Author Archive

Pumps: Electric or Manual?

Written by admin on January 20th, 2011. Posted in Boobs & Bottles

Our week at the hospital we were blessed to be provided with an electric Medela breast pump. Having twins has it’s perks! Pumping after each feed to ensure you have emptied your feeding breast helps to ensure that milk is replenished and your supply is really good. Regular feeding/draining of the breast increases your body’s drive to make more. “Saving up” for the next feed doesn’t work as it signals to your body that the need is reduced and it’s supply will follow suit. So even if you don’t store it, it’s a great idea to completely drain your breast after bub has fed or at least every 6 hours to ensure your milk supply isn’t hindered. I can’t speak highly enough of the Medela electric pump. Efficient and painless it was such a blessing but at the end of the week I went home armed with only the Medela manual pump. Though still efficient it took quite a lot of shoulder and bicep work to pump every 4-6 hours throughout the night and was very tiring. When you’re sleep deprived it’s the last thing you want to do. Luckily my partner got some sort of glee out of performing the task for me sometimes during the day (hey, who am I to complain?). But the novelty wore off come night time!

So if you’re  keen to breastfeed but for some reason can’t feed on the breast (eg: multiple babies, nipple problems or you need to go back to work) hire an electric breast pump. I found this information only after the time had passed. Once you’ve had your baby time flies and you’re tired and ideas may not present themselves for you. That’s why I’m building this website, to help new mums with my experiences and with ideas that may help smooth the baby journey.

Electric Breast Pump Hire

This site also good information on breastfeeding with a counsellor helpline available.

Feeding our babies: Choice? Guilt? Anger? Regret?

Written by admin on January 20th, 2011. Posted in Boobs & Bottles

On researching this topic I found an article that I wholeheartedly agree with and would like to share with you. Written by Yvette O’Dowd, ABA Breastfeeding Counsellor.

Feeding our babies: Choice? Guilt? Anger? Regret?

There is no real choice involved with breastfeeding.

Like natural conception, pregnancy, childbirth and all the other processes of the human body, breastfeeding is the default when it comes to feeding our babies – just like for all other infant mammals.

However, none of these natural processes are guaranteed failsafe and society has developed alternatives when something goes wrong with nature’s plan.

IVF and other fertility programs, surrogate pregnancy and intensive care for premature infants, caesarean sections … and artificial feeding … each intended to step in when nature stumbles.

Why then, is there such a divide between women who breastfeed and those who resort to artificial baby milk? Why can the apparent decision to do one be taken as criticism of those who do the other? Such conflict can also arise between natural versus medical childbirth proponents but imagine such a personal debate between those who conceive easily and those reliant on IVF? Imagine the full-term mothers in the postnatal ward questioning the actions of those with premmies in NICU! Imagine infertile women complaining about the promotion of contraception and family planning!

So what led to this great divide?
The answer can be found if we turn back a few pages in our history books. Originally, artificial feeding was only intended as the last option for babies unable to access human milk – those abandoned by their mother at birth, foundlings without access to wet nurses, orphans without a lactating relative to take them in. It was insidious marketing by those with a commercial interest which saw artificial feeding leap from last resort to first option and it has taken the best part of the past century to undo the damage of their actions. The repair is far from complete.

It would be bad enough if infant formula had been marketed as just an alternative to human milk, but far worse damage was done. Powerful advertising directed at family and medical communities led many to believe manufactured infant feeds were superior to a mother’s own milk. Generation after generation of new mothers had all choice taken away from them as health advisors passed on the misleading information fed to them by those whose real interest was in the making of money. Lots of money.

The most heartbreaking outcome is not the loss of breastfeeding confidence across the community, rather the failure of society to understand the risks of not feeding babies as nature intended. There are very real detrimental impacts on immediate and future health when we remove human milk from the human diet and replace it with artificially concocted substitutes. Just as there are risks with fertility treatments, premature or surgical birth, so too there are risks when artificial baby milk replaces breastmilk – whether at birth or at any time during the period nature intended humans to be fully or partly breastfed.

