S loves these and so do I; they are hand held so perfect for on-the-go meals (and the patches where she flat out refuses to accept a spoon!!). I use the thermo-mix to make mine (though they could easily be made without one but as a heads up you would need a blender or stick mixer). I work off this recipe ( but as usual make a few alterations to make it even healthier. I usually use 2 small broccolis or 1 and a half larger ones – the more broccoli the better!! I also reduce the amount of cheese just a touch and add copious amounts of chia seeds (they can help with constipation in kids and Miss S has been battling this for a while). If you follow the recipe word for word it’s delicious but more broccoli and chia seeds makes it even more awesome in my opinion.



  1. Frittata

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that Miss S and I are frittata fiends. I originally followed a recipe a friend gave me but honestly you can chuck anything into egg and it’s delicious. My rules – I always add a whole grated zucchini, 2 whipped eggs and some form of cheese (either a cheddar or ricotta). Anything goes from there – sometimes I add thawed peas, corn or the mixed vegetables – it depends on what I have in the freezer at the time but trust me all combinations are delicious. Sometimes I also add grated carrot; recently I added grated broccoli and it was also delicious. For some extra protein I add a can of tuna – seriously scrumptious (I have to stop myself from stealing my child’s food!). Frittata is another excellent hand-held food you can chuck loads of veggies into. It’s easy to make and very healthy– I can whip these up in 20 minutes. As a tip use a mini muffin tray so that they snugly fit into your little one’s paw.



  1. Anything with pumpkin

My child loves pumpkin so when I’m whipping something up for her pumpkin is a safe go to base. I will often boil pumpkin (sometimes with spinach, potato or broccoli) and then mash it. It’s a perfect veggie loaded base for quinoa, cous cous or pasta – I will sometimes add tuna to the sauce and mix it with wholemeal pasta – she loves it! Anything with pumpkin is a serious win – roast pumpkin, pumpkin soup, pumpkin frittata… anything pumpkin related you can think of is a win with my kid!



  1. Meat balls

Another fabulous hand-held food – high in protein and easy to sneak veggies into! I often use lamb, pork or turkey mince (turkey is really lean!). You can sneak ANYTHING into a meat ball and it remains delicious. I always put grated zucchini and carrot and will often sneak spinach or kale in as well. Egg is always my binder and I often put a sprinkle of cheese. I sometimes make these without bread crumbs BUT I’ve found that they are often moister if I do use some to help bind the mixture. A clever girlfriend once told me to blitz a slice of bread in the thermo-mix to make fresh bread crumbs, so that’s what I do – it allows me to use wholemeal bread. Sometimes I pan fry meat balls for Miss S, but I predominantly just bake them which is obviously even healthier.




  1. Stewed fruit

I make all of Miss S’ meals from scratch and this one is by far the easiest. Again, you would have seen it on my Instagram – rhubarb is always in there (we grow it in the garden and it’s very high in B complexes). I always stew rhubarb with either apple, sultanas or both. I throw all the ingredients in a pot with water (make sure you peel the apple and dice it if you use it) and boil it until it’s soft – it usually takes 20 to 30 minutes. I never add extra sugar or honey – the fruit sweetness is enough I promise you. Miss S loves this for morning or afternoon tea, on her porridge or with yoghurt. Will and I also love it for brekkie with our museli! High in fibre, no added sweetness and homemade – winning!




  1. Anything we eat

Luckily Miss S will eat most things we do- it just means when we cook we are extremely careful with salt– the rule is no salt to the meal, add it to your own plate. I make batches of baked chicken drum sticks (with honey, soy and ginger) and she loves it! Often she will eat the chicken drumsticks with cherry tomatoes, avocado or whatever other veggies we have lying around. She also eats curry – it just has to be mild or we add lots of rice with the gravy so it dilutes the heat a bit. Pasta, roast meals, tuna mornay, soups and stews- she eats it all. It’s mainly the hand-held stuff I end up making separately for her now. It’s such a win when they eat what you do– far less work and planning!!



