Your questions answered in our live web chat Q&A

Your questions answered in our live web chat Q&A

Mater Breastfeeding Support Centre midwife and lactation consultant Alex Read hosted our first live web chat on 7 August through the Mater's Mothers' Group on this website.

For just over one hour, Alex answered questions from Mater Mums and provided relevant advice about breastfeeding.

For those who missed it, here are the questions and answers. To find out about when our next live web chat is taking place—and to take part—become a member of Mater’s Mothers’ Group.

If you have a suggestion for a topic for our next web chat, please let us know at

Question: How old were your children when you stopped breastfeeding and how did you stop?

Mater Mothers: Personally I breastfed both my boys until they were four years old. They progressively weaned naturally, dropping feeds as they wanted to. In my opinion, women should breastfeed as long as both they and their baby are happy to do so. The weaning process remains the same, dropping feeds gradually.

Question: Are there any foods I should avoid when breastfeeding?

Mater Mothers: There are no specific foods to avoid when you are breastfeeding. We always recommend eating healthily, but treats are OK as well. The main challenge for new mums tends to be getting the time to eat. Have lots of healthy snacks and finger food that you can eat while sitting to feed your baby. It’s also a great idea to have some frozen meals prepared for those days when time is a challenge.

Question: What are some healthy snacks?

Mater Mothers: Some healthy snacks include nuts, fruit, and finger sandwiches with cheese and avocado.

Question: My daughter is 4 months old and I'm worried my milk is not satisfying her anymore she was having her last feed at 10.30pm and not waking till 7am since since weeks old. Now all of a sudden she is waking every 3-4 hours for a feed.

Mater Mothers: This all sounds very normal; as your baby grows their demand for volume of breast milk increases. In order to provide this, the baby will demand more frequent breastfeeds, usually for the period of 24-48hrs. The increased stimulation at your breast from these more frequent feeds increases the volume of milk you produce.

Question: I suspect my 13 week old daughter has intolerance to dairy in my diet. She has green mucusy poos if I eat anything with dairy or milk solids in it. I eliminated dairy and her poos are back yellow again. I've talked to a GP and a midwife who both seemed dismissive and suggested things like trying her on regular formula (I hate pumping) and switching to a2 milk. I doubt these will work as she reacts to things like cheese, yoghurt even milo (milk solids). What should I do?

Mater Mothers: If your daughter has a true intolerance to dairy proteins, which sounds like the case, formula or A2 milk will not help. Eliminating dairy from your own diet, as you've done is usually the treatment of choice. The fact that your daughter's poos have returned to yellow supports you've done the right thing and delay introducing dairy as solid foods into your diet until well after six months.

Question: This seems like a dumb question but I am due in 6 weeks with my first and just wondering when do you know when you are empty on one side and need to switch sides. Or is one breast enough per feed?

Mater Mothers: The midwives here at Mater Mothers will advise you regarding breastfeeding both sides or single side. We run both an antenatal and postnatal breastfeeding talk which will cover these issues. Please contact us on 3163 8200 for details on the classes or to make an appointment with a lactation consultant.

Forum member: I block feed (one side at a time). You will know - one will feel fuller than the other. Sometimes one looks bigger too.

Question: Is it possible to over feed my baby when he is breastfed? Sometimes I feel like he is constantly feeding.

Mater Mothers: No, it's not possible to over feed a breastfed baby. Think about how you eat in a day, you don't eat the same sized meal at regular intervals; babies also eat to their appetite and have varying intervals.

Question: Just wondering when the best time is to implement bottles for expressed breast milk? I have a 12 week old daughter and am worried about nipple confusion.

Mater Mothers: Anytime is fine to implement bottles for expressed breast milk. By 12 weeks your daughter's breastfeeding is well established so nipple confusion is not an issue.


