30 Bonding Tips for Dads/Partners of breastfed babies

Often parents ask me, how can my partner bond with our baby if they can't give a bottle? Well feeding is only one element in your babies whole life! There are so many things for partners to do. Below is a list of just SOME of the ways you can bond without feeding your baby. Snuggle your baby close any time mum needs a hands-free break.

Trust your instincts, and relax. If you are calm, baby will be calm too.

  1. Bounce on the birth ball together.

  2. Enjoy skin to skin time. 

  3. Walk baby around and help her find interesting colours and patterns to stare at.

  4. Tell your baby the story of how you met his mother.

  5. Wrap baby snugly in a blanket and rock with her..

  6. Who says breastfeeding bonding and oxytocin highs are only for the mums? snuggle up with mum and baby while they are nursing – research shows that snuggle time increases the father/partners oxytocin levels, too. So breastfeeding is bonding for both parents!

  7. Have a conversation. Pay attention to the way your newborn will focus on you, then shift his gaze elsewhere. The back and forth in these early eye-gazing and cooing sessions is called “synchrony,” and it will develop into more sophisticated social interactions as baby matures.

  8. Share your favourite music with baby. Go ahead and sing, baby will love it!

  9. Give baby a bath..

  10. Play an instrument? Give your newborn a concert.

  11. Gently burp baby after she finishes nursing.

  12. Help soothe a crying baby by gently swaying and shushing loudly.

  13. Make funny faces at baby. Babies as young as a day old can imitate the facial expressions they see.

  14. Change his nappy, and get lots of gazing and smiles in while you’re at it.

  15. Wrap baby up in a front carry sling and snuggle up to that sweet-smelling head. Need help figuring out how to use your stretchy wrap? See www.babywearingireland.ie

  16. Some babies love to be lulled in a buggy, so strap him in and spend some time out and about.

  17. Dress baby. Do it mindfully, taking time to check in with her and see how she is experiencing it. Describe to her what you are doing. Enjoy the moment, rather than making it just another item to check off your to do list.

  18. Take pictures. Lots of pictures.

  19. Find an older, soft t-shirt with some stretch. Give the neck hole a good snip down the middle toward the chest. Now put the t-shirt on, relax against some propped-up pillows, and tuck your newborn up skin to skin underneath it with you. Snuggle!

  20. Give baby a relaxing massage. Not only will it facilitate bonding, but massage can also aid sleep and digestion, boost baby’s immune system, and improve circulation, among other benefits.

  21. Create a ritual, something special that you share only with your baby. Like a bedtime story, or evening massage.

  22. Nurture his sense of touch: introduce him to different textures (cotton, satin, corduroy, etc.).

  23. Talk to baby about whatever is on your mind. Babies love to hear our voices; they’ve listened to them from inside the womb for the last nine months!

  24. Let baby orient to fun sounds. Try shaking a rattle or squeaking a soft toy near baby; he will turn his head to find the sound.

  25. Start practicing your nursery rhymes, finger plays, and silly songs. They can help you bond with your baby now, and later when he is older he can sing along.

  26. Read to your baby. What were your favourite books or nursery rhymes?

  27. Gently and softly run your fingers along baby’s face, arms, hands. Memorize every crease, every baby soft bit of chub. She won’t be this little for long!

  28. Share pictures of friends and family – babies love to look at faces. You can also try to show baby a mirror. She won’t know it is her in the reflection for quite a while, but she will like that baby face!

  29. Close your eyes and focus on your baby’s smell. Would you be able to pick him out of a baby line-up using only your nose? A baby’s sense of smell is “highly developed at birth” – he can remember the smells he is most familiar with; namely, his parents. Let baby smell you, not the heavy fragrances of cologne or chemical-laden deodorant

  30. .Find a quiet place and listen to your little one’s heartbeat. After you’ve mentally recorded this miracle, snuggle her up close to your chest and let her listen to yours.



Savour this magical time & trust your instincts – you’ve got this.

So Meghan Markle hired a Doula? What is that? Part 2

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So Meghan Markle has hired a doula and everyone is buzzing “what is a doula anyway?” Part 2.

There are two main types of doula. A Birth Doula and a Postpartum Doula. There are also Doulas who specialise in supporting families through loss and other niche areas

In this blog we will focus on Postpartum Doula support.

In times past (and indeed today in many cultures around the world) parents were not sent home from hospital with a new baby and expected to know what to do and manage on their own. We would have had the support of families, neighbours, friends - minding us, feeding us, helping us adjust to the changes in our lives and allowing the new Mum to rest and recover from birth and support her during the first few weeks of life with a small baby. Today we are often lacking this support and just expected to cope. People do call in to visit but don’t think to bring a cooked meal for the Mum, let her rest, load the dishwasher or ask how she is doing. The focus is often on the baby and the Mum is just expected to get on with it. However, we are not hardwired to manage in this way. We need the support of others in those first few weeks and months and in lieu of support from our community the postpartum doula can step in and offer this support.

