Parenting Info & Support

Why is breastfeeding better?

A: Breastfeeding is encouraged because it is the perfect food for growth.

  • Promotes a loving bond between mother and baby
  • Perfect food for growth, mentally and physically
  • Protects from illness and infection
  • Saves money- FREE (Bottle feeding costs at least $35 a week)
  • Environmentally friendly – NO WASTE
  • Helps prevent cancers in the mother
  • Helps the mother regain her optimum body shape post birth

Will I get saggy boobs?

A: Most women have some breast changes during pregnancy. Enlargement, increased blood flow, small lumps ('Montgomery's tubercles') on the areola, all will help in getting ready for breastfeeding a baby after birth.

Many women put on weight during pregnancy and this adds to their increase in size. Both of these changes will result in a stretching of the skin, and stretch marks may appear.

After birth, the breasts begin to make milk. This will happen whether you intend to breastfeed or not. A few days after birth the milk (usually) 'comes in' and many women experience their breasts becoming really full and the skin may feel tight and stretched, (breastfeeding is a great treatment for this).

If you don't breastfeed, the breasts gradually stop producing milk and they go down. The milk-making machinery then shrinks back in a process called 'breast involution'. The skin may or may not 'snap back' into shape.

I heard that breastfeeding will stop me getting pregnant, is this right?

A: Every woman is different, some women's periods return as soon as they cut down their breastfeeding eg. when baby gets interested in solids, and some women find their periods do not return until they stop feeding altogether.

Once your periods return this means that you are ovulating and can get pregnant. Sometimes you can begin ovulating before you get a period so if you don't want to get pregnant, keep your feeds to less than a 4 hour break and use contraception.

How soon after I have my baby can I have sex again?

A: Both men and women can have issues with sex after birth. Some men worry, "What if I hurt her?" Women worry, "will it hurt or feel different for us both?"

Whenever you and your partner both feel OK then it's the right time for you. Some people will tell you to wait for the doctor to give you the go-ahead at your six-week postnatal check but if you both do feel like it, it's a good idea to try making love before the doctor's visit so that you can then discuss any problems you might have.

It's different for each couple. Some couples start their sex life within the first month, and many more between one and three months. Some might wait until about the six-month mark, or even a year. There is no 'right' that you have to aim for.

My baby is a week old and is crying heaps. I feed him but he wont sleep for long. What can I do?

A: It is very common for new mothers and fathers to experience a wakeful baby when they first come home from hospital. In hospital they too were tired from the birth, and had many people checking in on them and caring for them. Now they are home, woken up and its just your team! Here are some ideas for you and your support team to help settle the baby.

  • Feed
  • Cuddle/rock - NEVER SHAKE
  • Lay in bed safely and pat to sleep (see SIDS guidelines on how to sleep your baby safely below)
  • Nappy change
  • Bath
  • Wind
  • Check if too hot/cold change clothes where necessary
  • Music or sing
  • Relax mum to stop her being tense which causes the baby to be tense too
  • Go for a walk inside or outside if possible

If these do not seem to be working or even if they do there are many supports for new mums and families in the community see the links in the more information and help section below.

How to Sleep your Baby Safely:

  • Sleep the baby on it's back from birth, not on the tummy or side
  • Sleep the baby with it's head and face uncovered
  • Keep baby the smoke free before birth and after
  • Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day
  • Sleep the baby in it's own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months
  • Breastfeed the baby

When can I give my baby real food?

A: Your baby needs nothing more than breastmilk for 6 months unless directed by the clinic or doctor for health reasons.

Babies need no other fluids other than breastmilk, even in hot climates – some will want more.

All babies are different in their timing for being ready for solid foods. One baby might seem to be ready for solids at 4 months, while another shows no signs until around 6 or 7 months.

Babies often have a growth spurt between 3-4 months of age and begin to waking more at night for a feed. This growth spurt often causes the increased hunger in the baby and it should not be taken as a sign that it needs solid foods.

You may try breastfeeding /bottle feeding your baby more often instead of solids. You will probably find that within a week or two, the baby is over the growth spurt and back to feeding "as usual".

My man has been really upset and angry since my baby was born. What's happening? How can I help him?

A: It sounds like your partner is having trouble adjusting to being a parent, as do many, it's a huge change in life and relationships. This can affect the mother and/or the father. Below is a list of signs that may indicate help is needed.

  • Teary
  • Irritable
  • Very sensitive
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed
  • Unhappy
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Inability to sleep
  • Headaches
  • Withdrawn

This may mean extra support is needed and time out for self or each other, it may mean counselling or in some circumstances, medicated treatment. Please see the supports listed below for follow up.

Since the baby was born all my partner can talk about is the baby and there's no time for me ......its not fair. Will it get better?

A: You may feel left out; on the other hand, you may feel overwhelmed by everything that's expected of you.

Dads often feel left out of the picture when it comes to baby. The woman gets pregnant, it's the woman who gives birth and the woman who breastfeeds. Dad's do play a very important role in the life of the new baby and go through a whole lot of emotions: love, excitement, pride, disbelief, anxiety, and fear. Some dads feel a little jealous of the close relationship that the mother and baby have and they worry that they can't possibly compete. We recommend that the dad helps the mother out during this time of adjustment such as take the baby and let mom have some sleep, encourage and support mom in her efforts to breastfeed. And take on more of the household chores, or ask others to take turns.

A good way for the guys to bond with baby, is to take off their shirt and have plenty of skin-to-skin time with baby. Hold the baby. Talk to the baby and get it used to the sound of your voice. Never pass up an opportunity to do something with the baby. Make the baby part of your life and get to know each other.

Its often a good idea to have the news or comedy show on or leave a magazine/newspaper around so that each of you can take notice of what's going on in the world outside your immediate environment and have some other topics of conversation. Supportive friends can also help with this change, so long as they are sensitive to the needs of a new baby in the home and don't just cause greater problems!

My baby is 6 months old and I want to go back to work. How do I stop breastfeeding?

A: Many mothers are successfully combining work and breastfeeding. Work environments continue to change, as many more women return to the work force. Many workplaces now have an increased awareness of the importance of an individual's family responsibilities, and include this in workplace policies so if you would like to continue breastfeeding consider the points below:

  • Discuss your breastfeeding requirements with your employer well in advance of your return (ideally before you go on maternity leave, ie while still at work).
  • You will require a private room (not the toilet area) with a comfortable chair, a refrigerator where you can store expressed breastmilk, somewhere you can store an electric breast pump or manual breast pump, and time to express milk during your lunch break and other breaks if necessary. Time could be made up at the end of the day.
  • If you have an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Officer, Human Resources Group or Personnel Group, or are a member of a union, check their attitudes and knowledge of breastfeeding policies.
  • You may be able to have your baby brought to you at work. Talk about this with your employer. Discuss also the possibility of breastfeeding during breaks and lunchtime, and flexible work hours and breaks.
  • Consider all options. Be creative, be persistent, be positive.
  • Consider the purchase of an electric breast pump to make expressing sessions at work quicker.
  • Be aware that expressing may seem difficult at first but most working mothers say they get very good at it quickly, and the benefits are worth the initial effort.

However, if you feel this is not for you and you want to stop breastfeeding that's fine too. A gradual decrease in time at the breast is best.

Once you begin to supplement with a bottle, you'll be surprised how quickly the baby adjusts. If the baby rejects the bottle at first, try different teats.

You also may want to express some breast milk and mix it with formula, gradually changing the ratio until they gets used to the new taste.

The last feed to be eliminated when stopping breastfeeding is the night feed but if you are stopping for work this may not even need eliminating as it's a very special time for you and your baby.