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The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower

 

The Baby Box is one of the most well thought out gifts for a new mum.

My sister is a new mum and got very excited when she saw it exclaiming, “This is exactly what every new mum needs!”

The idea behind the Baby Box is based on Finnish tradition. The Baby Box not only provides essentials for baby’s first few months of life, the box itself is designed to be the baby’s first crib.

In Finland every new mum receives some kind of maternity grant. They can either choose between a cash grant or a maternity package containing good quality clothing and baby care products. Two thirds of women opt for ‘The Baby Box” as I would too.

The Baby Box was actually designed in 1937 to give all children a more equal start to life, and it continues to serve this purpose today. Finland’s child mortality rate is among the lowest in the world, partly thanks to the maternity grant and associated health checks.

 

THE CRIB ELEMENT

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower

Parents can use The Baby Box as their first crib or as a second back-up one for the sitting room. For example: I used to carry the moses basket up and down the stairs each day along with the stand or else I would use the pram for James to sleep in downstairs. This solves that problem as it can be left downstairs! The simple, effective design of the box, coupled with its firm mattress, also helps to promote safe sleeping, which is important too.

When the baby has outgrown the Box it can be used as a keepsake box to have forever. Those first little shoes, the teeny tiny first vest and the first haircut! As you child grows the baby box can grow with your memories too.

 

WHATS IN THE BOX

As well as their range of Custom Designed Baby Boxes, The Baby Box also sell various Newborn Gift Sets of clothing and accessories starting at just €25. Check out all their gift ideas here 

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby showerOne of my favourite gifts is the The Muslin Swaddle Gift Box €25 (link here). Each Gift Box includes two 100% Cotton Extra Large Muslin Swaddles which are ideal for swaddling a newborn, nursing, or covering a stroller when baby drifts off to sleep.

The first box for Spring/Summer 2017 is the The Original Baby Box (RRP €125)

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower1 x Baby Box 1 x Mattress 1 x Machine Washable Breathable Mattress Cover 1 x 100% Cotton Fitted Sheet 1 x 100% Cotton Extra Large Muslin Swaddle (120cm x 120cm) 1 x Soft Toy 2 x 100% Cotton Baby Vests 1 x 100% Cotton Baby Sleep Suit 1 x 100% Cotton Hat 1 x 100% Cotton Bib 1 x Luxury Blanket 1 x Pack of Nappies 1 x Jar of Nappy Cream 1 x Pack of Water Wipes 1 x Bag of Cotton Squares FREE Delivery in Ireland & UK

 

The 2nd option is The Ultimate Baby Box (RRP €250)

The baby box, baby gifts, parenting, new mum, unicef, first crib, newborn, pregnancy, gift ideas, baby shower

1 x Baby Box 1 x Mattress 1 x Machine Washable Breathable Mattress Cover 1 x 100% Cotton Fitted Sheet 2 x 100% Cotton Extra Large Muslin Swaddles (120cm x 120cm) 1 x Soft Toy 3 x 100% Cotton Baby Vests 2 x 100% Cotton Baby Sleep Suit 2 x 100% Cotton Hat 2 x 100% Cotton Bib 1 x 100% Cotton Luxury Blanket 1 x Baby Health & Grooming Kit

1 x 100% Cotton Luxury Bath Robe 1 x 100% Cotton Hooded Towel 1 x Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo 1 x Burt’s Bees Baby Lotion 1 x Burt’s Bees Nourishing Baby Oil 1 x Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment 1 x Burt’s Bees Butter Milk Soap 1 x Changing Pad 2 x Soothers 1 x Pack of Nappies 1 x Jar of Nappy Cream 1 x Pack of Water Wipes 1 x Bag of Cotton Squares FREE Delivery in Ireland & UK

There are many more options in between like The Bed Box and The Deluxe Baby Box

SAFETY 

As safety is of primary importance to any new parent every single one of The Baby Box products undergoes rigorous safety testing.