A Postpartum Doula begins work with their client as soon as they book in. For some, this is during pregnancy (the forward planners!) and for others this is after baby is born. If it is during pregnancy, your doula will help you to prepare for your new arrival and the huge shift your life will take. If it is after birth, your doula will slot right in to your new routine (even if you don’t think there is any form of routine) As with Birth Doula support, your Postpartum Doula comes with many layers of support. We help you to debrief and process your birth experience. We nurture you while you recover from birth and find your new normal. We help your older children adjust to having a new dynamic in the family. We support your partner, adjusting to their new role and debriefing their own experiences. We offer knowledge, encouragement, information and support every step of the way - as each new day brings new challenges. Above all, we help you to savour the good moments between the chaos :)


Knowledge: Doulas are information junkies. We love reading, attending study days and growing our knowledge base. In DoulaCare Ireland all our Doulas must attend at least three CPD days per year. - which ensures the building of knowledge as evidence changes and new research is undertaken. We also learn from every interaction, with each individual client. We bring that knowledge base to you when you come home with your new baby. No matter what comes up, with your recovery after birth or your babies needs - chances are we have seen it before (or we know who to call if not).

Encouragement: Anyone who has had a baby, knows that surreal feeling of being left in charge of this new tiny human. Many parents feel “they are not seriously letting me home alone with this baby? I don’t even know how to bath him or tell if he is hungry” Don’t fear. It is normal to feel that way. The truth is no parent has the answers. Babies don’t come out with an instruction manual. We all learn on the job! The great thing is, with your Postpartum Doula by your side - you have a calm presence helping you every step of the way. So nothing feels overwhelming. You and your baby learn together, with a helping hand from your Doula.

Information: To new parents this is invaluable. The number one question we get asked… “Is this normal?” Rest assured, your Doula will have all the latest evidence and research at hand to help you make informed decisions when the fog of parenting clouds your brain. It can be hard to process information when you are recovering from birth and haven’t slept more than an hour in 2 weeks. Your Doula will give you the information you need in bite sized chunks so you can fully process it as required. She would also be delighted to tuck you up in bed, with clean sheets, after a hot shower and home cooked meal - and after a nice nap it is easier to think more clearly and have perspective on the changes in your life!

Hands-on tips and tricks: A Postpartum Doula passes on all the parenting tips and tricks they have picked up through their training and working experience. They help you to simplify your daily life. Sometimes it’s a gentle suggestion on where to keep the changing table, that you hadn’t thought of (like having a second one in that corner downstairs to save you running up and down the stairs 20 times a day) Sometimes it is demonstrating different methods of helping baby to get wind up - which can be a tricky skill to master.

Partners: Partners are often Doulas biggest champions! We help them to feel involved every step of the way. In parenting, it can be helping them to figure out how to put a baby grow on baby (which way is up? Are these the arms? We all know how hard it can be to get a new baby dressed!) It can be explaining the hormonal rollercoaster women ride after giving birth and to expect highs and lows. It can be a listening ear for them to debrief or to gush about their beautiful new son or daughter. Sometimes it is offering gentle suggestions to help them adjust to their new role and see what part they can play in supporting their partner and adjusting to their own new role.

With DoulaCare Ireland you have a full team of support. Each client is matched with the perfect doula for their needs. In the bigger contracts (100+ hours) you will usually have two doulas offering support. You have the opportunity to meet both beforehand. Both doulas will know your parenting style and wishes. This means that if for any reason your doula needs to change your scheduled hours you have the option of your second doula covering so you are never alone! Our co-owners Jen and Mary are always on hand too. We offer phone and email support to our clients and our doulas so no question is ever left unanswered.

We know from neuroscience that our brains are not hardwired to manage on our own in those first few weeks of adjusting to life with a new baby. All so often when we arrive at a new Mums house, they disclose that they feel they are doing something wrong as they struggle to cope. So few of us talk about how hard it is, that many are left feeling not good enough. The postpartum doula steps in to fill the gap. We are there to build confidence and make those first few weeks a positive memory for years to come - in other words to help a family thrive and not just survive the early days of parenting


Meghan Markle has hired a doula, what is that? Part 1

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So Meghan Markle has hired a doula and everyone is buzzing “what is a doula anyway?” Part 1.

There are two main types of doula. A Birth Doula and a Postpartum Doula. There are also Doulas who specialise in supporting families through loss and other niche areas

In this blog we will focus on Birth Doula support. 

A Birth Doula begins work with their client during pregnancy. Supporting them throughout pregnancy, labour and birth. We don’t clock out at 8pm. We are there by our clients side every step of the way. Offering continuity of care throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum. We then visit our clients at home, offering support with all those early parenting questions.. We offer knowledge, encouragement, information and hands on tips and tricks of the trade. 

