Why I Won’t Buy Milo Again

indexNo, that’s not a lie.  I have broken up with Milo.  It’s not been an insignificant decision either.  I loved Milo.  I was the one eating spoonfuls out of the tin.  There have been times when I’ve considered racking it into a line and snorting it with a rolled up $50 note.  I was serious about Milo.

You may have noticed that some breastfeeders are also serious about Milo.  You see, malt is said to increase milk supply.  And Milo contains malt.  And sugar.  A lot of sugar.  But malt too.  And it’s delicious.

Never mind that most of these women don’t actually NEED to boost their supply.  If a genuine problem exists, an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) offers better value for money than any tin of malt milk drink powder.  But it seems like this passion for Milo isn’t necessarily logical.  Breastfeeding mums are hungry and hormonal, and this milk-boosting thing is a great excuse to indulge.

But the lactivist in me has had to face facts – Milo is not breastfeeding-friendy.

There are lots of reasons why Nestle have earned the tag of being one of the most hated companies in the world.  It’s your choice to ignore these reasons, and I won’t judge you for it.  Up until about 12 months ago I was blissfully unaware, and for another 6 months or so i buried my head in the sand because I didn’t WANT to know.

Nestle also have a reputation for destroying breastfeeding relationships.  I’m not even talking about those who choose not to breastfeed, I mean mums who truly, desperately want to.  That’s not even what I’m here to talk about.

The fact is that Nestle are a massive global producer of infant formula.  Even without considering Nestle’s ethical track record, it should be clear that Nestle markets it’s formula because they want you to use their product.  Every case where a bottle of formula is given, is one where breastmilk was not.  I know they have some disclaimer on their website about how “breast is best” but it’s basically the fine print that no one pays attention to.  The truth is that they profit from women who don’t breastfeed.

And this, THIS is why I refuse to buy Milo.

As a lactivist, I cannot give my money to a company that profits from women who fail to breastfeed successfully.  To see a desperate mum give them money, believing that their product is going to HELP her reach her breastfeeding goals actually breaks my heart.  Now not only does this company profit from women who don’t breastfeed, but they also profit from mums who are desperately trying to.

Surfbreak chocolate malt drinking powder
Surfbreak chocolate malt drinking powder

On a positive note, I recently surveyed the chocolate malt drink powders on the shelves at my local supermarket.  I saw Horlicks and Aktivite, and I bought a tin of Surfbreak in a 450g tin on special for $4.  And it was divine!  Which is lucky, because the Milo left a really bad taste in my mouth.

How To Manage Breastfeeding and Starting Childcare (Guest Post)

Christie Lee MacSween

Meet our guest blogger Christie MacSween, childcare educator, trained breastfeeding counsellor and creator of Embraced Mummas.

“It can be very difficult making the decision to go back to work after having a baby and for some there is no decision, it’s a necessity. It is no secret that having a breastfed baby makes this a whole lot harder, but this doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just need to make sure you have thought about it and planned properly for your bundle of joy to start childcare. Then you need to be prepared that all these plans may all be turned upside down and you will need to make new ones!

Finding the right fit for your family

If you haven’t enrolled your bub in a childcare centre yet it is important that you shop around! Don’t just go for the first one that has vacancies. There are a lot of amazing early learning centres out there but it is essential you find one that fits with your family values and that you feel comfortable with. Ask for a tour of the centre and see if you can spend some time in the babies room. Some things to look for are:

Are the babies happy and smiling?

Do the educators introduce themselves and make you feel comfortable?

Do they have somewhere you can sit and feed? Some people prefer a separate room and some don’t but it is nice to have both options.

You can also ask if they are a Breastfeeding Friendly Venue as approved by the Australian Breastfeeding Association or ask if they would be willing to obtain this accreditation.

Establishing a relationship with your educators

Once you have found the perfect day care centre for you and your baby it is time to start establishing a good relationship with the educators and director if you haven’t already. Make sure you take the time to get to know most of the educators. Then, if your child’s primary caregiver is absent or leaves the centre, you won’t be feeling anxious not knowing who is left to look after your child.

It is a good idea to speak to key staff about your breastfeeding relationship. This doesn’t mean going overboard and making a huge deal about you being a breastfeeding mother, just bring it up in conversation. This way you will be able to determine how much breastfeeding education they have and will be able to fill in the blanks if need be.

