As any expectant mum knows, from the second your bump becomes visible to the world, suddenly you’re swotting off unsolicited advice from well-meaning bystanders left, right, and centre.
It’s as if you’re wearing a sign inviting strangers to tell you how you should raise your baby. From the dos and don’ts of sleep training to why you should do baby-led weaning, the opinions come in faster than a flowing letdown and can be a lot to deal with.
That’s why podcaster, radio host, and mum of one Ash London’s advice to anyone about to embark on the wild ride that is parenthood is nothing short of genius.
“My best advice would be to just ignore people’s advice. That was advice I got from my friend, who has three kids. She said, ‘just ignore other people’s advice because it’s all going to be conflicting. Do what feels right for you,’” Ash tells Kiindred in an exclusive interview.
For Ash, she’s all about cherry-picking what works best for her and her son, ten-month-old Buddy, combining a little research with word-of-mouth advice and of course, her all-knowing mum-gut instinct.
“I do all the research, I read all the studies, and I do everything I have to do. And I found that sometimes even that wasn’t the right thing for Buddy. And it wasn’t until I had the guts to really do what I knew was best for him that I realised, yes, listen to the experts and listen to friends who have experience… But at the end of the day, you’re the one that has to live this life. And you’re the one who’s the mum to this bubba. So if a professional is telling you not to feed your child to sleep, but it feels nice and it works for you and your baby enjoys it and they sleep — well, f*****g do it,” the broadcaster laughs.
It’s the reason why she decided to launch her own podcast, New Mum, Who Dis?, so she could have raw, real, and honest conversations with all manner of people — from A-list supermodels like Miranda Kerr to superstar authors like Liane Moriarty, to experts, strangers, and everyday mums and dads — as we all try and figure out the best way to raise our tiny humans and who the hell we are post-kids.
Ash wanted to create a safe space free of judgement where she could tackle wide-ranging subjects like career guilt, single parenting, and post-natal depression in the hopes other mums (and dads!) could be seen and heard.
“The only thing I know how to do is be honest. And when it comes to motherhood, there are so many things that I experienced that I was like, ‘why didn’t anyone tell me?’ I made a vow to myself that I would try to be as honest as I could,” she says.
The feedback has made the project, which is now in its second season, all worthwhile, with the mum-of-one admitting her DMs are always full of the same message from listeners telling her: “I thought I was the only one!”
When Ash spoke about her experience with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, which is an abrupt emotional drop that can happen in some women just before their milk is released and can last for a few minutes, she says she received “hundreds of messages” from mums who had silently battled the condition.
“I have Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex, which means every time I breastfeed or have a letdown, I would have horrible anxiety for a couple of minutes. I thought I had postnatal depression until I realised that just before every letdown. And then I Googled it and realised it was an actual condition, which my obstetrician then talked me through. And when I did an episode on that, I got hundreds of messages from women saying: ‘I struggled with that for a year and I didn’t know what it was. I thought something was wrong with me. I wish I had just asked my doctor. I can’t believe it’s an actual thing. Thank you, I’m not crazy anymore.’ So that made the whole podcast, all 50 episodes, worth it just for that feedback.”
“It’s such a lonely time at the best of times and no one wants to feel crazy. You want to love breastfeeding and a lot of people don’t. And this was like an actual physical thing that was happening to me because of my hormones, and I had no idea until I did the work to work it out. But not all women have got time to go and speak to a doctor and Google things when you’re exhausted,” she adds of shining a light on such a common but little-known condition.
“She said to make a saltwater wash, put it on your nipples, and sit in the sun — and it was life-changing,” Ash shares.
Another game-changing thing she couldn’t live without was Buddy’s Subo drink bottle.
“I’m obsessed with our Subo, it’s like a bottle suckie foodie thing. We did baby-led weaning, which means Buddy will not take a spoon. He feeds himself with the Subo every morning and that changed my life,” the former Game of Games host reveals.
Indeed, getting to chat with parents from all walks of life means Ash has been exposed to huge amounts of wisdom. She says that despite all of her guests having such different backgrounds and stories, there is one common message they all share.
“Everyone, like a regular mum, like not a famous person or a famous person, all say that you have to accept help. That’s just kind of what everyone has said: in order to make it work, you have to get help. And you have to not be proud, and you have to accept it. So I think the fact that that’s been drummed into me by everyone really hit home,” the KIIS FM radio star muses.
Another lightbulb moment for the 36-year-old was when she interviewed author Jamila Rizvi.
“She was the kind of first person to really be honest about having moments where she didn’t enjoy motherhood. And I was like, ‘ohhhh what?!’ I think Buddy was only a couple of weeks old for me [when I heard that]. And it wasn’t for a month or two that I got to have moments where I was like, ‘I’m not enjoying this.’ And I remember thinking, ‘well, if Jamila said it, it’s OK’ because I love and respect her so much. All you need is one person to say it’s okay. And I felt like that’s fine. You still love your baby, you’re still a great mum, but you’re not always going to enjoy motherhood,” she notes.
Another taboo topic Ash was passionate about discussing on the podcast was the fact that she didn’t bond with her son right away.
“I thought that I would look at Buddy and as soon as I laid eyes on him, we’d have this beautiful connection — and I didn’t get that at all. And there were moments where I legitimately was like, I don’t think he likes me. I don’t know. It was just the fact that I was so tired and recovering from a C-section and babies don’t give you much at the start.”
Like so many mums, Ash describes their bond as a slow burn that ignited when he first smiled at her.
“My friend said, ‘he’ll smile at you one day and every doubt you had will dissipate.’ And then sure enough, one day he smiled at me and I was just like, ahhh, okay!”
Ten months into parenthood and Ash says her love for Buddy is indescribable.
“He is the best. He is by far obviously the best thing I’ve ever done and I still can’t believe he’s mine,” the former 2Day FM presenter reveals.
“Motherhood is teaching me to live in the moment. I’m still not quite there. And it’s taught me what’s important. It’s made me very much more aware of what I want to change about the world because he’s going to inherit it,” she reflects on what motherhood has taught her.
It’s also given her a whole new appreciation for her husband Adrian Brine, who she married in 2018.
“He’s the best dad. He was born to be a dad. I can honestly say we are 50/50 [in the mental load],” she admits.
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