Ask an expert: Midwife Alison Brown

Ask an expert: Midwife Alison Brown

A midwife for 17 years, Alison loves working in all areas of midwifery, from the labour ward to the assessment unit. Her general expertise lies in postnatal and antenatal infant care and feeding.

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I’m breastfeeding my baby, who’s five months old, and we’re going on holiday to Italy in August. How careful do we still need to be about sterilising everything while away?

Your baby’s immune system is still developing and current recommendations suggest that you should continue to sterilise all your baby’s feeding equipment until they are about a year old. So I would recommend that you continue to sterilise your equipment as you do now. Traditional sterilisers can take up quite a lot of room in your suitcase though, so have a look at ‘sterilising bags’ which are widely available. As you are breastfeeding there shouldn’t be too much that needs sterilising, but remember to look after yourself, keep well hydrated and eat well.

{I am seven months pregnant and my baby seems overly active all the time. There is kicking and activity all day and night, to the point where I get hardly any sleep. Does this mean my child will be hyperactive and am I eating the wrong things to cause this excessive movement?

All babies are different and some will move a lot more than others. We no longer ask mums to keep a kick chart or tell them that they should feel at least ten kicks per day as this did not take into consideration the individuality of each baby.

Instead, we now encourage mums to become familiar with their baby’s pattern of movement and what is normal for them. Any change to your baby’s pattern of movement, especially a slowing down, should be reported as soon as possible to your midwife or hospital. There is no evidence to suggest any particular food causes hyperactivity in unborn babies, although having a healthy, well balanced diet and reducing or cutting out any caffeine intake could be beneficial.

I suffer from terrible headaches, but don’t want to take painkillers while breastfeeding. Any suggestions?

If headaches are brought on by breastfeeding, they could be due to hormones it releases, therefore difficult to prevent. Ensure you are looking after yourself – eating healthily, staying hydrated and taking vitamin D. There’s information on drugs and breastfeeding at breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk, as well as a helpline. But hopefully things will get better as time goes on and your breastfeeding becomes established. If the headaches are not necessarily brought on by breastfeeding, or are getting worse, I’d recommend you consult your GP.

I’m four months pregnant and recently had some spotting. My midwife told me to rest and take it easy. Is spotting at this stage nothing to worry about or could it be a sign that something is seriously wrong?

If you experience any bleeding at any stage in pregnancy then you should seek advice from your midwife or GP, as you have done. Bleeding in pregnancy is very common – about one in five pregnant women will experience bleeding at some point. There are many reasons why bleeding/spotting occurs, but often the reason cannot be identified and the pregnancy continues as normal. If the bleeding/spotting occurs again, or if you are still worried, then go back and seek advice from your midwife or GP.

I’m five months pregnant and last week I fell over while out shopping. I got checked over by my midwife, but I’m worried I may have damaged my baby. Is this likely?

Many women fall during pregnancy. It’s due to the fact that your centre of gravity (balance) changes to accommodate the growing baby and the increasing weight gain as the pregnancy progresses. Be reassured that inside you, your baby is well protected. The amniotic fluid which surrounds your baby helps to absorb the shock of a fall should it occur. You did the right thing by getting checked over by your midwife. If she had been concerned in any way she would have referred you to the hospital. Your baby will also tell you he/she is fine by keeping to their regular pattern of movement – if you notice any change to this pattern then contact your midwife again.

Having found I’m pregnant for the first time, antenatal classes seem like a good idea, but the thought of meeting a bunch of strangers fills me with dread. What will I gain from going?

Antenatal classes are a fantastic way of helping you to prepare for the birth of your baby and what to expect in the early weeks of parenthood. The advice and support you’ll receive at these classes will give you information about the choices you have, as well as a chance to ask your own specific questions. Traditionally, classes have been delivered in a group format, but these days it is possible to find classes, both private and NHS, that will cater for your specific needs and many do one-to-one sessions if this suits you better. Whichever group you choose, be sure to book early as they are all very popular. Speak with your midwife to see what is available in your area.

Alison Brown has been a midwife for 17 years. She loves working in all areas of midwifery, from the labour ward to the assessment unit. Her expertise lies in postnatal and antenatal infant care and feeding. 

If you'd like to ask Alison Brown a pregnancy or birth question, please email below. Not all your questions can always be answered but we will try to look at as many as possible.

[email protected]

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