The Baby Box conforms to BS EN 1130, the International Gold Standard for Crib & Cradle Safety. The Baby Box is the only Finnish Baby Box on the market that meets this standard. Their mattresses also conform to BS EN 1877 for Safety and BS EN 7177 for flammability. Read their safety and sleep tips here

GIVING BACK

In The developing world a child dies every 20 seconds from a preventable disease.

 The Baby Box works closely with UNICEF worldwide to help prevent these unnecessary deaths. For every Baby Box sold 10 vaccination kits are distributed to the Third World. Each one of these vaccination kits ensures that children are protected against Measles, Polio and Tetanus. To date The Baby Box has protected over 5,000 children from these potentially fatal diseases.

The Baby Box believe that all babies should be given an equal start in life regardless of where they are born.

 

WHY CHOOSE THE BABY BOX

For any new Mum this is a dream gift. It contains everything a new mum needs in those early days. I truly believe anything that can help relieve some stress from new mums is really important. It’s the perfect gift where all mums friends can chip in and help to give the bay the best start alongside creating memories and helping children less fortunate get a better start in life too.

 

#ad #spon

Welcome to #MummyMondays where I will be teaming up with The Stork Box to bring you some great articles over the next few weeks on preparing for a new baby but first let me introduce you to this dynamic duo sisters Sophie Cafolla and Dr Vicky O’Dwyer

The Stork Box is a new and exciting Irish company specializing in products for Mum and Baby, including a prepacked maternity hospital bag, helping parents get ready for their new arrival and a range of Gift Boxes, which friends and family can ship directly to the recipient. Brought to you by sister duo, both of whom are Mums themselves, Sophie Cafolla, a sponsorship and marketing consultant and Dr Vicky O’Dwyer, a Doctor who has worked in Obstetrics and Gynecology for the last 11 years. I met with the girls to find out their story and what led them to create The Stork Box….

“This got us thinking about our own experiences” according to Sophie, “When I was preparing my bag I didn’t start to do it until I was about 34 weeks pregnant, I was working, tired and totally overwhelmed by the number of things I needed to get. I couldn’t find anywhere that sold all the essentials together, or even better, somewhere online that you could order in one go and have it shipped to you. So we thought, why not create a box which contains the essentials for both Mum and Baby! With Vicky’s professional knowledge and both of our personal experiences it seemed like a good fit!”

The duo wanted to create a service that takes the time and stress out of preparing your maternity hospital bag, while also providing the very best products to help make the hospital stay as comfortable as possible for expectant parents. Vicky admitted they have added a few extra touches to really treat new Mums too. “We have included a Social and Personal magazine in the Mum bag as well as a Just Eat gift voucher, I know I would of loved to have ordered a meal online one of the first few days I was home, we were far too tired and consumed by our new arrival to cook!”.

Value is also important to The Stork Box; both the Mum bags and Baby bags are discounted, the Mum bag contents are worth €80 however the bag is sold at €65, and the Luxury Mum bag contents have a value of €125 but is sold at €100 and the Baby bag is worth €135 but sold at €120.

The Baby Bag has everything to make baby happy and comfortable in their first few days.
•    5 x Short Sleeved Baby Vests
•    5 x Long Sleeved Baby Grows
•    5 x Bibs
•    1 Hat
•    1 Set of Mitts
•    1 Cellular Cotton Blanket
•    Pampers Nappies (Pack of 24)
•    Cotton Wool Balls (100)
•    Mamia Newborn sensitive wipes (pack of 56)
•    Sudocrem Care & Protect (40gm)
€120

The storkbox,hospital bag,pregnancy,parenting,new baby,

In addition to the Maternity Box, the Stork range includes 3 Gift Boxes, the Newborn Stork Box, the Night Night Stork Box which plays on the bath, bottle, bed routine, a favourite of many Mums and the Playtime Stork Box. Each box contains a bonus gift for Mum, a unique selling point of the brand, “it is important not to forget about Mum!” says Sophie