Knowledge: We help our clients to understand their chosen place of birth (most commonly a hospital) policies.We compare the different hospitals policies, statistics and what the National Clinical Guidelines say. We also chat about International Guidelines and help our clients to make informed decisions about their care. We also cover the physical process of labour and birth and common things that come up. We can assist our clients to create their birth preferences for their unique journey. After baby arrives we share all the latest evidence on infant care, recovery after birth and anything else you’re wondering about too!

doula pregnancy support

Encouragement: We build up our clients. A huge part of our role is to help our clients (the birthing mother and her partner) to feel confident. We are like their coach or cheerleader from the sidelines, reminding them of all the skills they have gained throughout their pregnancy and the strength they have within. This does not stop once baby arrives. We build you up again after birth and remind you of that strength and knowledge.

Information: Apart from the mentioned topics, doulas also answer any questions that happen to arise with each client. It may be they read an article online and wonder does that happen in Ireland? Or they are told they have a condition (such as gestational diabetes GD) and would like information to help them feel informed and confident on how best to manage it.

Hands on tips and tricks: Doulas are not afraid to get in there and help out. During pregnancy we show our clients different massages, counter pressure and comfort measure to help during labour. We teach these skills to the birth partner so they feel fully involved in the process. On the day of labour often doulas and partners work really well together - tagging in and out (counter pressure can be really tiring after a few hours!) This support continues on into parenting. From showing you how to change and dress a newborn (which is surprisingly tricky at first) to helping you find a comfortable position to feed in - your doula will be right there. 

doula birth support

Partners: Partners are often Doulas biggest champions! We help them to feel involved every step of the way. Partners often say things like “I didn’t know what to do to help my wife” or “I felt like a spare tool in a scary unknown setting” but with a Doula supporting them - they have a full tool kit to draw from. They also get encouragement and a helping hand along the way. After they become a Dad/Mam we are still there. Helping them to adjust to their new role and offering guidance on how best to support you.

With DoulaCare Ireland you have a full team of support. Each client is matched with two doulas. You have your primary doula and your back up doula. You have the opportunity to meet both. Both doulas will know your birth preferences and wishes. This means that if for any reason your doula needs to take a break (such as a long birth, where your doula may need to grab some sleep), you have the option of your back up doula joining you so you are never alone! Our co-owners Jen and Mary are always on hand too. We offer phone and email support to our clients and our doulas so no question is ever left unanswered.

In next weeks blog we will discuss Postpartum Doula support.

Until then… Doula Jen x

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Postnatal Depression, when love doesn’t come as a thunderbolt.

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Postnatal Depression, when love doesn’t come as a thunderbolt.

I was 21, and diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), on a hot June day, in the consultants room, in a Cork hospital. One minute I was worrying about my parent's car being clamped, and the next minute I was being told,  if I was ever going to have kids, do it now in my early 20s. He closed the folder and stood up, as I sank into the chair. Fast forward to 23, going out with my husband, and about four weeks into the relationship, the clock now ticking so loudly, I sit him down and tell him. In September 2011, my daughter was born. Five years after my PCOS diagnosis. A greyness descended, initial happiness replaced with fears, thoughts, overwhelming feelings. My brain telling me that I’m not good enough for her. My husband was beaming, but my heart was breaking, because, after five years of hoping, wishing, endless sticks to wee on, I didn’t get that thunderbolt. I was in shock. 

I stayed in the hospital for four days, because I didn’t want to go home until I felt ‘right’ . That thunderbolt didn’t come. Over the following days and weeks, I lied to friends and family who were enamoured by her. I was staying awake all night, afraid, and dreading the moment she would need me again. Would she be better with someone else as her mammy? I envied my husband's love for her. I envied how happy he was. I loved her, but felt that I wasn’t enough for her. What if she didn’t like me? Friends kept telling me how lucky we were to have a happy, healthy baby. I didn’t feel lucky, I felt guilty, ashamed that I wasn’t enjoying the baby I had longed for. I was lucky to find a breastfeeding support group,  that allowed me to cry, talk openly, and not be judged. It became my lifeline. I found Kathy Kendall-Tackett's book, The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood, and it was eye opening, and reassuring. Dr Andrew Mayers from Bournemouth University, has done some interesting research about partners developing postpartum depression too.


I had heard some myths about PND , and medication, and I had fears about asking for help. What if they take her off me? What if, what if, what if? I became numb, and comfortable in my numbness. I hit rock bottom in 2016, when my neighbour passed away suddenly. A few days later, at my doctor's for something else, I broke down. He gave me some options, and I chose a referral for counselling. It was amazing. A weight lifted. The shame and guilt could be put down. I could breathe. 

I now work as a postpartum Doula, with Doula Care Ireland. One client described me as “a wonderful calm presence amidst the chaos" .I am not a health care professional. I am not there to tell you what to do. I give you the information,  and allow you to make an informed choice that works for you and your family. There is no one magic cure for PND, but , with calm, clear, informative support you can begin your journey out of the greyness. I am continuously working on being the best version of myself, and it is a continuous process. Sometimes I see glimpses of how I felt, in my clients, and it reminds me that the process of being mentally well, is something we need to keep working on.