Any suggestion of these risks is shouted down by many in our society as unfair to mothers who have resorted to artificial feeding. For many years, these risks were cloaked in softer language and presented as benefits of breastmilk. This technique is akin to suggesting there are advantages to breathing air unpolluted by cigarette smoke! Benefits in not being exposed to toxic levels of radiation! Or perhaps reasons to consider not walking in front of a moving vehicle!! There are no benefits to breastfeeding – breast isn’t best, it is normal!

The decision to introduce artificial baby milk – either partly or fully replacing human milk in a child’s diet – should always follow full risk assessment. Artificial feeding is not about the choice to breastfeed or not to breastfeed. The decision has nothing to do with breastfeeding. When we add or replace a natural process with something else, it must be done with full awareness of the risks against benefit. Like organ replacement or renal dialysis, artificial feeding should only be considered when all else fails.

Emotional conflict
Any health awareness program is designed to alter people’s behaviour, change habits and encourage them to question their lifestyle. Give up smoking. Eat more vegetables, Do more exercise, Drink less alcohol. Avoid sun exposure. Reduce fat in the diet. Have a pap smear. Eat more fibre. Nag, nag, nag! Pick up a magazine, watch TV, visit the doctor or pass by a billboard. The message is simple: there are ways you can improve your health both now and in the future. By ignoring them you are denying your own power to act.

Put up a poster promoting breastfeeding, though, and suddenly people complain it is only being done to make those who are artificially feeding feel guilty! Why is this? How can just another health message seem personalised and threatening? The answer might surprise you. There is certainly emotion involved but it is nothing to do with guilt. Guilt is how you feel having committed an offence; remorse caused by feeling responsible for some offence. It is an internally created feeling and can only occur if the culprit recognises they have done the wrong thing. Surely this description would only apply to the smallest number of mothers who have not breastfed? The real emotion felt by the majority of women who resort to premature weaning is regret: feeling sad about the loss or absence of something treasured or valued. Put simply, when these women see promotion of breastfeeding, it reminds them of a time when they experienced sadness. This can lead to feelings of anger, as unresolved emotions come to the surface. What they need is support and understanding of their grief, recognition of their regret. Unfortunately, what they usually get instead is reassurance about the decision to wean and assurance of their baby’s health and wellbeing despite being fed artificially. This failure to acknowledge their true feelings goes a long way to delaying their emotional recovery. Raise the issue of breastfeeding in a group of women at any life stage – those emotions will come flooding out just as fresh in the retirement village as in the new mothers’ group.

If reminders of the value of breastmilk make you feel angry, then direct that anger not to those trying to increase the awareness of a whole population, rather to those who let you down. Mothers do not fail to breastfeed. Our society fails to help them do so. The real blame lies with:

Health systems that pay lip service to the benefits of breastmilk, yet expel new mothers from hospital before they have even grasped the basics of this learned skill.

Communities who view breastfeeding as an intimate act to only be performed behind closed doors, promoting only the sensual role of breasts and denying their practical use.
A society who expects women to resume paid work after brief, unpaid maternity leave while denying them access to workplace child care and other support for combining work and breastfeeding

A medical system that has charted the growth of breastfed infants against the unnatural growth patterns of those fed artificially (1) in past generations and implied failure to mothers whose babies did not measure up.

Unnecessary birth practices that interfere with the natural progression from womb to breast and strict infant regimes that deny babies access to the breast often enough for adequate nutrition.

A society which destroys body image by portraying the pubescent female form as that of a fully mature woman and displays malnourished celebrities as role models for adolescents and women of child-bearing age.

