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Breast milk supply vs demand, formula, solid food---for 6-month old baby

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  • #46
    Originally posted by mcgruff View Post
    My wife tried feeding from the breast, but our daughter just hasn't taken to it. My wife and daughter could try again, but it never worked in the past. Even if it works, my wife would still pump since she works and there are plenty of times where having milk by bottle is practically necessary.
    I'm going to go with this a little bit, and *please* don't take it as a criticism. I have been there, so I understand.

    Please, go see a lactation consultant.

    First, because these questions around pumping are best answered by a person with specialized training and information in the field. Their whole job is to help parents provide breastmilk for their children!

    Second, since being on the breast -- even part time -- can increase supply, it's a good idea to give it another try. But as new moms (I only have one child), we don't know *why* a baby may not be latching.

    Mine didn't latch because his tongue was so strong, he'd push the nipple out rather than drawing in. That's why it took four days to 'train' him to breast, and it involved using finger training and then nipple shields, and hten it was 5 weeks of nipple shields before he was fully on the breast! But I wouldn't have known this if I hadn't seen a lactation consultant. She identified the problem and gave us a workable plan of action in under 20 minutes!

    And from her, I also learned to pump. I continued to pump even though we had him at breast because I wanted a milk bank, and good thing too, because my friend had extremely low supply, and so we were able to provide 1/3 of the food her baby got! She provided 1/3, and 1/3 was formula! When she went back to work, she stopped pumping, so then her daughter's diet was 2/3 formula and 1/3 what I pumped. I consulted my LC to learn how to balance pumping and nursing so that we could get everyone good nutrition.

    So, a good lactation consultant is worth her weight in colostrum! <--- breast-milker's joke, there!

    I would suggest, too, that having the baby on the breast will make things easier on momma. I know it made a massive difference for me, and my friend who went back to work when her son was 3 mo felt the same. She would pump during the day (for the next day's bottles), and then nurse her son at home. She would nurse overnight which kept supply up, and also made it easier the next day (it was less work to breastfeed at night than wake for a bottle). So, your wife might find it the same.

    And please note that I"m not advocating for "ideal" situations. I'm simply asserting that the idea that "babies must eat at 6 months" is simply not the case scientifically.

    If you want to feed your daughter, then certainly do so. And, you can go through any number of food introducing processes -- we did baby-led weaning. Another friend of ours is WAPF, so she did that process. I think you're sort-of doing (or your quesitons look like) allergen avoidance ones. All good.

    I would recommend focusing on the breast milk/formula at this point, though, personally, because I have a prefernece for the ease and awesomeness that is baby-led weaning.


    • #47
      Originally posted by NZ primal Gwamma View Post
      I have taken it as a sole food source. I am sure that Zoes will qualify this for us thou.
      So, to qualify this, the reality is that breast milk is designed to be the sole food of humans up to age 8. By sole, I mean that it is possible for human children to grow normally with no food other than breast milk to this age. After this age, apparently the breast milk no longer changes to meet the needs of older (above age 8) children. Though, humans naturally wean before this time.

      Look at how powerful this may be. If there is an extended famine, a mother need only feed herself, and then she can feed her children *everything that they need* from her own supply. This will allow a tribe under extreme conditions to continue.

      These extreme conditions are not unusual. Consider for example that, culturally, Mongolian peoples in the modern era continue to nurse their children up to age 6-8. this is considered a good thing to do, and not doing it is basically depriving your child of what they need to be "big and strong" -- valued in the culture. If we look at why this may be the case, it is largely because of the food supply in Mongolia. They subsist largely on blood, milk and meat -- with some subsistance on gathered grains, tubers, veggies, and fruits. But, notably, that last bit is relatively meager.

      Which means that they would feed their children breastmilk longer, likely because adults would require more food, and children would need this special food to subsist. And, as such, Mongolian children grow big and strong.

      Likewise, we can look to extreme situations such as what is happening in many parts of the world where there is conflict and famine. Take, for example, somalia. Food supply is not exactly clear there. Lots of problems with acquiring food, lots of problems with growing it. Feeding the infant up to 4-5 years old on just breast milk makes it possible for a mother to subsist herself and older children on what meager offerings exist.

