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I hung up my chef's hat

FIONA Rea, from Dublin and now living in Ashford, Co Wicklow, is 46 and met her husband Pasquale while training to be a chef. When children arrived on the scene, the mother-of-four retrained as an ante-natal teacher.

"I trained as a chef at the Dublin College of Catering, Cathal Brugha Street and the Institute De Promotion in Brittany and worked in the industry for around 16 years. Working as a chef is a very enjoyable career -- it is extremely social, even though the hours are often not. You learn something new every day and the buzz and pressure of a Saturday night is great -- if you work hard, you also get to play hard.

"But it isn't conducive to family life and when I had my first child, Callum (14) -- siblings are Megan (12), Luigi (8) and Leon (4) -- I moved to industrial catering where the hours are much more family-friendly. However the work wasn't half as satisfying and even though I was only working part-time, I felt so guilty leaving my baby.

"So when I got pregnant with Megan and then my mum passed away suddenly, I had a complete reassessment of what I wanted to do with my life. And after Megan was born, I attended Humpty Dumpty sessions run by Cuidiu and developed a huge interest in childbirth.

"I decided to train as a breastfeeding counsellor and ante-natal teacher and then went on to train as a doula (labour partner) and an IBCLC lactation consultant. I now tutor breastfeeding counsellors and ante-natal teachers with Cuidiu. I love my job and my classes and tutorials are timed to suit both the couples involved and my own family.

"I still have a passion for catering. We set up a small cookery school, which has been a tremendous success so far. None of us are superwomen and should give ourselves credit for the fantastic jobs we do."