Tag Archives: baby

Breastfeeding, but not breast-feeding. Another Option!

After last weekends’ Great Twitter Chat on my ‘Breastfeeding: A Pain In The Tits?’ article, I can’t stop talking about it to everyone I meet. Most women are in agreement that whether you or I breast or bottle feed our kids is nobody else’s business, and everyone just needs to get on with their own lives. BUT, there was a definite sentiment amongst many of the women I spoke to who hadn’t breastfed either for a long period of time, or at all, that a their reasons stemmed from a lack of information and support on the matter.

So I’m gathering up shit-loads of no-nonsense, practical advice for anyone who might be interested, on the subject of breastfeeding.

Step in my good pal Sinead, mother to the most adorable, dainty princess Harlow. Sinead and I were due our babies on the exact same date – we were ‘Competitively Pregnant’, you know (they bleedin’ won) – so Eva and Harlow are almost the exact same age. I breastfed Eva for two months and switched to formula feeding. Sinead is still feeding Harlow breastmilk exclusively – but not with her boobs. I’ll let her explain in her own words.

Sharyn x

“I had my little one nearly 8 months ago and becoming a mum has been the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. But, like most mums, I have had my challenges.

I come from a family who are very supportive of breastfeeding and when I was pregnant I read everything I could find about it. I decided I really wanted to breastfeed my baby. I even YouTube’d how to get baby to latch on properly so that I would feel confident on our first try! I did what the advice said and when I had my baby I fed her immediately skin to skin. While in hospital my baby fed without difficulty, latching on well and no pain, I thought I had hit the jackpot,” what’s all the fuss about”??

Then, after 2 days, we went home. She started to scream…., and scream. She screamed the house down. I couldn’t get her to latch on in all the hysteria. Thankfully I remained calm, thinking “she can’t scream forever”….well, she gave it her best shot! This proceeded to happen every night, the sun would go down and BOOM, screaming! In the first few weeks my little one wanted to be on the boob around the clock. She might drift off after a few minutes on the boob, looking like a tiny cherub in my arms, but as soon as I would take her off the latch the hysteria would start again.

I slept in 30 minute intervals those first few weeks and felt like I was losing my mind with tiredness. During the day she was a lot more content so I’m sure people thought I was mad telling them just how hard it was.

Then I got mastitis – lovely. This is no joke ladies, not only is your boob really painful but you get the shakes and feel like you have the flu. Naturally, it just so happened I was on my own with Screamer all that day so couldn’t do what I needed to, which was rest. So I was carrying Screamer in my arms at the top of the stairs when the shakes got really bad and everything started to go fuzzy. I have never fainted before but it definitely was not the glamorous swoon I have seen on the telly. I just sort of lowered myself to the floor with Screamer tight against me and lay there, on the stairs until the fuzz ebbed away. I knew I couldn’t keep going as I was.

I really wanted breastfeeding to go well. I felt everyone would be terribly disappointed if I stopped, especially me. I knew all the health benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and myself and felt I would be devastated to stop at that time. So, I rummaged out the little breast pump I had bought before Screamer’s arrival. I had bought it with the intention of using it on the odd occasion I would be away from Screamer. I had invested €125 in a Medela Swing which is a tiny electric pump, about the size of an old disc man. So anyway, on hideous mastitis day, baby was about 4 weeks old. I knew the best thing to do was clear the blockage in the painful boob and go the doctor. But, as I was on my own that day and too sick to leave the house, I just pumped until the infection cleared. Now, as you can imagine, this hard earned breastmilk was treasure, I couldn’t just bin it! With a little research I found you can refrigerate breastmilk for up to 5 days, so I kept it. That evening, I gave said bottle to Screamer, and something magical happened; Screamer slept. She slept for 3 hours straight. An absolute miracle, glorious. It meant I could get help. Every time prior to this that Screamer was, well, screaming, she was handed to me with “she needs the boob”, when in actuality, she didn’t always “need the boob”, she just needed someone to hold her and love her through the screaming. But I know it is hard to differentiate between crying due to hunger and crying for reassurance.