Something that is actually very surprising is that early childhood professionals do not get any breastfeeding training or education in their studies. So unless they have done further study on the subject or are actually a mother themselves they probably know very little on breastfeeding and how to support breastfeeding mothers. So don’t feel bad about offering them information and pointing them in the right direction.

Does my child need to have an established routine before starting?

It is a common misconception that your baby needs to be in a rigid routine before they start childcare. If you have a good routine for your bub, good, stick with that. If not, don’t stress about it. At the end of they day they are their own little people and will do what they want when they want. If you have a good childcare provider they shouldn’t expect the babies to all conform to the same routine. All the bubs will have their own individual needs and be of different ages which means they will not all stick to the same schedule.

A good idea before you start is to keep a log. Even if you don’t think you have a routine for your baby you will probably realise they do actually follow a general pattern. So if you write down all feed and sleep times for a few days this will be an excellent tool to give your educators.

My baby is so attached what do I do?!

Be assured that most babies are very attached to their mothers and not all know how to self-settle. Be assured the carers will be so used to helping babies drift off to sleepy land and may even have some tricks up their sleeve your haven’t thought of. Most babies just accept they are not going to get fed to sleep and find a new way of doing it on their own. It may even be a god-send and you might be able to use some of the techniques they use at home! If you are really worried you could start introducing some kind of comforter and let your baby hold on to it during feeds. This way they will always have it with them to remind them of you.

It is also very common for breastfed babies to be a bit confused by a bottle and there really isn’t any reason you need to introduce one. So what else can you do?

If your baby is old enough they may be able to drink from a sippy-cup with a straw. The action of drinking from a straw is actually very similar to how they drink from the breast.

They can actually drink straight from a cup (no matter what age)

The educators can feed them breast milk with a spoon (especially for younger babies)

There is some great resources on The Australian Breastfeeding Association website on cup feeding. If you are really worried you can also give them a call on the 24 hour helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM (1800 686 268)


The thought of expressing can often bring on a lot of stress especially if you haven’t done it before. What I would suggest is, start a couple of months before they are due to begin at daycare. This will give you and your body time to get used to using a breast-pump. You can then figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. There are many different brands and types of breast-pumps on the market so you may need to do your research to find out what will work best for you. The Australian Breastfeeding Association actually have a breast pump hire service so you could even try before you buy if you wanted to.

There are a lot of resources on the internet about how to encourage a good let down so I won’t go through all of them but I will let you know what works for me. First of all I like to make sure I have a nice tidy space around me, I get stressed if the house is chaos. Then, I will put some nice music on. This could just be some soft Jack Johnson, yoga or meditation music or even nature sounds. I will also diffuse some essential oils, something like clary sage which is a great one for hormonal women!

What if my baby refuses to feed while at childcare?

You need to be prepared that this may happen, but it is a learning curve for both you and your baby and you will get there! Some babies do go on a milk strike and if they are over 6 months and have started solids you may find they will just fill their little tummies with food instead. This is totally fine as long as they make up the feeds after, which both you and I know they definitely will!

If your baby is younger than six months you may need to start off with shorter days or try to go in at lunch time to feed. In fact if you are close enough this is the perfect situation. You can take your lunch with you, sit with your baby and have a nice relaxing feed while you reconnect and have your lunch together.

What do I need to do before we start?

Just chill. No but seriously, try not to stress. Just take it each day at a time. If you’re anxious and stressed your baby will pick up on it. Just remember that if something doesn’t work it’s easy to change. It might take a while to find the perfect solution for your family but that’s okay.

Know that your baby will be fine. He is with people who have a love and passion for looking after children and helping them grow and learn. If for any reason bub is really upset and distressed they will call you and ask your advice or give you the option of coming in to help settle him or her. Most centers have an open door policy so anytime you want to pop in and visit you can!

This is an exciting time for you both! Your baby will start to gain a new sense of independence and you are also getting your independence back. A lot of mothers find that once their kids start in daycare they really cherish the moments they spend together which equals a happier mumma and a happier baby! Good luck and remember you’re not alone! There are a lot of services and people around to support you.

