Any experiences with low calorie breastmilk?

Rachel - posted on 05/18/2012 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I have low calorie breastmilk, my children will not gain with breastmilk alone. I was just wondering if anyone else had this issue and wanted to share their experience or share how they dealt with it. I am currently supplementing to get the weight up on my 8 lb 2 month old. :)

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Celeste - posted on 05/19/2012

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Oh and as far as expending more calories, I'll have to dig to find the link that explains why this is not necessarily accurate (I was told the same thing with my twin boys who were born premature, and I supplemented with formula). It might take me awhile as I have a busy day today but I will post it as soon as I find it.

Celeste - posted on 05/19/2012

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Here's on snippet. I'm still looking for the other links.

This is from the LLL Answer book:


"Although it was once thought that breastfeeding takes more energy than
bottlefeeding, research on premature babies (Meier 1988) and babies with congential heart disease (Marino 1995) indicates that the oposite is true: bottle-feeding is more physically stressful than breastfeeding.
Differences between the composition of human mik and formula may also
affect the amount of energy expended. One study of healthy two-day-old babies found that the breastfed newborns had more energy-efficient heart rhythms, lower heart rates, and expended less energy than the artificially fed babies, even though the breastfed babies spent less time sleeping than their bottle-fed counterparts (Zeskind 1992)."

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Sarah - posted on 05/14/2014

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Yes there is such a thing as low calorie breastmilk. My milk was tested and wasn't giving him what all he needed to gain weight. He was 8 pounds 4 ounces and birth and at his 2 month check up he was 8 pound even. He was classified as failure to thrive. The lactation consultant had me nurse 40 minutes on one side and then feed a little bottle of formula to help him put on weight... It can and does happen- even if most disagree.

Stephanie - posted on 05/29/2012

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Your baby is not going to die if she doesn't gain a ton of weight right off the bat.
I thought I had "low flow" when my baby didn't gain weight right away, but it has all worked out. I am still breastfeeding (no formula yet) and she is 5 months old.
I would give it more time, and stop supplementing. It will only decrease your milk supply. My baby girl didn't regain her birth weight until after the 2 week check up and she has since only gained 1 pound per month. She is still little for her age, all babies are different. When breastfed, babies have different growing cycles than a formula fed baby. She will have more growth spurts, little ones, instead of a few big ones. Make sure you feed her a lot, try to offer your breast as a first try for any upset or whine.
It may feel like you are constantly feeding her, but that will help build your milk supply. Don't fret about the calorie thing, it will all be okay. Stress is a big reason why some moms don't produce as much milk.
So chill, you will feed your baby fine!

Leslie - posted on 05/28/2012

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Hi Rachel!



As you know, Kate is 20 months old and 18 lbs. Poor baby can only wear 12 months shorts if she's wearing her fuzzi bunz. She has no booty. I just looked at a picture of her father next to me and he's not much bigger than I. In fact, his only weight is muscle - gym every day. You're small, David is small, and maybe your sweet baby is supposed to be small too.



As a side note, I have a friend that supplemented some until her daughter was six months old, when she started solids. She is still nursing her 3 1/2 year old daughter today. Her daughter is petite, like her. You're a petite woman. Need proof? Look at your wedding pictures!



I'm considering pumping milk and just giving her the fatty parts of it. Maybe she'll take a bottle of hindmilk?



I know how hard you're working. Be proud of yourself.



And to all the women that have made suggestions, thank you for helping me learn a little as well. Rachel feeds on demand and has really worked very hard at breast feeding. Very, very, very hard.



Hahahaha! I saw another post and wondered if you got it from COM, now I'm seeing you on here. I miss you!

Celeste - posted on 05/19/2012

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" They still aren't happy with her weight gain, but I personally think she's doing okay (my husband and I are small people...only 5'2")"

Bingo! My husband is small too. Seriously, he's 5'8 and 130 lbs sopping wet. I'm 5'4 (and umm..not that small LOL) . I thought my daughter (who is 9, and still a bean pole) wasn't gaining "enough" so I supplemented. Didn't make one lick of difference. So, after that I knew that all of our kids would probably follow a similar curve as my daughter. I was right, except that they were even smaller than she was. They're 5 1/2 now and about 38 lbs (most 4 year olds are bigger than they are). They can still wear 3T clothes.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things. It may be that she is going to be petite.

Rachel - posted on 05/19/2012

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Good to know! I thought it sounded strange in the first place, but at that point was willing to try anything! I didn't stay with the scheduled feedings (maybe 2 days!) She seemed way too hungry and miserable. I do feed anytime she wants. I have been doing the compressions, except I didn't actually know that was the term for it! I feed her until there literally isn't a drop left and then if she still acts hungry I will strap on the sns for 2 oz of formula. I like this option so much better because at least she's still at the breast. I used bottles with my 3rd daughter and by 4 1/2 months she was done with the breast. I didn't use formula at all for 1 month, and she would barely maintain her weight and several times dropped by 2 or 3 oz. I finally started supplementing a month ago and she didn't start gaining any weight until I started giving her at least 8 oz a day. They still aren't happy with her weight gain, but I personally think she's doing okay (my husband and I are small people...only 5'2") I will probably continue to supplement, because...well, she really is a ridiculously skinny little thing (still wearing newborn clothes and way too small for most 0-3's)

Celeste - posted on 05/19/2012

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OK! Here you go!
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/co...

Conclusion:
CONCLUSION: There was no significant difference in REE when infants were breastfed versus bottle-fed. Longer feeding times at the breast did not increase REE. We speculate that it is safe to recommend feeding at the breast for infants born at >32 weeks when they can tolerate oral feeding.

