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Thread: Any benefits to just a few ounces of breastmilk?

  1. #1

    Default Any benefits to just a few ounces of breastmilk?

    I'll start by saying that I exclusively breastfed my son for 11 months -- I also didn't work and was able to devote as much time as my son wanted to nurse for. My daughter was born nearly four months ago. Long story short -- I tried for a VBAC and ended up getting another c-section. Complications afterwards and just the let down of not being able to have a vaginal delivery put me on the wrong track to successfully breastfeeding her exclusively. She has been supplemented with formula. I also had to return to work a few weeks ago. My question is this... at this point I think she's only getting just a few ounces of breastmilk: I nurse her in the morning and I try and pump at work when I can, which usually just produces 2 ounces (at most). Is she getting any benefit to just this much breastmilk? She only gets one more feeding at night before bed and I have to give her a bottle of formula because she's definitely not getting enough from me. I'm thinking that she gets, at most, 4 ounces a day.

    Also, is this something that I can recover from? Can I increase my milk supply at this point? Or, is it too late? Thanks for any help or advice!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Not around here as much :(

    Default Re: Any benefits to just a few ounces of breastmilk?

    You've been through so much... you can do this.

    Yes there is hope.
    Yes you can increase your supply.
    No it's not too late.

    How long are you and she separated? How often can you pump at work?
    How much formula is she getting and how many times is she nursing?
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Any benefits to just a few ounces of breastmilk?

    Welcome to the forum!

    I'm sorry you had such a rough start with breastfeeding. What a bummer about the VBAC turning into a c-section. It's awesome that you made the VBAC attempt, though- and even though it didn't work out, I am convinced that it's beneficial to allow your body and your baby to go through labor instead of springing right for the c-section.

    So, is there any benefit to just a few oz of breastmilk per day? ABSOLUTELY. The chemical compounds in breastmilk are valuable in any amount. For example, "sugars in human breast milk... appeal to certain strains of bacteria, called bifidobacteria, that can colonize the gut and appear to be important for the health of infants. Well-established colonies of bifidobacteria can prevent pathogens such as harmful strains of Escherichia coli from getting a foothold" (Unraveling Breast Milk, Chemical and Engineering News 2008). Also, breastmilk is an infant's "only significant source" of Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA) antibodies, which not only bind up nasty antigens and keep them from penetrating the gut lining, but also "help the gut to develop by enhancing the barrier function of the epithelial lining. The gut mucosa of most infants matures during the first months of life. But in some children, the mucosal barrier remains inadequate for several years, and incomplete secretory immunity can contribute to the delay" (Why We Develop Food Allergies, American Scientist 2007).

    Can you increase your milk supply this late in the game? Yes, but it will require work, probably pretty intense work, on your part. Here are some ways in which you can increase milk supply:
    - Nurse as frequently as possible. Babies tend to be really good at stimulating their moms' milk supplies!
    - If you're not co-sleeping, you may want to start. Many babies turn into all-night nursers (and milk supply stimulators) when the breast is right next to them.
    - Pump more often, and for longer periods of time. The more you stimulate the breast, and the more milk you remove, the more you will make.
    - Use the best pump you can afford. For many moms, this may mean renting a hospital-grade pump.
    - Make sure you have correctly-sized breastshields.
    - Herbs. Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle, and plain old oatmeal can all help increase supply.
    - Drugs. Reglan (available in the US) and Domperidone (Canada) are prescription drugs which can increase milk supply as a side-effect. Both have additional side-effects and are not for every woman, so discuss these medications with your ob or midwife before taking either one.
    - See a lactation consultant, preferably an IBCLC. Hands-on help can do wonders! Your LC can help you obtain a good pump and the right size of breast shields, and can give you advice on which herbs/drugs may be right for you, and on dosages.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Any benefits to just a few ounces of breastmilk?

    Thank you so much for the advice! I'm glad that even the little she gets is providing some benefit. I was beginning to think I should just stop pumping. I'm kind of stuck as far as being able to pump more often. I can only pump twice at work and not for more than 15 minutes at a time. I nurse in the morning before leaving for work, but I have no time to pump then between getting the kids ready for daycare and myself ready for work and the commute. In any case, I'll definitely call my ob and ask about reglan and also try and pump as much as I can during the evenings and weekends. Again, thanks! That really puts my mind at ease knowing that she's still getting some good "stuff" even if she's not exclusively bf. : )

  5. #5

    Default Re: Any benefits to just a few ounces of breastmilk?

    I was in the same boat as you with my daughter. When I returned to work (when she was 2months old), my supply just dwindled, no matter how often I pumped or what herbal tea I drank. I was always able to get her about one full feeding per day while at daycare - the rest had to be formula (and I breastfed her each evening and morning). I have to say that she never, ever got an ear infection till after I weaned her completely (at about 7 months). So I'd say every little bit of breastmilk is really helpful in keeping them healthy. Good luck!

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