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Childbirth and parenting education program

Information for expecting parents

Welcome to Mater Mothers' Private Redland childbirth and parenting education program.

The planning and anticipation of the arrival of your new baby is a very special time. The childbirth and parenting education program has been designed to help you prepare for this momentous event. The program should strengthen your knowledge of childbirth and early parenting, and assist in your journey through childbirth and into parenting.

This resource package will support you as you complete this program, as it contains all essential information for the upcoming classes.

Before labour

Useful questions

There are several questions expecting mothers and fathers may ask themselves as they prepare to welcome their baby. Below are a few common questions which you may find useful to answer during your pregnancy.


  • Who will I have to get to know or work with?
  • What hours am I "on duty" for?
  • When do I get a rest or break?
  • How will I spend my spare time?
  • Will I be going back to paid employment?
  • If so, for how many hours a week?
  • What are the key qualities I will need in order to undertake this role?
  • Is there are limit on unpaid hours?
  • What sort of role would I definitely not undertake?
  • What is my attitude towards being a mother?
  • What is the most important thing for me to remember?
  • What am I going to do that my mother did?
  • What am I going to do that my mother didn’t?
  • What promises do I make to myself, and my child?
  • What do I want to say right now to my newborn child?
  • How will I know that I am on target and achieving the things that I said I would?
  • How will my relationship with my partner/father change?
  • Whose child will this be? Mine, his or ours?

Fathers may wish to ask themselves similar questions.

Perineal massage

Perineal massage has been used in different countries and cultures throughout much of human history. It is a method of preparing the outlet of the birth passage, particularly the perineum, for the stretching and pressure caused by the birth of your baby. The aim is to avoid trauma in that area, either by tears (lacerations) or an episiotomy, which is a cut made in the perineum to enlarge the outlet.

This type of massage can be done internally or externally before your baby is born. Either you or your partner can do the massaging, depending on how comfortable you both are with the procedure. To aid relaxation prior to the massage, a warm bath or warm small towels can be placed on the perineum. A low-irritant oil or cream (e.g. vitamin E) can be used as a lubricant if desired.

First, wash your hands, then obtain a mirror and prop yourself up with pillows. Look at your perineum with the aid of the mirror and become familiar with the whole area involved. If you are using a lubricant, put it on your hands and place your thumbs about three to four centimetres inside your vagina. Press the inside of the perineum, toward the rectum and to the sides. You will feel a slight tingling or burning as you gently press down and stretch the opening. Maintain this stretching and pressure for about one minute. The area will become a little numb. Work the lubricant in, slowly and gently, maintaining the pressure and pulling the perineum forward a little, which is what your baby’s head will do as it is being born. This massage should not be painful.

From week 34 of your pregnancy onward, do this massage everyday, for about five to ten minutes. You will notice that the "stretchiness" and flexibility will increase.

If your partner does this massage, the perineum and sides are pressed by using his two index fingers. He should massage with his index fingers inside, and his thumbs outside. The massage can be done in one direction at a time i.e. from side to side, or the fingers can be swept in the opposite direction. Try different methods until you find what is most comfortable for you.

This is a very intimate and private massage, and sensitivity within the relationship with your partner is essential.

During the bearing down stage of labour, it is a natural instinct to tense and try to "hold back". Mothers who have consistently undertaken perineal massage do not report the extremes of stinging and burning that often accompany the birth of the baby’s head. As this pain is lessened, you should be able to relax more and allow your baby’s head to slip over an intact perineum.

Pelvic floor exercises after birth may help you to re-tone your stretched muscles and tissues. Be prepared to have a slow, controlled birth of your baby’s head. Pant or blow to overcome pushing sensations as the head emerges and allow your baby’s head to be born between contractions.

Please note: you can massage over previous episiotomy scars. It is advisable to not use perineal massage if you have any lesions or active herpes during this stage of pregnancy.

Am I in labour?

The final weeks of your pregnancy are often filled with great anticipation as you wait for the birth of your baby.

Labour can begin in a variety of ways, so you will need to interpret the various signs that indicate labour is approaching. These signs can occur in any sequence during a period of hours, or days. For some women these signs are very distinct, while for others they are more subtle and harder to distinguish. Some commons signs of labour approaching are listed below are listed below.


