Feeding FAQ: 0-8 Weeks – Breast Feeding

My baby is three weeks old, weighs nearly 11 pounds and was feeding at 3am and 7am but has now back-tracked to wanting to be fed at 2am and 6am. Although I manage to express 7oz at 9.30pm he will only take 3-4oz when my husband feeds him at 10pm. Is he starting to wake earlier because he is not getting enough at the last feed, should he perhaps be having closer to what I am actually expressing at that time?

A baby who is the same weight as your son and being formula fed would perhaps be taking around 4-5oz at the last feed. As your baby is having expressed milk which is digested more quickly than formula, and he is taking slightly less than the amount suggested, he has probably started to wake up earlier because he is genuinely hungry. It would be worth trying a split feed at 10pm and 11pm to see if you can increase the amount he takes. That along with having him awake for a good hour and a quarter may be enough to help him sleep slightly longer stretch in the night. Your son is also possibly going through a growth spurt, so if he appears to need longer on the breast during the day, then do allow him.

It is important to remember that when giving a baby expressed milk from a bottle, that they probably do not get the same amount of hind milk that they would if they were feeding from the breast, therefore they may not sleep as long a stretch in the night. Your son is also possibly going through a growth spurt, so if he appears to need longer on the breast during the day, then do offer him the amount he wants. But even feeding at 2am and 6am your son is doing incredibly well, and so are you for producing such an good amount of milk at that time.

Feeding FAQ: 0-8 Weeks – Breast Feeding

Question – Constipation

My daughter is constipated (it is possibly hereditary as my son was too and apparently my brother and I were as babies). She is not on any medication, but pureed prunes and papaya really helped my son – I just can’t remember at what age I gave them to him. So far my daughter has had pear and apple. We have been weaning for six weeks and are half way through the five to six month plan. Do you think it would be OK to give her prune and papaya as her fruit for breakfast now?

Answer:

With any case of constipation, it’s always a good idea to look at fluid intake first, as the best diet in the world for babies or adults won’t help if fluid intake is too low. You live in a warm part of the world so your baby may have slightly higher fluid requirements and as she is weaning and increasing her intake of solids, she may naturally be cutting down her fluid intake at this time. You could try offering extra breast-feeds if she is breast-fed, or drinks of water to complement her formula. You could also try offering some of her drinks before meals if her fluid intake seems low.

Papaya has a reputation for relieving constipation, but there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence for it being any more effective than other fruits. It is safe to give as an early weaning food – in fact, it was my oldest child’s very first food. As with other fruits and vegetables, the fibre it contains will help to some extent.

Prunes, on the other hand, are known to contain a chemical other than the fibre that promotes bowel movement. They contain sorbitol, a form of sugar that is used in some diet foods such as diet chewing gum and diet sweets. You’ll recall that packets of these foods can carry the warning that consumption of excessive amounts may have a laxative effect. This is because the sorbitol is digested very slowly in the body and holds extra water in the bowel, making a softer and larger stool that is easier to pass. In addition, researchers long ago discovered that prunes contained a substance very similar to some laxative medications, though recent studies have not been able to repeat this result. However, this may be another reason why prunes are renowned for helping with constipation, so we must take extra care when introducing them to children’s diets. I’d suggest trying to increase fluid first if intake seems low, then adding just half a teaspoon of pureed prune at a time, first at one then two meals a day. Then increase it by an extra half teaspoon a day until you notice an effect (up to a tablespoon or two a day at this age).

Pears also have a reputation for relieving constipation, and are a fruit your baby is already enjoying. They contain a type of fibre that is different to other fruit and vegetables which helps add extra bulk to stools making them easier to pass. Thus, they may be more effective than other choices.

As your daughter progresses with weaning, you’ll be able to offer her fruit and vegetables chopped as finger foods rather than as a puree. This can help with constipation as the foods are less processed so the fibre remains more intact, and more effective at moving bowels along. Pureed fruit is better than juice, but mashed fruit is better, and chopped fruit more effective again. Of course, as your daughter gets older, you can start introducing some wholegrain, unrefined foods (wheat and rice fibre are among the most effective types) but this is too much bulk for a little baby.

