Breastfeeding in Public – Is there a debate?

When women breastfeed in public (especially in places where traditionally women weren’t involved) they are reclaiming the public spaces for all mothers and babies. No mothers of young babies should be forced to separate from their baby in order to participate in public life – whether that is helping to govern the country or join their friends in a park or restaurant. If women are forced to separate from their babies in order to be in the public space then that is sex discrimination. Women breastfeeding in public in the UK are protected to do so by the legislation on sex discrimination. Basically women can’t be discriminated against because they have had a baby and need to look after that baby. It can even be argued that actually questioning a woman’s right to breastfeed in public is sex discrimination. This protection for mothers and babies should extend to all mothers and babies for although babies being fed by bottle aren’t directly relying on their mother’s body for food we now know from recent neuroscience research that all babies benefit from being held and are least stressed allowing for maximum brain development and emotional and relational outcomes. In other words all babies are dependent on their mothers body for security, attachment and bonding.

If our public representatives in Northern Ireland truly wish the best for their constituents then they will support all measures that help their youngest constituents reach their full potential including their health and educational potential. In this way they will save the government money in costly interventions later on in the child’s life. If a government wants a well-adjusted, smart workforce then they need to invest in programmes and initiatives that allow mothers and babies to stay together and have the choice to breastfeed. Currently too many women are deprived of the choice to breastfeed because their family, friends, the culture around them and their government representatives just don’t see breastfeeding as worth supporting. Sadly this then extends to the importance of keeping mothers and babies together and supporting mothers to hold and respond to their babies especially in the public space. Keeping mothers and babies together and supporting mothers to breastfeed and breastfeed in public is an investment in the future of our country.

Posted in breastfeeding, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts from a Lactation Consultant abroad – Why foggy brain is a good thing.

During the summer I left the sunny shores of Northern Ireland to spend six and a half weeks in the Canadian Arctic. I had an amazing time and met lots of wonderful people. One experience in particular made me reflect on how we view the importance of relationships and hence the connection of relationship thinking and breastfeeding.

One Sunday I had the privilege of attending an Inuit church picnic. The sun was shining, the smoky tea tasted delicious and the world felt wonderful. At the end of the picnic I had a positive but intense chat to my friend about her work in crime prevention. My husband and I then drove home immediately after the chat and I realised my mood had lowered considerably, despite having such a fabulous time at the picnic and getting on well with my friend. Rightly or wrongly I concluded that at the picnic I was using my right brain and relational thinking which changed to left brain and logical thinking during the conversation with my friend.

So why am I telling you this? As mothers and women we so often talk ourselves down when we talk about the ‘foggy brain’ or worse the ‘cow brain’ of pregnancy or post birth. In reality this is our body’s way of helping us emerge into motherhood. Apparently the blood flow to the right side of a woman’s brain is increased during pregnancy and post birth. Right brained thinking can occur at any stage of our lives. Right-brained thinking is vital to our health as human beings as we need healthy relationships to thrive and survive. We tend to put a high value on logical, left-brained thinking in our culture as paid work keeps us fed and housed. However it is the quality of our relationships that determines the quality of our lives. So a mother’s foggy brain is actually vital to her family’s health and well-being. How can a mother enhance the effect of this increased emphasis by her body on her right brain? Spend time with your baby, hold your baby lots, don’t feel pressured to ‘put your baby down’. Holding your baby is good for your baby too. Look into your baby’s eyes and talk to them. Stroke your baby’s skin and respond to your baby’s cues for comfort. Enjoy the fog of pregnancy and post birth. This fog will eventually clear, but the bonding and attachment to our baby will last for the rest of our lives.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life after a tongue-tie is clipped

Often after a tongue-tie is clipped mum feels there is good improvement. However after the first couple of days the baby appears to go backwards and slips into old habits, mum gets discouraged and may even give up breastfeeding. However something that I think we forget to factor in when a baby learns something new is that the baby’s tongue muscles become tired and ache. If an adult takes up say Pilates, about 48 hours after the exercise they will be sore in the muscles they haven’t used before. But the pain passes and the muscles get better at the new exercise. I suspect that is often what happens with babies after having the frenulum clipped. When they can do something new they feel pain the next day or about 48 hours later and appear to go backwards, but if mum perseveres the baby’s muscles will strengthen and adapt. Mum may have to revert to her old strategies to give the baby’s tongue muscles a bit of a break. Different babies tongues will have been tethered differently and so the muscles will have been affected differently. Some baby’s tongues will have no trouble adapting as all their tongue is now having to work less hard due to the tongue-tie release, whereas other babies will have problems because suddenly now parts of their tongue have work to do, because these muscles had been unable to move before the tongue-tie was clipped. It is thought by many practitioners that it can take up to two weeks to see the full improvement of a tongue-tie release. This is probably happening because the muscles take time to strengthen and adapt, so don’t be discouraged if your baby appears to go backwards after initial improvement. Think of how it must feel for them as they learn to use their tongue in a new way. It can be disheartening for a mum who thought having her babies tongue-tie clipped would solve their feeding problems. Speaking to a board certified lactation consultant can be helpful if you are not seeing the improvement in feeding that you hoped for.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Good Latch?


