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Dr Virginia Thorley, OAM, PhD, IBCLC, FILCA

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant


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Sleepy baby in hot weather

Posted on December 2, 2020 at 12:41 AM Comments comments (42)
Now that extreme hot weather is back in various parts of Australia this week, what I wrote in this blog in January on caring for a baby in hot weather is relevant again. To find that information, just scroll down.
Stay cool.

COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on March 23, 2020 at 11:58 PM Comments comments (141)
Here are some links to reliable information for parents of a breastfeeding child.

COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on March 23, 2020 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)
Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and resultant restrictions on movement in the community, I have made changes to how I am offering my services. Please go to my Homepage and the Contact Us pages on this website for details.  Yes, I am still offering my services and years of experience, but using modes that take into account recommendations for limiting contact. What is paramount is the safety of your precious baby and you.

I shall be adding links to first-class information in the next few days. Meantime, if you live in Australia, I can recommend the regular updates by Dr Norman Swan on the ABC, for reliable information.

Please stay safe.

Sleepy baby in hot weather

Posted on January 5, 2020 at 2:04 AM Comments comments (89)
In very hot weather, if your baby isn't wanting to breastfeed as vigorously as usual, it may be that she is overheated or overdressed.
 Some tips:
- Those new clothes look lovely, but they are holding her body heat in. If you don't have air-conditioning, she is more comfortable if dressed in just a nappy (diaper). Perhaps a very, very thin little cotton top, at most.
- Feeding cues may be less obvious. If your baby is stirring, it helps to sponge her down with a wet face cloth, enough to wet her skin. 
- (Careful! The water from the "cold" tap may actually be hot - as it was at my place the other day - and need cooling down.)  
- About halfway through the feed, perhaps when you usually change sides or change her nappy, she may feel hot from being against your body. So this is another good time to sponge her face, head, chest and back. Chances are, she will feel more comfortable and feed better after that. 
- She may want short feeds more often to keep her fluids up. Your milk gives her the fluid she needs, as well as being food.
- Electric fans are helpful, and if you have an air-conditioner in even one room, this can help keep your baby cool in the hottest part of the day.
- Look at my older posts on this blog for more ideas.
NB. If your baby doesn't wake and feed and becomes lethargic, and her urine (pee) is darker, seek medical advice immediately.

The continuing bushfires emergencies

Posted on January 5, 2020 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (0)
My previous post was written before the current devastation on the firegrounds in East Gippsland, Victoria and nearby areas of NSW, and on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. If you live in these areas, and have faced evacuation by vehicle or sea, the sense of unreality, uncertainty and loss is very raw at the moment. Disorienting.

Don't forget to keep your fluid intake up in the extreme heat and chaos. I expect you will want to hold your babies and children close, a form of comfort for child and adult alike, and a way of feeling safer.

For people in Canberra and other cities and towns that have had weeks of unhealthy air pollution from smoke, this is a difficult time for you, too, and similarly for people who have to be on the road with low visibility. Once again,  the emergency messages on ABC Local Radio are there to help you keep yourselves and families safe.

I'll say again that my heroes are the highly trained volunteer firefighters, who work way beyond the call of duty in uncomfortable and dangerous conditions.  Not one of them is "ordinary".  They are heroes all.

Bushfire emergency

Posted on September 13, 2019 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (2)
Most readers of this blog who live in the current bushfire areas of Queensland and the New South Wales border areas will have received local warnings from the police of emergency services if they need to evacuate, or to be prepared to do so.  If your area has a fire or fires in the area, be sure to keep your radio tuned to ABC Local Radio, which is set up as the national emergency network. Local conditions are regularly updated on air. A tip: Have you got enough batteries? Do you have your phone recharger in your evacuation bag?

You may want to read the other articles on this blog about babies and emergency situations. 

As strong, dry winds and fire are very dehydrating, please also read my blog posts on how to tell if you yourself are getting enough fluid. You may need more. The same applies for other adults and children.

Stay safe.