If you find the fluid, prunes and other fruit and vegetables are not helping, I’d suggest you consult your baby’s doctor. However, as with your older child, they will probably have the effect you’re looking for and you’ll both be happier and more comfortable!

Feeding FAQ: 0-8 Weeks – Breast Feeding

Question – Replace one formula feed with cows’ milk?

My son is just over 10 months and has three bottles a day of formula (6oz at 7.30, 5oz at 2.30 and 8oz at 6.30). I’m wondering if it would be OK for me to switch his 2.30 bottle to cows’ milk now to get him used to changing over completely at a year. I know it’s not advised to offer milk as a drink before a year but it’s only for six weeks and is only 5 oz at the most.

Answer:

Whilst I think it would probably be perfectly safe to switch the formula and use cows’ milk at this age, I would still advise you to wait until your child turns one to do so. That may sound confusing, so let me explain. Guidelines like this and many others, from recommended vitamin intakes to not giving honey until the first birthday, are designed to take in the needs of just about all people. They take into account that people’s bodies vary, and that some will develop and start to eat a balanced diet later than others. While most babies will decrease their need for the extra vitamins and other nutrients provided by formula before the age of one, a few may still need them if they have a lower intake of solid foods or higher body requirements. No harm will be done by waiting a little longer.

If you are concerned that your son needs to stop drinking formula and want to make a gradual transition, I’d suggest you just wait and start the process after his birthday. There’s no need to change all at one – many babies will protest at this. You can either change one drink at a time and see how they react, or make a mix of formula and milk, gradually decreasing the amount of formula so they end up just drinking milk.

Some people are keen to change from formula to milk earlier because they are finishing off a container of formula powder and are reluctant to buy more. However I would suggest that they do buy the extra and either continue with the formula for an extra few weeks beyond the first birthday or give the extra formula to a friend.

One last suggestion: this period before making the change from formula to milk may be a good time to make the change from bottle to cup or beaker, as this is actually a more challenging transition for many children (and their parents).

Feeding FAQ: 0-8 weeks – Worried about milk supply

Question – Worried about milk supply

My second baby is due any day and I am fretting over breast-feeding as I failed miserably with my first for various reasons, and ended up with bleeding nipples and a very poor milk supply. Having read some other people’s suggestions about increasing milk supply, I’m a bit confused, so would love some clarification.

The advice seems to involve fenugreek, fennel, Weleda mother’s milk tea and blessed thistle. I can’t seem to find a UK company that makes Weleda’s tea. Should fenugreek and fennel be taken together?

Answer:

I’m sorry to hear you had such a hard time breast-feeding with your last baby and wish you the best of luck this time around. I’m impressed that you’re so keen to succeed. Firstly, do be reassured that having trouble feeding one baby doesn’t always mean you have difficulties the second time around. Part of breast-feeding success is the teamwork between mother and baby, and some babies do just seem to take to it better than others, making it easier or more difficult for their mothers and changing the likelihood of bleeding nipples and other problems.

You’ve obviously been spending some time researching ways to increase milk supply. I would suggest that you try to establish a good milk supply by feeding and expressing frequently (as outlined in The Contented Little Baby Book) before trying special teas or herbal remedies. You could also contact specialist breast-feeding consultants through groups such as the UK’s National Childbirth Trust or the La Leche League, who have branches across the world.

While many people take herbal remedies such as fenugreek without any obvious adverse effects, and feel that it does increase their milk supply, it’s important to remember that we are taking them as a drug. Even though they are herbs and should be safe (apart from possible allergic reactions) in the amounts used to flavour food, as herbal remedies they are being taken in larger amounts for the effects of the chemicals they contain, just as we would take medications from the chemist. Anytime we do this, we need to be aware of possible side effects. For example, fenugreek, while generally considered to be safe, contains substances that may thin the blood and may reduce blood sugar levels. It can also have effects on the digestive system, such as diarrhoea, and some asthma-sufferers have reported that their asthma worsened when they took fenugreek. It’s also possible that people allergic to peanuts, soybeans, chickpeas or regular garden peas may find they react to fenugreek. Do note that this herbal remedy should not be taken while pregnant – it has been traditionally used to bring on labour, though its safety and effectiveness in this area isn’t known, and could increase the risk of miscarriage or early labour.