      The real risk in famine is mothers feeding their children *first*, and then mothers being unable to supply this nutrition food for their children. If the mother isn't fed and watered, then the mother will die, and so also will the children. But if she can subsist herself, then she can subsist her children.

      In a normal environment -- for traditional or westernized peoples -- it's no problem to provide food for children at younger ages. It's normal for children to show interest and readiness for food between 8 months and 1.5 years. That's typically when children take the greatest interest in trying out foods like an adult. I know my son had great interest in it at that point, and still does. The boy is most definitely a foodie.

      And, there are always outliers -- children who eat before age 8 mo, and children who will not be interested in food until well after 1.5 years.

      The trouble is that we have become this weird "standardization" process with a lot of information that is *false*. Such as "a child needs food after 6 months because breast milk cannot provide the right (or adequate) nutrition."

      This often forces parents to feed children before they are ready to eat, which affects gut colonization issues, palate issues, development of the structures of the mouth issues, taste/texture aversions and possibly many other things besides. It may even cause allergies to certain foods.

      Likewise, for parents of outliers who do not show interest in food until much later, they begin to get the horrifying worry that their child isn't going to be healthy or get adequate nutrition, and then comes a massive emotional power struggle over food that often carries over for *years and years* as the child refuses and refuses, and the parents have to push and push and push.

      If we simply had more understanding of the human development at this time -- and we knew that a child could subsist wholly on breastmilk with no health problems (assuming the child is growing normally in every way, of course) -- then we would not have the worry and fear that they *must* be fed from 6 mo (or other random date) onwards.

      Rather, we would understand that a child could be fed from that point onwards (though I argue that gut flora is still at issue at this point. . .), but that the child *needn't* be fed so long as the child is getting other food on which s/he is growing.

      Ultimately, my point is to directly oppose the idea that at 6 months we should be making massive batches of purreed foods for our children and that breast milk isn't enough on it's own. It certainly *is* enough on it's own and for many more years than we are even used to considering!

      But, in a world of abundance, we can certainly start feeding our children when they demonstrate readiness (which is what I think the standard should be, rather than an arbitrary "6 months" or whatever) -- and I believe as BLW does. . .that we feed based on what we eat and that the child basically gets what the adults get.

      And in concern of allergies, we can look to mother's milk. If the baby shows no ill effects from mother's milk, her baby will be fine eating whatever she eats. It's a good little test.
      Last edited by zoebird; 01-31-2013, 07:26 PM.


      • #48
        Some great info there zoe!


        • #49
          Thanks Neckhammer.

          I just want families to be and feel successful in their processes. THis mom and dad have gone through a *lot* of hard work to get their baby girl breastmilk. It is no small feat to pump exclusively for 6 months! It's a huge undertaking and shows that these parents are exceptionally diligent. Many families are not this intrepid!

          Ultimately, I support whatever this family chooses, but I also wanted to provide information about other options that they might not be considering at this time. Particularly the lactation consultant. People rarely even know they exist (and they can be hard to find), but I can't begin to explain how *wonderful* it was for us to have one.

          My son had no food for the first 3 days of his life. He was dehydrated, and it was terrifying. He was very hungry and cried for 24 hrs straight on the last day. Our doctor told us that babies are "born fat" and he could wait to see us until Tuesday (DS was born on Saturday midnight). But, he hadn't seen our 'celery baby' and we just didn't know what to do. To make matters worse, it was a holiday weekend (labor day), and so most everyone was out of town. So even though we had resources (midwives, our family doctor, etc) -- they were all on holiday and really didn't care to talk to us!

          Tuesday came around, and the doctor goes "he's vigorous, but dehydrating!" We showed him how we tried to latch him all weekend. The doctor hand-pumped my breast and I had basically no supply. He got us water, and we spoon fed water to the baby and he started to hydrate. I remember being in a near-panic and absolute tears!

