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    Perinatal anxiety and depression is a serious and common illness. Up to one in five expecting or new mothers and one in ten expecting or new fathers will experience it. The illness affects around 100,000 families across Australia every year.

    Left untreated, perinatal anxiety and depression can have a devastating impact on parents, partners, baby and the rest of the family. In the worst cases, lives can even be put at risk.

    To help raise awareness of the issue, 11-17 November has been designated as Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week.

    More than general ups and downs
    Being pregnant or becoming a new parent can be both exciting and challenging. Having a degree of trouble adjusting to the changes that come with impending parenthood or the arrival of a new baby is natural.

    Feeling a little ‘teary’, anxious or irritable for a few days in the weeks after the birth – often referred to as the ‘baby blues’ – is common, however, when a low mood or feelings of anxiousness start to cause concerns or stop an expecting or new parent from functioning normally for more than two weeks, they may be experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression.

    What does perinatal mean?
    The term ‘perinatal’ refers to the period from the conception of a child through to the first year after birth.

    ‘Antenatal’ refers to the pregnancy period. ‘Postnatal’ refers to the first year after birth.

    What’s the difference between anxiety and depression?
    In general terms anxiety refers to an aroused mood – panic, agitation, frustration or anger.

    Depression is often associated with low mood, sadness, hopelessness or withdrawal.

    Many expecting and new parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time.

    Talking about it
    Perinatal anxiety and depression is a serious health condition. It can affect any new or expecting parent and does not discriminate. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but many new mums and dads find it hard to talk about it.

    Expecting and new parents telling others about their struggles, or admitting they need help and seeking treatment or advice is not a sign of weakness. It shows that they want the best for themselves and their family.

    Recognising perinatal anxiety and depression
    Perinatal anxiety and depression can be difficult to recognise for a whole range of reasons. Symptoms are often dismissed as normal parts of pregnancy or early parenthood. Shame and stigma can lead to a ‘mask of coping’. Symptoms can look different for each person.

    Signs may include:

    • Feeling sad, low, or crying for no obvious reason
    • Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of your baby
    • Being nervous, ‘on edge’, or panicky
    • Being easily annoyed or irritated
    • Withdrawing from friends and family
    • Difficulties sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping
    • Abrupt mood swings
    • Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
    • Physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, lack of appetite
    • Having little or no interest in the things that normally bring you joy
    • Fear of being alone or with others
    • Finding it difficult to focus, concentrate or remember
    • Increased alcohol or drug use
    • Panic attacks (racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’ from your surroundings)
    • Developing obsessive or compulsive behaviours
    • Thoughts of death, suicide or harming your baby.

    There are also many other symptoms not listed here. If you or someone close to you experiences any symptoms or feelings that worry you for two weeks or more, please seek support.

    Postnatal psychosis
    Postnatal psychosis is a rare but serious illness that affects one to two new mums in every 1000 and can put both mother and baby at risk. It almost always requires hospital admission. The symptoms often arrive suddenly and can include extreme mood swings, significant behaviour changes and loss of touch with reality.

    If you suspect a new mum you know may have postnatal psychosis, you can:

    • take her to a doctor
    • take her to the nearest hospital emergency department
    • call PANDA’s National Helpline – 1300 726 306

    Where to seek help for perinatal anxiety and depression
    We know that everyone experiences postnatal anxiety and depression differently. The best way for people who are struggling to start feeling better will depend on their own experience – what their symptoms are and how strongly they feel them.

    What we do know is that the sooner people seek support, the sooner they can start feeling better.

    It’s important for expecting and new parents who are worried about their emotional and mental wellbeing to seek support. They can speak with a trusted health professional such as a doctor or family health nurse, or call PANDA’s free National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline.

    PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline 1300 726 306 9am – 7.30pm Mon – Fri (AEST/AEDT)

    There is also important and up-to-date information about perinatal anxiety and depression and postnatal psychosis on PANDA’s websites:




    Returning to work after having a baby can be challenging enough without having to contend with the difficulties of pumping in the work place. I remember my experiences having to find a vacant meeting room that had enough obscurity to allow me to pump. The experience was never comfortable, either worrying someone would walk in at any moment or conscious of the whirring noise of the pump being audible from the meeting room. It was either that or my other option was to sit in my car in the staff car park trying to avoid the glances of passing by co-workers. It’s disappointing that a stigma still surrounds breastfeeding in the workplace, as reported in this article.

    What are your experiences of pumping in the workplace and ideas for how pumping can be more accessible in the workplace?




