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

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

    Hi. I'm a longtime MDA fan but first time poster.

    My wife and I are the proud parents of a beautiful six month old girl, our first child. With the exception of some formula given at the hospital right after our daughter was born and added to breast milk to increase its calorie density in the first few weeks of daughter's life, our daughter has lived pretty much completely on breast milk. (However, daughter won't take straight from the breast. Her milk supply comes pumped and bottled.) We are now experimenting with solid food---sweet potatoes, avocado, tiny bits of ground beef, but breast milk still accounts for almost 100% of my daughter's food intake. Our girl was born healthy but six weeks early, with a birth weight of 4 pounds. She is now over 14 pounds and is very strong, healthy, and lively.

    Lately, my wife has become worried that daughter's appetite may overtake her milk supply. Although we take a dim view of formula, we aren't absolutists against it, and given my wife's supply concerns, we have been trying to give daughter some formula, both mixed with breast milk and by itself. Our daughter seems to hate it; she won't take formula straight, and she only takes it mixed if it is so heavily diluted with breast milk so as to not make much difference to the supply issue. And of course, we're not excited to be giving her formula, so if we can do something else, great. But it does seem that we do need to figure out something so that we don't reach the point where daughter is hungry but we don't have anything to give her that she actually wants. My wife plans to provide breast milk for daughter at least until twelve months and seems less eager than I to add solid foods in any significant quantity. However, it seems that my wife's breast milk production may not necessarily always meet the demands of daughter's voracious appetite. I'm wondering what we can do to keep daughter's tummy full and her growing body's needs met.

    FWIW, my wife eat a mostly primal diet.

    Anyway, what's the best thing to do in our situation? Thanks.

  • #2
    Is your wife eating enough calories and carbs to produce enough breast milk? Breast feeding is not the right time to try calorie restriction and low carb. You want to supply that milk with as much nurishment as you can get i. Your wife.

    As far as supplemental foods, breastmilk is mostly saturated fat and sugar with just a bit of protein so it would be best to mimic that. 6 months is pretty young for ground beef because its a meat that can be contaminated easier. Try egg yolks hard boiled and mashed, really ripe bananas, apple sauce, sweet potatos, maybe a bit of dairy from cow or maybe goat would be better.

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    • #3
      Make sure wife is eating enough, and try pumping for longer periods more frequently. She could also try some lactation supplements like fennel essential oils, fenugreek, more milk plus, and mother's milk tea. Just tossing some ideas out there. Worse comes to worst, you can look up to see if there is a local chapter of eats on feets.
      --Trish (Bork)
      TROPICAL TRADITIONS REFERRAL # 7625207
      http://pregnantdiabetic.blogspot.com
      FOOD PORN BLOG! http://theprimaljunkfoodie.blogspot.com

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      • #4
        Ditto on the fenugreek supplement! I used it because I didn't feel as though I was producing enough breastmilk at the time. It really worked. Although, it made me smell like liqorice.

        I wonder if you could use coconut milk instead of the formula? Isn't it suppose to contain elements similar to breastmilk?
        Some people just need a sympathetic pat... On the head... With a hammer.

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        • #5
          Thanks. My wife does take fenugreek and blessed thistle. Are other supplements likely to help more?

          My wife, like myself, probably eats about 100g of net carbs a day. We cheat with pizza about once a week, but her diet consists mostly of organic yogurt, organic coconut flakes, almonds, meat, poultry, grass-fed butter, cheese, EVOO, eggs, dark chocolate, apples, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and green veggies. She is a type 1 diabetic (diagnosed about two years ago) and has excellent blood glucose control largely because she eats low-carb. It's possible that she should eat more carbs right now although she eats as much total food as she can take (as do I) and seems to enjoy her present diet.

          Like most nursing women, I suppose, she struggles to get enough sleep, given the physical and scheduling demands of lactation. She tries to get up in the middle of the night to pump and usually does, but sometimes she sleeps through that time (as a guy who loves sleep, I totally can't blame her). Naturally, sleeping through the night helps her sleep better, but that additional pumping time does seem to be the difference between staying ahead of daughter's appetite and falling behind. After going through the long, difficult period of pregnancy, I don't want her year of nursing to be all miserable and exhausting too. So, whatever I can do to help my wife keep our daughter fed while reducing stress on my wife, I'd like to do.