What a cute baby! Isn’t he gorgeous? But what about the latch? What can we tell from this photo? Actually nothing. So how do we tell if this baby has an effective latch? We ask the mother. As it happens mum is pain free and baby is putting on plenty of weight. However mum could be in pain due to an ineffective latch, a painful skin condition such as thrush or she could be in pain due to an anatomical issue in the baby such as a high palate. Note how this baby’s top lip is not flanged out – that is perfectly normal. What if his top lip was flanged out? Would that be a problem? We don’t know unless we ask the mother. Top lip not flanged out is perfectly fine as is a flanged out top lip. A flanged out top lip can be a sign of a problem, but only if mum is in pain or baby is not putting on weight well. A flanged out top lip can also be due to a full breast or just the way mum and baby fit together. So if you are in pain when breastfeeding and you are told ‘Oh your latch looks perfect’, find someone else to help you with breastfeeding, someone who knows more about breastfeeding eg a breastfeeding counsellor or a lactation consultant, someone who will listen to you. What if a painful latch is due to an anatomical issue, does that mean you will never have a pain free feed? Hopefully not. As babies grow their mouths also grow and some issues become less of a problem with time. Some babies may have a tight lingual frenulum also called a tongue-tie. A tongue-tie is sometimes recommended to be clipped. Also I think of the latch as helping mum and baby fit together better. Some mums and babies will fit together well for breastfeeding whatever position they get themselves into, other mother- baby pairs need to be more careful in how they work together to get a comfortable fit. So if you are in pain look for help from someone who will listen to you and is trained in how to help breastfeeding mothers who are having difficulties.

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick update

Just in case anyone thinks I am not working due to the previous post being over a year ago, I thought I would put up a quick post. Next week I am attending and speaking at the La Leche League of Ireland conference in Maynooth. Link below:
I am still working helping mothers breastfeed. My contact details are on my website.
Thought for the day:- Take time to relax with your baby, talk to them, listen to them as they ‘talk’ back and gaze into their eyes. I love seeing babies gaze adoringly up into their mothers faces.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Natural Remedies for the cold season.

So its the cold and flu season and whatever is a breastfeeding mother to do if she wants to fight an infection and stay off medications – especially as many over the counter remedies seriously reduce milk supply (usually due to containing pseudoephidrine or antihistamines). Also throat lozenges etc containing sage, thyme, parsley or peppermint can reduce milk supply.

The following remedies are basically foods and safe to eat as part of a normal diet – of course use your common sense and if you have allergies or digestive issues be careful. If you are pregnant using high doses of these foods may have risks. To quote Sheila Humprhrey ‘When breastfeeding, always think moderation’.

Lemon juice – good source of vitamin C. Personally I prefer lemon juice to high dose Vit C tablets as lemon is a food and will have extra benefits. Lemon juice is also supposed to be good for fighting a stomach bug.

Ginger – Ginger has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Do not use ginger just after birth or if you are still bleeding after the birth as it can increase blood loss. Do not use if you are anaemic or have gall stones. Check with your Doctor if you are using other medications as ginger can compound and increase the effects of medication being taken. Fresh ginger root is also a galactagogue (increases milk supply). A general dosage of powdered or fresh ginger is 1 to 3 teaspoons per day.

Garlic – Garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. DO NOT give garlic directly to a baby or small child. Babies should only get garlic through their mothers milk.

Garlic can lower blood sugar. Do not combine garlic with anti-coagulants as garlic has blood thinning actions. To quote Hilary Jacobson ‘If you are not used to garlic, take only 1 – 2 cloves per day. These can be chopped, or pressed through a garlic press into any food after it has finished cooking vegetables, rice, grains, pulses, salad sauce, spagetti sauce, or other sauce.’ Personally I would only take 1 clove per day and my family complain even if I do that. I have found 1 clove to be very effective anyway. Again while many babies like garlic flavoured milk it can make some babies fussy (possibly as they find it harder to digest). Also while I have never heard of a nursing strike caused by a mum taking large doses of garlic I suspect it is possible.

Turmeric – is a galactagogue and it is anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Warnings – don’t use if you are on chemotherapy, don’t use the extract curcumin (not tested for breastfeeding), don’t use if pregnant and at risk of miscarriage. Don’t use high doses for long periods. Otherwise ¼ teaspoon turmeric 3 times a day is considered a safe dosage. Adding a small amount of ground black pepper may improve the bio-availability of the turmeric. Personally I like turmeric in spicy lentil soup or on potato although it is best taken before a meal.

Manuka Honey – the highest number you can get or afford should be better value as you will need less – I think this stuff is great. Follow the instructions on the jar. However diabetics may not be able to take it and honey of any kind should never, ever be given to babies under 1 year old.

Herbal remedies can be trickier as mums may view them with the same suspicion as medications. Mind you I never expected to find so many contraindications with the above foods.

Echinacea – seems to be considered safe for breastfeeding mums – do check with a herbalist or your Doctor if you have other health issues though.

Other websites with useful info are :-



Dr Jay Gordon

There is actually quite a lot that a breastfeeding mum can take when fighting off a cold. Everybody is an individual though and everybody will have a preference as to what they like taking, what is available to them where they live and what works for them. Basically natural remedies are very effective, but do see your Doctor if you think an infection is more serious than the cold.


The Nursing Mother’s herbal by Sheila Humphries.

Motherfood by Hilary Jacobson.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Other peoples blogs

This blog by Lisa Hassan Scott is well worth a look.  I love the piece by her guest blogger.

My friend Victoria writes so poetically – I just love her writing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment