Improving the quality of breastmilk? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Are there herbs that I can take to improve the quality of my breastmilk?
My son is a slow gainer (at 4 months, he is 15lbs).
Is there a way that I can make my milk fattier?
Any suggestions?

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#2 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 10:53 AM
 
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Not sure about improving the milk, but 15 pounds at 4 months seems like a really good weight to me.
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#3 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 10:57 AM
 
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In general, your milk will be exactly what your baby needs, even if your diet is terrible and you take no supplements. Even in areas where many mothers are malnourished, breastfed infants are healthy.

The only thing I know of re: breastfeeding and fats is that if your diet is rich in omega-3s (DHA, EPA), through food or supplements, your milk will be richer in these fats also. Whether this would impact growth, I don't know, but there are many documented health benefits.
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#4 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Not sure about improving the milk, but 15 pounds at 4 months seems like a really good weight to me.
Thanks. I keep reading on MDC about other breastfed babies that weigh 16, 17 and even 19lbs!
Our ped said that DS is a little on the slender side, but healthy. This sort of worried DH because I had problems with supply early (due to bad advice, I think) and ended up supplementing DS.
We've been able to get him off of most of the supplement (he went from almost 32oz a day to 4oz a day!) and as a result, he does seem much more slender than he was before.

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#5 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:04 AM
 
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WilliamsMama,
The conventional wisdom is that you cannot increase the amount of fat in your milk but you can improve the quality by eating healthy fats. If you search Kellymom you'll find something on this.

Since my DD1 had secondary lactose intolerance I did a lot of research on increasing the amount of fat and didn't find much except a couple of articles on research in Australia. I'm fuzzy on the details now but I believe they suggested that fewer "junky carbs" and presumably more fat in Mom's diet seemed to reduce the crying with colicky babies. Of course this assumed that the colic was due to a high sugar to fat ratio and further assumed that increasing the fat made it easier to digest the milk and that made the baby more comfortable so they didn't cry as much.

So, the science is shaky. On the other hand, traditionally in China (or maybe it's in Japan) mother's consumed as many as 5 or 6 eggs a day to improve the quality (fat content) of their milk.

So my advice to moms with colicky babies they suspect as having secondary lactose intolerance is simply to try a lower "junky carb" and higher fat diet, preferably with healthy fats. That would be my advice to you.

You could also try block feeding so DC gets more of the hind milk. Also if you pump and can produce more than you need you can let the fat rise and use it to fatten EBM that you give him.

~Cath
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#6 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ccohenou View Post
In general, your milk will be exactly what your baby needs, even if your diet is terrible and you take no supplements. Even in areas where many mothers are malnourished, breastfed infants are healthy.

The only thing I know of re: breastfeeding and fats is that if your diet is rich in omega-3s (DHA, EPA), through food or supplements, your milk will be richer in these fats also. Whether this would impact growth, I don't know, but there are many documented health benefits.
I take omega-3 supplements (in algae and flax seed oil) every day.
I'm just wondering if there's a way for him to gain more weight!

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#7 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:06 AM
 
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Why do you think he is a slow gainer? 15 lbs at 4 months is above the 50th percentile on the cdc charts!

-Shannon, momma to H reading.gif 8/03, N heartbeat.gif 9/06, & P homebirth.jpg 8/11, missing S brokenheart.gif born at 11 wks 1/09 

 


 
   

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#8 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How does one block feed?
I offer DS both breasts and I usually feed him from the last breast he ate from.
Lately, I've been experiencing engorgement because DS sleeps through the night (sometimes he sleeps from 8:30pm to 4am!) and I wonder if I'm maybe DS is taking too much foremilk.
Being a vegetarian, I do sometimes wonder if he's getting enough healthy fats from me because I may not be consuming enough protein.
William is not very colicky at all but he does get fussy around the last feeding before he goes to sleep.

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#9 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:16 AM
 
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You could increase the frequency of feedings. Closely-spaced feeds are higher in fat. But if his growth is within normal range, you can continue to follow his lead.

You should also be aware that many breastfed babies will plateau in weight around 6 months of age - this is the point where formula-fed babies may keep gaining at a rapid rate, but it's normal for breastfed babes to slow down. I know you're not to this point yet, but it's something to be prepared for if you are a little worried about weight gain now.
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#10 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Why do you think he is a slow gainer? 15 lbs at 4 months is above the 50th percentile on the cdc charts!
From his 2 month checkup to his 4 month, he went from 13lbs 8oz to 14lbs.
During that time (in between the checkups), we weaned him off of formula supplements. Of course, I knew he might lose some weight.
The thing is, the ped actually said my former chubster was slender but healthy.
I don't think he's gained much in the last 2 weeks since his 4 month checkup.