          Also, I'm intrigued by AuroraB's coconut milk suggestion. I would think somehow giving her coconut milk or oil would be a great way to add calories to help keep her satiated and growing. I would imagine that, within reason, pretty much any infant would benefit from increasing their lauric acid consumption. Anyone have ideas on whether it's a good idea to give a 6-month old significant amounts of coconut and, if it is, the best way of providing it?
          Last edited by mcgruff; 01-31-2013, 09:53 AM. Reason: clarification

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Dr. Bork Bork View Post
            Make sure wife is eating enough, and try pumping for longer periods more frequently. She could also try some lactation supplements like fennel essential oils, fenugreek, more milk plus, and mother's milk tea. Just tossing some ideas out there. Worse comes to worst, you can look up to see if there is a local chapter of eats on feets.
            Eats on feets is awesome! My midwife friend started it (unbeknownst to me I was the first donor!). It is international. Your daughter sounds smart in rejecting formula! Honestly neither of my kids really ate food during their first year! Played, yes! Even well past their first year....
            Home birthing legal mama. Unschooler. Jewish Intactivist (step away from the foreskin!). Full-term breastfeeder. Kettlebell padawan.

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            • #7
              If you go with the coconut milk, find canned milk in BPA cans or make your own. If you buy it, I'd make sure it's organic and full fat. You'd have to dilute it, obviously.
              You could also mix it with goat's milk if your wife's breastmilk supply diminishes too much.
              Some people just need a sympathetic pat... On the head... With a hammer.

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              • #8
                Native Forest uses BPA-free cans.
                Some people just need a sympathetic pat... On the head... With a hammer.

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                • #9
                  Or you could try this:

                  Raw Milk Solves Low Supply for Breastfeeding Mom
                  Some people just need a sympathetic pat... On the head... With a hammer.

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                  • #10
                    Mcgruff, congrats on the wee daughter. I have had 5 premies, and aren't they the cutest wee things !!!!
                    IMO when a child gets to about 6 months of age, to continue to grow at an optimal level, you must introduce solid foods, and this must form a major part of their diet. I am led to believe that up until about 6 months of age breast milk has all the goodies to sustain and nurture said babe, however beyond this point we need to introduce the nutrients that a child needs to survive optimally.
                    Personally I wouldn't be adding formula, I would continue with the breast milk, and also water.
                    If you boil up potatoes or kumara, coupled with carrots and peas - drain and then mash in a little butter and salt, add in a protein if you want....... this was always a great starting meal for my young uns. Also because a baby learns through putting things into its mouth, another really fabulous feed for her would be a cooked chop. They love all the fat and juices from the meat etc....
                    Anyway good luck, and make sure your wife enjoys that breast feeding quiet time, its all over too quickly !!!!
                    "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

                    ...small steps....

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                    • #11
                      First -- and I assume you already have one -- but make sure you're using a hospital-grade pump. In fact, most hospitals will rent them to you. It just makes it easier to get the hind-milk.

                      Second, you'll want an ally in a lactation consultant. She may be able to get your child to latch -- now that she's old enough. Babies are more efficient than machines, and so your body is more likely to adapt to the nutritional and volume needs of the baby. We had a lactation consultant and she was amazing. DS didn't have a latch, and with her help, we were able to get him on the breast in 4 days!

                      Third, I also started with low supply. My doctor recommended Weleda Nursing Tea. It has everything in it (mentioned in prior posts) that help increase milk supply. It is a medicinal tea, so the instructions have to be followed specifically to get the best results. And, I started with 5 cups per day, and then transitioned down to three. It makes you smell like maple syrup.

                      Finally, check out baby-lead weaning. It's a process where the child decides when to take on solid foods. It happens naturally for most children between ages 6mo-9mo. In that, the idea is "before one, food is just for fun!" and after one, it becomes nutrition. My son started eating solids (not mushed or pureed, you feed normal food) at 8 mo, but his nutrition was breast milk. Then, around 14 months, he started eating food for nutrition, and I knew this because how he nursed changed (he still nursed until age 3) as well as my body composition with it.

