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Breastfeeding: Make the breast of it

January 19th, 2010


Thursday November 12 2009

EMER McInerney, founder of pregnancy and breastfeeding website Onceborn.com, breastfed two of her children until the age of three and has noticed an improvement in terms of support available to women since she started seven years ago.

McInerney has three girls – Sophie pharmacies (seven), Saibh (five) and Tamsin (three). “I fed two of my children at the same time for a year and it took a lot out of me, so I only fed the second one until the age of two. Luck­ily I never really had any problems, apart from the odd blocked duct, which can be helped by putting a hot face cloth on the area,” she says.

“You tend to get different advice from dif­ferent people – for example, some nurses might say you should feed for 45 minutes each side, while others will say you should swap over every 10 minutes – so I decided to stick with what one midwife told me and got all the other information I needed from books.”

As McInerney notes, there’s a lot more help available to new mothers now compared with a decade ago. In recent months, a doc­tor and a breastfeeding mum have set up a website called www.thebreastway.com for example, and a group of mothers who met on online parenting forums have got together to form Friends of Breastfeeding, with the aim of making breastfeeding easier in Ireland.

The health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented, and McInerney says she hardly ever has to go to the doctor with her girls. “Tamsin has never been on antibiotics and the three of them haven’t had a cold for over a year. Sophie was diagnosed with asthma, which is hereditary, but her symptoms have been very mild. I believe it’s because she was breastfed. She hasn’t had to use her inhaler for three years.”

What do you need?

Before the birth McInerney advises getting fit­ted for a good nursing bra, but bear in mind your shape will change over the following months. “Your breasts will get bigger, by two cup sizes or more, but they will then get smaller after a few weeks. For this reason, a bra which has room to expand and shrink is the best bet.”

Bring good nipple creams and balms for your hospital stay to help with any cracking, and McInerney also recommends the Multi Mam Compress, which you leave on the area for five minutes.

When you come home, a good nursing pil­low will help prevent back pain and positions the baby at the breast so the latch-on is right. If you’re having supply issues, there are herbs and special teas you can take. McInerney says nursing covers are also popular right now. You simply put them around your neck like an apron and they give you complete coverage.

Regarding breast pumps, McInerney says they’re not really an essential. “You’re not supposed to pump until about six weeks when your milk is established. New mums tend to think they need a pump, spend money on one in the start and then never use it. They are great though if you want to go out for an evening or are going back to work.”

She recalls having to pump for 20 minutes in the toilets of her previous workplace and then store the breast milk in the fridge. “One day I found someone had put a paper bag over it, so I had to use freezer bags after that!”


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