Over 4,300 babies are born every year at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, making it one of the busiest maternity wards in the country.
So it’s safe to say that when it comes to pregnancy, labour and birth, the staff have seen it all.
The Motherish recently spoke with the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s Nursing and Midwifery Director Trish Smith and Acting Assistant Nursing and Midwifery Director Tanya Beaumont to find answers to the most common questions for midwives.
With decades of experience between them, they've been asked every question under the sun: Can I breastfeed with a nipple ring? Are babies born on weekends? Will my c-section ruin my stomach tattoo? (For the record - no, yes, and maybe).
They've also seen everything - including women stuffing cabbage leaves down their bras in an attempt to alleviate heavy, engorged breasts (spoiler alert: it doesn't work) and one particularly memorable couple who were caught having sex shortly after their baby was born.
The pair recently compiled a list of the most common questions midwives are asked - and here are their helpful answers:
1. I just fed my baby, why is my baby crying?
If your baby is crying immediately after a feed they may be telling you they want more milk or just want to suck more. Offer them the breast again. If this is happening after most feeds, ask your midwife to watch you feed. Your midwife can help you with feeding techniques if needed. Babies need human contact and sometimes just holding them close will settle crying.
WATCH: the one thing no one told us about birth. Post continues after video...
2. I’ve read babies sleep 22 hours a day. Is that true?
Like adults, baby sleep patterns differ. Some newborns will sleep for nine hours, while others will sleep for 20. It will change from day to day and your baby may sleep half as much as your friend’s baby. There’s no such thing as standard baby sleep patterns. Typically babies have some hours in the day or night when they feed frequently or almost continuously and hardly sleep. At other times of the day or night they may sleep for hours between feeds.
3. How does my body know when the baby is born so my milk will come? When will my milk come?
Patience and persistence is key here. Your pregnancy hormones will trigger milk production, usually after delivery, but everybody is different. Milk volume gradually increases over several days. For the first day or so your baby receives between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of immune-boosting colostrum each time they feed. This sticky yellow fluid is digested quickly so baby will want to feed often, up to 12 times a day.
4. Is this too much poo? Does my baby have diarrhoea?
As midwives and lactation consultants we are reassured when parents ask this question. It immediately tells us that the baby is getting plenty of milk! Around day four or five (24 to 48 hours after the mother’s milk starts to flow abundantly), baby’s poo changes to mustard yellow and becomes runny and “curd-like” in consistency. At this stage babies can poo a small amount with every feed (8-12 times a day) or poo a bigger amount two to four times a day, sometimes squirting out the leg of the nappy so watch out! The yellow colour is more important than how often.
5. How come I’m going home so soon? When I was born, my mum stayed for a week.
If you and your baby are well, the best place for you to be is at home with your family. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need support. You will be offered a home visit by a midwife and given contact numbers for other support services you can call day or night.
6. Will I have vaginal bleeding if I have a Caesarean?
Yes, your body still needs to clean out the blood that has cushioned your bub in the womb. The amount of blood loss can vary and can last for a week or longer. It will start with bright red blood and should fade in colour till a dull brown and decrease in amount.
Fiona MacArthur has been catching babies for 30 years. She's seen it all. We chat to her on Mamamia's parenting podcast, This Glorious Mess. (Post continues after audio.)
7. How do I know if my baby is hot or cold?
Babies are tiny so regulating their body temperature is harder than adults. Usually, you’ll need to put an extra layer of clothes on your baby than you’re wearing. The baby’s room should be well ventilated and not too warm in summer or winter. Do not overwrap baby. Ask your midwife if you’re not sure.
8. Will my baby be born the day I’m induced?
Inducing a baby helps start labour but the process can take time. Depending on whether you have had a baby before, it could still take you a few days just to get into labour.
9. What happens to the umbilical cord stump and when will it fall off?
The umbilical cord stump will dry up over a few days. It will usually fall off within 7-10 days. There is no need to do anything special regarding the care of the stump. Just clean it gently with water and dry with a cotton bud. Most likely you’ll wake up one morning and find it lying beside your newborn.
10. When can I have sex after I have the baby?
Wait until you feel comfortable, but usually we recommend you wait at least six weeks. This will depend on your type of labour/delivery. Remember that your body is surging with hormones and you’ll probably be sleep deprived. It’s totally normal to not feel like having sex for weeks or even months after the baby is born.
11. Bonus question for the dads out there: "If I have sex with my partner while she is pregnant, will I hurt the baby?"
No, the baby is cushioned in the womb and you’re not going to do it any harm. You may even find your partner’s hormones make sex more frequent. As the pregnancy progresses, you’ll need to find comfortable positions for your partner.
The number on piece of advice? Ask questions.
"We encourage all our mums-to-be to always ask what’s on their mind, there is no such thing as a silly question," they stressed.
Do you have any other questions you'd like answered? Let us know below: