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Alison Canavan and son JamesWelcome to my first parenting column! I’m so excited to be able to share my experience with you all since becoming a Mum in September. I adore James and I love every minute with him, but it has been tough at times. I really wanted to breastfeed and had done a lot of research whilst pregnant. Breast milk contains antibodies to protect your baby from infection and continues to benefit your baby as he grows. Research also suggests that breastfed babies have better mental development. It’s great for you as a mum too; it helps you lose weight (who can argue with that?), can help protect you from breast and ovarian cancer as well as give you stronger bones in later life.

I presumed nature would kick in and the baby would automatically latch on, feed and we’d live happily ever after. Well James wouldn’t latch on as he was tongue-tied and it transpired I had flat nipples so the first month proved to be very difficult. I expressed the first few days in hospital and syringe-fed James to make sure he got the Colostrum, which is high in antibodies and calories and easy to digest. This took a lot of time and energy but I remained determined and on day four, James’ tongue-tie was released and he began feeding but it took us a couple of weeks to get it completely right. The Lansinoh latch assist and nipple cream became essential items for me during this time. I also contacted a lactation consultant, Catriona McCarthy, who was a lifesaver and I would highly recommend that you try this if you are having trouble, before deciding to give up. She calmed me down and showed me where I was going wrong. Breastfeeding requires a lot of patience, as it’s new for both you and your baby. I promise it gets easier with time but one big bonus is that you have ready-made milk on demand so no need to sterilise bottles!

Above all, I found you need plenty of support, rest and a good diet during this time. Breastfeeding uses 500 calories a day so you need to keep your strength up as well as ensure to take lots of fluids – sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice is a great thirst quencher.

The ultimate goal as a new mum is to have a happy and settled baby so if you can’t breastfeed its not the end of the world but do give it a try.

A little help from my friends

During the early stages of breast feeding, you have questions 24/7 that need to be answered immediately! There are a number of websites that I found really useful.

ACL Ireland This is the Association of lactation consultants Ireland. Through this website you can find a lactation consultant near you. This one to one service was vital for me when I was at my wits end. My lactation consultant also has a very helpful website called:The Milky Way.

Newman has several publications on breastfeeding and is considered a guru in the breast feeding world. On his website you will find really helpful video clips on latching, cup feeding, tongue-tie and various other problems.

Other helpful websites are The Breast Way, Lalechel League Ireland, Cuidiu and Rollercoaster has great discussion boards for parents with similar problems.

Your local health centre will also have a breast feeding support clinic. This is a great way of meeting other Mum’s and comparing notes. I hope this information helps. Remember help and support is the key to success.

Products

Seat for breast and botle feedingThe Momby is a new an innovative approach to breast and bottle feeding, designed by leading pediatric professionals. It eliminates back pain for mums, and greatly assists in the relief of colic and reflux in babies. The price is 49.99, it is available online at Momby4u.com. It will soon be available in most baby shops.

Lansinoh CreamLansinoh: An essential product for breastfeeding Mum’s. It has a safety and purity unmatched in other nipple creams and does not need to be removed before feeding. It is suitable for allergy sufferers and for a wealth of other things such as nappy rash and stretch marks. Lansinoh Lanolin 56gm Cream €12.99. Product is available from Mothercare and in any community pharmacy. Lansinoh, lansinoh.ie coming soon.

Feeding brasFeeding bras: just because you are breastfeeding does not mean that you cannot have nice underwear. My favourites are bras pictured and the Anita bras (from Peaches and Cream, Royal Hibernian Way, Dublin) which includes special features such as a memo-clip located at the front of the bra between the two cups which is designed to help you remember which breast you fed from last and a quick clip drop down feeding panel. Retails at €28, ph. 016708804. See pictured these comfortable and stylish bras from Haute Mama

Nursing CoverNursing cover: This has been an essential item for my baby bag when I am on the go. It makes feeding comfortable for both you and those around you in public. They come in a multitude of colours and patterns. Available from Haute Mama

Book on Breast FeedingWhat to expect when you’re breast-feeding…and what if you can’t by Clare Byam-Cook (Vermilion, Trade Paperback) £8.99. This book was given to me by a friend and I have found it be indispensable and the best literary aid from anything that I have read both during my pregnancy and since.

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