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Thread: Factors affecting breastmilk quality?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Default Factors affecting breastmilk quality?

    Hi Everyone,

    I've posted a couple of times here (once a couple of days ago) about our 9-month-old daughter not gaining much weight, and both times I've received such wonderful encouragement. However, my husband is somewhat freaking out by how small she is (as in off the charts small) and is wondering if the quality of my milk might have something to do with it (since she has no interest in any food other than breast milk).

    Does anyone know of any resources out there on what factors affect breastmilk quality or nutritional value? He's particularly concerned that age might adversely affect nutritional quality (I'm 43).

    Anyone come across information along these lines or have any thoughts on how I might improve the quality of my breast milk, so I can at least feel like I've done my best milk-wise?

    Thank you!
    Mom to 4/19/2011, 5/14/2009, and 12/14/2002

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    10,440

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    to your DH for making you think this is because of your milk I am not aware of age being a risk factor for poor quality milk. A mother's body will often starve itself to ensure a good milk supply for a baby; even malnourished women make good milk, until their body is burned out and literally starving. I suppose it is possible that if a mother's hormones might alter her milk, but it is more likely that she would have a low supply in that case.

    There have been research studies that show you can't take anything that influence your milk's compostion or quality, but I would swear that when my fourth LO, my cleft baby, was having trouble gaining weight (very common for cleft babies), if I drank coconut milk, my milk seemed richer the next day or two. Supposedly blessed thistle helps enrich your milk as well.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    21,355

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    What the PP said. This link covers the nutritional quality of breastmilk: http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/mi...e-milkfat.html. It's worth noting this bit: "The research tells us that baby's milk intake (the volume of milk - not the amount of fat in that milk) is the only thing that has been correlated with infant growth in exclusively breastfed babies. As noted earlier, average fat content of human milk is highly variable, but has not proven to be significant when calculating baby's total energy intake or weight gain. (Aksit 2002, Butte 1984, Cregan 1999, Mitoulas 2003, Mitoulas 2002.)"
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    TX
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    2,197

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    I agree with both the pp's. I very much doubt that your milk is deficient. However, one possibility to look into is your daughter's response to the milk. Could she have food allergies? They can frequently manifest as refusal of solids (either all or certain foods) and slow growth. Could she have metabolic or digestive difficulty which prevents her from utilizing all the nutrients in your milk? These are the first two "problems" that come to mind (because I just don't see your milk being anything other than what is nourishing her), but the other possibility is that there IS no "problem" at all. Is your daughter following her own growth curve that looks similar to the ones on the chart? If so, she may just be small. What is your doctor's take on this?
    Teal

    25 May 96 and 14 January 08 and 27 February 2012

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    41

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    Thank you, both. Very encouraging.

    I'll give coconut milk a shot ...

    Thanks again!
    Mom to 4/19/2011, 5/14/2009, and 12/14/2002

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    169

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    You're 43, not dead! gosh, I hope that wasn't offensive, but I just meant that it's silly for your DH to think that just because you might be a little older than some moms, doesn't mean your breastmilk is about to expire or something! As a side note, that article above mentions that diet doesn't affect the quantity of fat in breastmilk, but the quality can be affected by diet. This is unrelated, IMO to your DD's growth patterns, but for me, I've always tried to be mindful of the quality of fat in my own diet, keeping statements like that in mind, ie, healthy fat from an unprocessed, whole foods diet as opposed to unhealthy fat from fast food or something (not that my diet is pristine by any means). I do this more for overall health though, not because I think it will help grow my baby more, or faster. I still believe breastmilk to be leaps and bounds better than formula and more nutrient dense than any solids a baby might eat. Your baby might gain more weight (that's a huge 'might', I really don't know, but Dr.'s sure seem to think so), but is it going to be healthy weight? Just like an adult can be very thin, but not necessarily in the best health. I've found the book, Real Food for Mother and Baby to be a good resource....she covers food from before conception to baby's first foods, so the later chapters on nursing and whatnot may be more of interest to you if you wanted to check it out. www.westonaprice.org talks a lot about the role of healthy fats in one's diet overall, though I disagree with some of what they have to say about breastfeeding in general.
    First time mommy to Anika Jo, born 6/27/11 at home
    Love to , and . Cloth diapering full time, and part-time ECing-- my baby pees and poos in her little pink potty!
    I blog: www.the-whole-life.blogspot.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    169