Your baby’s head will usually drop and become engaged in your pelvis in preparation for labour. If you are expecting your first baby, you may notice pressure in your groin and on your bladder beginning up to four weeks before the birth. You may also notice that you can breathe a little easier and have a little more appetite as the baby drops and is not pushed up against your diaphragm and stomach quite so much.


During your pregnancy a mucous plug fills the cervix. Towards the end of pregnancy, the cervix becomes softer and this mucous plug may become loosened and be expelled. Often, this mucous contains streaks of blood. This is different from any flow of fresh blood—which would need to be reported to the hospital immediately. This show may continue during a period of hours, or even days. It is one of the signs that your body is preparing for the birth. Labour may begin in the next few hours, days or even weeks following the show.

Water breaking (rupture of the membranes)

This may occur at any time prior to the commencement of labour (10 to 15 per cent of women), or at any time during labour. Some women in late pregnancy choose to place a plastic sheet, or a layer of towels beneath the sheet, in case their waters break during their sleep (forewater leak). The break may be low—near the opening of the uterus—and will produce a gush of fluid (amniotic fluid). If this occurs, place a sanitary pad on, noting the colour of the fluid. Telephone the hospital and make your way to hospital.

Another type of break may occur higher up in the uterus (hindwater leak). This break will be less obvious to you, and you may only notice a trickle of fluid. Since many women leak a small amount of urine towards the end of their pregnancy, it is often difficult to distinguish the difference. Urine is often yellow, whereas amniotic fluid is usually clear and has a ‘sweet’ odour. If you are unsure, please telephone the hospital. If the colour of the fluid is green, it indicates that your baby has opened its bowels inside the uterus. This may be a sign that the baby is distressed, so please make your way to hospital as soon as possible. This type of leak is more common in pregnancies past 40 weeks.



Labour contractions

True labour contractions usually increase in strength and duration. In order to time your contractions, time the interval between the commencement of one contraction, to the commencement of the next. Early labour contractions are often likened to period cramps, with or without a backache.

Braxton Hicks contractions

You may be feeling these contractions already, as a tightening of the uterus, which disappears quickly. These contractions often increase in regularity and strength towards the end of your pregnancy, preparing your uterus for childbirth. It can be difficult to differentiate the Braxton Hicks and true labour contractions, however, some common differences are listed in the table below:

Braxton Hicks contractions Labour contractions
  • usually irregular and short
  • do not get closer together
  • do not get stronger
  • walking does not make them stronger
  • lying down may make them disappear.
  • may be irregular at first
  • usually become more regular
  • become stronger
  • walking makes them stronger
  • lying down does not make them disappear.


How does labour start?

Labour can start in different ways. You may start experiencing some period-like pains. You might notice that these tightenings and contractions start to get stronger, closer and last longer than before. Otherwise, you might start with a backache or a stomach upset that gets stronger and develops into regular contractions.

In approximately ten to fifteen per cent of women, labour will start when your membranes rupture (water breaks). Contractions usually follow.

Some of the signs and symptoms of going into labour may include:

  • period-like cramps
  • backache
  • diarrhoea
  • small bloodstained discharge as your cervix thins and the mucus plug drops out (known as the "show")
  • gush or trickle of water as the membranes break
  • contractions.

You should call the hospital when:

  • your waters break
  • your contractions are strong, regular and four to seven minutes apart
  • you are concerned about anything
  • you are ready to come into hospital
  • you have bright blood loss as this is not normal.

Stages of labour and birth

Every labour is unique for each woman. For first time mothers, labour takes approximately 12 to 24 hours. Women who are having their second or subsequent baby can expect labour to last approximately seven hours. Labour can be broken down into three stages.

First stage: regular painful contractions until the cervix is fully dilated which is approximately 10 centimetres. The first stage of labour is generally the longest, taking an average of eight to sixteen hours for a first baby and three to ten hours for a second or subsequent baby. This stage is responsible for the softening and thinning of the cervix called effacement, and its dilatation to around 10 centimetres. Your cervix starts out firm like your nose, and has to become soft and stretchy like your lips. The first stage is divided into three phases—early, active and transitional.

