By Melissa Walsh
Pinky McKay is the perfect person to help any mum or dad feel better about their parenting with practical advice and a no judgement attitude. A mother of five and grandmother of three, Pinky is Australia’s most recognised breastfeeding expert, an international board certified lactation consultant, and best-selling author of four titles including “Parenting By Heart”, “Sleeping Like a Baby” and “Toddler Tactics”.
“I started as a lactation consultant, and began writing about issues that were going on with parents during the tricky time of new babies,” said Pinky who specialises in gentle parenting styles that honour mothers’ natural instincts to respond to their babies. Her ‘get real’, no-nonsense approach, along with a blend of humour, sharp wit and wisdom, have made her an expert source for national publications and major network TV.
Recently Pinky became a spokesperson for global campaign #ThisIsParenthood which aims to change the conversation around parenting by celebrating the realities, normalising ups-and-downs, and uniting parents through shared experiences.
“Every single day I hear new parents say ‘I feel like a failure’ – when in fact they are loving, caring parents, perfectly attuned to their babies, simply made to feel this way due to the unrealistic images of perfection,” said Pinky . “#ThisIsParenthood creates an open, honest conversation around the highs and lows of parenthood, bringing parents from across the globe together to celebrate the fact that there is no such thing as ‘picture perfect’ parenting.”
The campaign is in response to WaterWipes’ global survey of 13,000 parents around the world with children aged three and under, to examine perceptions of parenthood, influences, and things they wish they knew. In line with these findings and in partnership with BAFTA nominated director Lucy Cohen, WaterWipes has collaborated with 86 parents across three continents to produce a sixteen minute documentary, twelve short films and a photography series that shine a light on real parenting known as #ThisIsParenthood.
“What’s fascinating about the WaterWipes study is that parents put such pressure on themselves and are never truly honest about the real struggles of becoming a first-time parent. It needs to be addressed that parenting is far from easy despite what you may see on TV or social media, and to simply trust your instincts,” said Pinky who says that bringing a new baby home can be one of the most stressful experiences.
“It is one of the most intimidating experiences of our lives and can fill us with self-doubt. In order to nurture our child, we must maintain our own sense of worth. Images of perfect families on the internet do not help so it’s important to be real with what we are going through. Every single parent feels some doubt at some stage and that is perfectly understandable but, what they need to know is the picture perfect family on Instagram or Facebook posts is not the true scenario.”
“The problem is when parents stop trusting their own intuition,” said Pinky, whose children were born from the 1970s to 1990s. “I know exactly what it’s like not to trust your own judgment but in my day, it was only from family and friends. These days there are all kinds of judgement from complete strangers on the internet and that is making parenting a lot tougher.”
Pinky says the answer is to encourage parents, rather than set unrealistic expectations.
“We need to tell our children or friends what a good job they are doing, and we need to be more real about the difficulties of parenting and that it is not all perfect social media photos with ribbons and bows. Some days are tough and that’s okay,” she said. “Feed your baby to sleep if you need to. Don’t let them cry if they’re becoming distressed. Do what your natural instinct tells you and you are on the right path.”
Pinky is a sought after guest and keynote speaker at seminars for health professionals and parents, and has spoken across Australia, New Zealand and the United States. She has presented a popular Tedx talk, ‘Surrender is Not a Dirty Word’, and her reach extends worldwide through her books, e-programs, blogs and highly engaged Facebook pages.
Pinky McKay is an internationally certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) and best-selling author of Sleeping Like a Baby, Parenting By Heart and 100 Ways to Calm the Crying (Penguin Random House). She is also the creator of Boobie bikkies all natural and organic health food cookies for breastfeeding mums.