The Mum bag, €65.00 (retail value €80), includes;
•    Phyto Shampoo (50ml)
•    Phyto Conditioner (50ml)
•    Uriage Shower Gel (200ml)
•    Deodorant (35ml)
•    Elave Daily Lip Balm (15ml)
•    Karite Hand Cream (30ml)
•    Uriage Thermal Water Spray (50ml)
•    Sample of Nia’s Just Balm – suitable for Mum & Baby (5ml)
•    Hair Bobble & Hair Clips
•    Mini Brush
•    2 Tooth Brushes – for Mum & Dad
•    Toothpaste (25ml)
•    Monochrome Notebook and Pen
•    Maternity Pads (10 pack)
•    Sample of Lanolin Nipple Cream
•    1 set of Disposable Breast Pads
•    Sample of Lansinoh’s Breastmilk Storage Bags
•    Social & Personal Magazine
•    Just Eat gift voucher €10

The Luxury Mum bag, €100 (retail value €125), includes everything from the Mum bag plus;
•    Payot Hand Cream (50ml) instead of Karite hand cream
•    Cleanse Off Mitt
•    Mustela Bust firming serum (75ml)
•    Mustela Stretch Marks Recovery Serum (75ml)

The storkbox,hospital bag,pregnancy,parenting,new baby,If that wasn’t enough to start with, Sophie has also developed her own baby clothing range, Mini Style Addict, which is included in The Stork Box Baby bag. Inspired by her daughter Sienna, the range includes baby vests and baby grows. The Mini Style Addict clothes are gender neutral, with a nod to the monochrome trend, a key look in baby and toddler fashion at the moment.

The girls stated they are committed to providing a service that grows with their audience; “we research, we invest our time and use our knowledge to find the best and most appropriate products for Mum and Baby. We have more exciting products coming to the range soon so be sure to keep an eye out!”. Keep an eye out for more to come from these two!

Check out Their website for more info

Caroline jackman, do terra essential oils, insomnia, swelling, morning sickness, milks supply, pregnancy ailmesnt, morning sickness, natural rmedies for morning sickness, alison canavan, be complete, health and wellness, mum

 Pregnancy is an exciting and special time when a woman really needs to place an emphasis on self-care, nourishing her body and growing baby. It is also a time when many women become more aware of potential dangers from the foods they eat or products they use on their bodies. Natural plant remedies provide a convenient option for pregnant women who need help dealing with some of the more uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy and the early days of parenthood.

Peppermint

Any pregnant woman who has struggled through a cold or flu without the aid of over the counter medication would welcome a natural solution to clearing a stuffy nose. Peppermint is wonderful for opening up the respiratory system and a drop of peppermint in water or under the tongue can help clear airways. It is crucial however, that the essential oil used is 100% pure and labelled as safe for consumption. Peppermint & ginger are also incredibly helpful for morning sickness and can provide a welcome relief from nausea in those first few weeks of pregnancy. In the later stages of pregnancy those same oils can help with heartburn and digestive upset. Peppermint is one of the first essential oils I recommend for pregnancy as applying it topically is also great for headaches which makes it a useful & natural alternative to a headache tablet. Peppermint can however decrease milk supply which breastfeeding mums should factor in when using.

Wild Orange

Pregnancy is both an exciting and tiring time for a woman, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Wild Orange can help with the fatigue associated with pregnancy and when used aromatically can help with energy levels. The uplifting properties of this citrus oil also help to lift mood and ease anxiety. Diffusing or inhaling wild orange can prove particularly useful in the days following the birth of a baby when new mothers can experience a rollercoaster of emotions and are more susceptible to low moods. Wild orange can also be helpful to calm emotions when diffused during labour.

Ylang Ylang

Choosing essential oils with sedative properties like Lavender or Ylang Ylang can help with insomnia or sleep problems associated with pregnancy. Ylang Ylang has a wonderful sweet smell and can help reduce high blood pressure, ease depression and encourage emotional balance.

