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Exclusive breastfeeding - does size matter?

(143 Posts)
Kyliebump Thu 22-Aug-02 22:12:46

DS is nearly 16 weeks and I'd really like to try and carry on with exclusive breastfeeding (ie no solids) until as close to 6 months as possible. However, he is really big - was 9lb 7oz at birth and is now 16lb 6oz and I'm wondering if I'm being unrealistic? He has started waking in the night having previously slept through but this isn't too much of a problem as he only wakes once and goes straight back down when he's been fed. However, if he starts waking several times then I guess it might be time to think about solids. He also got his first two teeth at 13.5 weeks, so that is a challenge in itself to my breastfeeding plans!!

Nobody I know has exclusively breastfed past 4 months and I'd really love to hear some experiences. Thank you.

Jasper Thu 22-Aug-02 22:36:46

Kyliebump you will no doubt get some better informed replies than mine but I thought I'd give you some personal encouragement , even if just on an anecdotal level.

My ds is now 5 and a half months and still exclusively breastfed.
He is my third baby and I am getting on so much better with the bf this time ( stopped after about 8 weeks with number one, even less with number two).
He IS starting to wake more in the night but I am coping OK and like you have a kind of mental goal of six months exclusive bf in mind.
I am fortunate in having a very supportive dh and though I work three days I can rest lots on the other days.

As for size, I have no idea of how my boy compares to other babies as I have never taken him to be weighed . He has not been weighed since the health visitor and community midwife visited when he was just a few days old. I have absolutely no clue how he compares to other babies his age, nor do I care as he is a happy and healthy wee boy so that is all the reassurance I need.

On an intuitive level, I would have thought if your son is on the bigger end of the spectrum then that is some kind of proof that the milk you are supplying is just the cat's pyjamas nutrition wise.

You have the desire and the physical capacity to supply all his needs so I would say go for it.

I'm off to bed...all this breastfeeding is exhausting

SofiaAmes Thu 22-Aug-02 23:21:18

Kyliebump, I exclusively breastfed until 6 months. My son was pretty consistantly on the 75th percentile line for size and weight. He fed approx. every two hours day and night until 6 months. I was told that I could have probably gotten him sleeping through the night before 6 months even with the breastmilk, but I decided that I didn't really need the hassle. However at 6 months I was ready for sleep and did finally do the sleep training. My understanding is that research indicates that despite what people think, there is no evidence to indicate that starting solids makes a baby more likely to sleep through the night.
My son got teeth at around 8 mo. but I breastfed him until 15 mo. and had no problem with the teeth or biting. I'm told that it's not the first two that can be a problem, but the next two after that.
Stick with the exclusive breasfeeding to 6 months if you can. It's the best thing for you and the baby! And don't let anyone try and convince you that your child isn't getting "enough" food. Breastmilk is the most nutritious thing you can give your child. And don't forget that pure weight isn't everything. Brain power and adult health is all influenced by the nutrition a child gets! Good luck and only gets messier from here.

mears Fri 23-Aug-02 00:27:34

Go for it kyliebump. Your body is capable of feeding your baby. He may wake at times more frequently at night to increase your supply. Just go with him and he'll settle again. I B/F no. 4 till 6 months - wish I had done it with the other 3 but wasn't so clued up with them. Be prepared for some criticism though from family and dare I say HV. Not everyone is as well informed as us

aloha Fri 23-Aug-02 09:56:09

My friend exclusive breastfed her baby for six months - he's only just started solids. He's a little baby sumo wrestler, full of health and 90th Centile all the way along, almost as big as my not-small 11month old. She heartily recommends. Good luck. I wish I'd delayed solids a little longer. Breastfeeding's much more convenient, and a lot cleaner!

Ellaroo Fri 23-Aug-02 13:59:05

Kyliebump, your son sounds wonderfully healthy and big - that must make you so proud to know that it is all your own milk that has got him to this size.

My dd has been on the 91st centile since she was three weeks old and was exclusively breastfed until 5 and a half months. The only reason I started on solids then was peer pressure and lack of support from HV. Like you, I really wanted to make it to 6 months as I think in terms of allergies and food tolerance it is better for them (and it is now recommended by the WHO). DD managed large lumps very early on and has an incredibly varied and adventurous diet, so it obviously didn't stunt her to leave it so late.

