After years of working in Marketing and Events, I had the surreal experience of being invited to speak at an event with the pleasure of not doing any of the organising! Hotmilk Lingerie is a brand I love and wore while breastfeeding my girls, so to say I was excited is just a little bit of an understatement!
It was brilliant and far less daunting than I anticipated but that's largely down to all the gorgeous mums, bumps and babies who came and listened to me ramble on about the importance of creating support networks, making the most of this precious time while trying to keep a little human alive and the power a decent bra can have on your body image. Thanks to all the mamas who came, it's such a massive achievement to even have a shower as a new mum, let alone be in Brown Thomas for 9.30am on a Wednesday morning.
What is Dublin City Mum?
For those of you who don't know and have stumbled apon this blog by chance, Dublin City Mum is an info hub listing kid friendly restaurants, fun activities and upcoming events, as well as featuring unique Irish brands and retailers. It is designed by me a Mum for parents, grandparents, childminders and for anyone who wakes up and wonders what the hell to do with the kids.
What makes the site unique is it has a heart and soul, and a mum behind it with a buggy and two small kids, trying to figure it all out while exploring Dublin in the process!
A little bit about me... My first baby was born in London and having completed an antenatal class in my area I had a ready-made group of brilliant mum friends and a million activities on my doorstep. I was lucky, but it wasn't always easy. Creating those support networks were vital to my survival in the early days with a new baby in a city with no family around. Having returned to Dublin where my second baby was born, I struggled to find mum and baby activities online and in general only stumbled upon things by chance or from a chat with other mums randomly in a cafe, so I decided to put all my experiences and knowledge into one place.
It all happened pretty organically. I just needed to figure out how to build a website....easy right?!! I had zero web design experience so it was a massive learning curve BUT I loved the creative freedom and autonomy of designing something that was unique. Half way through I remember thinking, I wished I had this when Olivia was born.
So for all the new Mums and Dads who are creating a new identity and braving your new world as parents while exploring Dublin like you've never seen it before, the 'You + Baby' section of the site is for you.
New Mums (AKA Superheros) Being a new parent can sometimes be a lonely and isolating experience. The effort of caring for a new baby can be exhausting (and the prospect of going to a playgroup with a bunch of strangers terrifying) BUT having that all important humanising shower and getting out of the house to have a cuppa with another new mum or to go to a baby yoga/massage class or even a walk in the park will transform your whole new baby experience. Ultimate to your survival as a new parent will be the support networks you create. They will become a lifeline in the early days when you're so tired you can't tell the difference between a nipple shield and a dummy and would gladly barter everything you've got for a full nights sleep! Your support networks can be anyone from a neighbour, a new friend you meet at a breastfeeding/playgroup, a childminder or a family member.
I'm seriously willing by babies to stop growing (which is unlikely to happen) and want time to stand still! Yes there were certainly times in the early days of around the clock breastfeeding sessions and sleep deprivation that I desperately craved a mere two hours of my non parent existence but before you know it that tiny baby will become a little person with a big personality and you'll wish to steal just one moment where you cradle that bundle in your arms and pour every ounce of love from your heart into its little soul.
Breastfeeding Whether you choose to breastfeed, bottle or do a combination of both that's entirely your decision and should be respected. Do whatever works for you and makes you happy. I chose to breastfeed my babies but it was not something which came easily. Breastfeeding my first in the very early stages was incredibly tough. Visions of blissful breastfeeding sessions with my long-awaited baby were in reality replaced by pain, tears, sleep deprivation and tennis elbow (yes, I actually had this from holding her in the wrong position!) But thanks to a Lactation Consultant, and the tons of support received from midwives, health nurses and breastfeeding support groups, I carried on. I'm so grateful for that support in the early days because breastfeeding became such a bonding, positive and rewarding experience.
Second time around the difference was like night and day. My baby just latched on and fed like a trooper. I remember thinking 'wow she's amazing' but looking back now, I think I just knew what I was doing and what to expect. Third time mum Ursula Walsh @momfitnessdiary demonstrated this like a pro breastfeeding her baby throughout while chatting about all things health, nutrition and fitness while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Attending breastfeeding groups will be vital for support – not just the professional advice received but the empathy from other mum’s in the same early days haze struggling with their baby's latch or position is invaluable. At my first breastfeeding session I stumbled upon the brand Hotmilk. My then grey ill fitted bra was the single most awful thing I owned and on the advice of a mum sitting beside me I treated myself to an actual bra fitting, something I hadn't had since I was about 13 and was in reality boobless. As impossible as it was to change the body image perception of a person I didn't recognise in the mirror anymore, it was such a powerful experience. I was supported, stood a little taller and felt that first ilk of self confidence as a new mother ignite within me.
I’ll leave you with this...
New mums need tons of support, love, kindness, bucket loads of tea and equal parts cake. You need to be told 'you're doing a great job' even when you can't remember the last time you washed your hair and really haven't a clue what you're doing.
Find your support networks in Dublin, get the right advice and learn to love breastfeeding your baby or at least make new friends!