          Then, he said to go and see a lactation consultant. I had the number for every consultant in a 45 minute radius from our house (drive radius). Every single one was on holiday! I left frantic messages. I went to the Le Leche League meeting, and they helped me hand pump colostrum and feed him with a spoon. I would do colostrum, followed up by water.

          We saw the doctor again on Wednesday, and he asked if we'd seen a LC. I told him that we'd called all of them, but everyone was on holiday. He said to hang in there, keep hand-pumping and spoon feeding colostrum and water.

          Later that day, we got a call from an LC. She came home early, and was working at hte local hospital. We came in -- we were completely frazzled and absolutely wrecked (exhausted). The 24 hrs of comforting a baby, then the 1.5 days of scrambling around and hand pumping and spoon feeding were weighing on us. Diapers were fine, and he was no longer dehydrated, btu we were a wreck!

          So we drive this 5 day old baby to the hospital, and the nurse takes us to a waiting room area and has a look at him and sticks her (clean) finger in his mouth, and holds him to my breast just ina specific way and watches him. She told us about how strong he was, and htat's the problem. She gave us a hospital grade pump. She told us to keep doing the tea, and she gave us a tube to feed him with -- by hand.

          She also said great things: "Okay, yes, that is good. You are doing well. Everything is going to work out fine. Everything is great. Yes, that's good, yes, that's how to do it. Just like that." Those sorts of words feel so necessary after so much worry and fear!

          So, we go home with this baby and a breast pump that is larger and weighs more than he does! I start pumping, and the LC calls a few hours later to see how it's going. I describe how much I'm getting each session, and she recommends pumping less frequently (every 3 hrs). The hand-feeding is going well.

          By Friday, my parents have come. This is the most abiding memory that I have of these days, because my neighbor is so lovely. LOL!

          My milk is in and flowing freely whenever I hand feed my son. That milk is liquid platinum as far as I'm concerned -- it was so hard fought even just over those 6 days!

          So, my father is sitting on my right side on the sofa, and he's holding the bottle of milk and managing the syringe. My top is off (skin to skin improves milk supply, too), and my husband is kneeling in front of me manning two small bottles to catch the milk dripping from my breasts. My mom is on the right of me, providing support with pillows and helping me with the angle of the tube while I"m hand feeding him.

          It takes a village!

          So this was all peaceful and quiet and we were going along, and my neighbor is outside with his dogs. He's telling anothe rneighbor that we just had our baby, a boy, etc... it was hot September, so we had the windows open.

          Then, my curtains fell off the wall, and there we are -- all 5 of us -- me with my top off and each of us doing some task to feed this baby. LOL Oh, it just brings tears to the eyes with how funny it was. It was like "crash!" and then Alex -- the neighbor waves, and my dad waves back, and then Alex registers what he's seeing and quickly turns away, and we just all bust up laughing. I doubt I will ever forget that moment.

          That day, we saw the doctor and the LC as well, and the doctor said we could see him half-a-week later (rather than every day as we had been seeing him), and the LC asked us to try a latch with a nipple shield, and we did and it was great. He got right on. She then guided me in how to continue to pump for milk banking -- how to do it safely so that the baby would still get his needs met.

          Three months later, I nursed another baby and my baby simultaneously. You should have seen the look on my son's face. It said "I THOUGHT that we had an EXCLUSIVE contract here!" LOL And the look on her face was "WTF do you eat?" LOL She's always had a prissy (beautiful) face like that. She's my special baby, even though she's not mine. I nursed her several times in the first weeks of her life, and gave so much milk to her family over about 9 months. THey went to formula after that (no judgment), and she was eating a fair amount of solids from 6 months old onwards. She's a good kid. I really have a special place in my heart for her. And my son does too. He considers her his "yums sister" (yums being his name for breastmilk).

          It is a special time, those breastfeeding years. Providing milk for your baby or for another baby is a really precious thing. I can't describe it. I can't explain it to anyone who hasn't done it. It's just something unique. It's something wondrous-strange. I feel very blessed that I could give milk to my son and share milk with another baby.

