Female Leader, Pinky McKay, Director Boobie Bikkies

Pinky McKay is Australia’s most recognised breastfeeding expert (you’ve probably seen her on the telly), best-selling author of four books on parenting, breastfeeding and baby sleep, as well as being an entrepreneur and the creator of Boobie Bikkies lactation cookies. Boobie Bikkies were created in 2012, and now export internationally.

An acknowledged saviour of parental sanity Australia-wide, Pinky sagely encourages parents to trust their instincts, and supports gentle parenting styles that are ‘heart’ led. She is a popular, engaging and humorous keynote speaker, having presented throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Tell us about how you became Australia’s most recognised breastfeeding expert.

Hustle and really hard work – and my hair! Seriously though, it comes down to being willing to put myself out there, to own my expertise and to speak out. I have spent over 40 years helping women breastfeed. I breastfed my own 5 babies (yes, I struggled too – journalists always seem to think I must have had a dream run), and I keep up to date with evidence-based practice. Being available for media opportunities means being confident in your skills and knowledge, but also being able to offer information simply and not being afraid to share what you believe.

My books and blogs have been a great way to share information. Social media offers us all a level playing field and never underestimate the ‘mummy mafia’ when it comes to sharing and promoting helpful information and boosting our profiles. I aim to empower women to follow their own intuition and I strive to be inclusive: I will support any woman who wants to breastfeed for as long or as much as she wants or is able to, whether this is a few weeks to a few years. However, I don’t shy away from sharing information despite the predictable debates about breast and formula or how long it is ‘decent’ to breastfeed.

What are the top 3 struggles that new parents face, and your advice for dealing with them?

  1. Trusting themselves – there is so much information and overwhelm from conflicting and often prescriptive advice, the ‘noise’ can confuse and undermine new parents. If there is conflict between your intuition and advice, try filtering by checking, ‘is it safe? Is it respectful? Does it feel right for us?’
  2. Baby Sleep – the first question parents are asked even by strangers is, ‘is he a good baby?’ Depending how you answer this, the next question will be ‘does he/she sleep all night?’ Remember ‘all night’ in infant sleep studies is only five hours (in any 24). How your baby sleeps is not a reflection of your competence as a parent. Sleep isn’t a milestone although it certainly feels great when your baby does start to sleep in longer stretches. Have some ready answers to that first question, so you don’t feel you have to explain yourself or be faced with unhelpful advice. Try saying, ‘he’s a bad baby, he’s already robbing banks’ or ‘he’s talking about getting a tattoo,’ and if you are asked how your baby sleeps, simply say ‘he sleeps like a baby.’
  3. Breast feeding – breastfeeding is natural but it is also a learned skill. I liken it to learning to dance with a new little partner who is also learning the steps – coordinating sucking, swallowing and breathing, as well as adapting to an entirely new environment (from womb to room). Just as you wouldn’t get into a car and zoom down the freeway without first learning to drive, it’s important to learn about breastfeeding before you have a crying baby in your arms and doubt in your heart. See my books “Parenting by Heart’ and ‘Sleeping Like a Baby’ (Penguin Random House), our Boobie Bikkies Blogs and social media pages and you can download our FREE ebook, Making More Mummy Milk, Naturally’. If you do run into problems, call for help sooner rather than later, because things can escalate quickly. Seek help from a reliable source such as The Australian Breastfeeding Association or an IBCLC Lactation Consultant. There are no silly questions and most things can be sorted quite easily with skilled help and support.

Share with us the key messages from your TEDx Talk about Surrender.

Surrender is not about giving in or giving up, it’s about stopping the struggle, accepting where you are and being present.

With Boobie Bikkies now an international brand shipping to Asia, Europe and the Middle East, how have you structured your business for continued growth?

Overseas expansion is very exciting, but it definitely comes with its own set of unique challenges. For us, it is about lots of analysis and forecasting. There is a long chain of events that all has to line up and one little kink can throw a real spanner in the works. In doing anything new and growing you just need to be careful, planned and measured and also need to be ready to adapt to challenges that come your way.

What are you most proud of?

That along with my beautiful business partners, my daughter Sarah McKay and Kim Vespa and our fabulous all women team, we have created and built a profitable, exciting, joyful business with no loans, no investors and no debt! And we have helped hundreds of thousands of women enjoy their precious journey into mothering through breastfeeding, many of whom have not managed to breastfeed previous babies.

What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?

Speak up, be real, stand for what you believe. You won’t please everyone but don’t be detracted by naysayers and critics. It’s in our DNA to feel hurt when we get slammed by other women – when our foremothers lived in tribes, a woman’s survival depended on acceptance by the other women. We could have died if we were rejected by the tribe. That isn’t the case now and if we don’t stand for something, we don’t stand for anything. Be true to yourself, protect your integrity, believe in yourself and your gifts, be a leader!

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.