It is time to break down barriers between mothers and join together. There is no us and them, no good versus bad mother. Every woman has the right to the support and information she needs to birth and breastfeed her baby as nature intended, without pressure from the marketing techniques of multinational drug and breastmilk substitute manufacturers influencing the professionals guiding them along the path of motherhood.
(1) The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2006 released the first growth charts based on the growth patterns of breastfed babies, but to date these have only been adopted in Australia’s Northern Territory. WHO Child Growth Charts
May 2010

Australian Breastfeeding Association free helpline is 1800 MUM 2 MUM (686 2 686) or

Breastfeeding: The Proven Benefits

  • Immunological benefits – protects your baby from illness and infection
  • Provides the correct food for your growing baby
  • Aids the development of your baby’s eyesight, speech and intelligence
  • Promotes a special loving bond between mother and baby

Breastfeeding: The OUCH factor

Written by admin on January 20th, 2011. Posted in Boobs & Bottles

There’s no doubt about it. Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful but awkward feelings for some new mums. There’s a definite knack to breastfeeding successfully and if you’re lucky, your baby is a natch and finds it so simple they can do it with their eyes shut ;) But it can be a tricky thing for new mums to learn and even more challenging for mums of multiples. After giving birth to our twin girls smack in the middle of winter, breastfeeding was a challenging and chilling experience. I didn’t have the luxury of slipping one breast out and leaving all my lovely warm clothes on around my shoulders. No. In the middle of the night, every 2 hours or less, my breastfeeding experience was one where I ripped off all clothing from the waist up for simultaneous feeding on a twin feeding pillow. Which by the way is coated in a very, very, VERY cold plastic. Laugh yes, go on. It’s a funny image. Mum’s Milk Bar. Thankfully for the first 7 weeks my mother stayed with us and draped my shoulders in a blanket and helped each of our girls attach. Using a twin feeding pillow is a wonderful idea….if you’ve got 3 hands.

Breastfeeding – Get it wrong and you’ll be wearing the gash marks for weeks. My nipples looked as though they were taken to with a cheese grater and breastfeeding had me stomping my foot on the ground and gritting my teeth. (Thankfully I never developed Mastitis!). Determined to breastfeed though I pushed on sending my partner to the chemist to buy nipple shields. The midwife of course tutt tutt’ed saying no no no, that’s not a good idea and we wouldn’t recommend using those. We’re taught that learning ‘best technique’ is the remedy for nipple cracking and irritation. Looking at the pushy 25 year old ‘Lactation Consultant’ my thought was “and how many children have you had?”. Put simply, if you’re experiencing intense pain due to existing damage to your nipples the alternatives are slim. You can use nipple shields, express and bottle feed for a few days or a week until your nipples heal enough for your little milk vampire to guzzle on again or you can throw your hands up in the air and fall into the arms of formula. I decided to go with the nipple shields and our girls had absolutely no problem with them. They did look at me a little strangely the first time but they got over it very quickly when the milk started drenching through them.

Having twins I also had to decide whether to feed them formula through the nighttime as feeding two babies every 1.5-2 hours on the breast was exhausting, and slower. If they didn’t wake up at the same time to feed then it was, feed/burp…wait feed/burp, which left about 30 minutes before the first feeder woke up again. Impossible! And after my lesson learned In The Hospital (see “Sleep. There is no Substitute”) I learned not to expect to function like a superwoman on no sleep. It was simply too tiring. I breastfed exclusively the first couple of weeks but then resigned to using formula at night. I knew that if it wasn’t then it’d only be a few weeks later that I’d need to do it. My mother was with us the first 7 weeks and after she left it would be impossible to maneuver the girls onto the twin pillow by myself. I couldn’t wake my partner every 2 hours to help with this as he needed to function for work and couldn’t physically sustain feeding them one at a time. So my choices were slim.

The midwives warned that my milk flow would reduce by using the nipple shields. Where the logic is in that I’m not sure,  I still leaked excess milk like a jersey cow! However their warnings that I would slowly stop producing sufficient breastmilk by using formula at night and not breastfeeding was right. I was too tired to express every 6 hours in between feeding the girls so would wake up with a soaked shirt by early morning and if you’ve done your research, the longer you leave it to express the faster your milk dries up. This is purely because your clever little body establishes that if you aren’t using it, you aren’t needing it!