Written by one of our doulas Dee Burke. You can fins out more about Dee and the support she offers here https://www.doulacare.ie/dee-burke-1/

If you or someone you know is suffering with a postpartum mood disorder these resources may help





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VBAC Mothers are real!

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Hi I am here…a real life, breathing VBAC mum :) 

So many of our DoulaCare Ireland clients do not believe that VBAC’s actually happen in Ireland. Well as a doula I have supported them, as an antenatal educator I have taught parents about them and earlier this year I experienced a VBAC personally.

My beautiful baby daughter Kayla Rose (a bit of a social media celebrity now) arrived in a whirlwind on 25th March 2018. I had an intervention free VBAC, supported by my husband, doula and midwife (an obstetrician was there also but I have very vague memories of her as she was not my focus) 

As Kayla’s birthday starts to draw closer, I have started to write my birth story. I will upload it in two parts (its a long story even though the birth itself was fast) That will give you all a full run through of my VBAC.

Before labour began I was admitted to hospital at 38 weeks for polyhydraminos (too much amniotic fluid) and baby in an unstable lie. Kayla was lying diagonally across my tummy. This meant there was a high risk of cord prolapse if my waters released. So after weighing up all my options, the pros & cons I decided to stay in hospital. (see my pregnancy blogs and our social media posts during March 2018 for videos/updates etc) You can also look back through my weekly pregnancy blogs ;)

There was lots of talk about elective caesarean but I held firm that I would like to try for a VBAC. I was confident in my body’s ability to birth my baby. There was a lot of negotiation and I found being informed about my options really helped in these situations. I knew the benefits and risks and studies that were done around vaginal birth after caesarean and also repeat caesareans. I was never against caesarean. I knew it was one option and if that ended up being the case I was ok with it, once I was listened to. My main priority was always to have a safe birth BUT I also wanted to have a positive experience. I found having doula support a great advantage as I had someone that I could bounce my thoughts and feelings off, who was non-judgemental and impartial and made a great sounding board for me. They supported me as I mourned the birth I wanted (to labour at home before going into hospital), and help prepare me for my change in circumstances. The brain training techniques in the GentleBirth app also helped me keep my focus and stay calm as things changed for me.

During my pregnancy I did all I could to empower myself. I worked on my physical and mental health. Over the 9 months I worked on building a positive mindset. preparing my husband to be my advocate. I armed myself with great support, in the shape of my informed husband and my wonderful Doula. I took time for self care. I had regular reflexology, used aromatherapy, had shiatsu, realigned my pelvis with chiropractic treatments, listened to daily affirmations, GentleBirth tracks and had a vision board. I knew my VBAC wasn’t going to just land in my lap. I had to take ownership and prepare for it.

I stayed really positive and used my time on the antenatal ward to focus my mind and prepare my body. I went into spontaneous labour just as I was going to bed on the 24th of March. I did consent to having the CTG, even though I had originally felt I did not want it (more detail to come in my birth story) However I was clear that I chose my own position and moved with my body.

Kayla Rose entered the world at 4.17am, the night the clocks went forward. So my labour lasted less than 3 hours. She was 8lbs 2oz, at 38+6 gestation. 

kaylas birth 2.jpg

I escaped with only a small 1st degree tear and no abnormal blood loss. 

I did it!

Jen with baby kayla enjoying skin to skin,surrounded by love with (hubby paul taking the photo), midwife jo (rotunda) and doula mim.

Jen with baby kayla enjoying skin to skin,surrounded by love with (hubby paul taking the photo), midwife jo (rotunda) and doula mim.

It was such a high and I was so proud of myself. I haven’t really spoken about that high much. There was complications after, as Kayla was born with an undiagnosed cleft palate and Pierre Robin Sequence but that was not connected to our VBAC. My moment of euphoria only lasted a second before we realised something was wrong with our baby.

So after a bit of my story…. I experienced a VBAC in an Irish maternity hospital. Yes at times during my pregnancy I felt like there was a huge spotlight over my head. Yes I had to negotiate and be firm at times. Yes I had a wobble myself during labour, when I had a burning sensation across my scar but I did it. The evidence says many more woman can safely do it too. 

Preparing for a VBAC can definitely be a rollercoaster and support is crucial. Most people (including health care providers) just assumed I would be having a repeat Caesarean. I knew VBAC was safe, I was aware of the evidence and for me it was the option I hoped for.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about VBAC birth. You will hear care providers tell people that they can have a VBAC but only labour for so many hours as it is dangerous for the scar (not evidence based), or they cannot go over 40 weeks in case the scar ruptures (not evidence based), or because it has only been 2 years since their last baby their scar may be too weak (not evidence based)…you get the picture!!! So in order to have a successful VBAC you do need to prepare yourself. Below I have listed some of my top tips for anyone hoping for a VBAC.

What are my top tips?

Empower yourself with knowledge and the latest evidence.

