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Goodness Me is your source for useful health, wellness and lifestyle information. We cover an interesting and comprehensive range of topics, tapping into the knowledge and expertise of staff and doctors at Epworth HealthCare, the leading private not-for-profit hospital group in Victoria, Australia.

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Treating yourself in moderation: All in the balance!

Epworth HealthCare

When we think about eating healthier, it’s easy to think that all treats are off limits. This can make it particularly difficult when you’re heading out to social occasions where we’ll be surrounded by delicious food and temptation! As a result, we often throw the idea in the ‘too hard basket’ and go back to treating ourselves.

When it comes to trying to eat better, you might be the kind of person that try to adopt the ‘all or nothing’ approach, which can lead to a complicated cycle of deprivation and binging. The truth is, following a healthy eating-pattern is not about depriving yourself of things you enjoy – the key is all in the balance.

Five tips for eating healthily on social occasions:

1. Avoid skipping meals:

Regular meals keep you full throughout the day, so you’re less likely to over-eat at the next meal due to hunger.

 

2. Plan ahead:

If you tend to get peckish between meals, have some snacks on hand (e.g. fruit, yoghurt or nuts) to stop yourself from making impulsive food purchases you will later regret.

 

3. Know your limits:

If you can’t resist having snacks or treats in the house then buy small, fun-size portions and limit the supply of these in the house.

It’s all about your overall eating pattern. It’s okay to treat yourself to sweets and snacks in moderation - it makes following a healthy eating lifestyle more sustainable in the long-term.
— Fiona Wong, Epworth dietitian

When dining out, share a dessert with friends rather than having a full serving on your own.

 

4. Be kind to yourself!

Try not to see foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but know that particular foods are healthier than others.

It won’t happen overnight! Changing your mind-set and practice will take time - be patient with yourself.
— Fiona Wong, Epworth dietitan

If you feel you have eaten too much of the ‘occasional’ food, don’t start calling yourself a failure and throw all that hard work away. Look at what you can do differently next time if a similar situation occurs.

 

5. Eat mindfully:

Take your time to enjoy each mouthful of your treat, whether it be at a social event or when alone. Let it digest and use this time to socialise with friends and family as this will allow your body to feel satisfied before you jump up for another one!

This also applies to alcoholic drinks (as it can stimulate your appetite) - sip on your drinks slowly, enjoying each mouthful. Share nibbles with friends if you do get hungry and alternate alcoholic drinks with water.

 

At the end of the day, it’s okay to enjoy the finer (or sweeter!) things in life! Just remember to enjoy treats in moderation and enjoy the journey – appreciate how far you’ve come and the hard-work you’ve put in. Don’t give up. Overtime, the thought-process will become easier and you will be able see that the idea of healthy eating doesn’t need to be so ‘black and white’.

Introduction to breastfeeding attachment

Dion Van de Kamp

To give babies the best start and to support their health, it's recommended that they're breastfed for the first year of their life. A whole 12 months of breastfeeding is a long time, so let's make sure it's a comfortable and meaningful experience for both you and baby!

By following these steps, you'll be able to try the 'cradle' nipple attachment technique and know where to get help if you'd like to explore other attachment techniques or feeding options.

Although it's a completely natural process, breastfeeding isn't always easy. It's something a lot of people struggle with, so if you're facing some challenges you're definitely not alone!

Breastfeeding helps to create a bond between mother and baby. It has many benefits as it’s easier for baby to digest and is often always available.
— Epworth Freemasons midwife, Deborah Alexander

Once you’re all set up and comfortable in a chair with your feet supported, you’re ready to go:

  1. Bring your hand that’s farthest away from baby’s head and place it behind their shoulder blades to support their neck. Use your forearm to support their back.
  2. Use your other hand to cup your breast in a ‘c-hold’.
  3. Bring your baby’s mouth around to face your nipple and place your nipple under your baby’s nose. Slowly move it toward their mouth for them to attach.
  4. Once you’re both comfortable, feel free to relax the hand that’s cupping your breast.
Once you get to the end of the feeding, they’ll either do a little fluttering reaction or they’ll pull themselves off. Let them suck for as long as they want to.
— Epworth Freemasons midwife, Deborah Alexander

After you finish feeding your baby, have a check over your nipple to make sure it’s still in a normal shape. If it's pinched or striped it could mean that baby hasn’t had their mouth open wide enough. Every family is unique, so the cradle attachment method may not be the best fit for you - that's okay. If you have questions or need any assistance please contact your Epworth lactation consultant, midwife or local health professional.