Lots of love

Christie xx”

Ready For Solids

Are you excited to start solids?

We see a lot of mums approach an arbitrary calendar date with an excited post about how they can’t wait and it’s only x days until they get to give their baby solids. This isn’t the way to approach what should be a developmental milestone. Rather, all the baby food marketing has us thinking that, magically, at 4, 6 or 8 months our baby should be eating huge volumes of processed bland mush, regardless of baby’s individual development.


Baby’s individual development is often used as an argument against waiting until recommended minimum ages for introducing solids. We at BIA feel individual development should be used as the first measurement of readiness, rather than a calendar date.



Through our research we discovered that sitting independently is one of the most important signs of readiness. It signals the abdominal muscles are sufficiently developed to be able to breathe, eat and sit at the same time. This doesn’t refer to propping baby up in a bumbo or highchair, it means baby is able to pull themselves into a seated position on their own from lying down.

The second most important sign is the loss of the tongue thrust reflex. This is a physiological reflex to prevent foreign objects and food from entering the stomach prematurely. In the past, baby food manufacturers bypassed this reflex by making puree texture food, as this made it harder for baby to push back out of the mouth.

The pincer grip is a skill that babies develop around the time that it becomes appropriate for babies to start exploring solids. Peas are a fantastic size for babies to practice their pincer grip, as they are baby ‘bite size’ and a soft texture once bitten.


We see a lot of debate over solids starting age, not only in BIA but across many parenting groups. We have found that professionals tend to agree that parents are too focused on age, rather than individual readiness. As a general guide we like the WHO recommendation of “around 6 months of age” as most of the skills required would usually start to develop around that age. Lauren’s youngest baby was putting herself into a sitting position before 6mo, and walking at around 7mo, so there are the fast developers who acquire the skills much earlier. My youngest didn’t acquire these skills until around 10mo, she had a pincer grip earlier and had lost her tongue thrust, however her being able to pick up food and chew and swallow it did not mean she was capable of digesting it. Another friend’s baby showed all the readiness signs, but showed no interest in eating until around 9mo. All babies are individuals and do develop skills at different rates, so it’s more important that we learn about the signs of readiness, than debate about age.

Motherhood Can Be Lonely


Sometimes motherhood can be a lonely journey.

But it doesn’t have to be.

When my kids were born I felt a bit isolated, as most of my friends had their kids earlier, and they were at different places in their parenting journeys.

So I started putting myself out there. I went to ABA meetings. I met with babywearing groups. I went on “blind dates” with mums I met on Facebook. When a mum at a playgroup or park said “our kids play well together, we should catch up again”, I’d say “How about next Tuesday? Come to my place”.

There are women everywhere and I promise you have things in common with most of them. And if you have absolutely nothing in common, maybe that’s even better! You may have the most fascinating conversations with a person who’s life and experience are completely different to yours. You don’t need to look for differences between you and other people – that can drive you apart. Why not look for the similarities instead, and let those bring you together?

There’s probably even an acquaintance or distant cousin’s girlfriend who has already been trying to befriend you, but you’ve either been oblivious or keep letting life get in the way. In that case, all you need to do is start accepting invitations and saying yes.


I went on a picnic yesterday with 3 awesome mamas – I didn’t know 2 of them before my kids were born, and the other I knew but wasn’t close to. If I allowed my kids undesirable behaviour, messy house, scheduled naps or eye bags hold me back, I wouldn’t have spent most of yesterday lying on a blanket in the sun watching my kids play with their friends while us mums talked about zumba classes, flushable wipes and baby daddies. We laughed over biscuits and mandarins and it was priceless.

I’m not saying it was easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. Will you feel awkward? Probably. Will your life be better for having some girlfriends in it? Absolutely!

Breastfed Babies and Bottles


There’s nothing like the fear of a mum who can’t get her baby to take a bottle.  She’s then faced with the choice between staying in close proximity to her baby until baby weans OR go out at the cost of leaving baby starving and distraught.

Or are there more choices than that?

There are alternatives to bottles.

If your baby won’t take a bottle, have you considered using a syringe or cup?  Even brand new newborns can drink effectively from a cup.  Your caregiver may need to take some extra time and care with a syringe or cup, but the bonus is that there is no risk of nipple confusion or bottle preference.