So anyway, that’s how I started pumping my milk, and how I felt I could continue breastfeeding and keep my sanity. Pumping might not be for everyone and I know breastfeeding your baby is best. It just is. No one can argue the facts. But this is how I got through. I consoled myself with the knowledge she was getting all the nutrients nature intended, but, selfishly, I gave her a bottle so I could get some sleep. It slowly went from one feed of pumped milk a day to solely pumped milk when Screamer was about 10 weeks old.

It took time for my body to get a routine established but now I pump 4 times a day. First when I wake up at 8.00 for 30 mins, then between 12.00 and 13.00 for 20 mins, then at about 17.00 and 22.00 for 15 minutes each. I found out you make the most milk in the morning, fascinating!

So there you have it, Screamer doesn’t scream anymore. She grew out of that at about 8 weeks. She is a very healthy and contented baby. Far more relaxed than her mother. I went back to work when she was 6 months old – I’m a nurse so I do long hours both night and day shifts and I still feed my baby solely breastmilk. To be honest, I am proud that we are still plodding along together pumping as we go but I still have guilt. That niggling in the back of my mind that she is not breastfed from the breast. I think mums put a lot of pressure on themselves. No one has ever said or done anything other than being totally supportive of my choice to pump but it’s me. This just happens to be the way I muddled through my first time being a mum.

No one ever gave me the option of pumping as just that, an option. I wrote this so that other mums might know that this is a viable option if you feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall breastfeeding a screamer. Pumping is a rarely discussed method of continuing to breastfeed with its health benefits included, while getting the positives of bottle feeding, like getting your other half to give you a hand the odd time. I don’t know how long we will keep going, but if I can do it, you can too.



She That Is Without Children Among You….

I LOVE headlines like this: Nun Gives Birth To Surprise Baby

And I LOVE the other nuns in this story, surrounding the nun who had the baby, denying that she is in fact, a nun. Because the idea that she could be a nun and procreate AS WELL is so ridiculous.

And most of all, I love that they are called ‘The Missionary Sisters for The Love Of Christ’.



Introducing Eva ‘A Little Bit’

We made it! After what felt like a two-year gestation period, several hundred fake declarations that ‘This baby is definitely coming this weekend/night/day/shopping trip/dinner date’ etc; panicked tears that we had no buggy, moses basket, carseat and would never have enough time to buy them… our baby was 9 days late anyway (incidentally, maybe the givers of ante-natal refresher classes should stop saying things like ‘There’s no WAY you’ll go over on Baby Number 2’ – ya know?).

To a background of my favorite sounds: Dublin city waking up – seagulls, traffic building back up, people getting on with their day, Eva Elizabeth Fynes was born at 7.22am on the 2nd of July. She was exactly the same weight as Jacob had been – 7lbs 13oz – perfectly formed and, most amazingly – A GIRL!! We still can’t believe we have a girl!!

Al and I spent most of the rest of the day in teary disbelief, but we are in love, through and through (not with each other, with the baby. Ok, a little bit more with each other). Jacob came in to meet his new little sister that evening with Granny & Grandad and his gentle, tender kiss for this tiny new baby would break your heart.

Although we’ve been monitoring Jacob’s delayed pronunciation of words (E.G. He’ll ask me if I’m drinking a “TUP OF TOFFEE’ in the mornings), I have never been happier for him to get this one a tiny bit wrong.

‘Who’s this?’ I asked him, gesturing towards Eva.

‘Little Brother’, Jacob replied, very matter of fact.

‘It’s baby sister’, I corrected him.

‘Ohhhh’ his eyes opened wide. ‘Baby sisssster‘.

‘That’s right. And do you know what baby sister’s name is?’

‘Oh yes mummy’, Jacob replied.

‘You tell me what her name is’.

‘It’s Eva A Little Bit’.


And Eva.

