Month: December 2011

Does your breastfed baby need water in hot weather?

No – breastfed babies don’t need additional feeds of water in any weather.  Babies get all the hydration they need from breastmilk, providing they are able to feed as often as they want to, for as long as they want to.  Make sure your baby is latched well at the breast and they will get all they need.  Once your baby starts eating solid foods, then you will probably want to offer a small cup of water with the meal, but this is more for fun and learning than actual hydration.

So, why don’t babies need extra water if they are breastfed?  Breastmilk is around 88% water, in addition it contains very few solutes which means that a young babies kidneys do not need extra fluids to flush any solutes through their system.  The amount of water available to a baby in breastmilk, even in very hot, dry climates exceeds a baby’s water requirements.

Breastmilk is also nutrition for the baby, so if the baby fills up on water then not only does he or she not get the calories and nutrition required, they are likely to miss the breastfeed they would normally have.  A baby’s stomach is small and it doesn’t take much to fill it.   This can quickly lead to a drop in milk production in the mother – especially in the early weeks.  Water and implements used to feed a baby, are also a means of introducing bugs and germs into a baby’s digestive system, leading to illness.  Bottled waters can also be dangerous and may contain too high levels of various minerals including sodium.

Babies who are fed artificial baby milk, may need small quantities of water if dehydration is a concern.  Advice on the suitability of water in each country should be sought from medical professionals.

So, in hotter weather than usual, or on visits to hot countries, you may find your baby feeds more often, and may take more frequent, shorter feeds for a few days while both she and you adapt to the difference.  You may find that relatives and well meaning friends encourage you to give your baby water – perhaps because that’s what they did – but you can rest assured you don’t need to.  Breastmilk is everything your baby needs for at least the first year of his or her life – maybe longer.  Breastmilk will also help protect your baby from many illnesses, including gastrointestinal bugs.

For more information on why you don’t need to give your breastfed baby water in hot weather visit this page.


Holiday breastfeeding

As the holidays start and visitors arrive many people find their normal “routine” goes out the window and you seem to spend time rushing around after everyone else more than usual.  It’s easy with all the festivities and visitors to attend to, to find that you just don’t have as much time to sit down with your baby/child to cuddle and breastfeed as you would normally.  It’s often a time when children don’t behave in the way the would do at any other time of year and older babies especially, get very distracted by all the interesting activity around them.

Most babies will breastfeed beyond a year old; if a baby suddenly stops breastfeeding before a year old it is quite likely to be a “nursing strike”.  A nursing strike doesn’t mean your baby necessarily wants to stop breastfeeding but it does mean something has got in the way of, or made him want to stop breastfeeding right now.  Sometimes it’s not possible to ever find out exactly what caused it, but time and patience will often solve it.  It might be a sore ear, stuffy nose or something else physical that is making breastfeeding uncomfortable, or it might just be that there are so many distractions and delays in breastfeeding for a couple of days that your baby just stops asking.

So what can you do if it happens?  Well, as this most often happens to babies around 9 or 10 months or so, there is no rush to compensate for the lack of breastfeeding with lots of other drinks and foods – your baby is probably quite a sturdy little thing by now and eating some solids.  You can express your milk and give it to him in a cup if he wants it – expressing will also help to maintain your milk supply and prevent engorgement, blocked ducts etc.  Avoid bottles and pacifiers though as these will just satisfy the urge to suck with something other than your breast.  Some mother’s find that trying to feed when their baby is sleepy or drowsy works, others find feeding in the bath, while standing or rocking, a totally different position than your baby is used to, and sometimes just leave it for a day or two so there is less tension and anxiety around breastfeeding.  Usually after a few days, but sometimes as long as a couple of weeks, things return to normal for no apparent reason.

Finding time out for peace and quiet with your little one can be hard though at this time of year, and can lead to frustration and worry.  Over the holidays most organisations are closed so don’t forget to check out where your local La Leche League leaders are.  You can also check whether there are Peer Counsellors in your area, national breastfeeding helplines and lactation consultants.  There’s nothing worse than feeling you are on your own with a problem and there is no one available to listen or help… and sometimes the “help” and “advice” from visiting relatives and friends is, well, unhelpful 🙂

Check the Links on the right hand side of this page for some ideas of where to get some help over the holidays if you need it, or email me for more information –

No kisses thank you!