REE is Resting Energy Expenditure

Celeste - posted on 05/19/2012

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"..if they can test to see the fat/calorie content of breast milk, doesn't that imply that there can be low fat/calorie breast milk?"



Of the moms who did have their milk tested, none came back with it being low calorie.

Here's some info breastmilk, the fat content, calorie content etc:

http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/chang...

http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/milkc...



"yes I have met with a lactation consultant. I started out feeding on demand, then at the request of the lactation consultant, only let her nurse every two hours for fear that letting her "camp out at the breast" was actually causing her to expend more calories than she was taking in



Ok, I think that's part of your problem. Never time feeds or put baby on a schedule. Babies are supposed to camp out at the breast. The more often you nurse, the fattier your milk is. Check out the link that Sara gave you. It gives a fantastic explanation on why it's important to nurse often.



Your baby IS gaining weight. In fact, she's just a few ounces shy of where the average weight gain in a breastfed baby should be. Read that Dr. Gordon link I posted.



So, what I would do is toss the clocks. Let her nurse as often as possible. Try breast compressions:

http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=com_...



If you have a pump, you can try pumping after nursing to get the hind milk and give that to your baby:



And yes, I've had similar issues but I've never been told I have "low calorie breastmilk".Their pediatrician never suggested supplementing. My children are all small and all gained slowly. At one point, their weight slowed down after 6 months (which is normal).She said that overall, they are healthy so she wasn't concerned. All 3 of my kids, twins 5 and daughter 9, are all still tiny.

.

Rachel - posted on 05/18/2012

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My baby's doctor is a mother of five, all breastfed children, so she is very supportive of breastfeeding. Also, I don't understand...if they can test to see the fat/calorie content of breast milk, doesn't that imply that there can be low fat/calorie breast milk? That being said...yes I have met with a lactation consultant. I started out feeding on demand, then at the request of the lactation consultant, only let her nurse every two hours for fear that letting her "camp out at the breast" was actually causing her to expend more calories than she was taking in (I think sort of the same thing your doctor was saying, Christina.) I make sure that she empties the breast at each feeding, i.e. completely unable to hand express any milk. She doesn't take a pacifier, and I supplement with formula through a SNS feeder, to ensure I maintain my milk supply. This is my 3rd breastfed daughter who does not gain weight at the breast (although my first did slightly better than the last two.) I have tried everything and the only reasonable explanation is low calorie breast milk. Very frustrating, especially considering the effort I have put forth to nurse my babies!

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How are you nursing? Are you limiting time on each breast or the total nursing session? If you nurse by the clock baby may be taking in enough foremilk to produce wet diapers, but not enough fatty hindmilk to gain weight. Breast fed babies are meant to eat frequently. Pushing back feeds will not help and will damage supply. Did they test your milk? If they told you it's low in calories, ask to have it tested. I would offer the breast very frequently, any time baby wants. Don't offer pacifiers. Let baby comfort suck at the breast. Make sure that baby thoroughly drains the first breast before offering the second. You shouldn't be able to easily squeeze milk out of the first breast before switching. If you can easily squeeze milk out, put baby back on that side. Here's a great link with info:



"The degree of emptiness of the breast is what research has shown to drive breastmilk fat content, and thus calorie content. The fuller the breast, the lower the fat content of the milk; The emptier the breast, the higher the fat content of the milk " (Meaning empty your breasts/nurse often)



http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/chang...

Christina - posted on 05/18/2012

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I have low calorie breast milk, well use to. My baby girl gained good the first 3 weeks, then she had to be supplemented with formula. But only for a month. She decided she wasn't having the bottle. She got back up to a normal wight and is now (at 15 months) in the 75 percentile. Some suggestions: Eat avocado, nuts, vitamin D milk. Eat foods with good fat. My dr told me that its just like anyone else. If you eat a lot of small meals all day you will not gain weight , and possible lose weight. Start tracking your babys eatting schedule for like 3 days. By then youll see a pattern.. start pushing back feeding 5 minutes until they are a little more spaced out. Like if he eats every 2 hours. get him to every 2 and a half or 3. It was very hard because my baby wasnted to eat when she felt like it, but after the first month doing this it got better. Hope this helps... :)

Celeste - posted on 05/18/2012

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Unfortunately, most of the medical community is not knowledgeable about breastfeeding. How did they determine that you had low calorie breastmilk? Did they test it? (You CAN test it but you'd have to test it through out the day because breastmilk can vary) You can't judge the content on breastmilk on weight gain alone. Have you seen an IBCLC?



Lowest weight is 6lbs 12 oz. Two months, 8 lbs.You want about 1 lb per month. It's a teeny bit low, but not too terrible. How are you supplementing? Formula? With your own breastmilk? Have you tried to nurse more often and tried breast compressions? Are you nursing on a schedule or on cue?



ETA: Here's a great article called "Look at the baby, not the scale" by Dr. Jay Gordon:

http://drjaygordon.com/pediatricks/newbo...

Rachel - posted on 05/18/2012

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According to my baby's doctor, a nurse practitioner, my ob-gyn, and a neo-natal nurse I know, there is such a thing as low calorie breast milk. As far as a weight history, baby was born 7 lbs, 7 oz, dropped to 6 lbs 12 oz at 1 week appointment. She is two months, two days old and has just hit 8 lbs. Without supplementing she has adequate wet and dirty diapers, sleeps wonderfully, and seems satisfied at the breast, but does not gain weight. Therefore I have to supplement to see any weight gain.

Celeste - posted on 05/18/2012

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How are you determining your breast milk is "low calorie". Generally, there's no such thing.. Can we get a weight history? Sometimes, doctors want an inflated weight gain that's just not realistic for breastfed babies.

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