Educate yourself and your partner so they are also aware and can advocate for you if needed.

Get yourself a Doula!

Take an independent childbirth class - a Cuidiu antenatal class or a GentleBirth workshop, or a VBAC specific workshop (also given by an independent provider).

Try to be under midwifery led care if possible.

Peer support is hugely helpful. The VBAC in Ireland Facebook group is a great support network of Mums who have tried for a VBAC, or are trying (LINK)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions at appointments (bring a notebook if it helps)

Know you have the right to decline any option of care once you understand the benefits and risks (a caesarean, a CTG trace, an induction and so on)

Remember to use BRAIN as a tool when discussing your options (both for you and your baby)


What are the BENEFITS of a repeat caesarean?

What are the RISKS of a repeat caesarean?

What are the ALTERNATIVES?

What does my gut INSTINCT say? Need more INFORMATION?

What happens if I do NOTHING for now and wait to make a decision?

Remember DoulaCare Ireland are here to support you through your VBAC. Ask us questions, gain information & support but above all, gain the skills to make informed decisions for your individual situation. 

I wish you luck on your journey. Whatever the outcome, what is important is that you have a positive experience - at the centre of that is making informed decisions and feeling supported. 

Doula Jen x

Some Further reading :






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Things are not always as they seem on Social Media!

Things Are not Always as They Seem on Social


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Things aren’t always as they seem!


Social media like Facebook portrays an image of happiness and beauty. Everyone full of smiles, surrounded by friends and family, women with perfect make up, children looking sweet, even their house looks clean and decorated so beautifully in the background!



I have sat with so many parents who feel inferior and genuinely upset when they compare their life to their Facebook or Instagram friends (some of whom they may never have actually met in real life!) 


Well guess what? No one has a perfect life. Who do you know that told you about their toddler having a massive melt down on the floor of the super market?  It’s happened to us all! Now ask yourself this, have you ever seen them post a photo of said event? The probable answer is of course no. They may even have got through that hiccup in their day and gone on to post a video that evening of their little one singing a sing, full of smiles. This often leaves us all thinking “Look there is Sally’s little girl singing, she is so sweet. Why are my kids such terrors? I can’t even bring them to the shops to get milk and bread without a melt down!”


Social media is where people document their happy moments. It is well thought out before anyone posts a photo. They will find the clean corner of their house, hold the camera to its most flattering angle, nudge their partner to smile or do silly faces to coax a smile from their little ones. It is where we can look back and say “That was a brilliant day” or “Look how much my baby has grown since then!”



I encourage you all to enjoy social media, like Facebook and take inspiration from others. See another twin Mum getting out to a play group? Never thought you could? Maybe that was the photo you needed to see to give it a go ☺ 


Social media is a great way to stay connected to people, get peer support and find out about local resources. Remember to take off the rose tinted glasses and see behind the staged scenes of family photos. Reality is that there was probably shouting or bribery (or both) to get everyone in and smiling. If we capture that moment we can feel proud posting it, banking that moment in time for the future. 


So your life isn’t perfect, your kids are a pain in the backside most of the time, your house is a mess and your partner is a nightmare. Whose isn’t? Feel comfort in knowing we are all in the same boat ☺ Reach out to friends to chat. Go to peer support groups. Have a moan, then have a cup of tea and a biscuit, take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of your day.


Because even if your life isn’t perfect, you will never have this moment again. Your little ones will never be at this stage again. Sometimes the days can feel endless but the weeks disappear so quickly so savour every precious moment and breath through the hard ones.


Doula Jen xx

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How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?


Baby breastfeeding

You will be learning together. Breastfeeding is a skill that can be learned, so take that time in the early days to relax and focus on getting to know your new baby. Your job is solely to cuddle and feed him, everyone around you needs to care for you! So snuggle up in bed, snooze, smell the top of his gorgeous head, cuddle, study his adorable face and tiny little finger nails. Savour every moment. Follow your instincts, you are his mam you will know if he is getting enough milk. Granted, you will be flooded with hormones and perhaps haven’t slept for a while so here are some basics to get you off to a great start! 

How does your baby appear? A baby who is getting enough milk will be alert and active during wakeful times. He will appear bright and healthy. He will have a good colour (not too jaundiced or pale) and have moist lips. He will be gradually growing in length and head circumference, your PHN & GP with keep track of this.

How often should my baby feed? A new born tummy is tiny, only the size of a marble. A full feed is 5-7mls (a tea spoon) this gradually increases to the size of a hens egg by one month old, about 80-150mls. Because they can only take in these tiny amounts, they need to feed often. Most new babies feed 10-12 times in 24 hours, some feed more! Follow your baby’s feeding cues. Don’t watch the clock thinking “It has only been an hour, he can’t be hungry again!” Those first few days and weeks are all about learning. Your baby has never breastfed before so he needs to find his rhythm (along with learning to breathe, smell, taste, see and process his new world) Offer encouragement and support as you both learn this new skill together!