By the fourth month the girls rejected the breast through the daytime as they were just not getting the speed of flow they enjoyed from the bottle at night. It was very sad but I had to recognise that at the end of the day I didn’t have one baby, I had two and I’m not superwoman. Do I regret relying on formula? Yes. In a perfect world I would have loved the ability to exclusively breastfeed our twin girls (until their teeth came through because after that, forget it!). Our girls jumped 1 percentile in weight during that first week in hospital while receiving exclusively breastmilk. They lost the usual 10% of birthweight before regaining that and more. The midwives were very happy and impressed that our little 5.7 and 4.9 pound twins were accelerating growth so quickly. And during the next few months got bigger and bigger at a rate of knots jumping from the 3rd and 10th percentile to the 25th and 50th respectively! If we have another (single) baby it will be a no-brainer. I will breastfeed until their teeth come through, and even longer if they play nice with their new gnashers!

Before and after birth you should seek the counsel of as many mothers, midwives & lactation consultants as possible. Research the web and get all the facts (but learn to recognise ‘spin’ and who benefits most from it). In the end it’s your decision and doing what feels right for you and your baby is paramount. Take the advice that feels right for you and leave the rest in your wake. By making an informed and carefully weighed choice you will never feel guilt or regret. Now, not breastfeeding because you don’t want your boobs to drop, well that’s another story!

The topic of breastfeeding -vs- bottlefeeding is heated. With the ‘members’ of the two ‘parties’ seemingly at loggerheads. But I don’t think it’s women’s fault that the divide has come to such a heated debate. Clever and very deliberate marketing by the big formula companies have much to do with the information and ‘spin’ that’s out there. A good read is Feeding our Babies: Choice? Guilt? Anger? Regret?article written by Yvette O’Dowd, ABA Breastfeeding Counsellor in this category “Boobs & Bottles”.

No-to-Low Chemical Cleaning

Written by admin on January 20th, 2011. Posted in Healthy Home

The shelves and shelves of chemical cleaners in our supermarkets are there to make our job faster with less elbow grease. Normally this sounds fantastic. Perfect! Just what I need! Hit the chemical cleaners and be done in 5 minutes. I bet if you went through your kitchen cupboard you’d find at least four or five different chemical cleaners. One for tabletops, one for mirrors and windows, one for the fridge, one for the floor and so on. And maybe more than one for each of those surfaces. Money, money, money. Toxic, Toxic, Toxic. Somewhere along the way householders got sucked into a vortex of commercial “germ killing” that’s on par with hospital grade sanitisation.

It’s really simple. You need an active antimicrobial ingredient. That’s it! No spectacularly packaged, orange scented, intense foaming action, clings to surfaces with 99.9% germ killing POWER!!!! Marketing spin. Fabulous stuff. And effective! It’s about here I have to put my hand up. I am a chronic compulsive hand washer. I’d put a guess that I wash my hands around 70-80 times a day. Sometimes 3 times within 10 minutes. I have the antibacterial hand wash in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Sadly this leaves my hands very dry but mentally I’m content so, so be it. This compulsive need only affects me which is why I am happy to continue it. (Luckily my partner has the same compulsion!)

However, chemical cleaners sprayed all over your home not only affect your lungs and are absorbed through your skin but they affect every single member of your family living in your home. They accumulate in soft furnishings and carpets and are not removed by normal vacuuming. Now consider how much time your kids spend sprawled out playing on the carpet…This is where I started thinking twice about living in a ‘sanitary’ chemically cleaned environment. I searched the web and found to ‘kill germs’ you just need an antimicrobial ingredient. My favourite is Eucalyptus Oil. It smells nicer than all the store bought ‘germ killers’ and it’s safer for my family. Here’s how you make it into an all purpose surface cleaner.

In a brand new empty spray bottle you can purchase from Kmart, Target or the like, mix the following: 50% Water, 50% White Vinegar, 5 drops Eucalyptus Oil and 15 drops of dishwashing liquid. Shake and spray (or soak a cloth), wiping down pretty much any surface mentioned in the first paragraph above. It smells fresh and is so much better for your family than the harsh web of supermarket chemicals. The Eucalyptus Oil kills microorganisms so there’s no need to worry about your kitchen benchtops, bin lids, fridge, floor or other surfaces harbouring any germs.

