Having suffered through diagnoses of colic, reflux, silent reflux, CMPA and other food allergies and intolerances with both of her daughters, Aine Homer and her family were severely sleep deprived, receiving little compassion or help, and instead being told it was “normal”. Battling postnatal depression for three years, she has made it her mission to do everything she can to educate and help others avoid the heartbreak that they lived. Over the last few years, she has helped thousands of families understand their babies’ reflux and colic better, allowing them to trust their instincts and make the best decisions for their children. Here she talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind The Baby Reflux Lady, the challenges she has overcome, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Within weeks of becoming a mum, I worried that I had ruined my life doing so; I was unable to do the basics of parenting: get my daughter to sleep, to feed comfortably, to lie down without me. I felt like a failure, and was told that I was simply overly worried, my daughter was fine, I needed to just let her cry because some babies cried.
This was the start of a three-year relationship with postnatal depression, during which my route to survival was to keep trusting myself, even when the medics told me I was worrying about nothing, that my daughter’s suffering was my imagination.
I discovered that she had silent reflux and multiple food allergies and intolerances. And through sheer tenacity and stubbornness of refusing to accept that constant discomfort in my babies was normal and acceptable, I was able to completely reframe my views on reflux, silent reflux, allergies and colic, because they are all related, and resolvable.
As a family, we experienced severe sleep deprivation and a lack of compassion from everyone around us because, medically, our daughters were perfect. They just couldn’t feed or sleep comfortably, and had a constant need to be held, or cry.
I made a vow to help me escape from my postnatal depression, that I would use what I had discovered and learned through our journey to support other parents and help them avoid the three years of silent suffering we lived with. And that’s what I now get to do.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I launched in silence! I spent time in the private Facebook groups away from the world.
The seed of sharing my learnings came during a conversation with my sleep consultant about what I had observed in our baby, her sleeping behaviours and what foods she had eaten. our sleep consultant remarked, “You should write a book!”.
I decided there and then that if I could share what I had figured out about the development of the infant digestive system with other parents so they could make different decisions for their babies, and get a good night’s sleep as a result, then I would. And a book seemed the best way to do this.
In nine months I had written and self-published The Baby Reflux Lady’s Survival Guide, and had started working with clients privately along the way, which really confirmed my learnings.
The scariest thing was pressing “publish” on the 23rd February 2018, because I was sharing my life with the world. It felt so vulnerable, to be saying in public that the medical world had the treatment of baby reflux “wrong”. And so I launched almost silently, secretly, just crawling out from behind the veil slowly, because my message is so different, and I felt that vulnerability.
Over the years, my messaging has strengthened with the work I get to do, the education and empowerment I get to share with clients, and the resultant freedom from reflux that these families experience is amazing.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
The biggest breakthrough happened the day I realised that my daughter’s digestive system, as a baby, wasn’t the same as mine as an adult. It was a simple realisation that then led me to question everything: was her body physically capable of digesting all the foods she was given? What about her lack of teeth, how did that impact her? And it opened a rabbit hole that I dived into!
What I brought to the reflux problem was my ability to look at all the evidence and piece things together in a different way.
My background as a mechanical engineer and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner both taught me that every problem has a cause, and when we understand the cause, we can resolve the problem quickly and effectively.
This was what changed everything.
I kept asking the question “Why was my daughter crying? Why was she in pain?” and this is the same fundamental question that I work with all my clients to resolve: “What is causing your baby’s discomfort / pain?”, because when we can answer that, we can resolve their struggles.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
With daily challenges!
I love my work and I feel called to stand up and shout for these children around the world who are suffering on a daily basis.
And I love my family!
My children are the two who taught me everything I needed to know to do this work.
With the girls both in school now, I choose to limit my working time to when they are in school, and one evening a week for supporting clients in other timezones.
And I have a growing awareness of adding in “me time” as well as work and family balance. When I don’t get my own time, alone, I’m not my best self, and so I get up before the rest of the family a few days a week to have an hour or more alone, and I train at least twice a week. Looking after myself has become a priority for me so that I can show up better for my husband, kids, and clients.