    Did you know that pumpkin can actually be good for breastfeeding? It's true: Everybody's favourite spooky squash has been shown to boost milk production in nursing mums. So why not take advantage of this little known fact and indulge in everything pumpkin? 'Tis the season, after all.

    So why are pumpkins good for breastfeeding?

    If you're a nursing or soon-to-be nursing mum, you probably know what the word galactagogue means — but just in case you don't, a galactagogue is something that promotes or increases your breast milk supply. And guess what food falls into the galactagogue category? Yep, pumpkin. As reported by The Digestible, a blog run by San Francisco State University's Nutrition and Dietetics program, pumpkin has been linked to an increase in milk production for nursing mums. Even pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) can be a beneficial addition to the average breastfeeding mum's diet. Pumpkin seeds are also high in fibre and iron (important for nerve and brain cell development), with 28 grams of pumpkin seeds meeting half of the daily recommendation of iron for nursing mums.

    Recent studies also point to the importance of having adequate zinc levels in your breast milk for healthy lactation. Why do babies need zinc? Firstly, zinc supports a healthy immune system and protects against common colds and infections. Zinc is great for baby's skin. It also aids in brain development. Zinc allows a baby's body to absorb other vital nutrients as well. Zinc can't be stored, so it is important that we keep eating it regularly to maintain our zinc levels.

    Luckily, roasted pumpkin seeds are a quick and delicious way to make sure you're getting enough zinc in yours and baby's diet.

    Here’s a great recipe for those who want some spice in life.

    What You Need:

    • 1 ½ cups raw pumpkin seeds
    • 2-3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • A pinch of garlic salt
    • 1 tbsp butter
    • Salt to taste
    How To Make:
    Preheat the oven to 140 degrees C.
    Mix all the ingredients well and place them well in a shallow baking dish.
    Bake for an hour or till done.




    Breastfeeding is amazing in so many ways. From the intense bond it can help you form with your baby in the first hours after birth, to the benefits it has on your baby’s health even into adulthood, there’s a reason breast milk is called “liquid gold.”

    So, whether you’re on the fence about breastfeeding, need to remember why you started in the first place, or just want to feel good about your decision, we wanted to share 14 fascinating facts about breastfeeding and breast milk to keep you motivated.

    1. Breastfeeding burns between 500-600 calories a day. That means some mums might end up losing weight without any additional exercise.
    2. Breast milk is a living substance that contains live cells, including stem cells, which go on to become other body cell types like brain, heart, kidney, or bone tissue.
    3. Breast milk also contains antibodies and live white blood cells that help your baby fight against infection. And, when you or your baby are sick, the amount of these cells in your breast milk increases.
    4. Colostrum (your first milk) contains special proteins that coat your baby’s intestinal tract to protect from harmful bacteria right from the start.
    5. Your brain releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin during breastfeeding, which help you to bond with baby and ease those normal feelings of stress and anxiety.
    6. The smell and taste of your breast milk changes depending on the foods you eat. Exposing your little one to more flavours during breastfeeding can lead them to be less picky eaters once you begin introducing solids.
    7. And when your baby does start eating solids, you can use breast milk to replace cow’s milk in recipes.
    8. Breast milk is not always white. It can be blue, green, yellow (ahem- gold!), pink, or orange depending what you eat or drink. Don’t worry, it’s OK for baby.
    9. The amount of breast milk you are able to produce has nothing to do with your breast size. A mum with small breasts can have just as much (or more!) milk-making tissue as a mum with large breasts.
    10. Your breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your growing baby. From month-to-month, throughout the week, day-to-day, and even throughout a single feeding.
    11. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and postpartum depression. And, the longer a woman breastfeeds in her lifetime, the more protection she receives.
    12. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of common childhood illnesses, including ear infections, respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, and Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
    13. Mums of preemies have breast milk with more protein, fat, and other minerals for bone and brain growth as well as the most protective factors to prevent illness and infection.
    14. Premature babies fed more breast milk in the first 28 days of life have better brain development by the time their original birth date arrives, and see benefits to IQ and memory skills later in childhood.

    This article was first published by Medela


    Breastfeeding Newborns


    There are many words to describe those first few days after the birth of a baby. Exhilarating, emotional, joyous, exhausting, exciting, overwhelming. There are ups and there are downs. There are moments of incredible peace and joy. There are moments of great stress and anxiety.

    One of the main focuses of these first few days — and the cause of many of the emotions that go with it — is feeding your newborn.