Question: My three-month-old has always been good feeder but the last couple of weeks she is getting really unsettled when feeding. She latches on fine and feeds for about 5 to 10 minutes then pulls off and basically keeps having a few sucks and pulling off again. Sometimes she cries and sometime she even smiles and giggles like it is a bit of a game. I can't figure out whether she is full, impatient with my letdown or my letdown is too fast...I am just super confused as sometimes she just won't go back to feeding properly and I am worried she has not fed enough and need to top up with the bottle?

Mater Mothers: this is all normal behaviour for a three month old and has nothing to do with your feeding or milk supply. Your baby is now alert and curious about their surroundings and is easily distracted. A baby of this age can finish a feed in five to ten minutes, as long as gaining weight, good number of wet nappies and yellow poos and mostly content then things are going well.

Question: My six week old baby has started feeding more than usual. Is this okay

Mater Mothers: As your baby grows their demand for volume of breast milk increases. In order to provide this, the baby will demand more frequent breastfeeds, usually for the period of 24-48hrs. The increased stimulation at your breast from these more frequent feeds increases the volume of milk you produce.

Question: I've heard that breast fed babies rarely ever get constipated. My daughter has started going every 2-3 days now instead of nearly every nappy. Then on day three she has a massive explosion like she has been storing it up. Could it be my diet? I haven't changed it and usually eat quite well.

Mater Mothers: Newborns will poo with every feed however at 12 weeks what your daughter is doing is absolutely normal and not a sign of constipation or problems with your diet. Constipation in breastfed babies is not generally related to frequency but more when babies are pooing little pellets.

Question: I have a question about stopping breastfeeding. I'm heading back to work and have breastfed my little girl for just under a year. I have switched her to formula and only pumped until comfortable. I haven't pumped or breastfed in over a week (possibly 2) and have been fine but now (last 24 hrs) I have what feels like a painful blocked milk duct and I still have milk. How long does it take for my body to stop producing milk? Will I have to pump to unblock the duct and won't this mean I'll produce more?

Mater Mothers: Suppressing milk supply varies from mother to mother. Generally, it will take around three to four weeks to completely suppress your supply. Wearing a firm bra and minimal stimulation to your breast is generally the best way to go. Regarding your blocked milk duct you will need to drain this, but best not with a pump. Try massaging this area and hand express under a warm shower. You may need a few attempts until this resolves. We recommend seeing your GP if this persists or you develop flu-like symptoms or fever.

Question: How often should my seven-week-old be feeding? Up until now it has been about every three hours. As he gets older will this change? He currently feeds from anywhere from 15 minutes (day feeds) to 30 minutes (night feeds).

Mater Mothers: This all sounds great, you're doing really well! We recommend demand feeding at this age, which you are doing. Length of feed times vary from baby to baby and depend on mother's breast size (storage capacity). The average length of feed time for a newborn is 45minutes to an hour. Less is also ok. As he gets older, feeds will become shorter, approximately 5 to 10 minutes in length and less frequently.

Question: I have a one month old baby and he is mostly breastfed (with a nipple shield) but I also get his dad to give him a bottle of expressed breast milk at night (around 9 or 10pm), while I am sleeping. the last few nights he seems quite unsettled at this time (and is drinking a couple of bottles, maybe 150ml over a couple hours) and is crying, won´t go to sleep etc. is it possible that he prefers drinking at my breast and is missing the comfort that goes with this? Or is he just cluster feeding and very hungry at this time? When he is unsettled we try cuddling, changing his nappy, burping etc but if all else fails we feed him as this usually (but not always) settles him.
Mater Mothers: Babies that bottle feed do not get the same sucking time as they do at the breast, so he may be reacting to this. Try slowing down the bottle feeds to increase sucking time. It is also possible that your baby is having an unsettled period which is occurring at this time and is coincidental that it happens when he's having a bottle. It's also possible he's having a growth spurt, in which case this should pass within 24-48 hours.

Question: I had trouble breastfeeding at the start due to flat nipples and thus started using a nipple shield. I've been trying to ween bub from the shield as feeding is great with the shield but he recoils from my real breast and screams and screams. Any tips for weening him from the shield?