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#11 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ccohenou View Post
You could increase the frequency of feedings. Closely-spaced feeds are higher in fat. But if his growth is within normal range, you can continue to follow his lead. .
He does eat every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Should he eat more than that?

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#12 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ccohenou View Post

You should also be aware that many breastfed babies will plateau in weight around 6 months of age - this is the point where formula-fed babies may keep gaining at a rapid rate, but it's normal for breastfed babes to slow down. I know you're not to this point yet, but it's something to be prepared for if you are a little worried about weight gain now.
Given all the challenges we had in the beginning with DS's weight, I think I'll always be worried.
When you read about/see breastfed babies who are gargantuan (it seems) compared to your baby, it's so difficult not to constantly worry about weight gain.

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#13 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 02:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ccohenou View Post
You could increase the frequency of feedings. Closely-spaced feeds are higher in fat. But if his growth is within normal range, you can continue to follow his lead.
...
I was going to disagree with this statement but as I think about it I realize it's probably correct. Theoretically, the shorter the time between feedings the more likely it is the baby will reach the "hind milk" before the "foremilk" replenishes.

However, nursing more frequently would probably be instead of --rather than in addition to-- block feeding. Block feeding is when you nurse on one side for a longer period of time in order to reach the fattier hind milk which is further up, for lack of a better description. Sometimes simply keeping DC on one side for the entire length of a feeding is enough but it may also mean putting DC back on the same side in a subsequent nursing session.

With DD1 I was nursing her on and off for as long as 6 to 8 hours to try and increase the amount of hind milk she was getting.

However, I think we'd tapered off on that by the time she'd reached your DC's age. I think this is a tougher strategy to implement with babies as they get older since they probably want to switch sides as it gets harder to reach the milk "in the back", so to speak.

Conversely, if you have a comfort nurser they may be content to nurse even though they aren't getting much and that could defeat the purpsose. Although the law of supply and demand suggests that your supply would respond to the demand.

All of which brings me to ccohenou's point, if he is within the normal range and he is staying on his growth curve then perhaps you should just continue to follow his lead or perhaps only make minor changes to his nursing routine.
~Cath
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#14 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 05:35 PM
 
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Alfalfa supplements can increase the fat content of your milk; actually the only time I ever had a plugged duct was because my milk got thicker while taking alfalfa! MOBI (Mothers Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues) has discussed this at length.

http://www.lowmilksupply.org/alfalfa.shtml

Also, breast compression can help.

Congrats on reducing the amount of supplement you take!!!!
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#15 of 25 Old 09-18-2007, 07:05 PM
 
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If it makes you feel better, DD is 15 lbs. 15 ounces at 7.5 months old and still healthy. NOt all babes are meant to grow so fast! We do have food intolerance/allergies that inhibit some growth, but overall, she's healthy. A local LLL member has a 9mo who is abotu 14.5 lbs. and perfectly healthy.
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#16 of 25 Old 09-19-2007, 12:58 AM
 
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My baby is almost 5mos and just 15.3, he was 9.3at birth so has onlyt gained 6lbs...I don't worry about it - he seems healthy
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#17 of 25 Old 09-19-2007, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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If it makes you feel better, DD is 15 lbs. 15 ounces at 7.5 months old and still healthy. NOt all babes are meant to grow so fast! We do have food intolerance/allergies that inhibit some growth, but overall, she's healthy. A local LLL member has a 9mo who is abotu 14.5 lbs. and perfectly healthy.
Thank you for that. I need the reassurance.
When DS's doc said he was "slender", I worried.

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#18 of 25 Old 09-19-2007, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My baby is almost 5mos and just 15.3, he was 9.3at birth so has onlyt gained 6lbs...I don't worry about it - he seems healthy
William was 8lbs 14oz at birth and initially lost 10% of his birthweight, so I always worry if he's gaining enough.
He does seem healthy, though! His smiles tell me that!

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#19 of 25 Old 09-20-2007, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Alfalfa supplements can increase the fat content of your milk; actually the only time I ever had a plugged duct was because my milk got thicker while taking alfalfa! MOBI (Mothers Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues) has discussed this at length.

http://www.lowmilksupply.org/alfalfa.shtml

Also, breast compression can help.

Congrats on reducing the amount of supplement you take!!!!
Thanks for the congrats!
I just started taking alfalfa tablets so I hope it works. I do take lecithin to ward off plugged ducts.

Sheila, mother to William and Min Hee, wife of David
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#20 of 25 Old 09-22-2007, 12:06 AM
 
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Look at your baby, not the scale. And, by the way, "slender" is not a bad word. A slender baby is a healthy baby.