Second stage: the cervix is fully dilated and lasts until the birth of your baby. Most women feel an urge to push. Your obstetrician or midwife will guide you if needed.

Third stage: after your baby is born, more contractions will push out the placenta. This stage typically takes about ten minutes but can take up to an hour. Your midwife may give you an injection in your thigh, after your baby is born, which can help your uterus to contract and assist in expelling the placenta. You may choose not to have the injection, but to wait and see if it is necessary. You should discuss your choice in advance with your obstetrician or midwife and make a note on your birth plan.

Warning signs in pregnancy

Notify the hospital immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • premature labour before 37 weeks
  • abdominal pain
  • bright vaginal bleeding
  • leaking of fluid from the vagina
  • sudden swelling of face and hands
  • severe headaches, visual disturbances
  • a decrease in the baby’s movements
  • any other concerns.

Where to go for admission

Access to Mater Mothers’ Private Redland is via the ground floor of Mater Private Hospital Redland. For your convenience there is a set-down/pick-up area at the front of the building.

If you are in strong labour and too uncomfortable to move from the car or you need immediate assistance, please remain in the car and ask your support person to request urgent assistance at the hospital main reception on the ground floor.

Coping strategies


  • very important, useful in early to mid first stage
  • helps to coordinate uterine contractions
  • saves energy of the mother for the second stage (pushing)
  • spares oxygen for the baby and uterus
  • breaks the panic cycle
  • helps release endorphins and enhance birthing hormones.

Breath awareness

Understand your body’s physiological response to pain and avoid poor breathing responses i.e. breath holding at the peak of the contraction or hyperventilating.

Early first stage—low slow breathing

Start and finish contractions with a deep, cleansing breath then breathe in through your nose and emphasise the out breath—keep it low in your chest and the rate slow. Use a focal point (not a clock) or close your eyes and focus inwardly on breathing.

Active first stage—light upper chest breathing

As the contractions intensify, your body naturally wants to respond to the increased discomfort by breathing faster. To avoid breath holding or hyperventilating, try a faster, shallower and higher in your chest breath or light upper chest breathing. Once the peak of the contraction has passed, try to slow your breathing down, take a longer breath in and gradually aim for low slow breathing. Try to breathe in through your nose for as long as you can as this is your natural humidifier and stops your mouth drying out.


  • Change your position frequently and move about if your labour permits. Keep walking for periods through first stage.
  • Use upright positions to keep the baby off your lumbar spine, sacrum and coccyx therefore minimising your back pain.
  • High side lying position used for comfort to achieve relaxation.
  • Use a chair—straddle a chair and face to the back of the chair with a pillow over the back to lean on for comfort.
  • Use a beanbag—mould beanbag to your shape. Lie across the beanbag, side lying into it, or lean back against it. Always remember to maintain the natural curve of your back.
  • Partner or support person sitting on a chair with the mother leaning into a pillow on his/her lap. This is a good position for a shoulder and neck massage.
  • Pelvic rocking in standing, side lying, sitting or four point kneeling to relieve the worst of back pain.
  • Use heat. At home remember warm baths, showers or a heat pack on your tummy or back. In birth suite ask for a heat pack or enquire whether you may use the bath for warm water immersion.
  • Rocking or circling hips throughout contractions can help ease the pain.
  • Birthing ball—sitting on the ball assists the baby into the correct position and allows you to relax while keeping your trunk upright. You can bounce, rock or circle your hips on the ball with minimal effort; lie across it and fully relax your weight into the ball. In the shower place a towel under your buttocks before sitting on the ball.
  • Adopt positions which you find comfortable and change positions as required—you will be more willing to move towards second stage and adopt more active labour positions.

Positions to avoid

  • lying flat on your back except when instructed by a midwife or obstetrician.
  • adopting one position for the whole of labour.


  • Heel of the hand contact massage over lower back and coccyx and sacrum—remember slow firm circular pressure—helpful for back pain and can be a "counter irritant" as baby moves down through the pelvis.
  • Stroking with firm hands from neck, down either side of the vertebral column and down around the hips. Also, start at the back of the neck and shoulders, apply firm even pressure—stroking across the back of shoulders and down the arms.
  • Heel of hand contact massage or thumb-kneading down muscles of back.
  • Shoulder and neck muscles massage—roll muscles between thumb and fingers being careful not to pinch.
  • Inner thigh massage—firm pressure through the flat of the hand from groin to ankles.
  • Massage thigh and calf muscles.
  • Temple massage.