    You may have read up on things you should know about breastfeeding while you were pregnant, but there’s still a whole lot to learn now that your baby is in your arms. It is also suddenly very real! You are now in charge of a tiny human being who relies on you completely. Whoa. Breathe …

    So what is breastfeeding going to be like in these next few days? What questions should you ask health care providers? What can you do straight away to help establish a good supply of breastmilk and successful breastfeeding in the future? And what are the common concerns among new mothers when they start breastfeeding?

    5 things to know about breastfeeding in the first few days:

    The first feeds and colostrum
    In most circumstances you will have fed your baby straight after birth. A newborn usually will seek out their mother’s breast if placed skin-to-skin straight after birth. Breastfeeding helps your uterus contract back into shape and the delivery of the placenta is what triggers your milk to come.

    The milk doesn’t usually come until day 2-3 and until that time your baby gets all the nutrients they need from colostrum, which is sticky, yellow-ish, slow-flowing and nutrient-dense. Your baby only needs a small amount of colostrum to fill their tiny belly and it gives you and the baby some time to practice attachment and positioning before all that milk comes flowing in!

    If you weren’t able to breastfeed your baby straight after birth it isn’t too late for skin-to-skin contact –there’s many advantages to this (for mum, baby and dad too!) and it can help to establish breastfeeding.

    How to know when baby is hungry?
    There are a few signs to watch for that will help you to know when your baby is hungry. It is best to watch for these signs before a baby becomes too hungry — as then they will be upset and unsettled, which means you’ll have to settle your crying baby before you feed them.

    Breastfeeding is easiest when a baby is hungry but still calm. Some of the early telltale signs are:
    • Baby’s mouth opens
    • Baby turns their head to the side, as if looking for your breast
    • Baby starts to move more
    • Baby might make sucking noises or suck on their fingers or fist

    How often should you feed your newborn baby?
    Newborns have small bellies and breastmilk is quickly and easily digested. This means they’ll need frequent feeds. Start to watch for the early signs that your baby is hungry and feed your baby when they are hungry.

    It is common for a new baby to have between 8-12 feeds in 24 hours and each may last up to an hour.

    Breastfeeding is about supply and demand so offering frequent feeds when your baby is hungry will send the right signals to your body so that it can produce the right amount of breastmilk for your baby. When you’re asked how long it has been since your baby’s last feed you count from when the feed started, not when it finished.

    All this feeding can be overwhelming at first. Sometimes it feels as though you’ve only just finished a feed and baby is already looking for another. Don’t fret. It is normal and beneficial in establishing a good supply — and it won’t last forever.

    Make sure you stay hydrated and rest between feeds.

    Attaching your baby to the breast – the correct latch technique
    It is difficult to explain correct attachment in words so it is important that you talk to midwives and lactation consultants when you can — while you’re in hospital or having home visits.

    An incorrect latch will mostly likely result in painful cracked or grazed nipples and your baby may not be able to drain the breast properly, which could lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis.

    Signs of a well-attached breastfeeding baby:
    • the baby is help close to the mother’s body and facing the mother’s body
    • the baby’s mouth is open wide when attaching
    • the baby draws in nipple and areola
    • baby’s lips are curled outwards
    • baby’s chin is touching the breast and perhaps the tip of the nose (baby’s nose should not be squashed up against the breast)

    If your baby isn’t latching on properly make sure you take baby off the breast and try again. A trick to do this is to use your finger to push onto the nipple, near the baby’s mouth, to break the suction seal before removing the baby. If you feed when baby is poorly attached it will become painful. Sometimes there will be pain even when baby is attaching properly — this is just your nipples becoming used to the extra friction — but this should disappear if baby continues to attach well.

    Please remember to ask for advice from midwives and lactation consultants at each feed — the more tips the better, until you find something that works for you. Also ask them to show you a variety of ways to hold your baby when breastfeeding as a change in position can help cracked nipples to heal.

    When your milk comes in — and engorgement
    For many new mums it is quite obvious when their milk does come in! All of a sudden your breasts are full, so full you may not be able to roll over in bed! It can take up to six weeks before your body has worked out how much milk is the right amount for you to produce. Until then — and especially in the very early days — your breasts will often feel engorged.

    Here are some tips for when your milk comes in and dealing with engorgement:
    Keep feeding your baby when hungry, rather than to a strict feeding schedule.

    As you feed your baby walk your fingers across the top of the breast you’re feeding from. This mini-massage will help your breast to drain, will help you get to know what your breast should feel like and will help you to spot small lumps (potential blocked ducts) and massage them away.

    Sometimes a breast will be so engorged that your nipple is too tight for baby to attach properly. Try to hand express a small amount of milk from the breast so the nipple become soft again.