Mater Mothers: Thanks for your question. Do you especially want to wean from the nipple shield? Long-term use of shields is now considered fine and if everything's going well, I wouldn't worry. If you particularly want to stop using this, try starting the feed using the shield and during a pause in sucking, slip the shield off and try attaching your baby to the breast direct. If this doesn't work, continue feeding with shield and try again at intervals that suit you.

Question: Is it ok to have an occasional glass of wine when breastfeeding, providing I wait around 3 hours to feed him after drinking so it has time to get out of my system (or give him expressed milk immediately after)? Is it true you need to 'pump and dump' after having a glass of wine?

Mater Mothers: Thanks for your question! You should avoid alcohol in the first month after birth until breastfeeding is well established. After that, your alcohol intake should be limited to no more than two standard drinks a day and you should avoid drinking alcohol immediately before breastfeeding. If you wish to drink alcohol you can consider expressing in advance. It is not necessary to express and discard breast milk, unless it is for your comfort when you are not feeding for an extended time. It takes approximately two hours for the average woman to completely eliminate one standard alcoholic drink, four hours for two drinks, six hours for three drinks, and so on.

Question: I'm having trouble breastfeeding what should I do? Help!

Mater Mothers: Breastfeeding, like any new skill, requires patience and practice. Difficulties are commonplace in the early few weeks which can be disheartening – so this is the time to access as many support networks as possible. It may be family or friends who have a positive experience with breastfeeding or professional advice from a GP or lactation consultant. Lactation consultants are specialists in dealing with breastfeeding difficulties and work in partnership with the mother to help achieve her breastfeeding goals. Mater Mothers’ Hospital has a dedicated Breastfeeding Support Centre staffed by qualified and award winning IBCLC’s (lactation consultants).

Question: I have a three-week-old boy and he is not opening his mouth enough to not hurt my nipples. We are seeing an osteopath but not much improvement yet! Would you have any suggestion or exercises that I could try?

Mater Mothers: Can you try doing some skin-to-skin with your baby and look for mouth opening at this time - that may improve his latch to the breast? Maybe a visit to our Breastfeeding Support Centre and a chat with a lactation consultant will help to resolve this issue. To contact us, call 3163 8200.

Question: Does it matter if my baby prefers my left breast and mostly feeds from it? He sometimes takes my right breast but never for as long. As I am expressing regularly, should I be expressing more from my right breast than from my left to keep my supply up?

Mater Mothers: If your baby is predominately feeding from the left side and you wish to express, you would do so more on the right to empty this breast. Most babies will feed on one breast predominately than take "dessert" from the second side until eventually draining both breasts equally.

Question: My baby is seven weeks old tomorrow and I have been struggling with oversupply and over active let down. Do you have any tips to reduce my supply slightly so I don't feel like I'm going to choke him every feed?

Mater Mothers: Try expressing until your first letdown which will help your baby cope with the flow. Also aim to feed from both breasts per feed to allow your milk supply to regulate and reduce naturally. Posture feeding, where you recline or lay back, also helps control flow and once you baby is coping with that new flow, you can sit back upright.

Question: How do I contact the Support Centre?

Mater Mothers: Please call us on 07 3163 8200 to make an appointment with our Breastfeeding Support Centre. If you are asked to leave a message a lactation consultant will return your call as soon as possible.

Question: How long does it take for what I eat to transfer into my milk?

Mater Mothers: Breast milk constantly absorbs flavours from the foods you eat - there is no specific timeframe for this to occur. This is good because it allows your baby to experience different flavours before they start solids and generally makes them less picky later on.

Question: Would oversupply be causing my baby discomfort? He seems to be awfully gassy and in pain at night mostly?

Mater Mothers: Great question! Yes, over-supply can cause abdominal discomfort because of the high lactose load in your foremilk. Expressing of your first or even second letdown will allow your baby to access the higher fat milk and help his tummy to settle.


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