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    It Does a Baby Good {Part V}

    February 11, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    As a review: Part I discussed the miracle of breastmilk and why it is beneficial for both mother and child. It was my attempt at convincing low-milk-supply mommies to keep on nursing, even if they have to supplement. Part II explained different ways of discovering the underlying cause of the low milk supply. I forgot to mention that stress can also be a cause. Part III discussed what I call External Solutions, which are different methods of increasing milk supply. And Part IV was a list {not exhaustive, but still helpful} of Internal Solutions, or basically drugs and herbs that can be taken as galactagogues, as well as a few herbs that should be avoided.

    This is Part V. I promised some unsolicited advice, and I aim to give it, all in good fun, of course. I will also try to list different options alongside explaining what it is we actually do around here.


    Choosing a bottle

    A lot of nursing gurus out there will mention something called nipple confusion when they speak disdainfully about bottles. But when a mom has to supplement, there are very few practical feeding options, and bottles are, naturally, the most popular. Here are the basic options:

    • Medela’s Supplemental Nursing System: The SNS, I was once told, was designed by an adopting mom who wanted to be able to breastfeed. This is not a bottle, but something altogether different. I used this with my first child, at the advice of my lactation consultant. Click on the link for information on how it actually works. All I will say here is that it is a real option, it allows for the entire supplement to be taken while the baby is nursing {which can save time}, and I would never do it again. I had major trouble ever feeling comfortable nursing outside of my home with the SNS, and I also found that, if I gathered enough courage to leave my house, it was difficult to do more than one feeding because of the need to thoroughly clean the unit after feedings. I know other women find this to be a great alternative to bottles, which is why I wanted to mention it here, but it was not for me, nor was it for my husband {he hated the way I hesitated to ever go anywhere}.


    • Avent and Playtex Nurser Bottles: I used Avent products with my first two children, and Playtex is what I’m using with Q. right now. It is a long story as to why I switched, and I won’t get into it. I will say upfront that I like Avent best because there are four different speeds of flow available, while Playtex only has two. However, they both have nipples that require the baby to latch on the way they would at the breast. This means that baby should have less likelihood of developing nipple confusion. Also, notice I said nursers rather than conventional bottles. So far, experience tells me that nursers have a flow that is more like breastfeeding that conventional bottles, and encourage babies to use the same rythym at the bottle as they do while nursing. Again, this helps combat the whole nipple confusion problem.


    When bottle feeding, I make sure that I check my baby’s latch to insure that she is practicing doing it right. There is no sense in encouraging a bad latch. Also, I always use the slowest flow the baby is willing to take. For instance, Avent suggests switching from their slowest flow to the next level around one month, but if the baby is willing to use the slowest flow for two months, why change? Moms with low supply usually have a slower flow, and this means the bottle is more like mom.


    Choosing a Supplement

    • Donor Milk: With my second baby, many of my friends from church had babies around the same time, and a number of them had a huge excess of milk, especially in the first few months. I gratefully received their excess and fed it to A. as her supplement. It was great to know I was giving her real human milk! With that said, I would caution moms to make sure they really know the person giving them the milk. AIDS and a few other contagious diseases can be passed through milk to babies. Another place to aquire human milk is through milk banks. Honestly, I’m not a big fan. First of all, milk purchased through milk banks is extremely expensive. Secondly, most, if not all, of the banks pasteurize the milk, which changes some of the structures and makes it much less nutritious for the baby.


    • Formula: There are two pharamaceutical-grade formulas I am aware of. I use Similac. The other is Enfamil. The reason I am differentiating between pharamaceutical-grade formula and everything else is because I believe there is a difference that is important. First of all, my own experience has been that I have seen one too many recalls on generic formula for being contaminated. This may be because they are made by food companies rather than drug companies. For all their bad reputations, drug companies usually contain their products in clean rooms rather than factories, and take great care to maintain the purity of their products. Sometimes, one gets what one pays for. I am wary of giving my child cheap formula to save money and would rather cut corners in other places.


    • Homemade Formula: There are a number of recipes out there for homemade formula. Google it. I’ve never done this, so I don’t have a favorite recipe or anything. If a mom wanted to make her own formula, however, I would highly suggest checking out Dr. Mercola’s Infant Formula Fortification Protocol. I would also suggest using goat’s milk, if possible, as it is the closest in structure to human milk of all mammal milks.



    Warm It Up

    Bottles can be heated using a tea kettle, but a warmer designed for the task will save time if one has the extra money to buy one. Either way, if the goal is to get the bottle experience to be as much like breastfeeding as possible, warmth should not be overlooked. The temperature of human milk is the temperature of the mother’s body, or approximately 98.6 degrees. A supplement taken straight from the refrigerator may be convenient, but it is quite different from nursing.

    Please remember: DO NOT MICROWAVE FORMULA.


    Measuring Success

    I have a great little mathematical formula that a supplementing mom can use if she really wants to know how much milk she is producing. It is a two-edged sword because sometimes the answer is discouraging. However, I will still share. The average baby should eat around 2.5 ounces of supplement per pound per day. This means that a nine pound baby should eat about 22.5 ounces of supplement. Simply subtract what Baby is actually eating from the total Baby should be eating, and this is approximately what Mom is supplying. For instance, if that nine pound baby is only taking 11 ounces of supplement, Mom can know she is supplying the other 11.5 ounces, or approximately 50% of the baby’s total nutrition.


    Taking the Long-Term Approach

    It is believed that moms produce more milk with each baby. Even low-milk moms do this. However, this only happens if the mom actually nurses each baby. So, if a low-milk mom is planning on having multiple children and wants to nurse, she needs to nurse them all, no matter how little milk she has. I can attest to this. With my first child, I made around one {1!} ounce per day. With my second, I think it was about three ounces per day. Note that even though this is considered extremely low production, it is a 300% increase over the first. Right now, I am producing about seven ounces per day, which is about 30% of my child’s nutrition. I am so glad I didn’t give up with my first child. So to moms out there I say, “Don’t give up, and don’t think it will be the same with each child.”


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