I hope you enjoy some of our favourite go-to meals! If you need specific steps for any of these I would be happy to post the “recipe” – I use the term recipe lightly, if you look at my tuna mornay one it is more like a set of guidelines. My big tip with kids’ food – the more veggies you can sneak into their food the better, and you combine nearly anything so be creative!


Happy cooking and veggie sneaking!




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Dear Wobbly Bits…


A girlfriend recently commented that she envied my “body confidence” especially after having had a child. I was shocked. Me, body confident? Upon asking her how she had come to this conclusion she commented that through the Wholesome Doctor blogs and Instagram she had noted that I judged healthy on so many other things other than appearance and that surely that translated to being “very confident” with how I looked.


So I feel like I have to clear this up lest you also see me like this.


I am a woman.


I am a normal, mortal, sometimes horrendously self-judging woman.


I have cried numerous times over my body post child birth. I have squeezed my abdominal subcutaneous fat (you know the wobbly bit under the belly button that just appears post child birth) several times and pondered whether 1000 sit up, hour long planks or plain old surgery will fix it. I have looked in the mirror in my “old” clothes and felt my heart sink at the new me – “give it another month Preeya, it will fit perfectly again” – I’ve said this for the last 6 months mind you.


My body is different. I know I’m healthy – my body mass index (BMI) is clearly in the healthy range, my waist circumference is well below the 80cm cut off the Heart Foundation sets for women (its 94cm for men by the way). I eat fruit and vegetables, I do some form of exercise almost every day and I know my blood pressure and cholesterol are A-OK. But hey, I do have low moments about my body image – they aren’t frequent but they happen. Sure I’m healthy BUT the White Suede dress I pine after looks much better on someone who is classified as underweight by the BMI index, so of course I have moments of self-doubt.


I know a lot of people say this– but my husband and I have been blessed with a healthy, divine, sometimes very cheeky daughter. We have a roof over our heads and job security. And shouldn’t that be enough? Should I also yearn to have my “kind of” flat stomach back? Should I pine after my old physique knowing full well that I have nurtured another human life for 9 months, breast fed it for 6 and managed to stay reasonably (I stress the word reasonably) sane? How much do I really want? Sometimes I feel I’m pushing my luck by also wanting my old body back.


We know that eating disorders amongst the adolescent population are a real problem, particularly amongst girls. The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests to reduce the risk of these issues in their children parents should not talk about their own weight or their children’s and that the main focus should always be on promoting a healthy overall lifestyle as opposed to focusing on weight or diet too much. So the moment Miss S arrived my husband and I made a pact that I wouldn’t talk about my body low moments in front of Miss S – because that’s often how it all starts. So our 6 month old hasn’t heard any of it! Doesn’t mean when the bedroom door closes and I’m choosing an outfit for a wedding that I don’t have a small vent to the mirror or my husband!!


So please don’t for a moment mistake my “health confidence” for “body confidence!” Having said ALL of that though I truly am content in who I am and I think my contentment predominantly stems now from my love of motherhood. I’m juggling motherhood with work and I feel like I’m doing OK at both whilst remaining a decent mother, wife, daughter and friend– and that’s the main thing that matters to me if I’m truly honest. In reality my body has very little to do with my overall self-confidence and self worth – I’d rather be healthy, and I am. So to the extra wobble under my belly button – we have a love hate relationship. I know you brought with you the most divine creature in my universe but you make the clingy dresses sit a touch tighter now! But I’m sure we can work it out… I won’t be grabbing you in front of Miss S saying “look at this, its gotta go”… rather I’ll point out that you’re a part of me (just like my neurotic mind) and that’s the way it is so that Miss S will grow up striving for health as opposed to a dress size and ultimately love herself regardless of how the dress falls on her waist line.




Let there me more body love, more love for the unique bodies that we all are. Please share with a friend who you know needs a pep in her step when it comes to her less loved body bits!


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Am I Mum Enough?


I love being a mum – much more than I thought I would to be honest.