If you have strong back pain the following techniques may help

  • pelvic rocking
  • heel of hand contact massage
  • heat pack for lower back
  • maintain natural curve of back
  • on all fours takes the weight of your baby off your back. Remember, the discomfort of labour is a positive discomfort and a most rewarding one. Try all the coping strategies you feel comfortable with, but if these are not enough feel happy and confident with any decision you make regarding pain relief.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

TENS stimulates your sensory nerves and this causes your brain to release endorphins which are our body’s own morphine-like hormones. The release of these chemical endorphins eases pain. Pain messages travel along slow pathways to the brain. TENS stimulates faster nerve pathways so that the pleasant messages created by the TENS reach the brain faster and reduce the number of pain messages getting to the brain. This is called the Gate Effect. Imagine when you bump your elbow and to relieve the pain you rub your elbow sending non-painful nicer messages to the brain.

Use of TENS

In labour, TENS is most effective if it is applied as early as possible, once you are reasonably sure you are in labour. Even if you make a mistake and the contractions cease the unit can be turned off, because you have control of the machine.

Mater Hospital’s Physiotherapy Services hire out TENS machines for labour as well as run training sessions on how to use the machine. Sessions are held approximately once a month and bookings are essential. To book into a session, contact Mater Mothers’ Hospital, South Brisbane, via 07 3163 8787.

Pharmacological pain relief in labour

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide is a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen breathed in via a face mask or mouthpiece.


  • acts as a relaxant
  • takes the edge off contractions
  • quick-acting
  • wears off in 15 seconds
  • no known side effects to baby
  • may be given in various doses
  • you are in control.


  • may cause nausea
  • gives the feeling of being "high"
  • may cause difficulty with concentration.

You can commence using nitrous oxide anytime during your labour. It is important that you concentrate on your breathing and relaxation techniques at the same time to get the best use from the gas.


Pethidine is a narcotic drug given via injection into the buttocks.


  • acts as a relaxant
  • allows some rest between contractions
  • takes the edge off contractions
  • promotes relaxation
  • is stronger than nitrous oxide and oxygen.


  • can cause baby’s breathing and heart rate to slow down
  • may cause nausea
  • gives a feeling of being “high”
  • may give a feeling of being disorientated
  • may cause baby to be too sleepy to latch and breastfeed initially
  • disturbs baby’s natural responses to breastfeeding.


Epidural is a local anaesthetic which is given through a thin tube into the space around the spinal cord. This numbs the nerves that supply the uterus, cervix and vagina.


  • usually gives total pain relief
  • promotes relaxation
  • allows complete rest if the labour is long and difficult
  • can decrease high blood pressure
  • does not make you drowsy.


  • confined to bed
  • need an IV drip inserted
  • loss of bladder sensation, need a catheter
  • may slow your labour down
  • may decrease the ability to push
  • increased risk of forceps or vacuum
  • slight chance of headache, infection and paralysis
  • may cause a decrease in baby’s heart rate.

You can ask for an epidural at anytime during active labour. Remember that it may take some time to organise an anaesthetist. It is usually too late to ask for an epidural once you are pushing.

The role of your support person

The role of the support person in labour is an extremely important one. Women who have constant support in labour have been shown to have shorter labours and use less pain relief. The support person role can be physically and emotionally demanding and although there are techniques you can use to help, you are unable to physically remove all the pain. This can be distressing.

How to help

First, help your partner get comfortable during labour. If she wants to stand or kneel or sit or lie on her side, help her do so. Then help her change her position when she needs to. If she is kneeling, she might like a pillow under her knees and ankles. If she is straddling a chair, she might like a pillow across the back of the chair to lean on. If she is standing she might want to lean against you. You might rock with her from side to side. She might want to squat down between your legs and lean against your thighs while you are sitting on a chair.

Some women need to feel loved and touched during labour, while others prefer not to be touched and may retreat. She may push you away one moment, but may want a hug the next. Listen to what she needs and wants from moment to moment. Let her know you’re there for her. Tell her she is wonderful. When labour gets tough, a woman may begin to feel she’s not coping well. It helps her to know that you value the effort she is making and believe in her.

