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breastfeeding and chemotherapy

(8 Posts)
yakamoz Tue 12-Jul-11 14:30:45

I think this is my first post, as I usually read through threads to find out information, and it is often extremely useful. This time, however, I'm a little short of time. I found out yesterday that I have breast cancer, and will have to stop feeding my nine and a half month old dd when chemotherapy starts. I had an MRI this morning, after which I have to "pump and dump" for 48 hours, and then start chemotherapy probably at the end of next week. So I can go back to bfing for a few days to wind it down, but we are going cold turkey for 48 hours as I write.
I have two basic questions:
1. I have never used formula (I fed my ds with breast milk until 1 yo, then straight to cow's milk), and it seems horrendously complicated to a lazy breastfeeder like me. Wait half an hour after boiling the kettle every time you want to feed her? Is there an alternative? What type of milk to use? We have bought something called follow-on, but I see that standard formula is advised by some.
2. My little refusenik (appreciate it is early days) is happy to take water from a beaker (has always rejected expressed milk from a bottle), but spent lunchtime refusing to take even a mouthful of formula from same beaker, despite happily polishing off a huge lunch. Always a voracious eater (of food and me), I am worried that she will just refuse milk and eat up big on food. I give her yoghurt, cheese and weetabix with cow's milk in any case, but I don't think this is enough for the next two and a half months. Any advice on getting her to take the formula? Alternatives?
Thank you.

TheRealMBJ Tue 12-Jul-11 14:43:19

sad sorry to hear about your diagnosis.

Normal formula is fine until 12 months old, the follow-on stuff is just a marketing ploy, but then you could probably get it on offer at times. If your DD is eating well, you can try supplementing her diet with more yoghurt and cheese is she continues to refuse formula. (Which I see you're already doing). Have you tried a doidy cup? Some people have success with them or, getting someone else to offer her the formula in a beaker while you are out initially to get her used to it?

Finally, have you considered milk-sharing through something like Human Milk 4 Human Babies ? Not everyone's cup of tea but, worth thinking about considering.

lalalahahaha Tue 12-Jul-11 14:45:31


Sorry to hear you're going through this. I don't post very often either but I've just gone through a similar thing so I wanted to respond.

I had to give up breastfeeding because of breast cancer when my DD2 was 8 months - and same as you I'd breastfed my first until she went onto cow's milk. It wasn't easy but you will be able to do it and the baby will survive!

FF is a pain compared to breastfeeding but you soon get used to it. I just got the first milk because my health visitor told me that follow-on wasn't necessary. I also got some of the readymade cartons for emergencies. I had a bit more time than you but I still had to do it quickly and I just replaced one feed with a beaker of formula every couple of days. At first she refused it and I had to just keep offering, sip by sip, although at first she would only take a couple of ounces. She did start to eat loads more to make up for the lack of milk - her breakfast was soon much bigger than mine! But after a few weeks it balanced out and she started to take more formula and less food again, and now she absolutely guzzles the formula.

I really don't think it matters if there are a few weeks where she just has yoghurts, cheese etc and some water. According to my HV, as long as they are drinking enough water there is no need to worry in the short term.

Good luck. It's not a nice thing to have to do and I really worried about how it would affect my DD, but she is absolutely fine. You have to focus on your treatment and getting better.

flickor Tue 12-Jul-11 14:45:43

you sound very brave. My little one has always been breastfed but had a bottle of formula last week. We used Aptamil (prepaired) one and she seemed to like it. As you refusenik is eating dairy she might find formula ok. Good luck

tiktok Tue 12-Jul-11 14:50:33

yakamoz - so sorry to hear about your diagnosis and hope you have lots of real life love and support to get you through the next few months of treatment.

A nine and a half month old already well-established on a range of good-quality solid food can safely use ordinary cows milk - the advice that ordinary cows milk can't be used as a drink until 12 months is a reasonable 'one size fits all' bit of public health guidance, intended to protect the babies who are fussy eaters, not yet taking many solids, not yet taking much iron. But for individual babies who don't fit that category, ordinary milk is just fine.

Check with a dietitian or your HV to reassure yourself, though.

The advantage is that it does not have to be prepared from powder and some babies prefer the taste. Try it cold from the fridge in a beaker and see if she will take it. Some babies love feeding from a glass (with help - and it will need to be good chunky glass) but it may be that a 9.5 month old does not appreciate the novelty - worth a try though smile

Hope this helps and all the best for the next few months.

RidinOnAPig Tue 12-Jul-11 14:58:34

I have no advice on switching over to formula (or cows milk for that matter!) as that is something I haven't managed.

BUT my sister weaned herself from the breast at 9 months and refused any other type of milk. My mum just made sure she had plenty of dairy in her food. So veg with cheese sauce, yoghurt, cereal with milk, adding cream cheese or a bit of milk wherever possible in pasta/pesto/cream cheese AND grated cheese on top.

My DD, also a little refusenik, will sip some cows milk from a cup. I try and do this at the end of every meal, she only has a tiny amount at a time though.

Hopefully though formula will work out for you, but I do think there are other ways of making sure your DD has enough dairy if it doesn't, especially as she is nearing 1 year.

Good luck with your treatment.

yakamoz Tue 12-Jul-11 15:14:36

Thank you all for your extremely useful advice and supportive words. Will try out your suggestions and let you know how I get on! I had thought that cow's milk might be ok if necessary. Will keep trying with formula, but won't get too distressed if we need to resort to other things. We are trying to keep distress to a minimum here, and of course dd and ds are good at helping with that. smile

yakamoz Wed 20-Jul-11 22:53:23

Just a quick update: we have had most success with cow's milk in a doidy cup! DD seems to continue to dislike the formula, although she will take a few perfunctory sips, so we are trying water, cow's milk and formula at different times, also formula mixed with cow's milk on her breakfast cereal. We'll just have to see what happens next. Thanks again for your advice and support.

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