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she's anemic (and i am crushed)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I just got back from the doctor. After keeping a close eye on my 7-month dd's slowing weight gain for the past two months, I took her in a week ago. Nurse confirmed what I already knew - gain of just 2 ounces in three weeks. Took her in again today (one week later) and now dd has lost 5 ounces. So since Christmas, she's only gained 10 ounces.

She was born 9 pounds 5 ounces (90th percentile) and is now down around the 5th. I know the charts are based on formula-fed babies, but this is a dramatic drop regardless.

The doctor reassured me the whole time - he said don't stop breastfeeding, don't give more solids, don't worry, la la la. And then 10 minutes later, after the results of her test for iron deficiency, his tune changed. He prescribed the iron drops and told me to bring a stool sample back asap.

I am completely beside myself with worry, guilt and anger. I thought I was doing the best thing for her by breastfeeding around the clock. Instead I feel like I've let her go from being a perfectly healthy, chubby newborn to a skinny, anemic baby all in just 7 months. What is wrong with my milk?

To make matters worse, her appetitie is completely waning - a result of the anemia. She won't nurse *or* take solids, she won't take a sippy cup or a bottle - so I'm terrified that she's starving before my very eyes.

I know most people reading this are completely pro-breasfeeding, and I am too, but I am truly trying to determine what's best for my daughter, and I have to wonder, is it time to supplement with iron-fortified formula?

I literally feel on the edge of a breakdown over this - there's no one to blame but myself because I'm her primary source of nutrition. I very much want to breastfeed until she's at least a year, but not at the expense of her health and her being anemic.

What do I do? Please help. I feel like I've failed her.
post #2 of 10
I'm not nearly knowledgable enough to know what you can or should do but I do know this:

You have NOT failed her: you love her and care for her and will do what it takes to make sure she is happy and healthy...

post #3 of 10
Relax! Anemia happens sometimes. it's not the end of the world and it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your milk.

Were you sick during your pregnancy? Was your baby pre-term? these can both result in less than optimal absorption of iron stores from the placenta. (this happened to me with one of my 3)

Your breastmilk has a small amt of iron. it is 49% absorbed by your baby tho. Artifical iron in cereals and artificial baby milk is only 4% absorbed! the rest has to be passed thru, and that a lot of hard stinky poop. Your best bet for now is to keep bfing A LOT and add in the iron drops. Are you anemic too? If the iron drop upsets the babys' stomach, some do better on floradix or herbal remedies that contain iron. do a google search.

as far as the slowing weight gain, don't panic! here is research backed info from the Breastfeeding Answer book, which I see your dr doens't have!

Typical weight gain for the first 3-4 mos is 4-8 oz/wk

this is very rapid weight gain. Then it slows down to:

4-6 mos--3-5 oz/wk

6-12 mos--1 1/2 -3 oz/wk

If you are good at math, you will see that your baby falls in the range of average. She is probably following a genetic pattern inherited from you or dh. Ask your moms for growth charts for you and your dh and your siblings.

If you are still worried, just start nursing more often! Nurse every hour and see what happens after a week or two. how are her pees and poops? How is her growth --height and head circumference?

I'm sure more moms will chime in to say how their big fat newborns turned into lean older babies/toddlers. Nursing babies are quite often not fat. ABM fed babies gain at a more even pace.

Are you or dh petite, or tall and lean?
post #4 of 10
Try not to panic. My babies were all very chubby, dd was 22lbs at 6mo, and she was 6.13 at birth. however, a friend who was a LLL leader, told me that this wasnt the norm, that most breast fed babies, once past the rapid growth phase, wind up being more on the lean side. she told me this almost 16 yrs ago, yet when i read your post, i immediately thought of it. for what its worth, my girlfriends baby was anemic, quite large and formula fed, so there are no guarentees.

i am no authority on this, my only claim to fame being a bf'g mom, who when I did it had no one to ask anything, except my old neighbor who was the LLL leader. alot of the moms here have a wealth of info to offer, and will give you terrific advice.

keep your chin up, your doing a great job!!
post #5 of 10
I've been thinking more about this. I recalled that you said her anemia right now is causing her to have loss of appetite and thirst. This is of concern of course. Dehydration is not a good thing. It can make a person lethargic. Perhaps your dr will want her to have some iv fluids, to perk her up. Does she seem dehydrated, sunken eyes, no tears or spit, yellow urine?

My suggestion to nurse more is no good if she just refuses to eat, whether it is your milk or ABM. What does dr say about all this?

I'm guessing he wants a stool sample to check for blood? Sometimes intestinal bleeding is caused by a food sensitivity.

Are you following up on this tomorrow? Keep us posted.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Yes, I'll be sure to update. Thanks for the advice!

I got the stool sample a few minutes ago but the lab is now closed. So I'll keep it and bring it in tomorrow. Office said it will take about 72 hours for results to come back.

Yeah, the loss of appetite is most distubing to me. She has always been a dainty eater, but in the past week or so, she has completely refused her solid meal a day and has reduced her number and length of nursings. I just want to cry!

Her eyes aren't sunken, and she doesn't seem particularly larthargic, but she's not crawling around burning up tons of calories, either. Her urine isn't yellow and she still has tears, so that's good I suppose.

Her head circumference is good (80th percentile) - I made the doctor measure again today. So a skinny baby with a big head!

I did ask my mom to look in my own baby book - I was the same birth weight as my dd, but at 6 mos., I was 18 pounds and 29 inches. But I was formula fed.
DH asked his mom but she had five kids and can't remember what anyone weighed when they were babies, lol.

I am now wondering about my own diet - I suppose I could be anemic. I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian and have been for years. The last time I had my iron checked, I was pregnant and it was fine. I'm kicking myself tho' because I slacked off taking my prenatals for the past two months. Could that be the reason? Is there anything I can take to boost my iron for my milk? I ate four eggs today after we returned from the doctor's. Are there any herbs that might help?
post #7 of 10
get Floradix Iron and Herbs. it's a whole foods, non-constipating liquid iron that is wonderful. a month's supply is $32 but worth it. it's the only form of iron supplements that have turned my anemia around.

could your baby also be teething? mine rejects solids when he is. he also rejects the breast sometimes too when cutting a new tooth.

do you take b12 supplements? as a vegetarian it's important to get this as well. go back on the prenatals. don't beat yourself up. good luck.
post #8 of 10
If you think you may be anemic, have yourself checked. If you aren't menstruating or anemic, why take the supplement? Your milk will continue to make the right amt of iron for your baby, regardless. You don't just make a low iron breastmilk when anemic. Milk is milk. Her anemia is probably caused by something else.

I can just feel the mommy guilt raising off you. Just let your worry motivate you to get to the bottom of this issue. Good luck!
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 



i just wanted to update you on my girl, as promised.

the results of her stool test came back negative - so no absorption problems, no food allergies causing blood loss from the intestines, etc.

It looks like she just has low iron, for no really great reason. probably behavioral - she is a dainty eater and has been since she exited the womb, lol!

anyway, she's been on the iron drops for about 10 days now, and she has already gained about 9 ounces in this time! this after not gaining a single ounce, and then losing a few, in over a month.

so i am calming down, for now. thanks for your advice!
post #10 of 10
Gwen stalled on weight gain between months 5 and 12. She was born at nearly 10 lbs, at months 5 she was 18 lbs, and at one year, 20 lbs. She wore 12-18 month size clothes for over a year. But, she is perfectly healthy.
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