What age were you when you became a mother?
I was 25.
How many children do you have?
Three children, 28, 26 and 21 and one grandchild.
Did you breastfeed?
Yes. I breastfed each of our children for three months. I would have liked to have done it for longer, but because I had to go back to work, I had to stop.
My daughter is breastfeeding our granddaughter, who is 15 months, and the benefits for both of them are enormous.
What formula did you use?
Did you buy baby food or make your own?
We did both. We used baby food where the need for convenience occurred, but at home, we made our own.
How soon after the baby did you go back to work?
Unfortunately 20 odd years ago, maternity leave was a maximum of 3 to 4 months, so I returned to work when our children were about 12 weeks. At the time I was working in the bank, and working from home wasn't an option.
Were you happy to go back to work?
No, it broke my heart. We had a mortgage that required both of us working to pay it. We bought our first house in the 1980s at the height of the property boom, and like many people today, we ended up in negative equity.
It was a time of spiralling interest rates that went into double figures, so I didn't have a choice. Having said that, I enjoyed work, but missed being with our children.
Creche, childminder or nanny?
We've had child-minders and have also used a crèche. I found there were positives to both. The environment of a crèche can be a wonderful stimulus, and a great way of your baby/child learning through fun how to enjoy being with other babies/children.
A child-minder, if they are minding your baby/child in your own home, can make life somewhat easier, as there isn't the hassle of the commute in heavy traffic, or waking your baby/child from a sleep in the morning.
What nappies do/did you use?
Pampers, but then again, there wasn't the same choices 20 years ago as there are now.
What do you think of Gina Ford?
I'm sure there was the equivalent to Gina Ford when I was a young mother, but I've learned over the years that instinct and love go a very long way to solving most of the difficult issues that arise.
However, I did go to parenting classes when my eldest daughter was six, and my second daughter, was four. They helped me a lot. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you have to recognise that parenting is often akin to jumping out of a plane without a parachute, and it's good to get advice.
What was the best advice you were given?
To have at least one family meal together. We did this from the beginning of becoming parents, and it was mainly the evening meal. It made a huge difference for our family, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
What was the worst advice you were given?
To leave your baby to cry so they will learn to fall asleep unaided. Our first little girl needed very little sleep. She was two-and-a-half before she slept the night. It was difficult with both of us working – sleep deprivation is awful, but I regret listening to that advice.
Some babies simply don't need as much sleep as others. We gave up in the end because we couldn't bear to think of her upset. She is now 28, and still hardly needs any sleep, which is a good thing, because now she has her own baby to keep her busy!
Louise Phillips is the author of The Doll's House, published by Hachette Books Ireland.