                      What the child eats definitely affects supply. If the child is getting more nutrition from food, then supply drops. If the child is getting more nutrition from milk, supply stays up.

                      And if you can get a lactation consultant and train your daughter onto the breast (even if your wife works, she can pump for work, and nurse morning/evenings -- lots of moms do this!), it will definitely help her body keep the supply going.

                      Good luck with everything! You're doing an awesome job and taking on a lot of hard work with all of that pumping! And congratulations on your baby girl!

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                      • #12
                        I hate to say it -- as much as I love Gwamma -- but she is woefully misinformed abotu breastmilk. In fact, her statement is utter nonsense and absolutely unsupported by major health organizations and science.

                        Breastmilk is designed to be the sole food of human infants for up to 8 years. I know that it seems strange in our culture to think of an "8 yr old* as an infant, but based on our fellow primates and similar research, our breast milk can sustain children for a long time. Natural Age for Weaning (PhD research).

                        The WHO recommends breast feeding children for at least two years -- and in developing nations, even longer. The reason being is because the food and water supplies in developing nations are not as sustainable as in developed nations. The body will filter everything and *provide the best nutrition* for the children, providing them the opportunity to thrive and far less exposure to disease in water or food. It also provides human growth hormone, immunity antibodies (similar to vaccination theory) from the mother, and overall is the best nutrition for infants.

                        The AAP recommends *at least one year* of breast milk, and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends going to at least 2 years of age because it increases health and immune function in the infant -- and they recommend "longer so long as it is mutually desired."

                        At the very least, mothers can provide the required nutrition for up to two years -- with or without food. (source)

                        It might also be helpful to understand how milk is developed in our bodies -- and that the nutritional needs of the infant change over time, and so, therefore does our milk. So long as the lactating mother is healthy, consuming enough calories and nutrition (including support like herbal teas), and getting the proper stimulation (pump or nursling), and has adequate supply overall, then the milk will meet the nutritional needs of the child. (kellymom.com)

                        Another cue is teeth. Babies generally do not have teeth until they are around a year old, at which time they will start taking food for nutrition -- while still relying on breastmilk to fill any gaps in nutrition, as well as provide human growth hormone, immune antibodies (from the mother -- works like vaccines), and the additional fats that their bodies and brains need to grow. This is why the baby-lead weaning movement focuses on "play/experiment" with food starting between 8-10 months, and most will then start to actually eat after they get *teeth* -- between 1 yr and 1.5 years. (baby-led weaning)

                        I know that a lot of people pressure others to feed their baby a lot of food starting at 6 months -- because of fears around breastmilk not providing, etc. But breast milk is amazingly adaptable.

                        I really wish people would stop giving outdated advice about breast milk. *le sigh*

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                        • #13
                          Hmmmmm Zoes - we will beg to differ on this one, and thats okay.......... I think that my opinion is possibly irrelevent, as long as the op does his homework and makes himself an informed choice.
                          "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

                          ...small steps....

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                          • #14
                            Zoebird is right.
                            Also its all about supply and demand. The more you feed the more you produce. Pumping is a little harder, as it doesn't replicate a baby exactly, but I think pumping more could help.
                            I don't know if I missed it, but how come the baby isn't feeding of the breast?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dr. Bork Bork View Post
                              Make sure wife is eating enough, and try pumping for longer periods more frequently. She could also try some lactation supplements like fennel essential oils, fenugreek, more milk plus, and mother's milk tea. Just tossing some ideas out there. Worse comes to worst, you can look up to see if there is a local chapter of eats on feets.
                              Agree with this too.
                              No need to give formula, and def not milk from another species. Donated milk would be much better.
                              Also look up baby led solids. Babies can eat what you eat, no need for purees.
                              But at 6 months, breastmilk needs to be their main diet, food really is just for fun until after 1, for exploring more than anything. Their nutrition should come from breastmilk .

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