How long should feeds last? A feed can last from 5-30 minutes on one side, once you can audibly hear your baby swallowing – he is still extracting milk from that breast. So leave him to work away! Once the rhythm slows to about one swallow every 7 sucks it is a good idea to switch sides. When he is finished that side you can change his nappy, wind him a little (most breastfed babies don’t suffer from much wind) and then offer the second breast. He may not be interested, take a small feed or sometimes feed on that side for 30 minutes again! Trust that your baby knows what he is doing. Relax and enjoy those new baby snuggles. 

mother and baby breastfeeding

What goes in must come out! If your baby is having lots of wet and dirty nappies then there must be milk going in to create it. You are looking for about 5 or 6 wet nappies per day and one dirty per day of life (ie one dirty on day one, two dirty nappies on day two and so on up to day 4) Your baby’s poo should change from the black sticky meconium to a greenish colour and then mustard colour by around day 5. Some breastfed babies have a poo after every feed!

Weight gain. Many new parents can become obsessed with their baby’s weight. Don’t worry too much about it, however it can be a good guide as to how your baby is doing. Weight loss of 5-10% is normal after birth. This can be higher if you had a lot of IV fluids during your labour and birth. You would be looking for your baby to regain his birth weight by about 2-3 weeks old. A rough guide is for your baby to gain about 5-7oz (or 150-220 grams) per week. Remember weight is just one part of the picture, it is not the sole focus. 

Remember breastfeeding can be tender for some in the early days but it should NEVER hurt. If nursing your baby is painful there is something wrong. Remember it is a skill that can be learned together so seek support. Ask your nurse to assist you, reach out to supports around you (listed below) or of course, have a Postpartum Doula by your side!

Doula Jen x

Jen Crawford

Co Owner & Founder of DoulaCare Ireland 


Further reading & helpful resources: 

http://kellymom.com/hot-topics/newborn-nursing/ Tips for the early days breastfeeding your baby. 

http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.php?pagename=vid-reallygood Great video clip from Dr Jack Newman & IBCLC Edith Kernerman page ‘Breastfeeding Inc’. This clip shows what a good latch & drinking looking like. 

https://www.breastfeeding.ie/First-few-weeks/Guidelines-for-mothers/ Great chart with guidelines for first few weeks. 


Breastfeeding Supports:

Association of Lactation Consultants Ireland http://www.alcireland.ie/find-a-consultant/ 

Cuidiu, Irish Childbirth Trust http://www.cuidiu-ict.ie/supports_breastfeeding_counsellors

Le Leche League Ireland https://www.lalecheleagueireland.com/groups/

Friends of Breastfeeding http://www.friendsofbreastfeeding.ie/wp/support-2/

National HSE Breastfeeding support https://www.breastfeeding.ie/ 


They never told me about the Second Night!

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They never told me about the Second Night!



Why is it that when we are pregnant everyone has an opinion. They want to share their experiences and what items we should or shouldn’t buy to be prepared for our babies arrival. So why is it then, while we are being bombarded with information and stories of woh – that not one person mentions the horror that is night 2 of our babies lives?


Let me explain.


So the first 24 hours are bliss. We are on an oxytocin high. We have given birth, become a new family and have our new tiny baby/babies. We can count their toes, smell their gorgeous baby smell and kiss their cute button noses. All the while our beautiful baby is content to cuddle in and sleep, only really waking to eat. We are led into a false sense of smugness...that yes I have the perfect baby. This parenting lark is amazing.


Then, as the sun sets on day 2 our beautiful sleepy baby disappears and seems possessed with a different baby spirit, who does not sleep, cuddles/rocking and singing don’t help and they never seem to be full.


This is where it can so easily go wrong. Doubt creeps in. Do I not have enough milk? Is my baby starving? Why won’t he stop crying? He keeps fussing at the breast, does he not want me?


The answer is, your baby is doing EXACTLY what he should be doing! Don’t worry – it is nature driving him to behave like this and it will be over soon.


So what is going on? Well on day one your baby was sleeping off the birth. Remember you and your baby were a team, going through labour and birth together. They are tired too. Not only that but it can be a shock to their system, entering our crazy world from the cosy and safe surroundings of your tummy.



Your baby has to breathe for the first time. Regulate their own body temperature, feel hunger & eat. They are hearing, seeing and smelling so much more. Your babys senses are on overload. However, on night two they have had time to settle in, get used to their surroundings. They have slept off their birth and now nature is telling them they have an important job to do – get your milk supply in so they have a food source. So how can a new baby do that? They can feed like crazy, signalling to your body they have mastered suck, swallow & breathe and are ready to take on bigger volumes.


This does not mean your baby is starving and needs bottles. It does not mean your baby wants someone else. Your baby is being driven by instinct to help your milk come in. Plus lets not forget – you are their home! You have been their whole world since the second they were created, you are where they want to be.


