Dr Virginia Thorley, OAM, PhD, IBCLC, FILCA - International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
www.virginiathorley.com

How much fluid does a breastfeeding mother need?

Water:
It is good to see more people are carrying refillable water bottles - computers on the train, school kids, breastfeeding Mums, fitness fans, busy Mums on the go, bike riders. It is one of those positive practices that has sprung up, to maintain hydration conveniently - without having to look for a drinking fountain or a shop. It's also good for the environment. So it is win/win.
Keeping the water bottle hygienic I guess means one user - not sharing it - and regular washing and draining it to dry it.

Favourite memories of breastfeeding

Mothers often look back over the time when they were breastfeeding and mention special memories. A baby's little hand patting the mother's face, the sounds babies make during breastfeeding....  If you are a breastfeeding mother, or if you breastfed in the past - even a long time ago - you are welcome to share these special memories here.

How much liquid should I drink as a breastfeeding mother?

So often busy mothers with new babies wonder if they are drinking enough fluid, particularly if they hear conflicting ideas, often involving a number.

A set number doesn't account for changes in the weather or your activity. For instance, in hot weather you will of course need to drink more fluid, especially water. The same applies if you start more intense physical activity, such as going to the gym or playing a sport.

A quick guide is a) to drink according to thirst and b) increase intake or water or other fluid if your urine looks darker than usual.

The baby's second week

Parents, especially mothers, often worry when their baby wants to feed-feed-feed at the breast in the second week. Does it mean there's no milk? Is your baby the only baby in the world doing this? Are you creating a bad habit?

Be assured that this is normal behaviour. When your baby was born, he had a very tiny stomach, which was just right for the small amounts of colostrum (the first milk) he was getting at the start. By the end of the first week and into the second week, his stomach capacity has grown - a lot.

Fussy babies at about 6 weeks

It is common for babies to be fussy and to want to go to the breast more often at somewhere around this age.  A number of ideas and "names" for this stage have been suggested, none of them based on evidence - terms such as "appetite increase", "wonder week".  The most relevant question is: What has been happening in the last few days?
 
The consistent factor that I have found is that this is when mothers and their babies have several appointments.

Hand expressing - with or without pumping

Best Practice for expressing milk long-term – “hands on pumping”
 
-         Have a photo of your baby, so that you can focus on your little one, instead of the machine
-         Massage the breast or apply a warm pack
-         Hand express to start the flow [SeeYouTube videos – links below]
-         If using a machine pump, apply the well-fitting pump flange, making sure to centre your nipple so it won’t rub against the side.

Heatwaves and emergencies

Emergency information:
 
This message was prepared for people in Australia in areas of the southern states suffering serious bushfires, but it applies in other emergencies. Please be aware thatABC Local Radiois your emergency channel with regular updates specific to your location.  If you are a health professional, you will want to remind the families you work with about this.
 
Hot weather:
 
While other adults and children need extra fluid in the heat, breastfeeding mothers need to remember to drink plenty of water, too.

Baby's hands and how they use them - helping the milk to flow

Almost twenty years ago a mother, whose baby had just head-butted her breast, asked my why he was doing that. I had been around farm animals and so I knew that calves and goat kids head-butted their mothers to make the milk "let down"; that is, to stimulate the milk ejection reflex (MER).  Cows and nanny goats have leathery udders and so only a vigorous action would be felt. This isn't the usual way that human babies do it - and so I started observing babies at the breast, to see what they did.

Baby's hands and how they use them - "I've finished my feed".

Caring for a new baby is a learning process for first-time mothers, especially as many mothers haven't held a newborn baby before. A common question is - "How do I know when my baby has finished a breastfeed?"
 
Of course, as you get to know your baby and gain more confidence, it is easier to know when the feed has finished. 
 
Unfortunately, people ofter tell mothers that a baby will always go to sleep or come off the breast by herself.  This isn't the reality with a lot of babies.

Baby safety in heatwaves (extreme hot weather)

Baby safety in hot weather is an important topic at the moment with the continuing extreme temperatures in much of Australia and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere at similar latitudes.
 
Unfortunately, one of my books, Feeding Baby & Child (Virginia Phillips, Hyland House, 1984, 1992), which has a whole chapter on hot weather care, is now out of print. However, here are a few quick tip:
 
- keep your baby indoors and out of direct or reflected heat as much as possible
 
- air-conditioning is desirable.
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