Mother and Baby

Wednesday Lunch Club Q+A With Midwife Eleanor May-Johnson

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with midwife Eleanor May-Johnson? Don’t worry, you can read all of the expert advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your parenting questions from a top expert. This week, midwife Eleanor May-Johnson was on standby to answer questions.

Eleanor trained at Bournemouth University and has been a midwife for over 10 years, practising within both the NHS and independent sectors.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

My first child was bottle fed and now I want to breastfeed my baby that I'm pregnant with. What help can you give for making sure my baby latches on when she's born?

Most maternity providers book women for their maternity care at around eight to 10 weeks of pregnancy

Eleanor May-Johnson: I would really encourage you to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after she is born. Babies are born alert and eager to interact with their mother.

Once your baby starts to nuzzle and look like she is ready to breastfeed (normally within the first hour) then help her up to the breast. If you can get your baby to breastfeed in the first hour or two after the birth, you will set her up with a good 'imprint' for future feeds.

Make sure you get support with feeding from the midwife who is caring for you. Often, in busy hospitals, babies are bundled up and placed in a cot, when they should be with their mother feeding. They then end up sucking their hands and eventually fall asleep, thus missing this 'magic window' when babies are keen and eager to feed.

Good positioning and a good latch are important too. I would encourage you to attend a breastfeeding workshop prior to the birth to give you some skills in helping to know that your baby has latched on effectively. The National Childbirth Trust run breastfeeding classes as do a lot of NHS Trusts. Ask your midwife for details of breastfeeding groups in your area.

I'm 24 weeks pregnant and have really bad swollen ankles which is uncomfortable to say the least! Any suggestions on what I can do? My GP says it isn't pre-eclampsia which is a relief but is there anything I can do at home to make it go down?

Eleanor May-Johnson: Swelling is a very common problem in pregnancy. Approximately 70 per cent of women experience some form of swelling while pregnant. You can encourage the fluid to move up out of your legs towards the rest of your circulatory system by elevating them as much as possible (higher than your heart if you can).

You can also do some ankle exercises to promote good blood flow, which will carry some of the fluid away – with each foot/ankle 'draw' the alphabet, it takes a while to do, which means you get a good workout. I would also encourage you to not stand for too long, to eat plenty of protein and to drink plenty of water too.

I've just found out I'm pregnant. When do I need to see the doctor / midwife? This is my first pregnancy and I don't have a clue!

Eleanor May-Johnson: Congratulations! You have a couple of choices, you can either make an appointment with your GP, who will probably give you some information about pregnancy and how to contact a midwife (or local maternity hospital), or you can contact a midwife direct.

Depending on where you live will depend on how you access maternity services, a lot of maternity hospitals have a direct referral system on their website where you can fill in a form and a midwife will contact you, others require you to go to your GP.

You also have the option of private maternity care (if you can afford it) – in London there are private wings of NHS hospitals as well as private maternity hospitals, there are also a few midwifery organisations that offer private care, such as Neighbourhood Midwives, one to one midwives and UK BirthCentres.

Most maternity providers book women for their maternity care at around eight to 10 weeks of pregnancy, so you should contact either your GP or midwife around six weeks to get the ball rolling.

I'm currently trying for another baby but my mum's a twin as is my grandmother – does that mean I'm likely to have twins, too?

Eleanor May-Johnson: Twins do run in families so you have a slightly higher chance of conceiving twins than others. Twin rates are currently around one in 80 pregnancies, so your chances will be higher, but not much higher than that. The older you are and the more babies you have had also increases your chances of twins, too.

How much weight gain is normal during pregnancy? I'm still in my first trimester and eating like a pig! I don't normally eat much so this is quite out of character...

Eleanor May-Johnson: As a general rule, we would encourage women to not gain more than 28 to 30lb. However, depending on your starting weight you may be advised to gain more or less than this.

For women who are very underweight, they may need to gain more, for overweight women they may be advised to gain very little. With regards to calorie requirements, there is no 'eating for two' any more. You should eat normally with only a slight increase in calorie intake in the last four to eight weeks (only about 200 to 500 calories per day).

Eating a healthy, protein rich diet will enable you to grow a healthy baby without adding too much weight to your frame. Try to avoid sugar, simple carbohydrates like white bread, white flour, cakes, biscuits etc. Fill up on lots of veg, fruit, proteins like eggs, meat, fish, pulses, nuts and seeds. Make sure you drink plenty of water too. We certainly don't want women to feel hungry, but beware of empty calories!

Learn more about pregnancy weight gain here.

My son is four months old – 19 and a half weeks exactly. He is breastfed and has one bottle of Aptamil first milk a day to help me out a bit, but he's still feeding every two hours. He’s 80th centile so I know he's getting enough hind milk, so can I wean him early? I feel so bad that he's always hungry.

Eleanor May-Johnson: We really wouldn't recommend early weaning as it can have an impact on your baby’s intestinal systems as well as raising the risk of food allergies.

Some babies do feed very frequently, it won't be forever and you will be able to give solids in about six weeks. Remember that food in the first year is really about getting your baby used to new textures and tastes. You are doing a great job by still breastfeeding and it will stand your son in good stead for later life.

Which topics would you like covered in M&B’s Wednesday Lunch Clubs? Let us know in the comments box below. 

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