Lavender

Incredibly practical oil for any mum to be, Lavender used topically can help with sore muscles/swelling and breast tenderness. Applying Lavender to the back of the neck & temples also helps with headaches and inhaling it or adding it to a bath helps combat feelings of depression. Lavender has antibacterial and soothing properties which also makes it ideal oil to use postpartum to promote healing. Diffusing lavender in a room can help calm both mother and baby. Breastfeeding mothers will find Lavender useful if dealing with mastitis or pain from feeding.

Fennel

Fennel has antispasmodic properties and can help with nausea and diluting it and applying it topically can help with colic. It is also well known as a natural way to increase milk supply which is welcome news to breastfeeding mums who don’t enjoy the taste of fennel tea. Fennel can also help ease cramps and to balance emotions.

 

‘Swelling Relief’

2 drops Lavender

2 drops cypress

3 drops ginger

2 teaspoon coconut oil

Combine essential oils with coconut oil & massage into legs & feet

 

Essential oils can be used aromatically to affect mood and open airways; topically for quick absorption into the body through the skin, and internally for immune & digestive support. It is important to select therapeutic grade oils free from synthetics.

Essential oils are a great way to improve your health easily and quickly. Drop me a line if you’d like to learn more about using essential oils or where to purchase 100% pure oils.…

caroline@honestabouthealth.com

Safefood campaign Babies Know the facts about Folic 1

Last month I helped launch Safefoods “babies know the facts about folic campaign”. The campaign is primarily to raise the importance of folic acid for all sexually active women whether or not they are planning a pregnancy.

I’m very lucky to be the mum of a beautiful 4-year-old boy James but I like to do things differently and in life it seems I’m quite fond of the element of surprise. Having been with my boyfriend in the states for a number of years, we separated and I decided to come home to heal my broken heart for a couple of weeks.

That was over 5 years ago now and I’m still here. The reason I am telling you this story is because I was about 10 weeks pregnant when I found out and panic set in because I had not been taking folic acid.

I was even more surprised to hear statistics that 50% of births are unplanned in Ireland although how many of us have surprise siblings and I can’t tell you how many of my friends are having surprise honeymoon, 2nd and 3rd babies at the moment with one of my best friends about to give birth to identical twins in a few weeks which means she will have 4 children under 3! Now that’s a busy household.

But what really concerns me is that Ireland has one of the highest rates of neural tube defects in the world and these types of statistics we can absolutely do something about.

Information is power and as a mother I cannot tell you how important that statement is. When I was living in California I was living a very healthy lifestyle and of course children had been discussed. I had visited specialists because I had various concerns such as polycystic ovaries and pre cancerous cells and we had all sat down and talked about what I might need to do or indeed not do to get pregnant and this included dietary advice but no mention of folic acid. In fact I was under the impression that there was no benefit to taking folic acid until you were actually pregnant and this could not be further from the truth.

If I had been lucky enough to have had access to the type of information we are hearing in this campaign I would definitely have been taking folic acid.

For me personally it would have meant a lot less anxiety and stress because all women get a free gift with pregnancy and its called parental guilt and yes this guilt starts long before your baby is even born.

*It is important to also understand that 1/3 of neural tube defects are genetic and therefore completely outside the mothers control.

 

new - PRENATAL MULTIVITAMIN COMPLEX 50 (2)You would have to eat 12 ½ heads of broccoli to reach the level of folic acid you need and even my nutribullet can’t help me achieve that. Folic acid is very simply a B vitamin (also known as folate or vitamin B9) and it is a water-soluble vitamin, which helps grow and protect cells in your body. Your body does not store water-soluble vitamins so you need to keep replenishing your supply daily. Foods like fortified grains, spinach, lentils, chickpeas, asparagus, broccoli, peas, brussels sprouts, corn and oranges all contain folic acid but making sure you get enough folic acid every day from these foods is a challenge. This is reason why supplementation is necessary. But the type of and quality of the supplement is also very important as a lot of supplements have binders and fillers. Terranova do a great prenatal Vitamin with 400iu of methylfolate in it. Folic acid is basically a synthetic version of the folate that is found in foods. Folic acid is not found in nature, and the human body cannot use folic acid as it is – it must first be metabolised into it’s active methylfolate form in order to provide it’s benefits and it is in this form in all Terranova products. You can buy it www.evergreen.ie 

The neural tube actually forms in weeks three and four of pregnancy and grows into the brain and spinal cord and this is before myself and most of my friends even discovered we were expecting.

