Breastfeeding live chat—Q&A with Julie Germain

Breastfeeding live chat—Q&A with Julie Germain

Last week, to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, we invited you to chat live with Mater midwife and lactation consultant Julie Germain on the Mater Mothers’ Facebook page. A big thank you to everyone who submitted their breastfeeding questions! Check out a selection of the Q&As below.

Do you have a breastfeeding question, or require additional support on your breastfeeding journey? Mater Mothers’ Breastfeeding Support Service offers no-cost, one-on-one consultations for all new mums. For more information or to book visit our website or phone 07 3163 8847.

Do you have any tips for preparing for breastfeeding? Bub is due in a few weeks’ time and I was unsuccessful breastfeeding my previous baby.

It’s great that you’re thinking ahead to prepare for breastfeeding success. If you had difficulty in the past it’s good to try to figure out where you needed more support, as many factors can be of influence. Skin to skin is a great start for every baby and mum, and should be encouraged straight after birth. Mater Mothers also offers a no-cost Breastfeeding Support Service for all new mums. In addition to the support you’ll receive in the hospital, you can also book an appointment to meet one-on-one with a lactation consultant to discuss your personal breastfeeding journey.

I have a five month old who is exclusively breastfed. Recently, she seems to be losing interest. She will latch on, suck, pull off, sticky beak around, and then repeat. What should I do to make sure she’s getting enough milk during each feed?

Older babies can get distracted by external stimuli during a feed. This is normal and is why sometimes night feeds can be longer and more settled (as there is less distraction). Try feeding in a quiet room with little external distractions. You can also try breast compression as this will help drain the breast.

My baby makes a clicking noise when he feeds sometimes—usually once during a feeding. I've read it's them taking air. Is there any way to help stop this?

There can be different reasons why bub may make a noise while feeding. It's more of an issue if he is doing it through the feed and if it is also causing discomfort to you. Sometimes if the flow is fast, bub may make a click as they are losing suction just to catch their breath. Sitting bub a little more upright can help him to cope with the flow and may reduce clicking. If you are still concerned, we recommend making an appointment with a lactation consultant.

Is it normal to still get really sore nipples even though my son is now 13 weeks old? I thought the soreness would have gone away by now.

Generally the initial discomfort should ease within a few weeks. Sore nipples may be occurring because baby has adjusted position as he gets bigger. Check that he is not dragging on your nipple as this can cause damage. If your nipples are sore you can try placing breast milk onto the nipples and allow it to dry after feeds. If you have privacy, try airing or sunning your nipples for a short time each day. If it doesn't improve, we recommend making an appointment with a lactation consultant—they’ll be able to take a look to see how bub is latching and better assess your personal circumstance.

I'm a first time mum with a four month old boy and feel like I don't have enough milk for him from about mid-afternoon onwards. He cluster feeds from about 6 pm to 10 pm each night but seems frustrated which, coupled with not "feeling full", makes me think I don't have enough milk.

Having lower supply in the late afternoon is very normal. Even though there is less volume, it is very concentrated and high in fat. This milk is very valuable for weight gain. To help settle your baby, switching both sides a couple of times and trying some breast compression will help drain the breast. If you are very full in the morning, and the low supply in the afternoon is an issue, sometimes offering expressed milk from the morning can help settle him in the afternoon. Confirmation of your supply is always reassuring if he is having lots of wet and dirty nappies.

Can you advise what food/drinks/medication to avoid when breastfeeding?

There are no specific foods to avoid when you are breastfeeding. However, we always recommend eating healthily, but treats are OK as well. We do recommend minimising caffeine, including caffeinated soft drinks, and avoiding alcohol. Most medications are safe, however any medication needs to be checked with your pharmacist or GP while breastfeeding.

My baby sometimes uses her gums to bite during a feed—which can be uncomfortable and painful. Should I express and bottle feed? Or is there any way to stop her biting?

Biting during breastfeeding is relatively common and is generally developmental. Usually biting occurs in a playful fashion at the end of a feed, and your baby often doesn’t realise what they are doing.

It’s important to pay attention to your baby’s activity at the breast. If you’re nearing the end of a feed and you stop feeding at the first sign of your baby losing interest, your baby will be less likely to have an opportunity to bite.

If biting does occur, remove your baby from the breast and say ‘no’ firmly and quietly (try not to yell). Do not offer the other breast or other food (if your baby has commenced on solids) immediately. If you are breastfeeding only, wait at least 30 minutes before re-offering the breast and only if your baby is demanding a feed. Some babies may bite when their gums are sore from teething, if this is the case it may help to offer shorter, more frequent breastfeeds.

For mums who breastfeed a toddler/want to start expressing early and are expecting a baby—is this safe to do and will the milk still revert to the rich colostrum once the newborn comes along?

Congratulations on the upcoming arrival of your baby! There's no need to start expressing early. Your toddler can continue to feed, but may notice a flavour change or a slight drop in supply. It is safe to continue. Once baby is born, your milk will revert to the rich colostrum and if you have any difficulties with oversupply your toddler will enjoy helping you to ease your discomfort. This is called tandem feeding. If you’d like some additional assistance once bub arrives, we suggest making an appointment with our Breastfeeding Support Service to chat to one of our friendly and experienced lactation consultants at no cost.

My baby is just under 8 weeks old. He often takes about 30 minutes to feed each time, or sometimes he will feed for an hour for his last feed of the night! With feeding being established, should I not let him feed as long to prevent sore nipples? A child health nurse mentioned to me feed him for 10 minutes, then off for 10 minutes, then back in for 10 minutes etc. Can you advise a feeding time?

Often as bub gets older, feeds will become shorter. Watching how he is swallowing and how often, will help you to decide how long he needs to feed. It is normal to have non-nutritive sucking (or nibbling) towards the end of the feed. This is a good signal that he is not getting flow.

How can you tell if it’s non-nutritive sucking?

Some babies will feed for a couple of hours, and most of it is non-nutritive. Nutritive sucking is deep, drawing, dragging sucks. You may notice swallowing. Non-nutritive sucking is more butterfly sucking, or chomping, shallow sucking, rather than dragging feeling on the breast, with infrequent swallowing.

What's your suggestion for one breast with very low supply whilst the other one is OK to make both balancing? I'm currently feeding my baby with the one that's low supply first.

Some mothers will exclusively feed on one side, or feed twins or even triplets, so your body will respond to stimulation. Your breast that has less supply may be smaller because of less glandular tissue developing in adolescence or pregnancy. Everyone has a slight difference between sides. Feeding on the side with less volume is a good idea as it will increase the stimulation. Breast compression during the feed will help with drainage of what is there. If you have time, expressing for a few minutes after the feed will also help. If baby is unsettled and wants a little comfort or top up, offering the side with less will encourage further stimulation. If he gets frustrated with the lower volume, feel free to swap him to the fuller side so you both don’t get stressed. 

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