Melanie McGrice

Melanie McGrice


Melanie McGrice

Firstly, congratulations on becoming a mumma!  I’m sure that you’ve already discovered that feeding your bub is one of your biggest concerns at the moment.  If you’re like most mummas, you’ve already started to track every poo, every burp and worry endlessly and whether your sweetheart is getting enough or too much.  So, in this article, leading pre and postnatal dietitian, Melanie McGrice, will answer some of the questions you may have about breastfeeding regarding the benefits of breastfeeding, if and when to introduce formula, and some advice on some common difficulties new mums have when breastfeeding.

  • What are the health benefits of breastfeeding for mum and bub?

Miraculously breastmilk changes as children grow and develop.  The macronutrient composition of breastmilk varies by age of your baby at delivery, it changes by the time of day and even during the feed (hindmilk at the end of a feed is higher in fat) to provide exactly what your baby needs.  Macrophages, cytokines and antimicrobial factors are present in breastmilk to support immune function.  It’s also free and benefits your health too.

  • What are the health consequences of not breastfeeding?

Infant formula companies work hard to provide the best possible nutrition for your baby if you are unable to breastfeed. Epidemiological studies suggest that babies who are not breastfed have higher risks of infectious diseases, childhood obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome.  Mothers who don’t breastfeed have an increased incidence of premenopausal breast cancer, retained pregnancy weight gain, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

  • Is there a connection between starting formula too early and issues with allergies/eczema etc.? 

Breastmilk is protective against allergies and eczema, so this is another reason why it’s beneficial to breastfeed for as long as possible.

  • How common is it for mothers to have issues with breastfeeding?

Ninety-six per cent of Australian mothers initiate breastfeeding, but less than half (39%) are still being exclusively breastfed at 3 months of age.  The primary determinants for ceasing breastfeeding include lack of time and confusion (such as thinking that your baby isn’t getting adequate calories).

  • What advice/education is given around breastfeeding, particularly if I haven’t breastfed before?

Mum’s are always encouraged to breastfeed, and lactation support is available which is important to seek if you are unsure if you are breastfeeding properly. Furthermore, your baby may have long feeds to begin with as they start to learn how to source their food. They may begin to feed more frequently which doesn’t mean they aren’t getting enough milk, it just means they are needing more food to help them grow.

  • What are some of the common problems that I may have with breastfeeding? E.g. latching on issues/issues with cracked, sore nipples/milk production issues etc.

Some of the most common issues that breastfeeding mothers face include concerns over milk production (whether it’s too much or too little), sore nipples and mastitis.

  • What are some of the common products that I can use to help with breast care and comfort during this time?

Strains of probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus salivarius) have been identified as assisting to reduce the risk of mastitis and may be helpful for you while breastfeeding.

  • If able, how long should I breastfeed for? Is there a minimum time for health optimisation?

Ideally you should aim to breastfeed exclusively until solids are introduced between 4 to 6 months, and continue breastfeeding through until 12 months of age.

  • At which point is a baby weened to formula? Is it a necessity to ween to formula until my bub is able to consume solids?

Formula is only needed if you are unable to breastfeed.

  • If I’m really struggling with breastfeeding, what advice is typically given around formula?

If you’re really struggling with breastfeeding, then formula may need to be considered.  It is a good idea to speak to a postnatal dietitian about the best formula for you and your baby.

  • What sort of formula is best for my bub?

There are a variety of different formulas available.  It is best to get personalised advice about the best formula for your baby.

  • How many additional calories should I eat whilst breastfeeding?

When breastfeeding exclusively, you can expect to burn around 2,000 KJ just from breastfeeding each day.  To put this into perspective, the average woman would need to go for a 2 hour walk to burn 2,000 kilojoules. This is one of the reasons why breastfeeding is so beneficial for post-pregnancy weight loss.

  • Should I take a nutritional supplement whilst breastfeeding?

Yes, it is usually a good idea!  Iodine and vitamin D, in particular, are important nutrients that most women need higher amounts of whilst breastfeeding.  Look for a supplement that is specifically designed for breastfeeding.

  • Should I avoid allergens (such as wheat, cow’s milk and eggs) whilst breastfeeding?

Not unless you are personally allergic to them or your baby has a diagnosed allergy.  It is actually beneficial to include as many allergens as possible in your baby’s diet via your breastmilk, as this will help to build up your little one’s immune tolerance to these foods.

  • Do I need to increase my protein intake whilst breastfeeding?

No, you actually need less protein during breastfeeding then you did during pregnancy.  Breastmilk contains very little protein, so as long as you are meeting basic protein requirements with two serves of meat or meat alternatives and 2-3 serves of dairy each day, you’ll easily meet your protein requirements.

  • I have more questions about what I should be eating whilst breastfeeding.  What should I do? 

Check out or book a consultation with a postnatal dietitian.  See


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You may also like to read:

Seven Breastfeeding Myths Busted

Breastfeeding: Receiving the support you deserve