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Can you be too thin to breast feed?

(43 Posts)
missbumpy Tue 19-Aug-08 19:27:11

I'm going through a hard time at the moment and am very stressed and weight has been dropping off me ever since I gave birth (10 months ago). I'm now slipping into the underweight BMI category and I've noticed my breasts don't seem so full. Worried that I don't have enough fat in my body to make milk! Can someone please tell me I'm being stupid!

Also worried about all of my stress somehow affecting the milk. Can stress hormones get into the milk? OK, I'm sounding like a maniac now! Any answers?

moondog Tue 19-Aug-08 19:30:05

No stress won't affect your milk and you would have to be emaciated for your milk to be compromised.
It makessense to look after yourself though for the sake of both of you. smile

DisplacementActivity Tue 19-Aug-08 19:33:48

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kama Tue 19-Aug-08 19:34:18

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hercules1 Tue 19-Aug-08 19:35:03

Stress does not affect your milk or supply.

beansprout Tue 19-Aug-08 19:35:31

I am doing the same, weight wise, but I still have lots of milk. Nature will take care of the baby so we are likely to get run down before the supply is affected.

Off to have my dinner now!!

hercules1 Tue 19-Aug-08 19:35:45

Just to repeat what moondog said as well - you'd have to be seriously malnourished for it to affect your milk.

tiktok Tue 19-Aug-08 19:49:28

Fortunately for the human race, the majority of whom have been subject to stressful life events for the majority of the 100,000 (or so!) years homo sapiens has existed, milk is unaffected in quantity or quality by stress.

Kama, you are incorrect, sorry. Stress hormones do affect the milk, and they are found in breastmilk, and increase with the mother's stress levels. However, there is no evidence that this 'damages' the quality of the milk or the baby's own stress levels - and breastfeeding itself is shown to reduce stress levels in mum and in baby.

Also, stress does not affect the amount of milk produced.

Acute stress may affect let down in the short term.

I have references for all of this, if anyone's interested. It's all evidence-based.

misbumpy - it's normal for breasts not to feel so full when bf is well-established. Bf does 'use' some of your own resources, so you need to take care of yourself to maintain your well-being, but the good news is your baby will take/make the milk he wants, as long as you continue to feed, and the quality will be fine

missbumpy Tue 19-Aug-08 19:51:01

I am eating but probably not enough and not well enough and the weight still seems to be dropping off at a steady rate.
Thanks for the reassurance anyway.
Are you sure stress can't affect supply? An HV and a GP told me that my milk could dry up if I didn't eat better and avoid stress when I started out bfing 10 months ago. Were they wrong?

hercules1 Tue 19-Aug-08 19:51:46

Tiktok knows all there is to know on breastfeeding. GPs and mws, hvs etc usually know very little.

moondog Tue 19-Aug-08 19:53:29

Yes Hvs and GPs generally know eff all about breastfeeding so are best avoided. Go for a breastfeeding counsellor every time.

You should see how skinny women here in Bangladesh are.They breastfeed, alot on just a bowlof rice aday. sad

DisplacementActivity Tue 19-Aug-08 19:53:44

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missbumpy Tue 19-Aug-08 19:54:44

Cross posted Tiktok. That's really interesting about the stress hormones. So they do make it into milk supply but they don't make the baby stressed out? Glad DD's not going to be ingesting my stress

It's true that BFing is de-stressing. It's one of the reasons I've been keen to carry on. I feel like it's a really calm, stress-free, lovely moment in the day. It feels like a very nurturing thing to do for DD at a time when I worry that I'm not providing the happiest environment for her in general.

missbumpy Tue 19-Aug-08 19:57:03

No food issues I know of Displacement! Just a combination of stress and exhaustion and somehow not finding the time in the day. By dinner time I'm too exhausted to make a proper meal. Also really broke at the moment...otherwise I'd just pamper myself with lots of M&S ready meals and that kind of thing.

DisplacementActivity Tue 19-Aug-08 20:00:54

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missbumpy Tue 19-Aug-08 20:04:14

Ah yes, been meaning to change the name. It was a pregnancy bump thing! not so relevant now I've turned into the incredible shrinking woman!
Sometimes I try to be organised and make a big soup and freeze some but more often than not I just make some beans on toast Cheap, quick, easy.

DisplacementActivity Tue 19-Aug-08 20:21:20

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georgimama Tue 19-Aug-08 20:25:46

Nothing much wrong with beans on toast - you could try making some stuff to put in freezer for you and DC to eat (pureed or mashed for him natch) like casseroles, bolognese or chilli - our 17 month DS has been eating pretty much what we eat since about 10 months.

tiktok Tue 19-Aug-08 20:29:35

GPs and HVs who know nothing about bf and who don't know they know nothing are the pits. How dare they worry mothers like this angry, saying their milk will dry up.

There are a number of good research studies showing under-nourishment does not affect milk supply or infant growth. There's an interesting one done on Muslim women who observed Ramadam, and fasted . Their own nutritional state was compromised, but not their babies' (marginal diffs in some vitamin levels in their milk, that's all). Mothers who are long-term, chronically under-fed may have some difficulty maintaining a good supply, and I suppose this might apply in the West to a few women with serious illness or long-lasting eating disorders, not women who are just a bit skinny by our standards (interesting to note that Clever Nature does not 'let' women in this state get pregnant, usually....their periods stop).

There is less really robust stuff on stress, but some studies look at mood, and perceived stress levels, and guess what - zero difference in milk supply.

GPs and HVs who say any different need to be asked to produce the research studies that back up what they are saying - they will fail to do so because there aren't any. However, women who are told they will not be able to breastfeed unless they do/don't do x, y, or z may well stop bf earlier than otherwise, because in this country, breastfeeding needs confidence and trust to continue. This can be far more fragile than anything to do with the way their body works

missbumpy Tue 19-Aug-08 20:33:12

ooh, i might change my name right now.

kama Tue 19-Aug-08 20:40:54

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tissy Tue 19-Aug-08 20:41:06

I had such terrible pregnancy sickness and reflux that I was lighter at the end of my pregnancy than I was when I conceived. DH has photos of me and newborn dd and I looked anorexic. DH was really worried, thought there was something seriously wrong with me.

dd was breastfed from the moment we hit recovery and she was fine. I didn't know that about the stress hormones (thanks, tiktok), but extreme thinness itself clearly didn't affect dd.

kama Tue 19-Aug-08 20:41:09

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kama Tue 19-Aug-08 20:41:47

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hercules1 Tue 19-Aug-08 20:43:02

SHock like bereavement can temporarily affect milk as it sounds like it did in your mothers case. Different to stress.

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