Birth interventions and breastfeeding

When we think about birth choices we rarely think about the effects that these can have on breastfeeding outcomes or on long-term breastfeeding success. In general our choices surrounding birth tend to be made in order to get us through the phase of birthing our baby which many health care professionals and hospital units see as separate from the immediate bonding and feeding that happens directly after birth. Certain birth practices and interventions are known to have effects on breastfeeding in the early days. This doesn’t mean that if you experience these interventions, you will not breastfeed, but knowing that there are issues associated with certain practices can prepare you in advance should they arise. Continue reading


Ten normal facts about breastfeeding

1. Physical: Breastfeeding is the normal way of feeding and nourishing your baby. Newborn babies need warmth nutrition and love and breastfeeding satisfies all three. Continue reading

Beyond birth – Breastfeeding your baby

42 weeks,, AIMS Ireland

As we get closer to the end of our pregnancy the full realisation that we will become a mother starts to dawn! A lot of the early pregnancy can be taken up with planning where we will have our baby and coming to terms with being pregnant, including pregnancy related nausea. For most women the second trimester offers an opportunity to blossom and bloom and to research further how they will give birth and to prepare for this event with antenatal classes and pregnancy exercise classes such as antenatal yoga. At some point in the third trimester most women start to focus more on what will happen after the birth. This can make us susceptible to baby advertising and some serious commercialism! Baby clothes, nappies, furniture, buggies, slings, cots, carriers . . . the list is endless. We all love buying or borrowing things for our new arrival, but one of the most important things we can do at this time is give consideration to breastfeeding. Continue reading

A first time mother shares her breastfeeding journey


kellie 42 weeks1

Since before I was pregnant, I knew that when/if I had a baby I was going to breastfeed him or her. From a young age (maybe 14) I had seen my cousin’s wife, (who is Canadian, breastfeed her children. I had only ever known a baby to be bottle fed. At that time in Ireland it was very unusual for a mother to be breastfeeding, particularly in public and or for longer than 6 weeks. Continue reading

A second time mum’s positive birth – in her car outside the Coombe

On 29th November at 38+6, I went for my weekly reflexology appointment. During the session I could feel the baby really moving around. That night as my husband put our daughter to bed and I was preparing dinner, I had a real sense that it was our ‘last supper’. I’d a lovely relaxing night and a bath before bed. At about 4am on 30th November – I was 39 weeks – I woke with pains, they were about 10 minutes apart and very intense, much more so than when my labour started with my daughter. Continue reading

Nutrition: The Journey from Bump to Baby and Beyond

For some women, it’s only when they are trying to get pregnant or when they actually become pregnant that they think about their nutritional health, their lifestyle and what they put into their bodies. As we know, a developing baby derives all its nutritional needs from its mother so there must be an abundant supply of all nutritional co-factors.

Adequate nutrition during pre conception, pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding are absolutely vital for mother and baby. The responsibility of feeding and growing another human being is not one that is taken lightly. Continue reading

The Mysterious Placenta and the Third Stage of Labour

Did you know, the placenta has always been thought of as a mysterious and powerful organ? 

31st century BC

Narmer Palette 31st century BC – the small attendant on the far right carries the placenta of the Pharaoh, thought to be his ‘soul’ or ‘external helper’

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A Thank You Letter: To My Cousin

“When I first heard my cousin had a home birth my first thought was ‘what a legend !’ (which I think I actually texted her) followed by a pang of jealousy. I had hoped for a home birth on my first baby but a past medical history (a silly blood clot after a torn calf muscle) meant a hospital birth was my only option. Added to this it was not the un-medicated birth I had imagined. I had an induction followed by epidural, suction, forceps and my little man was left with a small scar on his face just under his eye where the forceps cut to the bone and severed a muscle. Three years later it is still visible when he cries and gives me a pang every time it surfaces.

When a year and a half later I found myself on the precipice (well that’s what it felt like anyway) of moving to Dublin at 5 months pregnant for a new job, with a toddler and my partner working in another city, it was to this darling cousin that I turned for advice when house hunting. I not only got hosted for said weekend of house-hunting but she found our now home for us within walking distance of her. It was so secure to know she was there if, in the middle of the night, I needed assistance and her gentle presence really made me feel welcome those first weeks. What followed was a support which guided me through my pregnancy and early breastfeeding journey for which I will be forever grateful. She introduced me to gentle birthing and her true belief in the process ensured I was diligent in my nightly practise. It really made me feel that a more natural birth was possible as my body was made to do this and my baby was the perfect size for my body. She gave me birthing books, told me her lovely birth story and as the arrival approached I felt pretty hopeful about my gentle birth.