Another issue to remember is that any drug or herbal remedy carries the possibility of interactions with other drugs or herbal remedies you may be taking. So fenugreek could potentially increase the effect of blood thinning medications (which you might be put on in a medical emergency, without a chance to discuss any herbal remedies you are taking) and of diabetes treatments, with dangerous consequences. For all these reasons, I recommend that you discuss any herbal remedies with your GP before taking them. This should also mean they are listed on your medical record, just in case you were taken into hospital in an emergency. This includes herbal teas, as again they are being drunk for the medicinal effect of the herbs they contain.

One last point: remember that anything we take into our body while breast-feeding may end up in our baby’s body via our breast milk. Their little bodies can be more sensitive than ours. It’s definitely a time for extra caution and checking first with a medical expert.

Feeding FAQ: 0-8 weeks – Breast Feeding

Question – Worried about milk supply

My second baby is due any day and I am fretting over breast-feeding as I failed miserably with my first for various reasons, and ended up with bleeding nipples and a very poor milk supply. Having read some other people’s suggestions about increasing milk supply, I’m a bit confused, so would love some clarification.

The advice seems to involve fenugreek, fennel, Weleda mother’s milk tea and blessed thistle. I can’t seem to find a UK company that makes Weleda’s tea. Should fenugreek and fennel be taken together?

Answer:

I’m sorry to hear you had such a hard time breast-feeding with your last baby and wish you the best of luck this time around. I’m impressed that you’re so keen to succeed. Firstly, do be reassured that having trouble feeding one baby doesn’t always mean you have difficulties the second time around. Part of breast-feeding success is the teamwork between mother and baby, and some babies do just seem to take to it better than others, making it easier or more difficult for their mothers and changing the likelihood of bleeding nipples and other problems.

You’ve obviously been spending some time researching ways to increase milk supply. I would suggest that you try to establish a good milk supply by feeding and expressing frequently (as outlined in The Contented Little Baby Book) before trying special teas or herbal remedies. You could also contact specialist breast-feeding consultants through groups such as the UK’s National Childbirth Trust or the La Leche League, who have branches across the world.

While many people take herbal remedies such as fenugreek without any obvious adverse effects, and feel that it does increase their milk supply, it’s important to remember that we are taking them as a drug. Even though they are herbs and should be safe (apart from possible allergic reactions) in the amounts used to flavour food, as herbal remedies they are being taken in larger amounts for the effects of the chemicals they contain, just as we would take medications from the chemist. Anytime we do this, we need to be aware of possible side effects. For example, fenugreek, while generally considered to be safe, contains substances that may thin the blood and may reduce blood sugar levels. It can also have effects on the digestive system, such as diarrhoea, and some asthma-sufferers have reported that their asthma worsened when they took fenugreek. It’s also possible that people allergic to peanuts, soybeans, chickpeas or regular garden peas may find they react to fenugreek. Do note that this herbal remedy should not be taken while pregnant – it has been traditionally used to bring on labour, though its safety and effectiveness in this area isn’t known, and could increase the risk of miscarriage or early labour.

Another issue to remember is that any drug or herbal remedy carries the possibility of interactions with other drugs or herbal remedies you may be taking. So fenugreek could potentially increase the effect of blood thinning medications (which you might be put on in a medical emergency, without a chance to discuss any herbal remedies you are taking) and of diabetes treatments, with dangerous consequences. For all these reasons, I recommend that you discuss any herbal remedies with your GP before taking them. This should also mean they are listed on your medical record, just in case you were taken into hospital in an emergency. This includes herbal teas, as again they are being drunk for the medicinal effect of the herbs they contain.

One last point: remember that anything we take into our body while breast-feeding may end up in our baby’s body via our breast milk. Their little bodies can be more sensitive than ours. It’s definitely a time for extra caution and checking first with a medical expert.