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The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Breast Feeding Counsellors

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

This week is National Breastfeeding Week. Today we have three women in studio who are members of Cuidiu in Waterford, and who have just completed training as breast feeding counsellors.

National Breastfeeding Week - Wednesday, 1st October to Wednesday, 8th October 2008

. Claire Bulfin -- mother of two, currently breastfeeding Cillian, 9 months (Claire is also a midwife and Cuidiu antenatal teacher)

. Leela O'Shea -- mother of four, currently breastfeeding Alfie, 3 months (Leela moved to Ireland last year from the UK, where she was involved with the NCT)

. Lynn Mulvihill -- mother of one and pregnant with second baby, currently breastfeeding Neal, 16 months

Why did they decide to become breastfeeding counsellors (BFCs)?
Each has her own personal reasons for this. But they include
:

. Filling a gap where there is a lack of service
. Having witnessed the benefits of breastfeeding first-hand by feeding our own children, we want to help and encourage others to do the same;
. Most of us got valuable help at some point from a BFC--so this is a chance to give something back to the community

What does a job as a BFC involve?
Help mothers get breastfeeding off to a good start. This is critical for a successful breastfeeding relationship. Where possible, we'd hope to encourage expectant mothers to attend our groups, so they are prepared for what lies ahead.

Support through breastfeeding -- for whatever issues may arise (whether a mother is breastfeeding for two weeks or two years). Support will be provided through regular meetings and all BFCs will be contactable by telephone (can visit mother if needed).

Provide correct and up-to-date information so that mothers can decide how to act in a given situation

The service is entirely voluntary and available free to all mothers

What did their training involve?
Completed Cuidiu BFC training over the course of a year, which involved:

A day of classroom sessions once a month (half breastfeeding theory/half counselling skills)

Reading list of various breastfeeding books and coursework

Attendance at training weekend

Though we will receive official certification early next year, our training doesn't stop there. We will continue to attend workshops and read up on the latest developments.

Is this just available in Waterford-or nationally?
We are the first Cuidiu-trained BFCs in Waterford, but the service is available countrywide

Approximately 50 Cuidiu BFCs around Ireland

Mobile phone on national rotation, so there is always somebody available to respond to a mother

What is Cuidiu?
Cuidiú means caring support in Irish. We are a voluntary parent-to-parent support group and our mission of 'information, education and support' encourages a confident, positive approach to Parenting, empowering parents to make informed choices about issues from pregnancy right up to adolescence.
We provide support services in Antenatal and Birth Preparation, Breastfeeding, Postnatal and Parenthood. Cuidiú is a nationwide group and we have a diverse programme of events and activities running throughout the country in local branches including antenatal classes, breastfeeding support groups, mother and baby groups and postnatal support groups

Breastfeeding Support
Having given birth, the decision of how to feed your baby is an important one. Your body is prepared to produce milk as a natural consequence of giving birth. The close tie between mother and baby which was present before the birth is continued through the process of breastfeeding. Although this process is natural, it can take a little time for mother and baby to settle into each other's rhythms and really get to know each other's needs. These early weeks are often known as the "learning phase". It is well worthwhile taking the time for breastfeeding to become second nature - in the same way we learn any new process.
With this in mind, we have gathered information from numerous breastfeeding mothers to help you through the early weeks of breastfeeding. Most mothers felt that with reassurance, support, and clear information, breastfeeding is a positive and fulfilling experience. We look at many of the issues which may be of interest to parents who decide to breastfeed their baby. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for medical advice and you should always consult your medical practitioner in relation to your particular circumstances. (Our guidelines relate to full term healthy infants).

Frequently, Mothers report that Postnatal support is a key factor in encouraging them to continue breastfeeding. Positive encouragement and the possibility of meeting other mothers who are breastfeeding their babies in a social setting was also mentioned as a positive factor. Cuidiu's breastfeeding support groups exist for this purpose. Co-ordinated by trained counsellors, these groups provide an environment where questions can be answered in an informal and positive setting.

Cuidiu provides SUPPORT:

Sharing experience
Understanding
Partner involvement
Postnatal support
Out and about with baby
Remember your needs
Trust your instincts

Mother's milk really is magic - especially the nourishing milk (Colostrum) that you give your baby in the first few days! We now know that children who were fed on mother's milk when they were babies are protected from all sorts of illnesses all through their childhood. But did you know that by choosing to feed your baby yourself you will also get back into shape faster: women feeding their babies themselves use up about 2-300 extra calories a day - or the equivalent of 2 aerobic workouts a week! Not only will you will get into better shape faster as breastfeeding helps tighten up the womb again but there are significant health benefits for mothers who breastfeed.

For more information you can visit their website www.cuidiu-ict.ie

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