How much milk should I leave my breastfed baby?

How many ounces should I leave if I’m exclusively breastfeeding but need to leave my baby a bottle?

The answer is: that depends. Some babies are grazers. They like smaller, more frequent feedings to keep their tummy from being too full or uncomfortable. Their feedings can range from 1-3 ounces and they may feed 10 or more times a day. Other babies are bingers. They like a big, full tummy and may take 3-5 or even occasionally 6 ounces but not as often. They may feed only 6-8 times a day and have longer sleep stretches. Their tummy doesn’t mind being stretched fuller and their bodies tell them it’s ok to go longer between feedings.

The question is: how many feedings do they get in 24 hours? From one month to one year, babies take between 19-32 ounces of breast milk a day. The average is 25 ounces in 24 hours. There’s a range because babies eat more or less depending on the activities of the day, growth spurts, teething, and even babies emotionally eat sometimes. In general, take 25 and divide it by the number of feedings they average in any given day. Also take into account that growth slows between 6-12 months and baby should be eating table foods, so you don’t need to increase the ounces in the bottle during that time. If your baby took 4 Oz bottles at 4 months, 4 Oz bottles are still appropriate at 9 months because they’re also begging for the food right off your plate in addition to what you’re putting on their tray.

Why does my baby grab, pull, and pinch my breast?

A newborn’s hands are a tool that the baby uses to find and latch on to the nipple, rather than something to be restrained and held out of the way. In utero, babies often bring their hands to their face in preparation to swallow amniotic fluid, which helps them practice swallowing for after birth. Young babies use their hands to push and pull the breast to shape the breast and provide easier access to the nipple. Their hands on your breast releases oxytocin and also helps the nipple erect and evert. Newborns and young infants also use their hands to push the breast away, possibly to get a better visual sense of the location of the nipple as it is a darker color than the breast. They may feel the nipple with their hand, and use the hand as a guide to bring their mouth to the nipple.

Kneading, squeezing, patting, twiddling, pinching, biting, touching your face and pulling hair and so many more behaviors. Older babies, especially around 5-6 months, do this for two reasons: to help stimulate a let down/increase the flow of milk AND because they’re exploring the world around them. Much like the early days, touching the breast and even twiddling the other nipple help release oxytocin to send more milk or increase the flow of milk. You may notice baby does this more often when you’re on your period or in the late afternoon and evening when supply naturally dips. Many breastfeeding behaviors are a phase, older babies or toddlers like to experiment with what they can do while breastfeeding. If a specific behavior is only mildly annoying, then one option is to wait and see if the novelty wears off on its own. If you don’t like the behavior, give baby a toy or something else to hold while at the breast or cover the other breast with a blanket or your shirt. Wear a necklace or scarf they can play with. Sing a song or read them a book to distract them. Don’t be too quick to hide baby’s hands. They do serve a purpose.

How can I make more breast milk?

The best way to lose weight is to be in a calorie deficit. Choosing the right foods, protein, fruits and vegetables with moderation of carbs, sugars and starches is guaranteed for most to lose extra pounds. Sure, exercise helps. It helps burn calories, again contributing to calorie deficit. But exercise alone won’t help you lose weight if you’re still eating a high calorie diet. Sure, going vegetarian or vegan or doing Weight Watchers or Atkins or any other “diet” helps. It helps you monitor intake to be in a calorie deficit. But even on any diet plan, if you’re not following it correctly and still eating high amounts of foods you won’t lose weight. Certain people do better on certain diets or with specific exercise programs because of how their specific body handles and processes food, vitamins, stress, movement, and all of the other factors like environment and genetics. Finding a nutritionist, weight loss coach, or personal trainer helps you look at your specific body and goals and helps you reach them. You can absolutely get there in your own, having someone counsel you through often gets you quicker results from their experience and wisdom. But the principle remains: calorie deficit is the number one way to lose weight.