Your baby won’t die of starvation.

When we were at home, as babies my kids would easily feed eleventeen billion times a day.  So I can understand the fear of your baby being hungry without you.  You need to keep it in perspective though.  How many hours could your baby sleep in a row at night?  Would you panic about hunger if your baby slept, say, 8 hours in a row?  If your baby can sleep for 8 hours in a row at night, then there’s no reason to panic about them being without boob for 3 hours while you get your hair and nails done.images 2

Your baby doesn’t need to learn to use a bottle.  A bottle is ridiculously easy to use, especially in comparison to drawing milk from a breast.  And no bottle in the world adequately replicates a breast, no matter how the nipple is shaped, how many “endorsements” it has or how many dollars you spent on it.  Your baby knows your boobs are attached to you.  Don’t fall for a con.


Society makes us pin a lot of hangups on breastfeeding.  We are convinced that breastfeeding must make our babies clingy.  We’ve created a rod for our own backs by making it so that no one else is able to share the burden of responsibility because they can’t breastfeed our baby.  This is incorrect.  Our babies get upset when we leave them because we are their Number One.  We’ve been their primary (sometimes sole) carer since before they were even born!  If your baby is upset, it’s because they miss mummy, not her boobs.

If you’re convinced your baby is devastated because your breasts are gone, you’ve set your child’s caregiver up for failure before you’ve even left the house, and you’ve also sabotaged your ability to enjoy your outing.  Accepting that your baby is upset over a new experience with a person who is not mummy is going to be easier for you to swallow. Most kids get upset the first few times mum leaves them, not just the breastfed ones.  A good caregiver may even calm your baby enough to get them to take that bottle you’ve been panicking about!

Please don’t envision yourself as a jersey cow, who’s only purpose in life is to provide milk.  You are valued so much more than that, and you need to see that value for yourself.  The woman that you were before you had kids is still there, but now she’s more than that.  She’s a mother.  But she’s still a woman with needs beyond emptying her boobs.  So go.  Enjoy your yoga class.  And when you come back home, enjoy the fact that you were missed.

What My Kids Learn From “Sleep Training”


11041715_10205381370309992_3249545212844836092_nI’m a big advocate for “sleep training”.  Not the kind where you leave your kids alone or crying, or anything like that.  My husband and I have shunned conventional sleep training methods and are doing things differently.

  • We acknowledge that each day is different, and in any event, babies can’t tell the time. Bedtime starts when we’re ready to sleep.  Our kids have learned that we sleep when we’re tired, and as a result we rarely have resistance at bedtime
  • We bedshare. It’s what the cavemen did, and it feels right.  Anthropologist Dr James McKenna agrees.  Our kids have learned to trust us – we are there to feed, care for and protect them 24/7
  • They have no fear of missing out on secret fun things that happen when they’re sleeping, because they know I’m sleeping too. Barring illness, teething or other special situations, our kids aren’t partying in the middle of the night.  Our kids have learned that night time is for sleeping and daytime is for being awake
  • Bedsharing with breastfed babies is protective against SIDS. Being in physical contact with an infant affects their breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, stress levels and fundamental ability to grow.  An infant’s body doesn’t do these things effectively on its own –these controls develop over time.  Our kids learned to stay alive during their sleep
  • Sleeping together has allowed our sleep cycles to synchronise. My babies nearly never woke me when we slept together – I always roused just before they stirred.  It was very easy to settle them before they got worked up.   My kids have learned that they don’t need to become distressed in order to have their needs met
  • If we’ve had a busy day or if I’ve been distracted and haven’t given my kids the attention they crave, they know they will have me at night. There are none of the “one more drink of water” or “one more story” antics in my house because goodnight doesn’t mean goodbye.  My kids have learned they are loved throughout the night.181164_4929605074216_1485040370_n

Our “sleep training” methods do not focus on independent sleep or ability to self soothe.  I trust that my kids will seek independence when they are physically and emotionally ready.  When my son was 3 he decided he wanted to sleep in his own bedroom.

I won’t pretend to think that our way would work for everyone; I just know it works really well for us.  Other parents doing the same thing should not fret that they are teaching dependency or creating bad habits – your children are learning valuable lessons about healthy attitudes towards relationships and sleep.