Online info and support - websites

Posted on June 13, 2019 at 5:07 AM Comments comments (98)
With the  proliferation of websites offering information on many topics, including breastfeeding, I was wondering what sites are currently popular with mothers of new (or not-so-new) babies. If you are a new Mum, what websites do you go to?  Do you go to the well-known ones, such as KellyMom (US based), the (Melbourne) Royal Women's Hospital site, and the ABA site? Do you visit other sites you find helpful? Which ones?

As there is a mix of good and not-so-good advice online, which sites do you find relevant and reliable? What features make you suspect that a site isn't up to scratch - that it isn't for you?

Do you interact with an online mothers' group? Is it local or does it provide fellowship and support across time zones? For instance, if you are up at night with a baby, do you go online to chat with mothers for whom it is daytime?

By the way, on the LINKS page of this website I have posted links to other websites with helpful information on particular topics, for instance, safe sleeping or when to start complementary foods (solids). The links are there as a service to you.

Babies' murmurings at the breast

Posted on April 27, 2019 at 3:06 AM Comments comments (2)
Sometimes mothers wonder about the murmuring sounds the baby is making while breastfeeding. Is this usual, they wonder? 
Many years ago an American radio doctor called Richard Applebaum became interested in the murmuring sounds babies often make while breastfeeding. So he invited mothers from across the US to send him tapes of their babies' sounds. I don't still have his book but, from memory, he ended up with over 2,000 recordings.  Interestingly, some mothers sent recordings of the same baby drinking from a bottle, and remarked that it was only at the breast that these sounds were made.
I offer this information as reassurance to new mothers that this behaviour is normal. The 'how' and 'why' of it I don't know. Why don't babies do this when they are experiencing other oral satisfaction, on a bottle or dummy (pacifier)? Is it related to the unique mechanics of at-breast feeding? Is it more innate than that? Perhaps the reason doesn't matter, but it is lovely that some mothers come to see it as a sign of their baby's pleasure.

The right person, with the right advice, at the right time

Posted on April 13, 2019 at 9:52 PM Comments comments (7)
One of the most consistent experiences a new mother usually has is the sheer inconsistency of advice offered about breastfeeding. Sometimes the difference is because the advice when a baby is a week old is going to be different from when the same baby was only a day or two old when the milk wasn't 'in' and your baby's stomach was smaller. The baby and his needs have changed. Other differences in advice may be because some of the comments offered are just a personal opinion or the person has not kept up to date or is feeling very rushed.

Helpful advice and support for getting breastfeeding established, and continuing it, often depends on getting 'the right advice, from the right person, at the right time'. For me, this was advice by airmail letter from the wonderful Marian Tompson in Chicago, when I was living in a remote area of north-west Queensland, the other side of the world. Bless Marian. She has helped so many mothers.

I'd love to hear from YOU about who helped you with the right advice at the right time. Perhaps you found this crucial advice early on, or perhaps you struggled to find the information and support you needed - until the right person came along or you made contact electronically. So - over to you....

Babies' hands and how they use them - "I've finished my feed".

Posted on April 13, 2019 at 8:12 PM Comments comments (106)
With a first baby, it can seem so hard to tell if your baby has finished feeding or not. I have been asked about this a lot. Certainly the amount of time isn't a reliable indicator, as some feeds will take a shorter or longer time than others - it is normal for the length of a feed to vary through a 24-hour period. Usually, your baby's hands will give you cues about whether she needs to continue the feed or is finished. While there can be exceptions, I have actually found these very rare.

At the beginning of a feed your baby's hands will be bunched up, often tightly into little fists. Anyway, they'll be closed, not open and floppy. As the feed progresses, the hands become more relaxed, often a gradual process. If your baby stops feeding, but stays at the breast, you wonder, 'Is she just taking a break, or is she done?' A few babies may release the breast and go to sleep, but other babies just stay on!

When in doubt, it can help to look at your baby's little hand to see if the fingers have opened up, or to lift her hand gently to see if it is floppy. To give an example, a mother I know found this a useful guide with her first baby. He usually came off the breast and grizzled after a feed, and checking if his hand was floppy helped her to tell if he'd finished the feed and was 'just being him', or it he needed to resume the feed. I often find this cue that a baby's hands give is reassuring to mothers.