At 38 weeks I had a scan which showed my second little man was already well over 9 pounds (my first was 11 pounds 5 ounces) and I was faced with a second induction the next day or a caesarean the next week. Apart from my hubby my cousin was the first person I called and her empathy – from one birthing mother to another was what I needed. Someone to listen to my fears and agree with me and then to nod me in the right direction: listen to you gentle birthing, and especially the induction tracks as much as you can. I was positive and calmed. Finally after 2 gels and the start of contractions all on their own I was in labour and got through with little more than gas and air. A very good midwife led me through the final hours and gave me my baby to delivery myself, a truly wondrous experience. My cousin was the first person I wanted to tell, as I felt she had been truly instrumental in this journey with me.

A beautiful fair-haired little boy entered our family and, as with my first, I expected an easy breastfeeding journey. Unfortunately this was not the case and after a couple of days I was left with bleeding nipples and a fear before every feed. Again I turned to my cousin who swopped in like a fairy god mother. She brought creams, compresses, cake (essential), all her breastfeeding books and made me hot towels for my breasts. Again a listening ear and soothing words followed by support helped me through. She suggested a lactation consultant and that I contact la leche and she really helped me find the inner strength to persist. Not breastfeeding was not an option and my cousin was there to offer the support I needed. In the end a tongue tie was diagnosed and I continued to breastfeed for 10 months once the problem was fixed (note: although the midwife who called in the first five days alluded to a tongue tie a solution was never suggested or offered).

My little man is now 1 and my cousin is still around, and the knowledge that we share similar mothering philosophies is really great. In hindsight what my cousin was for me was a doula, a kindered spirit to lean on who shared her knowledge with me and gave me the birthing/breastfeeding confidence I needed. This woman, mother, runner, friend is truly gifted and I have an inkling I am not the only mother who has called her late at night looking for an shoulder to cry on and some well-educated advice. So thank you Sylda, I am eternal grateful and I wish you every success in your future endeavours.”

Baby #4 and a first homebirth

I guess I should start this by saying I had two wishes for this, my fourth baby’s birth:

  1. that I wouldn’t be an angry labouring woman or lose control; and
  2. that we would all (my husband, me and four kids) be in our own beds after the birth.

I’d prepared using the Gentlebirth CDs and this was our first homebirth.

I was six days past term and had been having shows all week. I was also hiding big time at school pickups. I felt like everyone was watching me, even though I’m sure they had more to be thinking about! Continue reading

A first time mother’s natural birth in CUMH

So I thought that nearly 17 weeks later it’s time to get my birth story down, before I forget any of it. Our son Daniel was born on the 5th June at 12.25am, it was a totally natural birth which I really, really wanted (even though everyone told me to be flexible I was determined not to take drugs or have an epidural). I was aided by my fantastic hypnobirthing CD and my also fantastic TENS machine. I had a really positive experience and I can honestly say that I didn’t really feel any pain once I put the CD and TENS machine on, only pressure and the will to push like the bejasus. Continue reading

Choice in Pregnancy and Birth in Ireland

Period late? Feeling tired? Sore breasts? Over emotional? These are all signs of pregnancy. Most mothers choose to further confirm such physical symptoms with a pregnancy test. Once you have a positive pregnancy test then a world of choice presents itself! Where will I have my baby? Who will look after me? How will I find out how to give birth? Should I breastfeed? For the first time mother the choices seem overwhelming and endless, and what makes it all the more confusing is that everyone seems to have a different opinion on what you should do! Continue reading

Country Comparison: A second baby in a US birth centre for an Irish mum

I’m an Irishwoman who lives in America. My first child was born in Texas, and when he was four months old we moved north to a Maryland suburb of Washington DC. When I got pregnant again, 21 months later, several friends and acquaintances in the delightfully slightly-hippie-but-not-snobby town I live in recommended a birth centre about half an hour away. Having had a straightforward hospital birth with no epidural (but some narcotic) the last time, I was ready to try for an unmedicated birth. The centre is a five-minute drive from an excellent hospital, and I trusted the midwives to know in plenty of time if someone would need a transfer in an emergency. Continue reading