Today I wanted to take a few moments to have a chat about galactagogues. The admin team of the Breastfeeders in Australia Facebook group has noticed a strengthening trend in the recommendation and reliance on galactagogues – both perceived and proven – over the past couple of years. So I thought I would take a little time to look at the trend.


A galactagogue is a food or drug which increases mother’s milk.


There are synthetic pharmaceutical galactagogues such as domperidone and metoclopramide which increase the production of prolactin. These are generally used as a last resort when every other option has been tried and failed with the mother still experiencing chronic low supply. As with any synthetic drug the decision to use them is a serious one as the risks (dependence, cost and side effects) and benefits need to be weighed by each individual in their particular circumstance with their medical professional.


There are also herbal galactagogues such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, torbangun, chasteberry moringa and goat’s rue. As with many natural alternatives research is limited and preparation, purity and dosage may compromise their effectiveness. Just because herbs are natural doesn’t automatically mean they are safe. While they may have a lactogenic effect they may also have negative side effects and contradictions. Please consult an experienced herbalist before choosing to use any herbal remedies. Also remember to tell your doctor, especially if you are using any prescription medication. It is also important to note that depending on the claims made, or not, herbal supplements, vitamins, minerals, aromatherapy and homoeopathic product do not necessarily need to be register with the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and may contain fillers or ingredients not listed on the packaging.


Then there are the perceived but unproven galactagogues. These are generally passed by word of mouth because one woman has experienced effect she may attribute to one particular food. Some of these we have seen purported recently are –



Brewers yeast


Sports drinks

Leafy green vegetables


While consuming these foods in the quantity suggested can result in an increase in breast milk supply it is more likely that it is a result of extra calories than any lactogenic effect.

The best thing a breastfeeding mother can do to ensure a good supply, barring any diagnosed medical issues, is make sure she is drinking enough water and eating enough food. While there is no recommended daily water intake a good tip to remember is to drink a glass of water each time you feed as well as enough to quench your thirst through the day. A breastfeeding mother usually needs around 500 extra calories per day than usual to maintain her health. A balanced and varied diet packed with plenty of vitamin and mineral rich foods is essential for a healthy mum and baby. For specific guidelines the best course of action is to see a dietician to set out your personal macronutrient ratios.


When considering consuming galactagogues ask yourself first –

Am I experiencing low supply? (is baby having enough wet and dirty nappies, gaining weight etc)

Why do I feel like I need to increase my supply?

Can I improve my water intake and diet?


Please consult your medical professional if you have any concerns about your or your baby’s health. Genuine low supply is a serious issue and should not be ignored.

Breastfeeding A Demanding Toddler – Part 2

Elisha from My Life is a Beach

If you’re moving away from demand feeding, the gentle mama in me wants to remind you that breastfeeding is about more than food.  If you take away breastfeeds, be sure to give extra cuddles, affection and reassurance.  You have used breastfeeding since your child’s birth to show them you are there for them – be conscious that in this time of transition, your child may need extra attention to their emotional needs.

  • Get out of house! My kids would be all over me like a rash if they had the chance!  My kids are much less interested in breastfeeding when we’re running around at the park or playing with our friends.
  • Get busy! Make an effort to keep them stimulated.  This means different things for different families.  Digging in the dirt, building with our blocks, finger painting – keep those minds off the boobie and onto something fun or interesting.
  • Delay feeds. If my kids ask for milk and I am not prepared to give it at that time, I delay them or offer a compromise.  “You can have milk when I’ve put this washing away/finished my sandwich/made my cup of tea”.  Besides the obvious lessons about patience, this helped me find the balance in our relationships, instead of feeling my kids held all the power.

If they forget, I still remind them.  It’s very important to maintain trust throughout this process.  My son regularly outsmarts me, and if he felt like he’d been “tricked” out of a breastfeed, I am certain that the next time I tried to compromise he would resist.

  • Move away from pacifying with your breasts. If your child is upset/hurt/angry/stressed/bored, start finding other ways to explore those feelings. Talk about it, hug it out, count to ten – whatever works for you.  Save the breastfeed for afterwards when your child is calm again.