This homemade All Purpose Surface Cleaner is great for benchtops, glass table tops and cook tops, streak-free mirrors, fridges, floors and bathroom sinks. Try it out and see if you like it. Wander around the WWW and look for other home made cleaning recipes. There are other essential oils with antimicrobial properties too. Our older generation utilised these wonderful low cost solutions and they didn’t die from germs!

If you like the sound of this but still aren’t 100% confident you can spray down your surfaces just once a month with a diluted bleach and water spray for a monthly heavy duty clean. A 1-to-20 solution in water is effective simply by being wiped on and left to dry. The user should wear rubber gloves and, in tight airless spaces, goggles. I always make sure our kids are in a different part of the house to where I’m cleaning when the bleach comes out.

When I was pregnant I talked with my partner and he agreed I should not be using any commercial cleaners while pregnant and I feel we did the right thing. He scrubbed the bathroom for me when time came and we used the Eucalyptus Oil/Vinegar homemade solution for everything else.

NOTE: If pregnant always wear gloves when handling essential oils (or any other cleaners for that matter). It should not come into direct undiluted or ‘neat’ contact with your skin. Some essential oils should also be avoided during pregnancy so research carefully what these are and follow recommendations.

Excerpts from Wikipedia
Vinegar – Cleaning uses
White vinegar is often used as a household cleaning agent. Because it is acidic, it can dissolve mineral deposits from glass, coffee makers, and other smooth surfaces. For most uses dilution with water is recommended for safety and to avoid damaging the surfaces being cleaned.

Vinegar is an excellent solvent for cleaning epoxy resin and hardener, even after the epoxy has begun to harden. Malt vinegar sprinkled onto crumpled newspaper is a traditional, and still-popular, method of cleaning grease-smeared windows and mirrors in the UK. Vinegar can be used for polishing brass or bronze. Recently, vinegar has been marketed as a green solution for many household cleaning problems. For example, vinegar has been cited recently as an eco-friendly urine cleaner for pets and as a weed killer.

Essential oils
The antimicrobial properties of 21 plant essential oils and two essences were investigated against five food-borne pathogens, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella enteriditis, Escherichia coli, Staphylococus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes. The oils of bay, cinnamon, clove and thyme were the most inhibitory, each having a bacteriostatic concentration of 0.075% or less against all five pathogens. ( A. Smith-Palmer, J. Stewart and L. Fyfe. Antimicrobial properties of plant essential oils and essences against five important food-borne pathogens. Letters in Applied Microbiology 1998. 26. 118-122)

Many essential oils are included in pharmacopoeias as having antimicrobial activity, including:

  • Sideritis or Greek Mountain Tea
  • Oregano oil
  • Tea tree oil – in cosmetics, medicine
  • Mint oil – in medicine, cosmetics (tooth paste etc.)
  • Sandalwood oil – in cosmetics
  • Clove oil – stomatology etc.
  • Nigella sativa (Black cumin) oil
  • Onion oil (Allium cepe) – phytoncides, in phytotherapy
  • Leleshwa oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Lemon oil
  • Lemon myrtle oil
  • Neem oil
  • Garlic
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Thyme oil

Whooping Cough Vaccination

Written by admin on December 30th, 2010. Posted in Preparing for Pregnancy

If you’ve ever seen footage of a baby suffering with Whooping Cough (Pertussis) you’d never wave away the vaccine saying “No I don’t want to unduly overload my baby with chemicals!” without doing a lot of research and reviewing many legitimate opinions on this particular vaccine. I’ll say it from the outset, I had my ‘Protective Mummy’ hat on and was suspicious of all vaccines but after researching decided we were comfortable with going ahead and vaccinating our twins for Whooping Cough (and Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio ie: DTaP). They now use acellular Pertussis components, which means that it causes fewer reactions than the old ‘whole cell’ Triple Antigen or DPT vaccine, which was given to children between 1954 and 1997.