I have loads of stories for you about the whole experience, but for now, thanks for all the love you’ve shown us in the last 6 days since she was born xxxx

My Kids & I xxx

My Kids & I xxx

Infant Communication

It’s never too early to communicate with your baby. A lot of mothers report feeling connected with their unborn babies and even dads can get in on the act by talking to the bump. Your baby develops hearing at about the 18th week of pregnancy and they are born already able to recognise their mother’s, and often father’s, voice. A new born will be comforted by the sound of his parents’ voices and their heartbeats as they hold him to their chest. Having spent 9 months safely cocooned inside listening to his mother’s heartbeat, the gurgling of her stomach and the gentle swooshing of amniotic fluid, the outside world must come as something of a surprise to a tiny baby. It is reported that babies who are held/carried/worn in the first six months cry less than those who spend more time in cribs, car seats and bouncers. The notion of ‘spoiling’ a baby by picking her up when she cries is outdated. Now, with the help of neuroscience, we can see that the earliest forms of communication between parents and their baby literally helps to shape baby’s brain, and determine how that amazing brain develops.

In her book You Are My World, Amy Hatkoff tells us: “Research now shows that the single most important factor in shaping a child’s future is the quality of the attachment to the parent. It has been confirmed that children who have secure attachments to their parents have more positive outcomes in a range of area including personality development, learning, and the ability to form healthy relationships.”

So what are the best ways to communicate with your baby in the first year of their life?

Firstly, touch. The simple act of holding, stroking, kissing and massaging your baby is the most basic and wonderful form of communication. When your baby experiences loving skin to skin contact they are flooded with Oxytocin, the ‘love’ hormone. This tells them that everything is ok, that they are being protected. It shows them that they are loved, that they are lovable. When this trust is built up in a baby it allows them to form lifelong healthy relationships. By spending time like this with your baby you will also learn to read his cues. You will notice when he wants to cuddle, coo and play; and when he wants some quiet time to relax on his own. Each baby is individual and will have their own unique personality and needs, and you, as his parents, will get to know him best through these loving interactions.

Eye contact is of great importance. When you gaze lovingly into your newborns eyes, you help to develop her self-awareness and sensitivity to others. What may seem like a simple act is actually helping to build healthy neural pathways in her brain. Babies aren’t shy and will simply adore staring at you and listening to your chat. She will even try to mimic you from just a few weeks old. The call and response of your talk and her babble form the basis for language acquisition and turn-taking, and strengthen the bond between you.

Like talking, singing to your baby will help reinforce that loving feeling and also introduces basic speech and language to him. The only way a baby will ever learn to speak is by being spoken to! And using songs, poems, rhythm, rhyme and repetition are fun and happy ways to increase your baby’s awareness of language and boost her vocabulary.

Speaking of boosting vocabulary, did you know that it’s never too early to read to your baby? In the first few weeks, they will enjoy black and white picture books with strong contrasting images. Later they will love to look at bright and colourful picture books as you narrate the story to them. Don’t forget to talk about everything you see in the book and ask questions about it all. “Do you see the dog? How many balls are there? What colour is the tractor?”. This interactive, or dialogic, reading will serve to introduce a rich vocabulary of words to your little one who will be happy to snuggle on your lap and read the same books over and over.

The power of music has been well documented over the years. Many people believe Mozart can boost your baby’s brain but the good news is Metallica will do just as nicely! Introduce a wide range of music to your baby and dance them around the kitchen like nobody’s watching. Gently rocking your baby to lullabies can sooth him at bedtime while swinging a little faster to a pop song will have him giggling his socks off. And as much as music can lift your soul, there is evidence that it can boost creativity too. So it’s a win/win for music appreciation!

In the later half of baby’s first year, introducing sign language can be a fantastic communication tool. You can sign with your baby from birth but at around 7 or 8 months they will develop the fine motor skills to sign back. It’s simple and it’s fun, and using simple signs with your baby has been shown to increase the parent/child bond, reduce frustration and tantrums, and accelerate speech. Research shows that responding to a baby’s cues are more important to brain development than any structured learning activity. Babies who feel understood learn more easily, have a positive sense of self, develop empathy and have a greater sense of who they are.

Peggy O’Mara, health and family expert said “The way you talk to your children becomes their inner voice.” I believe this begins from the very first time you talk to your baby. If you get in the habit of speaking with love and honesty to your child then this will set up a lifetime of positive communication. Of course there will be challenging times along the parenting journey – times when there may be anger, frustration, misunderstanding and miscommunication between parent and child – but if the groundwork of healthy, respectful relationship is laid then it won’t be such a long journey back to really connecting with your little one.

Happy communicating!