I never knew how much I would love picking Miss S out of the cot in the morning and holding her cheek against mine. I never thought I would giggle with my 3 month old in our first breast feed of the morning as we both realize the day has started and that it’s time to open the shutters and invite the day into our little world. And if someone had told me I would be taking my 3 month old to the library to borrow books and attend singing sessions (and belt out “The Little Green Frog” at the top of my lungs) I would not have believed them!


I love being a mother.


But I do (and I don’t know why I feel slightly guilty saying this) also miss work and the feeling of having contributed to society in a different way. I am not for a moment suggesting that a mother does not contribute to society, but I miss the intellectual stimulation – the tricky patients, the friendly debates with colleagues and the feeling of “what a crappy day but gosh it feels good” when you put your key in the door after a day at work.


Does this make me a bad mother? Does the fact that I yearn to have just a touch of my old life mean I don’t love my daughter enough?


Well some people certainly like to voice their opinions on how another woman mothers her child and I’ve heard the comments “it’s too early” and “how could you leave her so soon.” And it’s only now I understand the fire that very quickly ignites in your belly when you defend your own child, your family and your own ability to mother.


I am planning to go back to teaching junior doctors one day a fortnight soon. That’s literally 8 hours in a 336 hour fortnight. My husband thinks it’s a great idea to give my brain the tickle that that it’s yearning for (I also think he is sick of me grilling about his day at work and all his tricky patients so I can give my unwanted opinion!). So to answer those 2 earlier questions – no it does not make me a bad mother and of course I love her enough!


So what’s my point?


That we need to stop judging each other. I’m planning to do a day a fortnight when Miss S is 4 months old and that sits beautifully with my family and me. Some women return to full time work at 6 weeks and some never go back at all – and whatever a mother feels works for her is the right thing. There are loads of different ways we can all be mothers. My way isn’t the right way but neither is yours.


After reading so many books, listening to lots of unwanted free advice and copping uninvited judgment from all and sundry – I have worked it out that the best way is the one that works for Miss S and my family.


So when I trot off to work in a month’s time I am sure I will have a small cry and a knot in my stomach but I know that it is going to be a wonderful thing for both Miss S and I. And if it’s not hey, I’m not too proud to say “it WAS too early” and step it back… but you know what, it’s me who will say those words, NOT someone else.




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Read This Before You Give Advice to a New Mother

Posted by a newly pregnant woman (me) whilst on holidays- hence the photo!!


Recently a patient of mine, who was a new mother, came into my rooms and broke down after being approached in a cafe by a stranger whilst bottle feeding her child. An elderly woman, probably well-meaning, came up and asked her if she had issues breast feeding and ‘ oh what a pity it was that the baby was on the bottle already.’


Cue the look of shock/horror on my face, which I quickly had to hide because I didn’t want the patient to know I was utterly flabbergasted by this other woman’s highly intrusive comment into her life.


Wow – where’s the boundary? When you see a woman with a child you have NO idea about her story. You don’t know if the child was conceived accidentally on a holiday or if time and thousands of dollars were saved, borrowed and hidden away to pay for the medical bills to conceive him or her. You don’t know if the mother’s birth was so easy she sneezed and it was done, or so traumatic she needed too many stitches and the obstetrician lost count. So how can we, as a complete stranger, pass judgement or give advice?


The truth is when we look at a mother and baby we know nothing about their story.


To the woman breast feeding in the park – go for it – good on you! The immune benefits to your child are fabulous. But by the same token if you are bottle feeding (out of preference, because you had supply issues, because your nipples were scratched and looked like a war zone, because you had to go back to work at 3 months to support your family and breast feeding wasn’t feasible) – good on you too, you are feeding your baby and doing a bloody amazing job.


Both women are trying their best. Both women are feeding their children. And both women are nailing motherhood.


Let us stop the judgement and celebrate mother’s for all the amazing things they are doing and trying to do. And if you have a comment or piece of advice PLEASE (oh pretty pretty please) ask if this under slept, exhausted women who has a child requiring her attention for its every single need wants to hear it.

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