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By: Jo Gilpin

Brilliant Breastfeeding

A Sensible Guide

‘Brilliant Breastfeeding’ is a complete collection of the most sensible, evidenced-based and up-to-date breastfeeding information available at this time. It is for parents, future parents, grandparents and other close supports, to become familiar with what breastfeeding babies entails.

* Paperback and eBook versions for Australian and International Readers

Common questions about breastfeeding your baby

I think I am getting Mastitis. What shall I do?

If you have a sore and red area on one or both breasts; if you don’t feel well (as if you are getting the flu) and maybe have an elevated temperature, this may well be the case.

Mastitis is usually caused by a blockage which results in milk being banked up behind in breast tissue making the area sore and inflamed.

Prompt action is necessary to avoid full blown mastitis requiring a Doctor’s appointment and probable antibiotics.

Most importantly, keep breastfeeding starting on the sore side first to discourage milk banking up. If possible, have baby’s chin pointing to the red or sore patch as this helps to drain that particular part of the breast. You may be able to very gently massage the area as well. A warm compress (heat pack) before feeds is soothing and helps milk to flow.

A Doctor’s appointment could be made in advance (12 hours) and then cancelled if symptoms subside (which is often the case).

Get as much rest as you possibly can.

Other points to consider…

  • Look for causes
  • double check that baby’s attachment to breast for feeding is optimal
  • bras are not too tight
  • for the temporary time you are starting on the sore side for breastfeeds, take care that the other breast is not getting too full (which could cause similar problems)

Refer to pages 122 – 126 in Brilliant Breastfeeding Book

How long can I store my expressed breastmilk?

Freshly expressed breastmilk in a closed container.

  • 6-8 hours at 26 degrees C or lower. Store in fridge if available.
  • 3 days in fridge (store at back of fridge where it is coldest)
  • 3 months in freezer section of fridge (-18 degrees C)
  • 6-12 months in deep freeze (-20 degrees C)


Previously frozen milk, thawed in fridge but not warmed.

  • 4 hours or less i.e. the next feed
  • 24 hours stored in fridge
  • Don’t refreeze


Breastmilk thawed outside fridge in warm water for completion of feeding.

  • Hold for 4 hours or until next feeding
  • Don’t refreeze


Baby has begun feed of expressed breastmilk

  • Only for completion of feed
  • Discard

Refer to ‘collection of breastmilk and storage chart’ on pages 188 – 190 in Brilliant Breastfeeding Book

I have very small breasts. Can I still breastfeed?

Yes. Breast size has very little to do with breast production; it’s the changes in your breasts in early pregnancy as glandular tissue develops that make it possible for milk to be produced. (One of the first signs of pregnancy is sore breasts resulting from glandular tissue growth). It is rare that breasts have not enough glandular tissue (Insufficient Glandular tissue – IGT) to produce ample milk to meet baby’s needs.

In the rare cases of IGT, there usually are a few signs that suggest a risk of problems with milk production.
These are:

  • Lack of breast changes in pregnancy and after baby is born
  • More than 4 cms of flat area between breasts
  • Uneven breasts e.g. one larger than the other
  • Tubular shaped breasts

For these few mothers, if help and support is offered early, there are ways to maximise milk production and the mother and baby breastfeeding relationship.

If you feel you have concerns regarding IGT, it is a very good idea to discuss with a breastfeeding professional such as a Lactation Consultant before baby is born, so that if necessary, support is immediate after baby’s birth for breastfeeding goals to be achieved.

How often should I feed my baby?

As the days after birth become weeks, you may wonder how often to feed your baby. Generally, the simple answer is to follow your baby’s cues, or signals. Your baby will let you know by being awake and alert two or three hours after the last feed. Subtle hungry signs might be baby squirming, wriggling, stretching and ‘mouthing’ as if looking for the breast or sucking a fist. You may feel confused when listening to others speak about how often and when to feed, and be tempted to compare. As time goes on, however it will become clearer to you what your baby does to let you know he is ready for a feed. Just by watching your baby, listening to his noises and movements, you will become more attuned to what he needs. Building up to a cry, although unavoidable at times, is often a late hungry sign.

Every mother and baby team is unique. A mother’s storage capacity in her breasts can play a part in how often her baby feeds. Some breasts hold larger amounts of milk and babies get used to having bigger meals and so may not need to feed as often. Other breasts hold smaller amounts, so babies may feed more frequently. It doesn’t matter what size your breasts are, or how much they hold, there is always an adequate supply of milk that will be taken in different time intervals if you follow your baby’s hungry signs. Every mother and baby will develop their own pattern that best suits them, often changing from day to day and week to week. There is such a wide variation in what is ‘normal’. It is a great asset to you and your baby to be as relaxed as possible about how often your baby feeds. In fact, some parents don’t even think about ‘how often’, they just follow their baby’s hungry signs or needs, which usually become more and more clear as time passes.

One of the most wonderful aspects of breastfeeding is that the breasts are like magic pudding in Norman Lindsay’s children’s book. The more milk that is taken, the more is made. This is subject, of course, to the milk being taken in the right way. That is, baby is attaching correctly and suckling frequently enough. Baby suckling on your breast is the main stimulation for your milk production.

In the very early weeks it is a good idea to encourage fairly frequent feeds; for example, every two or three hours during the day and two or three feeds over night. This gives you and your baby lots of practice at attaching well and helps your milk supply to establish and settle to meet baby’s needs. A young baby typically averages eight to twelve feeds in twenty-four hours. Frequent feedings also help your baby put on weight, which in turn gives you added confidence. As baby grows, an individual pattern of feeding evolves that suits both mother and baby. Feeds often become very quick as baby becomes particularly clever at his pleasurable suckling task.

Refer to pages 75, 82 – 84 in Brilliant Breastfeeding Book

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