Re: the teeth, I had the same problem and someone on mumsnet gave me the really good advice of pushing dd's face further towards my breast so that her nose was covered when she bit me, as this makes the baby release the nipple immediately in order to breathe. It is really effective and a much better alternative than saying 'no' - which only seemed to be greeted with sniggers and then harder biting! The biting stopped fairly soon after this!

However, don't be hard on yourself if you don't make it to 6 months, it is quite a marathon! My dd still prefers bf to solids (don't know whether this is a good thing - she is 11 months old!), so introducing solids certainly hasn't meant that dd has gone off it. Good luck.

Eulalia Fri 23-Aug-02 18:12:46

kyliebump - I too am aiming for 6 months and ds is now 18 months and coping OK. She is also a fairly big baby (75th centile). I am sure you will do fine as your body can produce plenty milk (we are adapted to feed twins after all). Waking once in the night is pretty good going. I don't know why this is used as indicator and why we expect babies to sleep through so young. I mean a liquid doesn't take long to digest.

One indicator (amongst others) is your baby doubling their birth weight. This topic was discussed on another thread. "Starting Solids" under Food I think.

Also baby can be waking for other reasons. My ds was v restless last week and it turned out she had a cold. We tend to assume hunger before anything esle.

Sounds like you are doing just fine

Eulalia Fri 23-Aug-02 18:13:14

oopps I mean she is 18 weeks old!

Kyliebump Fri 23-Aug-02 21:31:03

Thanks so much for your messages - it's so good to hear that others have reached the magical 6 month target!! I'll keep going for as long as I can - since DS is on the 91st percentile he could even afford to lose a few ounces without fading away!!!

Good point Eulalia about being physically capable to feed twins - hadn't thought of that!!!

Thanks again!

SofiaAmes Fri 23-Aug-02 22:06:42

Kyliebump, it's a good point about not fading away if he doesn't eat constantly. Don't forget that babies have growth spurts and their eating habits can vary quite a bit. I found that my son could eat voraciously for a week (to the point where I thought that I didn't have enough milk) and then seem to eat next to nothing the next (use these weeks to express a little extra milk to keep in the freezer for nights out!). This still happens now that he's on solids and 21 mo. old. I would say that the secret is not to get agitated about it or eventually they will use your concern about how much they eat as a weapon against you...

Chinchilla Fri 23-Aug-02 23:40:23

That is so true SofiaAmes. My ds wouldn't eat for three days this week, except breakfast, and the only way that I could get any food into him was to let him have loads of Organix cereal bars and Petits Filous youghurts. Forget fruit and vegetables! I was really worried, but tried to not let it show (tried, but not sure if I succeeded!)

I think that it was teething pain (pre-molars coming through), and he is now back to shovelling in the food again!

Sorry - that was off the thread re b/f'ing.

Kyliebump good luck, and I hope that you make it. There is no way I could have kept it up exclusively that long, as ds was on my boob almost non-stop, and waking around 3 times a night. On the plus side, I am still b/f'ing him and he is 13 months.

I am really proud of my achievement to keep going this long, and, whatever you decide, so should you be. My ds was always in the higher percentiles of the length chart. It was only when he went onto solids that he dropped down to the lower end of the chart. It seems that your ds is really thriving, and if he is only waking once, and you can deal with it, then you are obviously keeping him fairly full.

Good luck.

Demented Sun 25-Aug-02 14:16:53

Kyliebump, keep us updated on how you get on. My DS2 has been exclusively breastfed for 12 weeks now and have notions of trying to continue to six months. If he keeps on putting on weight at the same rate as he has been he will be around 16lb at 16 weeks.

I wondered if anyone who has done it ran into any problems with their HV. Mine quite happily advised me to start weaning DS1 at 12 weeks (which I did and now know that this was not the best of ideas) and wonder how she will react if I tell her that I am planning on exclusively breastfeeding to six months. I don't think avoiding her will work either as I am still paranoid about DS2's weight gain (bad experience with DS1) and find it hard to resist having him weighted at the clinic. Are HVs aware of this advice or are they still keen on weaning at 16 weeks?

clucks Sun 25-Aug-02 16:17:13

Although a failed b/feeder myself, I have been advised that it isbest to avoid solids until 6 months for a more mature digestive system and I think this is WHO advice in other parts of the world.

If I HAD followed this advice then DS might not hate food as much as he seems to.

Keep it up.