Some other really excellent articles that may help you along this part of your journey are here, here and here.  These are strategies that have worked for me and my kids.  Ceasing to breastfeed on demand hasn’t spelled an automatic end to our breastfeeding journeys.  I started making these changes with my son at around 2.5 years old, and he still has 2 breastfeeds a day at 4 years of age.  These tips didn’t make the process easy, but with some gentle persistence, it was worthwhile.

Breastfeeding A Demanding Toddler – Part 1


So my babies grew into toddlers, and the whole breastfeeding on demand thing started to wear thin.  Why?  My kids demanded SO MUCH!  And it felt like if I didn’t comply, they punished me.  Kicking, scratching, slapping, squirming,  pinching and twisting my skin became common.

You are in charge of your body.  No one has the right to hurt you or do things that upset you.  You don’t have to tolerate this from anyone.  Not even your breastfed toddler.

There’s this misconception that breastfeeding requires constant sacrifice, and that you must make it all about your child’s demands.  This is not true.  Breastfeeding is a relationship.  It involves two people.  Like any relationship, if you make it all about one party and ignore the second person’s feelings and desires, resentment will inevitably build.

Creating boundaries is a big part of parenting.  If parental submission was a good thing, then my kids would have eaten chocolate biscuits for breakfast this morning.  Miss 15mo would have thrown all of our toilet paper into the toilet and Mr 4yo would have cut every shred of paper in the house into ribbons.


As your child grows, you will teach them about bodily autonomy.  Now is the time to lead by example.  You are in charge of your body.  Not your toddler.

Forget “breastfeeding on demand” and instead “feed to need”.  Your toddler doesn’t need to nurse eleventy billion times a day.  You are not selfish.  Saying “no” sometimes has saved our breastfeeding relationships.  Compromising with how and when my kids can breastfeed has allowed me to continue breastfeeding them for longer than I thought I would.  Creating some healthy boundaries within a breastfeeding relationship can benefit both mum and her baby.13620268_10153833339576902_4565532451880075144_n

The N Word – Why It Has No Place Here

This morning I read something that really hurt the lactivist in me. The “N” word. And I’m not talking about that awful word that some slack-jawed yokels use to describe those beautiful ebony-skinned people of African heritage.

My motives for promoting breastfeeding stem from a desire to see mums like me feel happy with the way they feed their babies. I know too many mums that suffer guilt, jealousy and depression when they aren’t able to meet their breastfeeding goals. We have a lifetime of emotional baggage to shape the way we parent our children. Breastfeeding doesn’t need to be another one.

Some people think the way to help women avoid the traps of disappointment when they aren’t able to breastfeed the way that they want to, is to get them to aim lower. As a mum, I find that insulting. “Don’t aim for the best option, because you’ll be disappointed if you can’t make it. Aim lower, it’s more achievable for you”. Women deserve better support than that. If you want to help them, encourage them. Help them find the tools they need to get through their struggles. Find a professional who can support them. But don’t just tell them to chuck in the towel.

Sometimes it can be hard to work out what a mum needs. If she says she is thinking about giving up, she might need:
a) A hug
b) A sleep
c) A sandwich
d) To be reminded of why breastfeeding was important to her in the first place
e) To hear that you will support her whichever way she goes
f) To hear that breastfeeding is the pits, and who cares anyway, and you’re the mum and you know what’s best and to hell with everything else

Support means different things to different women, and a tired, hormonal, sore and possibly hungry mum may not always be forgiving if her would-be supporter picks the wrong option. I remember being furiously upset when I was looking for help and so many people went with option “F”. It was not what I wanted or needed. But I never ever lashed out at someone trying to help me with petty, hurtful name-calling.

I can’t speak for other lactivists, but I don’t put people with different beliefs to mine into a concentration camp. I don’t jam them into open train carriages with 200 other bodies in them with no roof or protection from the elements for weeks on end. I don’t brand people as if they’re cattle on a farm. I don’t starve people. I don’t mutilate people. I’m not committing acts of genocide. I’m not a Nazi.

The atrocities committed by Nazis are not comparable to even the most aggressive lactivist. They aren’t in the same ballpark. Hell, they aren’t even in the same league. This post isn’t exclusively about breastfeeding or “lactivism”. It really comes down to the decency of a human being. If you’re prepared to call someone a Nazi because they have misjudged your needs, then that says more about you then it does about them.