Your partner may be trying to help herself through contractions by keeping her breathing even. If her shoulders become hunched and tense, her breathing may become panicky. You can help by leaning gently on her shoulders so they drop down and her breathing relaxes. She might like you to breathe through contractions with her. Keep eye contact with her and encourage her to copy you: breathe in calmly through your nose and blow out gently through your mouth.

Information is vital to help your partner relax and can help you to relax as well. A woman in labour needs to know her baby is coping well. You can ask the midwife or your obstetrician the questions your partner may not be able to ask herself. Then you can pass the information to her. She may hear and understand what you say better than what the midwife or obstetrician says.

Provide your partner with physical comfort, such as massage, food and drinks. Sips of water in between contractions can help keep her hydrated. Applying a cold wet washer to her forehead can also be refreshing.

Make the room comfortable for her. Dim the lights; play some relaxation music and avoid unwanted distractions, loud noises and unnecessary visitors.

During contractions use the three T’s—touching, talking, timing (and check for tense spots):

  • touching—massage, stroking
  • talking—words of encouragement
  • timing—watch for the start of the next contraction. Remind her to think of one contraction at a time.

Between contractions, make her comfortable by offering

  • sips of drinks or ice chips
  • to wipe her face and neck with a cool cloth
  • a cuddle or loving words.

If she requires pain relief it is her choice so support her in her decision.

Other tips for providing support

  • be positive
  • give her constant reassurance and encouragement
  • fetch and carry for her
  • only talk to her between contractions
  • support her wishes
  • remind her to drink sips of fluid at least every hour and to keep her bladder empty
  • encourage and assist her to change positions.

Remember there are no failures in childbirth and every labour is different. Most importantly as a support person, just be there for her and never underestimate the difference your support will make.

The temperature in the labour ward can vary enormously from being cold to quite hot. Ensure that you have enough clothes that you can put on or take off as you need to. Just as your partner needs food in early labour and lots of drinks as labour progresses, so do you. It is important for you to have regular snacks or meals. You will be better able to support your partner if you are not grouchy or weak from hunger. Good snacks include sandwiches, nuts and raisins, protein bars and fruit juice.

You might need a short time away from your partner now and then. It can be extremely stressful being with someone who is going through the discomfort of labour. If you want to leave the room for a break, do so. Your midwife will care for her until you return or maybe a second support person can fill in.

You need to know and understand what is happening during labour as much as your partner. Ask all the questions you want. Establish a good relationship with your midwife so that she may consult you as well as your partner regarding management of labour.

After your baby is born, talk to someone about what happened during labour and how you felt and feel now. Mothers need to debrief their labours and so do those who support them. Women who gave birth have an easier time finding someone who will listen to them talk about their birth experience than do the people who gave them support. Men who provide labour support may have a hard time finding someone with whom to talk. Try and think of someone you can talk to.

The a-z of coping with labour

Think of as many coping strategies which you and your partner can use to help you throughout labour, i.e. A = aromatherapy—add as many as you can think of.

  • A aromatherapy, acupuncture, antenatal classes
  • B bean bag, breathing, bath, bed
  • C chair, cuddle, change positions
  • D dancing, distraction, dim lights, doula
  • E encouragement, epidural
  • F fan, focusing, face wash
  • G gas, groan
  • H hot packs, hypnosis, hand massage
  • I ice packs, ice chips, informed
  • J jokes
  • K kneeling, kisses
  • L leaning forward, lights, love
  • M music, massage, movement, midwife
  • N napping, no noise, nitrous oxide
  • O obstetrician
  • P positioning, pillows, pain relief
  • Q quiet, questions
  • R relaxation techniques, rocking, reassurance
  • S support, shower, stretching
  • T talking, touch, TENS
  • U understanding, upright position
  • V vocalisation, visualisation
  • W walking, water, whinging
  • X xylophone music—maybe not…
  • Y yoga, yelling
  • Z zone

Birth suite facilities

There are three birthing rooms at Mater Mothers’ Private Redland. These rooms are for women when in active labour, birthing and the initial postnatal period. The following is a list of items in most birthing rooms. If one of the items on this list is not in your room, it may be available depending on demand—just ask for it.