    You may need to express a small amount of breastmilk to relieve some of the pressure of engorgement. Remember that your body can’t tell if the milk goes into a breast pump or into your baby’s belly so it will assume that you need that milk and will respond by producing more milk so only express enough to make yourself comfortable.

    Make sure your baby is draining your breast properly. Have them drain one before offering the second and make sure they are attached properly as this will also help the breast to drain. If your baby doesn’t drink from the second for long, make sure you start on that side at the next feed. There are a few tricks to remember which side you’re up to (try a hairband or bracelet around that wrist! There’s even apps to help you remember!)

    You may need to wake your baby for a feed — especially in those first days if you’ve got a sleepy newborn (or one with a condition such as jaundice or low blood sugar). This will help to relieve engorgement. You might need gently stroke, or slightly tickle, a small baby to stop them nodding off mid-feed or take off a few layers of clothing so they’re not super warm and cosy (but not too many that they are cold either, of course).

    Some common early breastfeeding concerns
    It is hard not to feel anxious about breastfeeding at some point. It is all new to you and it can all be quite overwhelming at times. Make sure you ask as many questions as you can while you’re receiving help — in hospital or during home visits.

    If you aren’t receiving home visits find a midwife, lactation consultant or child health clinic nearby.

    Some common early breastfeeding concerns are:

    Sore nipples
    If you’ve had early latch issues (combined with all that extra friction on your nipples) you’re bound to be in some pain when feeding. You can take paracetamol while breastfeeding (take it 40 minutes before for it to have any affect) and you can also find creams, nipple shields or soothing breastpads in most chemists.

    Ask your midwife to show you some different feeding positions, as the change in position will stop the constant friction in the one spot and will help you to heal.
    Don’t wash nipples with soap as this irritates them further. Rub breastmilk on them after feeds and allow them to air dry if you can.

    If feeding your baby is far too painful to continue you can keep your supply up by using a breast pump and feeding expressed breast milk to your baby until you heal.

    Concerns about supply
    Many mothers worry that they’re not making enough milk for their baby. Remember that in the early days you’re making colostrum and baby only needs a small amount. Some mother’s try to use a breast pump to see if there’s enough milk but pumps aren’t as efficient as a baby’s suck and will not give an accurate idea of how much milk is there.

    Be assured that if your baby is having plenty of wet nappies they are getting enough.

    Also, if you’re used to feeling engorged and your breasts don’t seem as swollen any more it is usually a sign that your body is getting better at producing the right amount of breastmilk.

    The best way to build your supply is to feed when your baby is hungry (watch your baby not the clock). Breastfeeding works by supply and demand, so your body needs to know how much milk your baby drinks in order to produce the right amount.

    Remember also that all babies will lose up to 10 per cent of their birth weight in the first few days and then will begin to put on weight.

    However, if your baby isn’t putting on weight or having enough wet nappies, you should talk to your health care professional immediately.

    Conflicting advice, lack of support and zero confidence
    A lot of mums become confused and frustrated by the large amount of advice (sometimes conflicting advice) coming their way. The key is to learn as much as you can from trusted sources (midwives or lactation consultants or friends who have breastfed their own babies) then use that information as a base to filter all other advice and to find what works for you and your baby.

    From well-meaning relatives to random people in supermarkets — advice will be as fast-flowing as your breastmilk on letdown! And it won’t just be about breastfeeding — you might need to work on your ‘polite smile’ because becoming a parent suddenly opens you up to a whole new world of advice and sometimes judgement.

    Ask the right people for advice, do your own research so that you’re well informed about what is normal (the range of ‘normal’ when it comes to breastfeeding is surprising large), surround yourself with supportive friends and family, watch your baby and learn from them, and have confidence in your ability to be a parent.

    It’s just not working out
    Sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t go as planned. Most women intend on breastfeeding but for many reasons things don’t always work out. If things aren’t going well, remember to ask advice and look for support. There are many issues that can be resolved, especially if they are addressed quickly, with good advice and loads of support.

    Some mothers feel guilty or feel a sense of loss if they’re unable to continue to breastfeed their baby. These are normal emotions and you should be kind to yourself during this time. It is OK to feel this way but remember that you did your best and every drop of breast milk your baby received benefited them.

    Feeding your baby is just one aspect of parenting — although it feels all-consuming when they are newborns. What is also very important is that you’re looking after yourself and that you’re a healthy happy mother.

    If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding contact your health care professional.

    This article was first published on bubhub, compiled using information from the Australian Breastfeeding Association.