FAQ's

How long should a feed take?
You really don’t need to time feeds. We’d recommend letting baby feed for as long as they like on the first side. Give baby a quick nappy-change if need be, then offer them the second side.

Are there other techniques I can use?
Yes, there are many different techniques you can use depending on what you and your baby prefer. 

Should breastfeeding hurt?
In the early weeks it's normal to have some nipple tenderness, but it shouldn't be hurting. If you're in pain then you can try reattaching by placing baby back on again or try a different technique.

Where can I get breastfeeding support once I leave hospital?
Epworth HealthCare offer the support of lactation specialists and midwives if you need them, there’s also a breastfeeding clinic that you can attend.

Otherwise, we’d recommend you contact your local health care professional like your GP or primary care doctor.

Six steps to more sleep with baby swaddling

Dion Van de Kamp

If better sleep for mum, dad and bub isn’t enough incentive to learn how to swaddle, it can also help reduce baby’s risk of developing SUDI (sudden unexpected death in infants). All it takes is one muslin wrap, some frog legs and this two minute video by Epworth HealthCare midwife Deborah Alexander located at Epworth Freemasons!

Swaddling is the art of wrapping baby nice and snug in a wrap or cloth. It has many benefits which include:

  • Keeps their face safe from accidentally scratching themselves.
  • Helps to soothe crying.
  • Longer, sounder sleep.
  • May reduce the risk of SUDI (less likely to fiddle and be able to roll onto their tummy).
  • (Hopefully) more sleep for you!
[Swaddling] reduces morrow reflex or the startle reflex to assist them to sleep peacefully.
— Deborah Alexander, Midwife at Epworth

Before you get started, it’s important to know that you shouldn’t leave baby unattended. They may not be able to walk just yet, but they can easily wriggle away!

Ready to go? Here are six steps to more sleep:

  1. Have baby’s shoulders at the top of the muslin wrap, slightly off-centre.
  2. Pull the shorter side around baby and secure it under their back.
  3. Bring the other side of the wrap around baby and join it with the shorter side, under their back.
  4. Allow baby’s legs to be curled up in a frog-like position. Don’t force them to straighten out.
  5. Bring the bottom of the wrap over baby and tuck it under with the rest of the wrap.
  6. Make sure baby is laying on their back with their feet down toward the bottom of the cot.
     

When not to wrap:

  • If you’re sleeping with baby.
  • If you’re using other sleeping aids like a sleeping bag.
  • Once the startle reflex disappears (usually around 3 months).
  • From around 4-6 months when baby shows signs of being able to roll.

Being all wrapped up can make baby pretty warm, so feel free to dress them in a singlet and nappy instead of a grow-suit in the warmer months.

Research has shown that by sleeping them on their back, reduces the incidence of SIDS (SUDI)
— Deborah Alexander, Midwife at Epworth

FAQs

How can I bond with my baby while swaddling?
Infant massage is a great way to connect with your baby before or after swaddling. It can also have a range of health benefits on their vital systems.

What is a safe sleeping bag?
It should be constructed in a way that baby cannot slip around inside the bag and become completely covered.

The sleeping bag should be the correct for your baby with fitted-holes for their neck and arms. The bag should include sleeves but it shouldn’t have a hood.

Can my baby spend time on their tummy at all?
Yes, supervised tummy-time while they’re awake and alert can help them develop a stronger neck and upper-body muscles. It’s important that they be free to move around though, so they shouldn’t be swaddled during tummy-time.

Introduction to baby massage

Dion Van de Kamp

The experience of massage for both you and your baby can be so rewarding. From the benefits on baby's vital systems to things like teaching them the importance of communication, it can be a key part of building your relationship together as well as their physical and mental development.

Baby massage isn't just about feeling nice and relaxed (although, that can be the best part!), it's a wonderful way to connect with your baby daily and it can have a range of benefits on their circulation, nervous, immune and digestive vital systems.

On top of all of that, it's a great tool to help embed some communication behaviours with your baby. Especially during the early days while their eyes are still adjusting, babies thrive on their other senses like touch and sound. It’s how they communicate.

Asking your baby permission to give them a massage can let them know that they're in control of their body from an early stage. While they may not be talking away just yet, we can give them some queues that signal a massage is on the way.