  • bean bag
  • birth ball
  • mat for floor
  • mirror
  • CD player
  • TV
  • electric oil burner
  • shower, toilet.

What to bring to hospital

For labour

  • camera, batteries etc.
  • your choice of CDs
  • massage oil (aromatherapy oils as directed by a qualified aromatherapist)
  • comfortable apparel for labour, if desired e.g. long T-shirt or night dress
  • snacks for support people
  • board Shorts for partner to wear in shower
  • tennis ball to massage back
  • chap-stick for dry lips
  • socks for cold feet
  • several pairs of pants and two packets of maternity sanitary pads
  • warm clothes for partner
  • list of phone numbers.

For after the birth

  • two packets of sanitary pads (super or maternity)
  • toiletries
  • comfortable clothes for daytime
  • sleepwear, light dressing gown
  • maternity bras and nursing pads
  • eight to ten pairs (at least) of briefs
  • small change for incidentals
  • some clothes for the new mother.

For your baby

  • a beanie or hat for immediately after birth
  • one packet of nappies
  • a large packet of baby wipes
  • six warm outfits, size 0000/000 (optional)
  • four size 0000/000 singlets
  • socks, mittens and a hat (well fitting as per safe sleeping guidelines)
  • baby wraps (optional)
  • one outfit and wrap for taking baby home.

Mater Mothers’ Private Redland endorses the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that breastfeeding is the best source of nourishment for newborn babies. However, in keeping with our mission and values, we respect your right to choose how you feed your baby, and will support your decision with guidance and advice.

If you choose to bottle feed, please bring with you one tin of newborn formula, approximately six bottles and six teats and one bottle brush. Mater Mothers’ Private Redland does not routinely supply bottles and teats. Pacifiers for well term babies are discouraged.

What NOT to bring

Please do not bring to hospital any valuable items such as jewellery, rings, or money beyond your immediate needs.

After the birth of your baby

Please read the Mater Mother’s Private Redland booklet, “After the birth of your baby”, that is provided to you after birth. This will provide you with all the information to assist you in your recovery and in caring for you baby.

Being prepared for parenthood

Below are some tips you might find useful if you are experiencing a lack of sleep in the early stages of parenthood:

  • Lower housework standards and sleep instead of clean.
  • Rely on your support person or partner to help with household chores.
  • Accept all the help you can get. Forget about trying to be a "super mum" and let people help you.
  • Concentrate on sleeping, and your baby.
  • Take a nap while your baby is asleep. Don’t use the baby’s nap to catch up on housework or chores.
  • Be extra tolerant towards your support person or partner (and vice versa) and take care of each other (for example massages, warm baths).
  • Take turns being "on call" for your baby.
  • Accept help from family and friends, or organise home help if possible (for example a cleaner or ironing lady).
  • Breastfeed in bed at night and have your partner settle your baby after a feed.
  • Take turns napping in the evening and on weekends.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Try to think ahead about easy-to-prepare meals and snacks.
  • Finish home projects before the birth of your baby.
  • Do not be afraid to say "no" to visitors.
    • Ask to visit them at their homes.
    • Have an answering machine.
    • Screen calls.
  • Keep your baby’s basinet close to the bed for easier night breastfeeding.
  • Arrange to have your support person or partner work half days for a few weeks after the birth, if possible.
  • Go to bed earlier than usual.
  • Be ready for bed before the last feed (if it’s a late feed).
  • Exercise to reenergise—walk with your baby— fresh air does wonders for you both.
  • Post a note on the door that reads "mother and baby asleep" and disconnect the phone when napping.
  • Have family or friends watch your baby while you nap or take a walk.
  • Use relaxation techniques to help ease the lack of sleep.
  • Stay positive.
  • Meditate.
  • Maintain your sense of humour.
  • Be honest—if you are tired, let people know.
  • Keep visits short if possible.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Infancy is short and sweet. Enjoy it!

Support and information

Keep a list of important phone numbers next to the phone for when you need them in a hurry. Include your doctor, local hospital, drug and poisons information lines, police, ambulance, and your mobile phone number for a babysitter when you are out.