This week I asked many of my friends who are trying for babies were they taking folic acid and out of about 15 one said yes so lets try and change that to one saying no.

It is a myth that you only need folic acid when you discover you are pregnant. This campaign is asking for all sexually active women to take folic acid and like everything in life prevention is better than cure and this campaign simply means that as a nation we are putting our most precious cargo first and protecting the next generation.

helenabarker.com

ARTWORK BY : www.helenabarker.com

I just turned 37 last week and I’m at a time in my life where most of my friends are either having children or trying really hard to have children. Infertility now affects 1 in 7 couples in the UK and I imagine we are not far behind here in Ireland. There are so many factors that affect our fertility including elements that we have no control over like toxic chemicals in the air, food, water and cosmetics we use.

 

But what we do have control over is our lifestyle and we now know that what we eat has a profound influence on our health and indeed our quality of life. The saying from ‘womb to tomb’ really does ring true but maybe in this case we should bring it back even further and focus on the prospective parents health before conception??

 

Improving nutrition and lifestyle can rapidly improve a couple’s health and in turn their fertility. We often focus just on the female but if you think of the sperm as a ‘seed’ and the egg as ‘soil’ its obvious we should be focusing on both. Show me a plant or tree that has ever been grown without a seed? Exactly

 

Voluntary poisons like smoking, alcohol and caffeine should definitely be stopped and replaced with filtered water and a healthy diet. The easiest way to explain a healthy diet nowadays is make sure you spend the majority of time in the fruit and veg aisle and if you eat meat buy high quality animals proteins. Lets get back to using knives instead of tin openers in the kitchen and very simply stay away from packaged processed foods and sugars.

 

The reproductive system does need specific nutrients though which is why recent a pilot study into a natural nutrient supplement called pre-conceive, is so exciting. It showed improvements in key fertility parameters for both men and women.

 

The 90 day clinical study into pre-Conceive, which is Irish owned and manufactured showed that incorporating a healthier diet and lifestyle alongside the supplement, provided optimistic results for the 20 infertile Irish couples who took part. The results, after careful independent analysis, indicates better fertility rates in men and women, boasting improvements in DNA and motility, to name but a few.

 

More than eight out of 10 Irish men showed improvements in their sperm motility and also reduced cellular damage to their sperm. The clinical study is Europe’s first ever examination of a nutritional supplement and the effect on both male and female fertility parameters. Progressive motility, which measures sperm cells swimming in the right direction, was also greatly improved and reduced cellular damage to sperm cells was also noticed.

According to independent medical expert, Dr David Smallbone. “This new study shows that pre-Conceive combined with nutritional and lifestyle advice improves the environment for healthy sperm cell and egg development”.

Pre-Conceive is designed speci­fically for couples finding it hard to conceive. It can also help couples who are preparing for Assisted Reproduction, those who are looking to support the health of the mother during and after pregnancy, plus the health of the embryo and women who have had a miscarriage, or recurrent miscarriages.

 

Dr Smallbone believes that the report favourably shows that providing adequate nutritional materials can and does influence the body systems and that it becomes apparent that important systems, such as the endocrine system, can be affected by correct nutrition. However it does need time and six months is not an unreasonable amount of time, especially when several years of nutritional abuse lie behind the problem. Unless the nutritional requirements of the body are specifically catered for, it is highly unlikely that full health can be expected.