          I'm also thankful that I can providing information and support to other families who are making decisions about how to move forward -- to know that they have options in their processes, and that there are lots of ways to get there. It's a no-judgement space. Just a "here's information" and support people in making those decisions.

          That's just my story. I know that I needed support -- and my family, my LC, and my doctor, as well as my other friends who were breastfeeding and/or pumping. . . it meant a lot to me. We all have these stories -- these challenges and joys and all the weird stuff in between. It's the nature of this strange and wonderful time when you transition from being a couple-family to being a family with children.


          • #50
            Well this thread moved fast, and I'm on a different time zone so I apologize if this has already been addressed, or I'm late to the party. There has already been a great amount of info already covered. The nifty thing about breastmilk is that baby doesnt necessarily drink more of it, it becomes more calorically dense and nutritious as baby gets older.


            • #51
              Originally posted by zoebird View Post
              So, to qualify this, the reality is that breast milk is designed to be the sole food of humans up to age 8. By sole, I mean that it is possible for human children to grow normally with no food other than breast milk to this age. After this age, apparently the breast milk no longer changes to meet the needs of older (above age 8) children. Though, humans naturally wean before this time.
              Very interesting theory Zoes, however sorry I am not convinced - I don't believe that breast milk would be nutritionally suitable for children up to the age of 8, and I would not be willing (if I had my children again) to test this theory - would love Marks view on this one..... if he is reading ????....
              I think that it would be an interesting topic to research - and we would find as many studies for -as against ????? ( as is often the case)

              anyhow I am sure that the op, will do what is best and what works for him and his wife.
              G x
              "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

              ...small steps....


              • #52

                What you believe and what scientific information exists about breast milk are two different things. You are welcome to believe whatever you wish.

                Myth 24: Nursing a baby after 12 months is of little value because the quality of breast milk begins to decline after six months.

                Fact: The composition of human milk changes to meet the changing needs of baby as he matures. Even when baby is able to take solids, human milk is the primary source of nutrition during the first year. It becomes a supplement to solids during the second year. In addition, it takes between two and six years for a child's immune system to fully mature. Human milk continues to complement and boost the immune system for as long as it is offered.


                American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics 1997; 100(6):1035-39.

                Goldman, A. Immunologic components in human milk during the second year of lactation. Acta Paediatr Scand 1983; 72:461-62.

                Gulick, E. The effects of breastfeeding on toddler health. Ped Nursing1986; 12:51-54.

                Innocenti Declaration on the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. Ecology of Food and Nutrition 1991; 26:271-73.

                Mohrbacher, N., Stock, J. BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK. Schaumburg, Illinois: LLLI, 1997; 164-68.

                Saarinen, U. Prolonged breastfeeding as prophylaxis for recurrent Otitis media. Acta Paediatr Scand 1982; 71:567-71. (source)
                This information from the Infant Nutrition Council provides the nutritional profile of breast milk and how it changes over time.

                Finally, I did *qualify* my statement. Either A. you completely ignore that qualification or B. you misunderstand it or C. you didn't read it.

                To summarize it,

                A. I am not advocating that a person breastfeed exclusively (sole source of nutrition) for X years. I am asserting that it is possible for a person in an extreme circumstance to maintain her children up to the far extreme of human natural weaning as a demonstration that breast milk has everything that a child needs after 6 months to directly refute your *false* information, which the science refutes above.

                B. I also asserted that in our modern world, it is of course natural and normal and healthy to introduce foods well before the far side of natural weaning as those foods are available. With this, there are many methods and means of doing this. And, I have advocated that across 4 posts now (including this one).

                C. Most of the "ages at which one starts solids" is largely cultural, not scientific or based on actual signs of readiness in the child. That is why I prefer the baby-led approach. It focuses not on cultural, arbitrary ages based on what people "believe" but rather based on scientific information and observation around human development in preparation for eating for nutrition. The web link provided before has plenty of information on it.

                Now, I suggest you scientifically validate your beliefs, since I've already validated mine up the yin-yang.