The best way to make breast milk is to empty breast milk. Whether that’s your baby or a high quality breast pump, moving milk multiple times a day tells the body to make more milk. The more often milk is removed, the faster it is made. Sure, supplements help. They support your thyroid and blood with the extra nutrients and hormones needed to produce milk. But supplements alone is no replacement for moving milk. You can take the best lactation bars and drink all the tea you want, but without emptying the breast every few hours routinely I wouldn’t expect the majority of us to make enough milk to feed baby. Sure, hydration and nutrition are important. It takes calories to make calories and hydration help with that process. But even the research shows women who are malnourished in famine torn countries make plenty of milk for their babies when baby is allowed unrestricted access to the breast. Yes, adding in chia seed, flax seed, oats, nuts and nut butters, and coconut water helps make milk. Certain people do better on certain herbs and foods because of how their specific body handles and processes food, vitamins, stress, hormones, and all of the other factors like anatomy and genetics. Finding a lactation consultant, peer counselor, or trained doula helps you look at your specific body and goals and helps you reach them. You can absolutely get there in your own, having someone counsel you through often gets you quicker results from their experience and wisdom. But the principle remains: emptying milk from the breast is the number one way to make breast milk.

Pumping while away from baby helps maintain your supply

Where are you getting your feeding advice from?

Feeding “advice” we would never tell an adult:

⌚️It hasn’t been 3 hours yet. You can’t possibly be hungry again

⏱It hasn’t been 3 hours yet. You can’t possibly be thirsty again.

🧊You need to drink all 64oz of your daily water intake in 4 equally portioned cups. If you can’t drink 16 ounces in one sitting, something is wrong with you.

🍽Clean plate club. Finish everything on your plate regardless of how full your stomach feels.

🍏Eat food purely for their nutritional value. 🍦Never have food simply for the comfort or enjoyment of it.

🔦Eat alone in a dark room and never with anyone else

💡How could you get so distracted while eating? Focus and pay attention.

🪑Eat until you’re done then leave the table immediately. Don’t hang out at the table for longer than needed.

🛌Never eat a bed time snack

🛏Wake up in the middle of the night thirsty? Too bad. Go back to bed you can have some water in the morning

⏰You have 15 minutes to eat. Tic toc. When the clock hits 15 you need to stop whether you’re done or not

🍴3 meals, 2 snacks. That’s it. 7, 9, 12, 3 and 5. Hungry or thirsty at a different time? Here’s a pen cap to chew on

🍔There’s only one way to eat and if you don’t eat like me and my family you’re doing it wrong

Do you get where I’m going here? Too often we analyze the science of breastfeeding instead of considering the art of feeding and eating. We try to make a literal formula for how our baby should eat when some times we have to appreciate feeding for what it is: an enjoyable and pleasurable sensory experience that is social and includes more than just calorie intake.

Comparison will steal your peace

Too often we look around to see what everyone else is doing and it makes us feel incomplete, incompetent, like we’re doing something wrong or not doing enough. We see the success of others in parenting, sleep training, their milk supply, pumping, whatever, and it makes us feel like we’ve failed. Comparison is the number one way to have your joy and peace stolen. Stop looking at Becky over there with her oversupply and thinking your normal supply is inadequate for your content and growing baby. Stop looking at Gina over there whose baby has slept through the night since two months and thinking there’s something wrong with your happy child. Stop comparing your tiny but mighty that looks like the rest of your flock to my giant giraffe babies that look like the rest of my herd. You’re not getting a grade. Breastfeeding is not a pass/fail activity. Trust your baby. Trust your body. You’ve got this.

Breastfeeding advice from social media: Buyer beware

Asking for medical advise from social media forums, especially mommy groups, is like asking a mother who’s had a baby to deliver yours. Just because she has experience in the field does not make her qualified to give technical advice in that area. She can give you her opinions or share her experience, but she did never be relied on as a trustworthy source when providing care to YOUR child.

 

Breastfeeding is especially one of those areas that we need to tread wisely into when asking for help and advice. Or culture has hidden breastfeeding from the norm and made it this mysterious, murky action where myths and misunderstandings abound. So much of the information found in quick Google searches are anecdotal, antiquated, or based off formula feeding data which is completely distinct and sometimes totally opposite of true breastfeeding. We should be seeking community support for breastfeeding, but not when medical advice is being solicited.

When mothers give out advice on social media platforms, they are not taking into consideration the whole breastfeeding picture and may inadvertently give advice that could care harm or actually negatively impact breastfeeding. For instance, when a mother of a two month old asks for advice on increasing her breastmilk supply and mother start giving advice on herbs, lactation cookies, or teas, they may not be considering WHY she is needing to increase her supply. Is her baby in the NICU? Is she going back to work and stressed with the pumping process? Does she have. History of sexual abuse that she actually needs to work through? Did her pediatrician have her supplement which impacted her supply? Is she trying to sleep train and sabotaging her own supply? Is she ALLERGIC to the herbs in those teas and supplements? How often is she feeding? Does she have a metabolic or hormonal disorder impacting her supply? Does she have enough glandular breast tissue to even produce sufficient milk supply? Does her baby have a tongue tie? Does the baby simply have a poor latch? These are the questions that are crucial in giving appropriate breastfeeding advice to protect the breastfeeding relationship. The best advice a mother can give on the social media platform is to have the questioning mother contact a lactation consultant.