 

Mark Whitney of Pillar healthcare plans to conduct further research in the coming months but if this study is anything to go by its an exciting time for couples struggling to conceive. This is a great way for any couple to start their journey into the world of fertility. It can lay down all the groundwork for the male to produce ‘strong sperm’, the expectant mum to develop a healthier egg and positively influence the baby’s health.

 

Results Are In

Pre-Conceive is available through pharmacies, health food stores and online. It is recommended that couples follow at the very least a 90-day programme. Each box contains one month’s supply, containing 30 sachets and the highest strength fish oil on the market. (90 capsules / 3per day). Each 30 day supply costs €170. www.pillarhealthcare.ie

photo (65)I absolutely loved being pregnant after I stopped throwing up of course. I was completely fascinated by my growing bump and I ate books about anything and everything baby and all the different growth stages, even getting daily updates from websites.

 

According to research it has been suggested that from 20 weeks your baby can recognize voices from the womb. This has made talking with your bump one of the more popular and loved methods of bonding. It has been said that chatting to your baby in the womb, creates a sense of security for them and reassures them. One of the other wonderful benefits is that Dad’s voice can also become identifiable to your baby too – and maybe even expectant siblings!

 

You could try reading a story to your unborn baby, or even have a good sing song! Either way the baby will form a definite bond with voices that it becomes familiar with during pregnancy, even the bad singers. I went to lots of concerts as I love my music and James used to kick like crazy. When he was born he reacted quite strongly to music and songs he had heard while he was in the womb and artists I had been to see.

 

Every pregnancy is unique though and we all bond differently with our bumps. I was walking with a friend today and she said she absolutely hated being pregnant and felt like there was an alien inside her. Luckily she has two beautiful humans that she has definitely bonded with since but it’s important to remember that not everyone’s experience of being pregnant is the same and if you are struggling to bond with your bump here’s some ideas you can try:

 

I think it’s fair to say that there are few things more therapeutic than massage so I would definitely recommend this. This method is perfect for calming and relaxing the baby, as well as yourself- allowing tranquil and quiet bonding time for you both. The most popular time to start massaging is during the middle to end of your second trimester- especially when baby has started moving and has most certainly begun to develop its sense of touch, which comes before all others. When massaging the bump, it is quite common for the moisturiser to dry out quickly, so oil is a highly recommended as a massaging lotion, especially if you have one that can help prevent stretch marks.  I loved using bio oil €7.99 from boots, and I actually mixed it with my regular cream after bathing.

 

Having a bath especially if you are a first time mum is a luxury. This way your muscles can relax and help both you and your bump to completely relax- creating the perfect environment for you (or Dad) to massage or talk to your bump.

 

One of the more recent methods of bonding with your baby is through a camera lens. If you have your photo from your scan, keep that near you at all times and spend some time appreciating that you have something so special growing inside of you.  One other way photos can allow you to bond with your bump is by taking a picture of your bump once a week. This allows you to truly document this special time and will forever allow you to look back and witness your baby growing inside of you after baby is born or during your pregnancy still. I was extremely lucky to have had great shots done as I was still modeling and James loves looking at them now telling everyone he used to be in my tummy!

 

There really are so many methods to help us bond with our baby’s and research has opened up a whole new world to mums in the modern world to enable us to connect with our baby in the earliest days. However, despite all these exciting findings during pregnancy, there are traditional methods that will forever remain a magical way to bond with your unborn baby.

BLJ Pretty Silver Bola With RibbonOne of these is the Mexican bola. The bola charm’s traditions date back over a hundred years and is a concept treasured by mums-to-be all over the world. The Bola charm is traditionally a chiming pendant that is worn low over the bump- allowing the soft and tinkling chime to serenade the unborn baby as mother goes through her day.