Be prepared by the time your little one arrives. Research, talk to your GP and if you decide ‘yes, this is a responsible protection for my baby and the benefits outweigh the risks’ ask your immediate family members and anyone in extensive contact with baby for first 6 months to get a shot with their GP well before baby is born. It takes 2 weeks to become effective. Whooping Cough is really picking up steam and now common in Australia and throughout the world with 1 in 200 babies who contract it, dying. Terribly. It presents just like a simple cough/cold and adults may be carriers without showing any signs of having it. There is sometimes but not always a characteristic ‘whooping’ sound at the end of each coughing spasm as the sufferer struggles to get air back into their lungs and then vomits. In 2009 a little baby girl, 4 week old Dana McCaffery died on the NSW north coast (Brisbane Times Article) and in South Australia recently a 5 week old boy was lost. I urge you to read their stories.

It’s a horrendous infection. The visions I have seen of inflicted babies/children look as though they are being strangled. They cough 50 or 60 times, go blue and vomit. They simply cannot breathe. I cannot post footage of these babies as it is too distressing. If you need further proof of how horrendous (and highly contagious) this infection is, please Google it, You Tube it and see whatever you need to see to motivate you to pick up the phone and book your doctor to discuss it. Vaccinations are now free for children in Australia under the Immunise Australia Program.

As mothers are very often the person responsible for passing on the infection, it is best before you even start trying to conceive to go to your GP to discuss it. It’s a single shot but if you are already pregnant you cannot have the immunisation until after the birth. You can do it the very next day but it takes 2 weeks to become effective. If you choose to, all family should be asked to do it well before bub is born. We had friends whose whole family contracted Whooping Cough while she was pregnant and they were all extremely ill for three long months. After the baby was born he was chronically sick within his first 2 weeks of life being subjected to spinal taps and blood tests to assess his illness which eventuated as Bronchiolitis. I’m sure being exposed in utero to Whooping Cough did nothing to strengthen his resistance to respiratory illness. At 6 months of age he went back into hospital again very sick with another respiratory infection.

My opinion, and as they say, opinions are like a-holes and everybody’s got one. In my opinion it’s simply not worth the risk. The new acellular Whooping Cough vaccine developed to have fewer side effects has been around for over a decade now and is tried and tested. Do the research, talk to the doctors, and make an informed choice.

While on the subject of making informed choices on vaccines, I never supported the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ vaccine that was rushed through testing and pushed out to a fearful market within a year. CSL’s share price was certainly not hurt by it’s deployment but many children were. I scoffed and declined every offer by the midwives for the H1N1 vaccine for our twins. And luckily so, when a few weeks later it was shown on national news that children were convulsing and dying from it. One baby who passed away after receiving the H1N1 vaccine was one of twins. I cried for a long time hearing that news. Whatever they tell you about coincidence and ‘those children would have had a reaction to anything’ is a load of beeswax! Nothing, I repeat NOTHING that has had limited trials and has not been thoroughly tested over a sufficient timeframe (I’m talking many years here) should be driven out in a fear campaign and issued to pregnant women, newborns, infants and children touted as the ‘high risk’ categories for contracting H1N1. It was ridiculous, disgusting and unforgivable. I hear you say, tell me what you really feel Janet! I understand being cautious about vaccinations, I am myself. So do the research and then make a wise decision on each and every shot. A choice. Don’t push ALL vaccinations away because of the devastating results of a drug that was foolishly rushed out on Governments’/Big Business’ own agendas. The common vaccinations that have been around for many, many decades are tried and tested. All vaccinations have their varying degrees of potential reactions most commonly mild fever, tiredness, or nausea but very rarely it can be more than that. There is raging debate between parents and scientists whether MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) causes Autism. It seems that genetically some children are more susceptible to severe adverse reaction to something within that shot. The reason for this is unclear but it is reported as a very small ratio (which is of little consolation to parents of children affected).

Research, talk to your doctor, talk to other mothers and make your own decision weighing up all the pro’s and con’s of each and every separate vaccine. The distraught mothers of babies who have died of Whooping Cough (Pertussis) are begging the Government to shine a spotlight on the issue, and for parents and the general public to vaccinate themselves to eradicate this deadly and highly contagious Pertussis virus. It has slowly crept back into our society and is killing our most vulnerable. Be informed. Make your Choice.

For more information visit:

Better Health

Health NSW