**Visit the ‘SuperHands Baby Sign Language’ website here: SuperHands Official Website

We are family – I got all my sistas with me!

I am sitting in the living room, ploughing chocolate bourbons into my face while my 2.5-year-old has an apocalyptic, unbridled shit fit on the other side of the door, all because she wants me to re-enact, word for word, an episode of Charlie and Lola that I haven’t even bloody SEEN. Meanwhile, my napping four-month-old wakes prematurely, starts to scream and I’m thinking – God, wouldn’t it be great to drop the kids off at Mum’s place tomorrow while I sit in a dark, quiet room for a few hours.
Except I can’t, because in 2001 I left Dublin and moved to the UK. I only came over for a New Year’s Eve piss-up, for God’s sake, but twelve years later find myself still here, married to a Londoner – who I have twice allowed to get me knocked up – and I’m now a stay-at-home mother living in Brighton. And it’s at times like this, when the racket from the hallway hits such a crescendo I’m waiting for social services to turn up, that I look mournfully at my snot/puke/milk-covered trackie bottoms and really miss my family.
Yet I’m definitely not alone – certainly not in the ‘when-did-my-cute-toddler-turn-into-Satan’ thing – but in that my husband and I are effectively raising our children alone, without the blessed presence of family around the corner. As with many, many young families these days, there’s no parent, sibling or cousin to swoop in unconditionally and help out when the situation gets desperate, and the irony of it all isn’t lost on me – I couldn’t wait to get out of Dublin and put space between us, and now I’d probably sell a kidney to have Mum live here too.
Out of the ante-natal group we attended before the birth of our first daughter, only one of the six women had family also living in Brighton. The rest of us had gravitated here from all over the UK – in my case a different island entirely. We were all about to embark on the single hardest thing we had ever done and, I believe, because we all knew that none of us could crawl, weeping and milky, to our Mums’ houses in those hideous post-partum weeks, we all turned to one another and became the firmest of friends.
After the initial shyness of those classes, which no matter how cosy they try to make them ALWAYS feel like an AA meeting, all the mums-to-be met up for brunch. We waddled into a café like a line of geese and, before the coffee even arrived, had covered such mouth-watering topics as perineal massage, varicose veins in unspeakable places (guys, you don’t want to know) and tits with more lines than a Tube map. ‘So apparently you poo yourself when you start pushing, the midwife just wipes it away! Here, try the black pudding – it’s delish.’ That kind of thing. How could you not love them?
And after we all gave birth – the six babies arrived within nine days of each other – we would email and text each other all night during our interminable nocturnal feeding sessions. No correspondence, before or since, has ever made me feel more supported or made me cry laughing so much. ‘My fanny is in RIBBONS, my nipples are BLEEDING, and the PRICK is just lying there snoring again.’ Or ‘I finally felt brave enough to leave the house today. I got stuck in traffic, ran out of petrol, the dog shat all over the back seat and then I couldn’t work out how to get the FUCKING car seat into the buggy frame.’
Over the next 2.5 years, we have seen each other through teething, weaning, behavioural problems, marital strife, toilet training, financial woes, miscarriages, illness and broken bones. We have watched each other’s babies turn into toddlers, sharing in all the brilliant, magical stuff that comes with it. We’ve supported each other when some of us had to endure putting our kids into crèche to return to work. We have provided cake, tea (wine) and a sympathetic ear for each other more times than I care to imagine. Yes, we all have our other halves to talk to, but only a fellow mother can really understand what we’ve been through. The physical gorgeousness aside of pushing something the size of a grapefruit through your most intimate area, there are the hormones, the body image, the career sacrifices (for some of us anyway), the broodiness when you want a second one, despite the fact your fanny looks like a chewed orange from last time. Only your mum friends will get all that. And so, even though I miss my family like mad, I’m kind of glad I didn’t have them around. I know I would have gotten too comfortable sitting in Mum’s kitchen. I wouldn’t have been forced to get out there and meet these brilliant new people, who I’m sharing the adventure of my life with.
Suzanne with her away-from-home family. (L-R) Laura, Emily, Peigh, Suzanne, Clair and Harriet

Suzanne with her away-from-home family. (L-R) Laura, Emily, Peigh, Suzanne, Clair and Harriet