I think these would make the perfect stocking filler for any expectant mum. They are available from €19 http://www.blooming-lovely-jewellery.co.uk/mexican-bola/

breastfeeding-1 jpegIn last week’s Femail two angry mums revealed how they were led to believe breastfeeding would help them lose weight, when in fact they piled on the pounds. Both admitted that their diets had been poor, blaming the ‘myth’ constantly pedalled to new mums by health professionals and breastfeeding advocates that the babyweight would melt away as they fed for tricking them into thinking they could eat what they wanted. Here, Alison Canavan, who breastfed her son James for a year, launches a staunch defence of breastfeeding. She argues that it should always be a personal choice made with the best interests of mum and baby at heart, and argues that by vilifying breastfeeding we are ignoring deeper issues about motherhood and self image.

AS I READ last week’s article I felt frustration and anger, yet again, about this topic. Since giving birth to James I’ve noticed that anytime the topic of feeding your baby is brought up, mums should be prepared to have their head eaten off by another mother who thinks they know better or who disagrees with our choice for our child.

I have never and will never understand why women are so hard on each other — this topic in particular seems to always hit a nerve.

In my opinion the breast Vs bottle debate is a complex one where no one wins. We all have different reasons for feeding our children the way we do and should never underestimate the complex issues that can arise post-birth for mum and baby which can influence feeding.

Weight loss alone, however, should not be the reason you choose to breastfeed your baby. Neither should articles claiming that women are now getting fat from feeding frighten you off. Each and every woman’s body will react differently to pregnancy. Some women fly through their pregnancies while others have problems from day one, they gain weight, develop pelvic problems, require emergency sections… the list goes on.

One thing we now know for sure is that eating for two during pregnancy is a myth. Believe me, I was guilty of using it as an excuse to pig out for the first few months, until my doctor told me women only need an extra 200 calories (equivalent to a small bowl of muesli or two slices of wholegrain bread) per day and that’s not even until the third trimester.

In the article the women targeted two aspects of breastfeeding in particular, saying ‘breastfeeding is a very sedentary activity’ and ‘women commonly experience ravenous hunger while feeding’. While I agree with both these statements, they’re not necessarily bad things. I actually enjoyed sitting down to feed as I was wrecked. And I was very hungry but I tried to eat nutritious foods as I knew they would make me feel better and fill my breast milk full of nutrients for the growing baby.

Things are never as simple as they seem, especially when it comes to the combination of women, babies, food and weight. I know that I’m an emotional eater and make bad choices to fill that gap. If I feel lonely, have had bad news about work or am simply tired I pick up the phone to the local takeaway — undoing all the good work I’ve done. But I also know I’m a model and that eating healthily is a big part of my job, which leads me to wonder why I make a choice that can potentially impact my career? Yet we do make poor choices and they are usually multi layered.

In the first few months after giving birth a lot of women experience real loneliness and sadness while home alone with their newborn. Too tired to exercise and too embarrassed to tell anyone how they’re feeling, food can be a big comfort. I’m not saying that these are the reasons the women in the piece gained weight, but we do need to be careful when we make blanket statements about such complex issues.

Breastfeeding is a choice, our food types are a choice and lifestyle is a choice. I always say that how you treat yourself and what you feed yourself will directly influence how you look and feel.

I spoke to Clare Boyle, a midwife and breastfeeding consultant, about this topic. Clare has been working with breastfeeding women for the last 13 years and her experience is that most lose weight easily and usually within the first six months. She tolds me, ‘I have never met a breastfeeding mother who had the weight gain issues such as those described in the article. I wonder if there were some other issues that may have contributed to it as it seems so unusual. I think it would be important to know what type of foods were they eating and whether they were they exercising.

‘It is true that most breastfeeding women have an increased appetite but provided they eat a healthy, well-balanced diet they shouldn’t necessarily put on weight and it is by no means the norm.’

Clare then made another very valid point, ‘There is the common perception that breastfeeding mums think that they are free to eat what they like and therefore they can go for high-calorie foods that they would normally deprive themselves of. If they do this to excess, obviously breastfeeding isn’t going to counteract a complete gorge-fest!’

I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought during my pregnancy. In fact, I just presumed baby came out and fed from boob and we all lived happily ever after.