Reduce your workload

Try to do some things reduce your workload during the early stages of parenthood. An example may be asking for a housecleaning or nappy service as a baby shower gift. Remember, flowers die!


Individual feeding differences

All babies will develop their own individual feeding pattern. Outlined below are some examples of these patterns. It does not matter which feeding pattern your baby follows. They may follow any of the outlined patterns below at one time or another. Some babies suck more vigorously and get all the milk they need in a short period, others suck more gently and therefore spend a longer time at the breast. For some  mothers, the milk flows very fast, for others, more slowly. All the babies outlined below are successful breast feeders. This is how long they each took to drink the same amount:

  • Georgia sucked for six minutes from one breast, did not want the other breast.
  • Sam sucked for five minutes on each breast then came off.
  • Madison sucked for eighteen minutes on the first breast then lost interest. Was offered the other breast and sucked for three minutes then dozed off.
  • Lucy had fifteen minutes on one breast then dozed off. Nappy changed, sucked for twenty minutes on the other breast, dozed off.
  • David sucked for ten minutes on the first breast and have fifteen minutes on the other. Dozed off.

Many babies seem to feed all evening! Don’t panic. This is simply a way of keeping up a good milk supply. The more your baby feeds from the breast, the more milk you make. Try having a snack and a rest between lunch and tea, and top yourself up rather than the baby!

Positioning your baby at your breast

  1. Take your time. Rushing only causes stress for you and the baby.
  2. To maximise skin-to-skin contact, ensure your breast is free of clothing and your baby is wrapped.
  3. Hold your baby close to you with their chest facing yours.
  4. If necessary, you can support the breast in a ‘C’ hold, with the bulk of your hand underneath the breast, fingers well back from the areola.
  5. Make sure that the baby’s mouth is directly opposite the nipple.
  6. Tease the baby’s mouth with the nipple until their mouth is opened wide – wait until this happens.
  7. Bring the baby to the breast, not the breast to the baby.
  8. Check that as much of the breast is in the baby’s mouth as possible – aim to get all of the areola below the nipple, and most of the areola above the nipple in the baby’s mouth.
  9. Your baby’s chin and cheek should be against the breast with the nose free. It should not be necessary to hold the breast away from your baby’s nose.
  10. Check that your baby’s mouth is wide open with the top lip flared out and bottom lip pressed against their chin.

Nipple damage can be avoided with correct attachment. Please ask for assistance with attachment from your midwife until your feel comfortable. You may wish to feed your baby lying down or tucked under your arm. All of the above principles still apply.

Breastfeeding support

Support, advice, and assistance on breastfeeding following discharge from hospital is available from the Mater Mothers’ Hospital Breastfeeding Support Service, level 7, Mater Mothers’ Hospitals, South Brisbane.

The service is staffed by lactation consultants. Outpatients can ring to book a consultation on 07 3163 8847. Child Health Centres, The Australian Breastfeeding Association and private lactation consultants also provide support within the community. Contact numbers for lactation consultants can be found in the Yellow Pages under Breastfeeding Support Services or from the Australian Lactation Consultants Association brochure available at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals.

24-hour Child Health Information Service: Brisbane 07 3862 2333 (outside Brisbane metropolitan area 1800 177 279)

Australian Breastfeeding Association: 07 3844 8977 or 07 3844 8166.

Work and breastfeeding tips

When you are not at work, breastfeed day and night as your baby requires.

You can express after feeds when you are at home if you require more expressed milk for when you are at work.

Allow time before and after work for a relaxed feed. The more time your baby spends sucking, the more satisfied they will be and the better your milk supply.

While you are at work, express milk for each feed you will miss. The number of feeds you need to express for will depend on the age and needs of your baby and how many hours you are at work.

If extra milk is required, express when your supply is greatest. This is usually first thing in the morning, so express after feeding your baby and prior to leaving for work. When you are on days off breastfeed your baby and express only if you require a stock of breast milk for work days.

Mater Mothers’ Private Redland
Weippin Street, Cleveland Qld 4163

Telephone 07 3163 7444
Facsimile 07 3163 7300

Website www.matermothers.org.au

© 2010 Mater Misericordiae Health Services Brisbane Limited ACN096 708 922.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-430163
Last modified 09/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 28/2/2014
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