Nothing an infant can or cannot do makes sense, except in the light of mothers body”

Dr Nils Bergman


Help your baby by keeping them close. Your body will keep them warm. Your heartbeat is the most familiar sound in the world. Your breasts will make the perfect amount of milk for them as they grow. Follow your babys signals, don’t watch the clock. You both know what to do if you can switch off your thinking brain ;)


So batten down the hatches. Prepare for it. Stock up on food and snacks that can be eaten with one hand and have them at easy reach. Charge up your phone or tablet to have something to keep you sane at 3am. Take a few naps when you can with baby (yes the old tale of sleep when baby sleeps is turu, but also important for survival!) But above all, enjoy it. No I am not insane. Your baby is only this size once. You only have this moment in time once. While it may not be picture perfect, it is your new normal and it is amazing. Be in awe of your body for creating this little human being. Be proud of yourself for getting through your first 24 hours as a parent. Watch in amazement as your baby feeds from your breasts. You are a goddess right now.


So hold your baby. Feed your baby. Feed yourself! And (yes I am going to say it)

This too shall pass.


What is the Fourth Trimester?


What is The Fourth Trimester?

Imagine what the third trimester of pregnancy would be like for a baby: tightly cocooned in a warm, dark, comforting place. There are no hunger pains or thirst, no need to pass painful wind, no strange smells, no feeling the hot or cold — just a perfect environment tailor made for a baby.

baby pregnancy

I’m sure you can also imagine suddenly being born into a world with of all these things can be quite a rude shock!

A new baby isn’t born being able to fend for themselves and still has much developing to do – they can’t escape if they sense danger or fear, go and find mum or dad for security or a cuddle, nor can a baby chase mum for a feed whenever hunger or thirst calls… they completely rely on us for every single need.

A gentle adjustment into their new world in the form of a fourth trimester (which is named that way in order to be perceived as an extension of the third trimester) can make a huge difference to how baby feels and how mum and dad cope with parenthood.

Babies cry because it is their only means to alert their parents that they have a need to be met (and they will not stop crying until it is met), which can in turn make parent’s self esteem and confidence plummet if nothing seems to work. This is because they start wondering what they are doing wrong and if they are useless parents (they’re not).

Giving your baby a fourth trimester can make for such a more enjoyable, soothing time for all involved – so how can you give your baby a fourth trimester? Here are some simple ways to recreate womb life.

  • Use a sling/wrap

Baby wearing can be a life saver in the early days. Using a sling can recreate several conditions from when baby was in the womb. Feeling tightly supported all over, close to mum’s heartbeat, warm and cosy. Both parents can use a sling to offer comfort to baby and strengthen your bond.

Make sure you choose a safe and suitable baby carrier – www.babywearingireland.ieis a great source of information. You can even get a sling consultant out to your house!

baby sling wrap
  • Skin to skin!

Whether you are breast or formula feeding, skin to skin is a great way to increase bonding with your baby. Skin to skin contact offers the following benefits for your baby at birth (and beyond):

  • Regulates his body temperature better even than in an incubator
  • Maintains his heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure normal
  • Has stable blood sugar
  • Feels safe and calm so is less likely to cry
  • Receives good bacteria from your body to promote good gut bacteria in baby and boost immune system.
  • Is more likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed longer
  • Baby is more likely to latch on
  • Baby is more likely to latch on well
  • Will indicate to his mother when he is ready to feed


  • Bath time!

Many babies absolutely love being in a nice warm bath. Some babies may not like a bath at first, as they don’t enjoy the air or cold on their skin as their clothes come off, but they soon grow to love them! If you’re not confident on how to hold a baby in a bath, you can ask your midwife or maternal health nurse for a demonstration – or you can just jump in the bath with your baby for added skin to skin benefits. The soothing water surrounding your baby creates an environment similar to what he or she would have been used to in the womb.

Dim any bright lights and jump into that nice warm bath together – even dad can do this one so he can enjoy bonding time with his baby too.

  • Bed Sharing or Co-Sleeping

Just like with cot sleeping, there are also safe co-sleeping guidelines. Both sleeping methods have risks if not practiced sensibly. Le Leche League have a 7 step guideline to safe co-sleeping. You can find the information here http://www.llli.org/sweetsleepbook/thesafesleepseven 

By bed sharing or co-sleeping (which includes specially designed cots which attach to the side of your bed, to give baby their own safe space), your baby can sleep in safety knowing that mum is close by. He can smell you and even touch you, without insecurity. Its also a great way to make sure mum gets her much needed rest. 

We’ve all heard the saying ‘sleep when baby sleeps’.

Especially in the fourth trimester, focus only on what you and your baby need – and it’ll make such a difference to how you feel when you’ve had more sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the leading contributors to anxiety and depression in new mothers, so take care of yourself and enjoy those sleepy cuddles.


  • Feed on demand for breast and bottle fed babies.

