Questions a new mum frequently asks

Health Professionals meet people from all walks of life in a variety of personal circumstances and they all have questions about themselves and their baby.

My job is to build their trust so they feel able to ask me any question they may have.  Here are questions I am regularly asked.

How accurate is the due date I have been given?

The due date is worked out by calculating 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. A dating scan performed before 13 weeks is considered accurate so is used to confirm or move the due date. Only 5% of babies are born on their actual due date. Most babies arrive between 37 and 42 weeks. Try to use your due date as a guide. Your midwife and doctor will monitor the health of you and your baby throughout the pregnancy and hopefully the baby will be born when ready, near the due date.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk at a feed?

For your breakfast you may have a cooked meal, the next day a bowl of cereal, the next a piece of fruit. You eat according to your hunger and do not eat the same amount of food at each meal. Your baby is the same. You can help your baby by monitor the following:
• Is there is an effective sucking pattern with audible swallows? Is your baby transferring milk? Your midwife will help you to check this at the beginning.
• Check for increasing amounts of pees and lots of poos. A good output means there has been a good input! There may only be 1 pee in first 24 hours, 2 in next 24 hours increasing to 5 pees by day 5 when your milk should be in. Expect lots of poos when your baby is first born, settling to at least 1 poo a day but usually more!
• The baby should settle and sleep between feeds (is not constantly crying), and wake for feeds (is not hibernating). The baby feeds on average 6-8 times in 24 hours.
• The baby doesn’t lose more than 10% of birth weight and when back to birth weight (this usually takes 2 weeks) should gain an average of 30g per 24 hours until they double the birth weight at about 4 months.

Is there any food I should avoid eating while I am breastfeeding?

During pregnancy, there are many foods you cannot eat as they may harm your baby, eg unpasteurised cheese. The bacteria does not cross into the breast milk so it is safe to eat food that was not safe in pregnancy including sushi. Your large intestine digests food and makes gas but this gas does not pass into your breast milk. The nutrients from the food you eat go into the breast milk and the baby then digests this food and may create its own gas. So the answer is eat everything in moderation and if your baby becomes unsettled work out if you ate a new food. Avoid this new food for 48 hours and then reintroduce this food. If the baby is unsettled again, then consider avoiding this food while breastfeeding. It is unnecessary to avoid food that someone else suggests makes babies gassy. If your baby remains unsettled, see your doctor or a lactation consultant who can investigate with you the best action to take.

How soon after I have my baby can I start exercising again?

It is important to let your body recover from the effects of the pregnancy hormones before you start any high impact exercise including jogging.  Your tummy muscles (rectus abdominus), that run from your rib cage to your pelvis), stretch and divide to make way for the growing baby. After the birth they need to come back together and the wrong exercise too early can cause them to stay divided. Walking, pelvic floor exercises, pelvic tilts and transversus activation can be commenced immediately but it is best to wait for your 6 week tummy muscle check before doing anything else. Then, if the tummy muscles have come together, you can start swimming, postnatal Pilates and postnatal yoga. It is very important to avoid any exercises that increase the intra abdominal pressure (eg sit ups) until the tummy muscles have firmly healed. At 3 months, you then can start the more high impact exercises including jogging as, until this time, there are high levels of the relaxin hormone in the body.

Beth Graham
Lactation Consultant

Beth Graham has been a midwife for 19 years and a lactation consultant for 8 years. She currently works in private practice in London and the surrounding area. Her passion is to help families develop their confidence looking after and feeding their new baby. She helps find a feeding strategy and approach to parenting that is realistic and right for each family, leaving them feeling empowered by the choices they make and able to enjoy life with a new baby. For individual advice you can contact Beth direct at:
Speak to me on 0800 063 1532
Consultations priced from £15 for 10 minutes