I’ve just read an article about why children shouldn’t be forced to kiss relatives if they don’t want to.  Now this is something I’ve always felt very strongly about.  I hated being forced to kiss all those strange unknown relatives at weddings, Christmas, family get together type events.  I used to dread getting slobbered on by people I hardly knew, and yet as a child it was considered rude to say no and it was something I and my siblings had to endure.

When I had my first child I started to think about how I wanted to teach him that it was always ok to say no and to do whatever seemed right to keep himself safe.  One of those things was that I didn’t think he should have to kiss people he didn’t want to.  As the first grandchild born I knew he was going to be very much loved, but I really didn’t want him to have to endure that whole slobbering thing that I remember hating, and those whiskers of the men who wanted a cuddle!  Luckily for me, when I explained to my mum why I wanted to do this she was very understanding.  I think a little bit of her was hurt to think that her grandson might actually say no he didn’t want a kiss or a cuddle at some stage, but she understood the desire to give him the power over who was allowed to do “something” to him.  This included the emotional blackmail thing that you see some grandparents doing too… “Grandma/pa will cry if you don’t give her/him a kiss…”  The last thing I want any child of mine doing is giving in to someone else’s demands because if they don’t they are made to feel bad.

This article made me think about the subject again, and I am proud to say my now nearly 18 year old boy is a very caring, loving, secure young man who knows what he wants and knows how to say no to keep himself safe.  Thank you to my parents for being great grand parents and allowing their grandchildren the security of being able to say no and still feel loved.

The article can be found here:

Peer Counsellors

One of the things I have been involved in this year is training Breastfeeding Peer Counsellors for HEHA (

Peer Counsellors are trained to support women in their community during the “normal” course of breastfeeding.  There are lots of people you can contact to help you with breastfeeding:  Lactation Consultants (worldwide), Plunket (in New Zealand), your midwife, various charities such as La Leche League (worldwide) and NCT (England) and other medical and health professionals, but talking to another mum who has been where you are, had the same concerns and worries, understands how tired you are, what it’s like to try to manage a house, other children AND a new baby, is “real”.  Just because it’s not a medical problem, or an actual problem with your baby, doesn’t mean you don’t need someone to talk to, and that’s how Peer Counsellors fill the gap between no help and “professional” help.

Peer Counsellors receive training in the normal course of breastfeeding, how breastfeeding works, how to get things off to a good start, the common problems that mothers face, normal newborn baby behaviour, and where to good, referenced information to share with the mothers they meet.  They also know how to listen – really listen, not just nodding and saying yes, and then telling you all about what happened to them when they were breastfeeding!  Everyone else you meet in the supermarket does that 🙂  Peer Counsellor also treat everything you say with the utmost confidence – they don’t discuss anything you say or do with anyone else.  They also know what they don’t know, so if they are not sure they know how to get help to help you.  That might mean they suggest your contact a medical professional, or they might call their supervisor to discuss the general details (with your permission) – they won’t share your name or personal details, just the details of the concern you would like information about.  Other than that, Peer Counsellors don’t tell you what to do.  They will help you consider your options, find good information, provide a listening ear, work out what you want to do (or not do!).  They won’t tell you that you must keep breastfeeding – only you can decide, and it is nothing to do with anyone else.

I consider it a privilege to train Peer Counsellors.  I have trained young mothers, women who have grown children and grandchildren, maternity nurses – a wide range of women.  Next year I will be training some student midwives too.  The more people who understand the normality of breastfeeding, who can support mother’s through their breastfeeding journey, the more likely it is that breastfeeding will return to being seen as the  way to nurture a baby.  This doesn’t mean that everyone must breastfeed, just that if you choose to, you will be supported with good information and there will no longer be concerns about whether it’s “ok” to feed in the local cafe, the park or on the bus!