Kyliebump Sun 25-Aug-02 17:31:11

Demented - I've had a mixed response from HVs - mine gave me the weaning information at the 12 week check, then when I explained that I was hoping to continue exclusive bf until 6 months said that she knew that that was the WHO recommendation and that she thinks eventually they will be advising 6 months, but until she's told to, she'll continue advising 4 months - seemed strange to me!

I'm really lucky that there is a brilliant breastfeeding support group at my local clinic where the HV is supporting the 6 month target - however she doesn't know anyone that has made it that far, so I feel like a bit of a pioneer for the group!!

Each time I take DS to be weighed (can't resist it!) I see a different HV who asks if I'm thinking about weaning, and says if I make it to 6 months I'll need to be careful to introduce lumpy foods quickly. I hear them out and try not to panic about DS being on baby rice for the rest of his life!!!

I've had a mixed reaction from friends too, and this I find more tricky to deal with than the reaction of the HVs, as if I say that the WHO recommends bf for 6 months, I don't want to appear at all critical if they have made other choices about when to start weaning, or make them feel guilty if they bottle fed etc etc etc. Also, as I might not make it to 6 months I want to limit the amount of 'told you so' that I'll receive!!!

Well done for breastfeeding to 12 weeks - every day counts!!

mears Sun 25-Aug-02 17:36:54

One advantage of waiting till 6 months before starting solids is that you do not need to skiddle around with baby rice. After starting with pureed carrot, then ptoato etc. I very quickly just liquidised what the rest of the family were having. I had absolutely no problems when introducing spoon feeding or lumps despite my HV saying that I might have difficulties. I challenged her on everything she told me so she soon gave up

SofiaAmes Sun 25-Aug-02 18:56:27

I agree with mears. Since I didn't start solids til 6 mo., I never gave my ds baby rice and quickly went from individual pureed foods (to test for allergies, as there are lots in my family) to puree-ing what we were eating. I started finger foods at 8 or 9 months. Even when he was eating the finger foods he didn't like lumps in his puree (men!!). And he eats everything now (21 mo.).

Demented Tue 03-Sep-02 23:56:27

How is everyone getting on? My HV was round today for DS2's 3-4 month check (not really sure what she was here for but never mind).

She asked me if I had started him on any solids (he is 13 1/2 weeks) so I said no but I understood the WHO advised weaning at 6 months so although unsure if I could make it to 6 months it would be my aim. She said to me that the WHO make this recommendation only for third world countries and that in Britain we should still aim for 4-6 months. I had been on the WHO web-site in the morning and personally did not get this impression, the article I read said it had many benefits even in more developed countries.

She scaremongered a little with a story about a mum who left introducing solids with her baby until 9 months and then the baby had speech problems and this would be her concern in leaving it too late. However I introduced solids at 12 weeks on her advice with DS1 and he still had speech problems so I am certainly not going to let this worry me.

I suppose I will just have to wait and see how it goes with DS2 certainly he seem satisfied with b/f at the moment and I am hoping that will not change for a while.

mears Wed 04-Sep-02 00:03:04

She is talking cr*p. Keep going as you are. As I mentioned in another thread (B/F at 8 years thread), when you exclusively feed you get lots of obstacles put in your way. 6 months is definately the ideal. Carry on with confidence

Joe1 Wed 04-Sep-02 00:03:43

Demented I had a visit from my HV on Friday to tell me anything new and give me my little record ready for No2 due in a few weeks. We were talking about bf, something I will be doing, and also mentioned about the WHO recommendation and she said the same thing about the third world countries.

mears Wed 04-Sep-02 00:15:08

Although there is emphasis on extending breastfeeding in third world countries - the WHO recommendations apply to all countries as the following extract makes clear. It is World Health not Third World Health that WHO issues guidance for. Hope it is helpful.

WHO makes new recommendation on breast feeding
Andrew Moscrop Bangladesh

The World Health Organization (WHO) is using World Breast Feeding Week from 1 to 7 August to raise awareness of its new recommendation on breast feeding. This advocates six months as the optimum duration of exclusive breast feeding.

The resolution was agreed earlier this year at the WHO's annual assembly. The organisation had previously recommended that exclusive breast feeding should be continued for the first "four to six months" of life. The new recommendations assert that complementary feeding (supplementation of a breast milk diet with other foods) should, ideally, be introduced only when a child is six months old.