Offer The Breast If Baby Wants It : Breastfeeding is something your baby will become familiar with very quickly, from the moment she is born. It provides her with a great sense of comfort. She will feed often, especially in the early weeks, as she tries to establish your supply. It is important to follow your baby’s lead to allow her to create a milk supply to meet her individual needs. 

There are lots of places to get support with breastfeeding. (Cuidiu, La Leche League, Friends of Breastfeeding, Postpartum doulas) or the most qualified experts in breastfeeding – IBCLC’s (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants). 

You can find breastfeeding support in the following places:


If you choose to bottle feed remember your baby has been fed constantly throughout pregnancy. A three or four hour routine can be difficult for a new baby to adjust to. Also it is helpful to remember that a new born tummy is the size of a small marble/malteser and so they thrive on little and often. Paced bottle feeding can ensure your baby takes as much food as they need, without being forced to drink more to ‘finish the bottle’ Trust your baby to take what they need and this will help to avoid lots of spit up and tummy pain.

You can find more information here: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/feeding-tools/bottle-feeding/ 

newborn baby cuddles


  • Getting Out and About

Once you have recovered from birth it is important to try to get out and about. Every baby is different so trial and error will find the best way for you. Lots of babies love the motion of the car but some do not like the car seat so this can cause you stress. Some babies love the buggy for the ride, others would rather be worn or in a parent’s safe arms. Make a date with a friend to meet for a cupa somewhere or just take a gentle stroll around the block. The fresh air will help to lift your mood and may help baby to sleep.

  • Coping With An Attached Baby

You may be reading this thinking it all sounds great, but it seems a little exhausting. Yes, it can be sometimes. But always remember: nothing is permanent, everything is temporary. Even when it feels like it’s going to last forever — it’s not.

Remember ‘This too shall pass’.

Sleep deprivation and discomfort is part of the job of being a parent, but it can be made much easier by:

  • Sharing the load where possible – accept and ask for all the help you can
  • Make sure your partner spends time settling baby too (he/she needs to learn – and baby will learn how daddy/mammy does it!)
  • Seek out a postpartum doula if you can afford it
  • Making sure you get a break/time out. Even a trip to the supermarket, coffee shop or 5 minutes in the garden 
  • Check your expectations. Are you expecting too much from yourself and/or your baby?

Your baby does not behave in these way to manipulate or annoy you, but to teach you what he likes and needs – and what makes him feel most safe and loved. By being open to the lesson and remembering that ‘this too will pass’ (a great mantra when things get a little tough) you’ll be an expert on your baby in no time.

Hang in there – it WILL get easier. Savour the good times & breathe through the tough ones. Take lots of photos


Doula Jen   x


Power Pumping

Increasing Breast Milk Supply-Power Pumping

If you are exclusively expressing for your baby, for any reason it is important to replicate normal infant growth spurts. Baby’s who feed at the breast will naturally increase their feeds when they are due a developmental leap or growth spurt. However, a pump cannot recognise these millstones, so you will need to mimic your baby. This triggers an increased release of prolactin from the pituitary gland – the ‘make more milk!’ message.

Because breasts work on the principle of supply and demand, using a breast pump is often recommended once your milk has come in (around day 2 or 3 after birth). Before this it is best to use hand expression, as colostrum is made is small quantities and is thicker – thus harder to bring out with the manual pump. Regular pumping delivers to the brain a ‘make more milk!’ message and can be very effective in increasing supply. However despite regular pumping sessions many women do not see results as quickly or as effectively as they had hoped. Enter power pumping!

How do I power pump?

Firstly it is important to set yourself up with the right equipment. Ensure you are using a hospital grade, double breast pump. Most Irish hospitals use the Medela Symphony. Ask a member of staff to check that the flange (bit that goes over your nipple) is the correct fit. The standard size is 24 but many Irish women will need the 27. Get into a comfortable position, with your bottle of water, a snack and items from your baby (like photos, or something that smells of them)

Power pumping is not a replacement for regular breast pumping to increase supply. Instead, power pumping is intended to boost your progress by replacing one regular pumping session with a strategically designed alternative. It works by repeatedly emptying the breast, signalling the body to make more milk, more quickly. This is mimicking a baby’s ‘cluster feeding’, many do this in the evening time.

To power pump, pick one hour each day or night (eg. 8pm every night) and use the following pumping pattern:

Always begin with a good breast massage. Some coconut oil can help to minimise friction.

  1. Pump for 20 minutes; then rest 10 minutes, massaging again.

  2. Pump for another 10 minutes; rest for 10 minutes, massaging again.

  3. Pump again for 10 minutes; finish.

This means you will have 40 minutes of active pumping in a 60 minute period. During the rest phase, massage your breast, look at photographs of your baby, smell an item that has been with your baby and relax.

You can watch a movie or read a book if it helps you to relax, do not focus on the pump and how much milk is coming out. This is not the aim. You are trying to trigger your body to make more milk tomorrow. You are not aiming for increased milk volume today. Try to view it as an hour each evening for you to put your feet up, have a nice treat and cup of tea and maybe watch a TV show. 

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