Well, instead of that plan playing out like the plot of a movie, James couldn’t latch on and my boobs became so sore that I was permanently taking hot showers to relieve them. We soon figured out that James had a tongue-tie, causing his inability to latch.

Then I developed thrush — and my body was producing enough tears to fill Ireland ten times over. I was extremely lucky, though, to have a great friend Andrea Casey sit patiently with me, literally holding my boobs as otherwise I could’t latch him on. Catriona McCarthy, a lactation consultant, also spent considerable time helping me. What I learnt from the experience is that breastfeeding is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of women, it’s one that both you and your baby might have to learn together. I succeeded in feeding James but not until he was nearly three months old. I persevered because I’m stubborn and, after three months, I had finally started to enjoy the experience. I consider myself very lucky to have had the support I had, because without it I would not have continued to feed.

How you feed your child is a deeply personal choice. I have a friend who is simply uncomfortable with the thought of breastfeeding her children. She has three beautiful kids who are all healthy and happy. How we feed our children does not affect our parenting abilities, food or lifestyle choices — those choices are ultimately up to us. Judging other women also has no bearing on your parenting skills.

It’s great to talk about being more honest with each other, but I think deep down we’re all smart enough to know that the realistic experience of breastfeeding will not result in a woman getting a Gisele-like body. Tiredness, hunger and hormones are all part of the reality of being a new mum but good food, exercise and communicating with loved ones is far better for us in the long term than reaching for the biscuits!

Q: Any tips on packing for your hospital bag. I always bring to much!

I panicked about absolutely everything when I was pregnant especially packing my hospital bag. As a model I travelled a lot through the years. So packing is something that really should have been second nature to me. I blame my severe problem of procrastinating about everything. I have a knack of making the simplest things like washing plates, hanging out washing or emptying the bin into enormous tasks, so you can imagine the panic I was experiencing pre-birth. I was most certainly short-circuiting but the good news is I survived.

My first tip is shrinking all your toiletries to travel size. Boots are great and stock nearly all the good brands in travel size now. Bring three or four changes of nightwear. The hospitals can be very warm and I wanted to change quite frequently to feel fresh. Take arnica two weeks before your due dates and make sure to pack some to help with bruising and discomfort after birth. If you are planning on giving breastfeeding a go I would pack a breast pump as I had terrible problems and the breast pump saved me and enabled me to eventually feed. The medela swing is light, battery operated and very efficient. I also brought glucose tablets for that extra push, hair ties and a water spray. If your phone is like mine and the battery lasts 5 seconds you will need to remember your charger to announce the good news and take that first pic!

If you want to take all the hassle and worry away, mum of three Karen Snyder in England has created myHospitalBag. The bag contains over 30 products including a toilet bag with: miniature shower gel, shampoo, deodorant, lip salve, hairbands, shower cap, toothbrush, toothpaste and lip salve. The bag also includes comfortable knickers, maternity sanitary towels, breastpads, facial wipes and antibacterial hand gel, along with flip flops, bed socks, a laundry bag and a pocket pad and pen. To help aid recovery there is a small bottle of Arnica pills that I mentioned earlier.

For your newborn she has included babygrows, vests, hats, mitts and muslin squares all in neutral white, newborn nappies, nappy bags, wipes, cotton wool, disposable changing mat and Sudocrem.

The bag is even big enough to ensure that you have space to add a few home comforts.

If you are interested in buying one, the cost is £85 (€102.67) including delivery of €12 to Ireland which is cheaper and more convenient than buying it all separately.

www.myhospitalbag.co.uk

 

TOP TIPS:

• Have your bag packed at 35 weeks as junior might want to make an early arrival

• For your going home outfit comfort is key. I wore a maternity dress with tights.

www.mummypages.ie/tools/packing-your-hospital-bag have a great checklist

• Disposable or old undies and nipple cream also top my list

• Pre-wash all your baby clothes in non-bio washing powder

• Enjoy every second, you’re about to create a miracle