My DD was 8 lbs. 7.5 oz at birth. Dropped to 7lbs.15oz before we left the hospital. It took her a full month to regain up to her birthweight, and she hovered at the 3rd percentile until she was 2, when she made a giant leap to 6th At 5 years old she might weigh 35 lbs if that much. She is built exactly like her dad, tall and lean. Pictures of my DH when he was 10 or 12, you would say "how can those stick legs hold him up?"

So, although the ped initially pestered me about DD's weight gain, he backed off when he realized that supplementing and schedule feeding her made no impact on her weight gain, and she was always happy, healthy, hydrated and meeting her milestones on time, or early.

And, FWIW, I don't think she reached 15 lbs. until she was close to a year old!

Please relax and enjoy your healthy baby
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#21 of 25 Old 09-22-2007, 01:24 AM
 
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Please relax and enjoy your healthy baby
I AGREE!!!! Is this your first child? If so, just have more children and you wouldn't even blink at this. Your child seems so normal. Relax mama and love your baby up. Boy they grow so fast. And STOP listening to other people's labels for your child...slender, chunky, loud, quiet, fussy, passive, blah blah blah. You need to tap into your "mother gut" and listen and if it tells you your baby is probably ok, then he is ok. You are doing a great job I'm sure!
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#22 of 25 Old 09-22-2007, 09:51 AM
 
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I wouldn't worry if the ped says your baby is healthy. I admit I do the same thing -- I see people mention their 15-pound 3-month-olds and look at my daughter, who's barely 12 and a half, and worry something is wrong. But I'm trying to make myself not think that way, because I know I would be able to tell if she was actually not getting enough to eat.
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#23 of 25 Old 09-22-2007, 10:34 PM
 
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You're doing a good job, mama!

A couple things may be happening here simultaneously:

Babies grow much faster in the first 3-6 months than at any period after. So if he reached that 13-8 in the first three months (with the help of some formula) and has slowed down, it might not be because of the formula being taken away, it may also be just that he's evening out his growth now. My first son gained 3 pounds in his first 4 weeks of life, but then didn't double his birth weight until 7 months old. Although he was still fat (18 lbs), I was worried because his growth had slowed way down. It turned out to be normal for him. Your baby may be coming closer to his biological norm. Look at yourself, your husband, and both sets of parents to get an idea of family trends. Tall and slender? Short and round? Somewhere in between??

What was his birth weight? Were there any factors that led to him being bigger or smaller at birth? (gestational diabetes, IUGR, IV fluids at delivery, etc) if so the early numbers may be off a bit.

And just to make you feel a bit better, my second son has been very slow to gain weight. He was 8-4 at birth and now at 6.5 months is right around 16 lbs (just under I think). So not double birth weight yet.

Mommy to BigBoy Ian (3-17-05) ; LittleBoy Connor (3-3-07) (DiGeorge/VCFS):; BabyBoy Gavin (10-3-09) x3 AngelBaby (1-7-06)
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#24 of 25 Old 09-23-2007, 02:58 AM
 
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People with "slow" starts, such as myself, I don't think ever really stop worrying if they are feeding their baby enough, especially when surrounded by people who were not encouraging. I feel for you. DD weight gain slowed down dramatically when I cut formula out completely and breast fed her round the clock for weeks in bed where I could focus on relaxing and making my milk flow, meticulously massaging every duct to make sure they empty completely. I am not sure if I would have done this again in hind sight for many reasons but I was obsessed with a goal and I did it. After having to supplement for the first 2 months, she has been purely on breast milk for the last month and a half and has gained weight. She is now almost 12 pounds at 4 months.
I have to go back to work in a week, which unfortunately means I will have to supplement again since my breasts are not yielding more than an ounce per 20 minute session. This upsets me in many levels emotionally b/c it makes me feel inadequate as a mother. But if I step back and look at the situation. a) formula is not crack b) Is it more important that I get validation as a mother or is it more important to have a happy healthy baby... but I digress...

Anyway, I started going to a mommy and me support group for working mothers and contrary to the other mommy and me groups I went to my baby was not too small. She was quite the average size let me reiterate she was 12 pounds at almost 4 months. This was extremely eye opening for me b/c as you mentioned I have seen so many large 3 months olds. One baby in the group, maybe a pound or two larger than my own drank over 48 ounces a day, the mother definitely had to start supplementing- not a big baby.

Lesson is- some baby process food and fat differently than others, just like adults. If they are alert, happy and healthy then accept the fact you are enough and are doing a good job. I know easier said than done.
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#25 of 25 Old 09-23-2007, 03:12 AM
 
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Don't stress about it too much if you can. My DD is almost 11 months and has barely gained a full pound since 6 mos. She is maybe 17lbs now, but healthy and happy and a total boob monkey!

Avocadoes have wonderful omega 3s and are delish too!
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