Creating this space to massage your baby each day, to nurture and to care for your baby will establish wonderful bonding relationships between you.
— Mel, Qi Rhythm

Here’s what you’ll need before you get started:

  1. Pillow.
  2. Towel.
  3. Swaddle.
  4. Basic ingredient oil. Sunflower, olive, coconut oil are best. Try to stay away from nut oils.
  5. Warm hands!
The ideal state to massage your baby in is the ‘quiet/alert’ state, and this is where the baby’s body is feeling very still and settled but in their face they’re awake and they’re alert.
— Mel, Qi Rhythm

Start by creating a nice, warm environment for your baby to relax in. Making sure you have things like soft lighting, nice quiet music and no distractions. These will serve as the queues to your baby that a massage is on its way.

Create a little bend in a pillow on your lap for baby to lay in and make them feel secure. Once their top half is swaddled up and their lower body undressed you’re ready to ask for permission. If you're not sure how to swaddle, watch our tutorial here.

By this stage, you’ve given baby some signs or queues that a massage is on the way. If your baby shows signs of disengagement like crying, blocks with their hands, looks away or is generally not interested then don't go ahead with the massage. This is their way of telling you that they don’t want one right now. Try again in a few hours or when they’re a little less stimulated.

To proceed with the massage, baby should be content, smiling and cooing, etc. Over time you may get an idea of the best times that usually suit your baby.

Steps:

  1. Hold baby’s legs firmly to begin, allowing them to move freely under your hands.
  2. Glide hands from their hip to their toes.
  3. ‘Hug and glide’: squeeze their leg, release and rotate.
  4. Press the pads of your thumbs into baby’s heal and move them toward their toes.
  5. ‘Toe wiggle’: roll each toe.
  6. Press your index finger into the ball of baby’s foot (lung reflexology point).
  7. Place the pads of your thumbs into the arch of baby’s foot and hold for a couple of seconds (digestive reflexology point).
  8. ‘Thumb over thumb’: rotate your thumbs on top of baby’s foot.
  9. Circle your thumbs gently on their ankles.
  10. ‘Back toward heart’: create a ring with your fingers around baby’s leg and slide it up toward their heart.
  11. Gently role baby’s legs in your hands.
  12. Softly stroke down baby’s legs with your hands.
  13. Thank baby for receiving the massage.

Remember, stop when baby is feeling too stimulated and comfort them with a containment hold on their chest or legs.

If you’re just tickling touching and doing a very light touch, baby might get quite stimulated. However If you’ve got a nice solid hand wrapped around those legs, they’ll be much more responsive to being relaxed.
— Mel, Qi Rhythm

FAQ's

How often should I be massaging my baby?
Every day is ideal for newborn babies; when your baby starts crawling they will be doing a lot of work them selves, building muscle and strength. At this point you could do less if you’d like, however the bonding and the rhythm is still so important and beneficial, so it will do a world of good to continue daily if you’re both enjoying it.

Can we do this same sequence of strokes for older toddlers and children?
Yes, it’s great to continue to use this sequence as they grow up or for their older siblings. Older siblings might feel left out when a new baby arrives so try to include them in the massage time too. Perhaps a family member could massage one and you the other, or maybe the older child would like to massage their doll while you massage the baby.

How long should the massage go for?
It will vary from baby to baby, to begin with your baby may only be able to receive 2-5 minutes. Each time you massage (providing you are choosing the right time of day for them) the length of the massage should increase until you are able to give around 20 minutes of massage. Be guided by what your baby wants and reach out for help if you need it.

Can words hurt?

Epworth HealthCare

It’s like a knife in my shoulder! My disc has slipped. My leg is dead. I have pins and needles!
As creatures who like to communicate, we often describe our experiences, whether good or bad, through metaphor and simile. Pain is one experience that is very hard to describe, so how is the language we use going to affect our pain?

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Weak at the knees?

Epworth HealthCare

Every year around 8000 Australians experience their first kneecap dislocation, with many going on to suffer repeat dislocations. Goodness Me explores why our knees take a knocking and why surgery is often the best solution for a dislocated patella.

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Breaking down Bariatric surgery

Epworth HealthCare

Surgery for weight loss has become an increasingly common solution to the rising incidence of obesity. But, as with any procedure, a patient exploring bariatric surgery has a number of options to consider. Goodness Me looks at who bariatric surgery might suit, what is involved and what to expect a typical day’s meals to look like post-surgery.

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