The gold standard for breastfeeding advice is the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). There are other forms of lactation consultants that teach and serve out of a variety of backgrounds. The IBCLC is the top most coveted professional because of the extensive education and rigorous testing they need to go through in order to be able to assist lactating mothers. In order to sit for the FOUR HOUR board exam, candidates must have extensive education in specific health science subjects, like nutrition, psychology, and childhood development; 90 college level credit hours of education in human lactation and breastfeeding, and hundreds to thousands of clinical practice in providing care to breastfeeding families. They must also maintain a high level of continuing education courses and continue to sit for the board exam every 10 years.

So when you see moms with questions related to breastfeeding in social media forums that are beyond opinions or personal experience, the best advice is professional advice.

Pumping Log #2

What’s in my pumping bag. A well stocked pumping bag is the most essential item you will need when you go back to work. Packing the bag efficiently and with necessities can help eliminate stress and worry while pumping at work. Here are a few of the things in my pumping bag. Obviously the pump is the most important piece. Make sure to check that you have all the pieces and parts in the morning before you leave for work. I had forgotten one or two pieces several times. I actually now keep a spare pump in my car that is always ready to go in the event that I forget something. I always keep instant oatmeal, mothers milk tea, and honey sticks ready for a quick snack on the go. When I know I am going to work the next day, I bring empty bottles to put my milk in. That way I can keep it in the fridge and handy for the next days feedings. If I know I am going to be home the next day, I use disposable milk storage bags. I’ve tried several brands and really like the Dr. DuDu. They’re sturdy and have a double zipper. Plus they come in a handy 8oz size for streamlining in the freezer. I can put my pumped milk in the freezer and it will be ready to go the next time I’m at work. I always keep extra nursing bra pads. I wear washable ones made of bamboo fiber. But you never know when you might need to change them. I keep it small stash of disposable ones in my bag at all times. Another necessity is my stash of essential oil’s. I use fennel to help keep my supply up. Serenity, lavender, balance, and citrus bliss help elevate my mood when I’m feeling down at work. What’s in your bag?

 

 

Food for Thought

How long should I breastfeed my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be EXCLUSIVELY breastfed for about the first six months of life. This means that your baby needs no additional food (except Vitamin D) or fluids unless medically necessary. Babies should continue to breastfeed for one to two years or for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.

When should I start solid foods with my baby?

How do you know when your baby is ready for solid food? After six months of age, they should be able to do these three things:

  1. They sit unsupported for an extended length of time
  2. They are starting to use a pincher grasp (thumb and forefinger together to grab little objects)
  3. They start to have eye-hand coordination to bring their hands to their mouth

 

Feeding Amounts

Feeding amounts:
Did you know that when a baby is born her stomach is only the size of her own fist? That’s only ⅙th of an ounce! At one month her stomach is still only the size of her own fist! In other words, her stomach grows at the same rate she does. Her stomach does have the capacity to stretch and fill with the right amount of milk she needs at each feeding.

Proper feeding amounts ensures your baby’s optimal health. How can you tell your baby is hungry and how much should you give her? Hunger cues include lip smacking and tongue licking, rooting with the lips to find a nipple, hands up by the face, and becoming awake but still quiet. Late hunger cues include crying or fussing, arching of the back, and a decreased ability to latch onto a nipple. You can tell if a baby is eating well by achieving a good latch, listening for audible swallows, and making sure baby is given plenty of time at both breasts. A baby is getting enough milk if they are making enough wet and poopy diapers and gaining weight at each pediatrician appointment. For more information on achieving a good latch, knowing what a swallow sounds like, and other strategies for knowing if you’re making enough milk, sign up for one of my classes or personal consultations.

Frequency breakdown:
In the first few weeks after birth you will want to feed every 2-3 hours or sooner if baby is exhibiting hunger cues.
10+ feedings every 24 hours.
Alternate breasts each feeding.