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    oh, and coconut milk is chock full of healthy fats!
    First time mommy to Anika Jo, born 6/27/11 at home
    Love to , and . Cloth diapering full time, and part-time ECing-- my baby pees and poos in her little pink potty!
    I blog: www.the-whole-life.blogspot.com

  8. #8
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    Feb 2008
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*kjohanna View Post
    You're 43, not dead! gosh, I hope that wasn't offensive, but I just meant that it's silly for your DH to think that just because you might be a little older than some moms, doesn't mean your breastmilk is about to expire or something! As a side note, that article above mentions that diet doesn't affect the quantity of fat in breastmilk, but the quality can be affected by diet. This is unrelated, IMO to your DD's growth patterns, but for me, I've always tried to be mindful of the quality of fat in my own diet, keeping statements like that in mind, ie, healthy fat from an unprocessed, whole foods diet as opposed to unhealthy fat from fast food or something (not that my diet is pristine by any means). I do this more for overall health though, not because I think it will help grow my baby more, or faster. I still believe breastmilk to be leaps and bounds better than formula and more nutrient dense than any solids a baby might eat. Your baby might gain more weight (that's a huge 'might', I really don't know, but Dr.'s sure seem to think so), but is it going to be healthy weight? Just like an adult can be very thin, but not necessarily in the best health. I've found the book, Real Food for Mother and Baby to be a good resource....she covers food from before conception to baby's first foods, so the later chapters on nursing and whatnot may be more of interest to you if you wanted to check it out. www.westonaprice.org talks a lot about the role of healthy fats in one's diet overall, though I disagree with some of what they have to say about breastfeeding in general.
    I think that a very slippery slope and for the OP I would not really be concerned with it. Yes we want mothers to eat healthy foods and fats but even a poor maternal diet should NOT be a reason to stop nursing your child. Your body will supply the baby with the good stuff first and foremost.
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    5,908

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    A mom I know well had a child at 43 and the baby lived entirely off her breastmilk for 14 months (not interested in solids until then) This boy always was and continues to be big for his age and v. strong and healthy. Plus there are reports of a GRANDMOTHERS relactating in order to give milk to their grandkids. As long as a mother is young enough to get pregnant and give birth (and 43 certainly is within that range) then breastmilk 'quality' is not going to be an issue, it's absurd. Even if a mom had fertility treatments, if those were age related it often means no longer viable eggs, not hormonal issues. Some moms who have babies after experiencing hormone-based fertility issues have trouble with breastmilk QUANTITY (low supply) but that type of infertility and issues can happen at any age.

    Weight gain is only one indicator of health. How is baby's growth in length, head circumfirence? Is baby meeting developmental milestones? And what charts are you measuring baby's growth with? Only the WHO charts that were published in 2006 are going to be accurate for breastfed babies. Some babies are normally going to be in the low percentiles on charts and that is normal. If baby is actually far below her original growth curve, that may indicate an issue, but that issue could be some other health issue or be caused by a reduction in nursing sessions, as many moms with babies with slower weight gain are often told to increase solids and decrease nursing which is usually the exactly wrong thing to do.

    Is your doctor concerned? Do you know your own weight gain patterns as a baby, or your husbands?

    Anyway, here is an article you may find reassuring. http://www.llli.org/nb/nbjulaug02p124.html

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    169

    Default Re: Factors affecting breastmilk quality

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*jenna562 View Post
    I think that a very slippery slope and for the OP I would not really be concerned with it. Yes we want mothers to eat healthy foods and fats but even a poor maternal diet should NOT be a reason to stop nursing your child. Your body will supply the baby with the good stuff first and foremost.
    I'm sorry if my post came across the wrong way--nowhere in my post was I insinuating that a woman should not nurse if her diet isn't 'healthy enough'. And after going back and reading my response, I can see how I might have been confusing. She talked about breast milk quality and seemed to have a willingness to learn of other people's viewpoints about the topic of diet and breastmilk, and I do think that women, to a certain degree can impact their breastmilk quality by what they eat--however, I also believe (like everyone here) that breastmilk is still healthy, and capable of growing healthy babies regardless, I guess i just didn't make that clear. I would agree with PPs (who said it in a better way than I!)--a baby on the lower end of the growth shouldn't be cause for alarm.

    ETA: The last thing I wanted to do is make a woman feel guilty for her baby's growth patterns. Thanks for pointing out what could have been a potential big miscommunication!
    First time mommy to Anika Jo, born 6/27/11 at home
    Love to , and . Cloth diapering full time, and part-time ECing-- my baby pees and poos in her little pink potty!
    I blog: www.the-whole-life.blogspot.com

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