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Breastfeeding: length of time Vs amount?

(13 Posts)
RiggedUpSquare Thu 07-Nov-19 14:58:40

Our Medical situation means my ds has been breastfed a bit from birth to 7 months.. but 1% breastmilk, 99% formula. He gets minimal amounts from me. As in: less than 20ml per feed (we've done weighted feeds, extensive medical investigation from birth to 5 month, 121 lactation consultant and medication didn't fix my supply, we've been through sheer hell and back to get my tiny supply established and maintained so please please don't suggest "just feed more / skin to skin / supply = demand" inaccuracies, it simply doesn't apply here, and led me into a severe postnatal depression where I thought I could fix the milk supply if only I pumped,skin2skin and hydrated more).

I've always assumed that most of the health benefits of breastfeeding will still apply to us, because at least he's had some breastmilk, right?sadsad

However my DH says he's not so sure. 10-20 ml breastmilk is never mentioned when people are talking about bf benefits.

I've always assumed that 7 months of breastfeeding tiny amounts might make up to an equivalent benefit of (say) babies who are exclusively breastfed for 4 weeks.. it some such balanced thing..

Is that actually true?

If I can breastfeed for a year with my awful supply.. is that similar to a short time of if we'd had a normal supply?

Is there any scientific basis for my assumption? Has anyone got information on length of breastfeeding in small amounts Vs the usual info on how good breastmilk is if exclusive bf?

RiggedUpSquare Fri 08-Nov-19 20:53:31

Anyone? smile

MrsTerryPratchett Fri 08-Nov-19 21:06:10

I'd imagine that there aren't studies based on your unique situation!

However things like the baby getting some protection from disease would still apply I assume. But I don't imagine it equals the same volume of milk in a shorter time!

RiggedUpSquare Fri 08-Nov-19 22:33:16

Thanks. Yes. It seems to be an area no one has looked at. Which is odd because there are lots of women in my online support group (hundreds) for medically diagnosed low milk supply (I.e. those women where it isn't tongue tie poor latch or birth blood transfusion or PCOS or diabetes or any of the "obvious" risk factors).

BeHereNowx32 Sat 09-Nov-19 08:15:17

@RiggedUpSquare I don’t have any information on this. But I also mixed fed my baby until 5 months (I would have carried on longer, but my supply really suffered, and she started to refuse breastfeeding). I always wondered the same, if even a little bit would be beneficial. I think it’s good to get a mix of both if possible. So, if you feel happy to carry on, then I would. It’s such a nice bonding experience.
Although I’m happy my baby got some breast milk, and they are doing great now. I definitely would have liked to carry on longer than we did.

Paranormalbouquet Sat 09-Nov-19 08:22:06

I don’t know the answer but any breastmilk provides benefits- transfer of antibodies etc. And even if it didn’t provide much, if you and baby enjoy it and it provides comfort that’s a benefit in itself!

unicornberry Sat 09-Nov-19 08:25:48

Well done for breastfeeding for so long! You are doing so well.

The benefits still apply. The risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, diabetes and stroke are all now lower for the rest of your life and your baby is still getting lots of benefits including antibodies in every bit of milk. Any breast milk is great and you can keep going for as long as you like, the benefits will always continue.

Untamedtoad Sat 09-Nov-19 08:34:35

Firstly, that's amazing you've continued to feed alongside formula, that's a brilliant achievement for you and baby! Any breast milk will be hugely beneficial compared to none. And your milk will be hugely concentrated with "the good stuff" if you're only producing/feeding a small amount. When my dd feeds dropped as she got older, the milk became richer and more concentrated compared to when she was tiny and feeding frequently, and the milk was almost clear, very diluted looking. I used to pump a fair bit, as DD couldn't latch particularly well as a newborn, and then I just kept it up as it was handy to be able to give her the occasional bottle, so could see the milk changing in colour over the course of the first year and as the feeds dropped as she grew, the milk changed from almost water like to a rich gold cream colour. I think as your baby is taking a small amount, your milk is probably packed with huge amounts of antibodies and all the good stuff. My dd is now 2 & 1/2 and nurses once a week, and my milk has turned back to looking like colostrum, so I'm assuming it's giving her one last boost of antibodies before she finally weans. Plus 20-30ml is a good amount in terms of a breastfeeding feed! It may not look much compared to the amount of formula, but every drop contains stuff you cannot find anywhere else, and will 100% be beneficial for your baby for as long as you both wish to continue. Sounds like you have a very lucky baby.

whatswithtodaytoday Sat 09-Nov-19 08:40:44

I did a bit of research into this as I carried on breastfeeding for comfort (once or twice a day) after we had to switch to formula. I only managed three months though, as he started to refuse soon after I moved him up a teat size.

As far as I could work out you and the baby do get some benefits. You're still putting the antibodies into him, for example. Your body is still producing milk, which benefits your future health to some degree. Plus you have a guaranteed way to get the baby to stop crying!

Untamedtoad Sat 09-Nov-19 08:41:54

Also, forgot to add, remember, bf isn't just about nutrition, it's about that quiet bonding time, the connection you create, the ability to soothe teething pains, and calm down an upset infant. The health benefits to you and baby will still be increasing each and every day you nurse. I'm pretty sure my dd barely takes a drop when she asks to nurse now, but she still asks occasionally and I let her, and it's that instant reconnection I think she's actually after. Bf is so much more than feeding a baby.

RiggedUpSquare Sat 09-Nov-19 15:46:02

Thank you all. You've confirmed my assumption that it isn't for nothing. I was considering giving up, but I'm not ready for that, even though we haven't had a "Normal" bf experience. I remain angry / frustrated / guilty / grieving for the difficult time we've had with bf (i definitely don't think it's helped my mental health overall, it's caused me severe bouts of depression when I should have just been enjoying my lovely newborn!!!) but it is something I'm glad we've managed to stick with, longer than I ever thought we could.

Thank you

BeHereNowx32 Sun 10-Nov-19 09:45:05


I found this on benefits for partial breastfeeding (after searching relactation, as if there was a chance I could try again 🙄)

Soon2BeMumof3 Sun 10-Nov-19 09:58:00

OP you've been through so much and done an incredible job.

A doctor told a friend of mine to think of a small amount of breast milk a day as a multi-vitamin that boosts immunity.

You should be really proud of what you've achieved. Your baby is going to be thrive because he has a mother who is so dedicated to him. That's worth more than all the breastfeeding in the world.

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