The resolution was made despite attempts by baby food manufacturers to prevent a change on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence. Andree Bronner, secretary general of the International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers, claimed that the new resolution is "without the scientific basis that the issue of feeding infants and young children needs and deserves." However, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, director general of the WHO, assured the assembly that the new recommendation was based on a "systematic scientific review of all published literature on the optimal duration of exclusive breast feeding."

The WHO is formulating a "global strategy for infant and young child feeding," which should be endorsed at next year's assembly. The strategy will encourage WHO member states to develop comprehensive national policies on infant feeding that will help mothers breast feed their babies for the optimal six months' period. Each country will be required to provide information and education, as well as adequate maternal health care and support for working mothers. At present, of the 191 WHO member states, the governments of 13 have no policy to support breast feeding and 65 nations have policies that recommend and support exclusive breast feeding for an inadequate period--that is, less than six months. Appropriate breast feeding policies are especially important in developing countries where breast feeding is an important determinant of child health.

Efforts are already being made to promote the new recommendation where its impact is needed most. For example, in Bangladesh the Breast Feeding Foundation has held a seminar, which drew together representatives from healthcare organisations and government officials, to help encourage a change from the current national standard of five months to the new WHO recommendation.

mears Wed 04-Sep-02 09:06:30

Sorry - mentioned wrong thread - it is the 8wk GF baby won't take a bottle thread - where I was talking about obstacles.

ks Wed 04-Sep-02 10:21:52

Message withdrawn

tiktok Wed 04-Sep-02 12:01:56

These HVs have got it wrong - plain and simple.

In fact, the whole documentation about solids and bf indicates that some studies which looked at babies and mothers in developing countries were not as conclusive re. mothers who were chronically under-nourished, often from childhood onwards, and who may show signs of anaemia as a result.

For some of these mothers, they may or may not have difficulty adequately nourishing on breastmilk alone for 6 months. But these babies are the ones at more risk of diarhoea if other foods are introduced too soon. So while the 'breastmilk alone is fine for six months' is certainly a global recommendation, the WHO do suggest looking at mothers and babies individually, too, and individual circumstances.

I don't think there has been any suggestion that mothers and babies in the West are likely to face these circumstances.

There is really no point in giving solids to a thriving, healthy baby under 6 months, wherever he/she lives in the world, if the mother is happy to continue feeding exclusively.

The UK govt's scientific committee on nutrition has endorsed the WHO statements on this issue:

They, too, talk about looking at individuals, and of course this is important. But HVs who say UK bf babies need solids before 6 months are not doing this. They are making blanket statements which don't even have the benefit of being researched.

Kyliebump Thu 05-Sep-02 10:38:07

DS now 17.5 weeks and we're still going OK. Had a bit of a rocky week last week when I was getting bitten most feeds, but he seems to be better this week. I think it's a combination of saying (shouting) no! when he bites, and also taking him off when he starts to get that sleepy relaxed look, which is when it's more likely to happen. I do feel a bit sad for him that he gets taken off when he's all relaxed and obviously getting comfort from it, but he's going to have to get used to getting his comfort from cuddles as biting is no comfort for either of us!!

Took him to clinic yesterday to be weighed and he has only put on 4oz in the past two weeks, which means that he has dropped from the 91st to 75th centile. The HV said to bring him back in two weeks and that I might have to start solids before 6 months. Panicked a bit about this but the HV at the breastfeeding group said to wait for a month before getting him weighed again unless I was worried about him in any way, and that his drop in weight gain is probably more likely to be due to the fact that he has just learnt how to turn from his back to his front and can't keep still for a second - I wish I could burn up calories as quickly as he can!!

Sorry to hear that your HV wasn't supportive Demented - it's so difficult to feel like you're going against professional advice - even if you think their advice is wrong!!

Good luck!

mears Thu 05-Sep-02 10:45:32

Definately wait a month before getting him weighed. To be honest weight fluctuates so much as they get older. I assume it is not a naked weigh. Do you always have him in the mame clothes or weigh clothes and nappy before you put them on?
The difference clothes makes in unbelievable.
My dd was static weight for a few weeks at 6 months prior to solids. Calories are used up as they are more active. I just got her weighed out of nosieness really. She was happy and healthy so don't get bogged down on the weight issue.
If you think about it, toddles hardly ever get weighed - it is not the most important part of a child's progress.
If ds is looks happy, is eating, peeing and pooing, he's fine

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