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A question about breastmilk

(27 Posts)
mummalish Mon 27-Oct-08 18:37:35

I would like your opinion on this... Which is better - formula, or breastmilk from a woman who has a poor diet?

Do you think that breastmilk is still the best drink for a baby if the mum does not eat or drink well?

Breastmilk is always advised to be the best for your baby, but was just wondering how a poor diet can affect the quality of milk, and would formula sometimes be the better option?

Would really value your opinion on this.

wastingmyeducation Mon 27-Oct-08 18:43:27

AFAIK, breastmilk will always be best, unless the mother is literally starving. The body will deplete it's own resources to give baby the best. So a mother with a poor diet may feel tired and lacking in nutrients, but baby will be fine.
Someone with references will have posted by the time I've finished typing this!


JustFor2ShoesFor1NightOnly Mon 27-Oct-08 18:50:37

Poor diet makes little to no difference unless the woman is bordering on starvation.

mummalish Mon 27-Oct-08 19:12:46

Good to know that. Sometimes I really wonder if my breastmilk is good enough. I dont smoke, have a drink very rarely, and even then, I time it so that it is directly after a feed and has time to 'work' its way out of my system. I eat a variety, probably don't get enough fruit and veg, although I try. I have never been good about drinking enough fluids, but I do try. I have been a bit too keen on biscuits and choccies though, I suppose its a bit of comfort eating. I do drink tea and coffee, everyday, maybe 3 cups of tea and a coffee or two if I am out. My baby only poo's every 10 days or so, and sometimes he farts so much and it is so smelly. Tonight he seemed to be farting and crying in pain, as if his tummy is sore, so this led me to think that maybe it is my less than perfect diet is no good for him. I felt a bit sad, and so sorry that I may have been giving him inferior quality milk, and for the first time I really thought formula would be better for him.

tiktok Mon 27-Oct-08 19:16:23

Your milk is fine and top quality stuff, mummalish, and it is so sad you cannot be joyfully confident with breastfeeding. Nothing of what you say is in any way indicative of 'poor' quality milk. is a good, research-based link on this topic

JustFor2ShoesFor1NightOnly Mon 27-Oct-08 19:24:02

Ditto what tiktok said.
There is likely absolutely nothing wrong with your milk, I think the reason breastfed babies can poo less is that breastmilk has very little waste.
Also it would take quite a large amount of alcohol in your blood stream to affect your baby.
Have a trawl through the archives here and you'll find tons of threads on it.
Enjoy yourself, life and babysmile

doggiesayswoof Mon 27-Oct-08 19:32:04

Just to agree with tiktok and others - your breastmilk is good quality and the best option for your baby.

This is purely anecdotal of course, but I have bf and ff, and both my babies have had bouts of painful farting, trapped wind and sore tight tummies. Babies' digestive systems are not always great at coping with wind whatever their diet.

Reallytired Mon 27-Oct-08 19:37:45

"I would like your opinion on this... Which is better - formula, or breastmilk from a woman who has a poor diet?"

Diet makes little difference, although if a mother is close to death with starvation she might not produce enough milk. However the composition of a the breastmilk of a mother who is close to death and a healthy mother is very similar.

"Do you think that breastmilk is still the best drink for a baby if the mum does not eat or drink well?"

It is definately the best drink for baby, but whether its best for mother depends on how malnoushed the mother is. The human body will put itself pity close to death before it stops feeding a baby.

Anyway why do you ask?

mummalish Mon 27-Oct-08 19:47:06

Thank you all, I do feel alot better. I suppose I just have been feeling insecure about it, I won't doubt my milk again!


mummalish Mon 27-Oct-08 19:50:58

Reallytired, was just asking as I have been worried about my baby (first time Mummy), he has been suffering with painful winds and does not poo regularly, sometimes he really screams in agony, and I stupidly felt that it may be because I do not have a 'perfect' diet. I know better now, thanks to everyone.

flabbytumsquashybum Mon 27-Oct-08 19:55:09

I'm glad you asked this because I've been wondering the same thing. I don't drink or smoke but probably don't eat as well as I should. Dh is working away so once I've got my toddler off to bed at night I'm afraid I tend to stick a ready meal in the microwave. I try to do some frozen veg too to make myself feel better.

I too am very fond of biscuits....I've even wondered if that's why my dd is putting so much weight on (she's above the 91st centile)!

She also poos several times a day....and I thought there was no waste in bm?

I've also been following the thread on the weaning page which has put doubts in my mind, so it's good to read this thread and have my faith in bf reaffirmed!

flabbytumsquashybum Mon 27-Oct-08 20:02:13

Btw mummalish, I don't know how old your baby is but when dd got to about 3 weeks old she really started suffering badly with wind. I made a conscious effort to cut dairy out of my diet and she seemed to get better.

I haven't dared to reintroduce dairy yet so I don't know whether cutting it out worked or if she just grew out of it (she's 14 weeks now). Maybe I'll try a bar of Dairy Milk soon smile

Reallytired Mon 27-Oct-08 20:05:55


I'm sorry to hear that your lo has colic. Its common in both breastfed and formula fed babies. It is awful when colic happens but this phase will pass.

Just wondering, if you are having a rough time have you talked to your health visitor. For example the health visitor might be able to show you different methods of winding your baby. Or have you tried Infacol?

If you are worrying about breastfeeding prehaps you could go to your local La Leche League group. There are positions for breastfeeding your baby that you could experiment with to see if your baby takes in less wind. A La Leche League breastfeeding councellor could show you.

mummalish Mon 27-Oct-08 20:27:39

Reallytired, my baby had colic quite badly and it went away at around 6 weeks, he's 3 months now, and has recently been getting the sore tummy thing. We did give him infacol etc, and so thankful it went away, only to return now.

To make matters even more complicated, I express all my milk and feed baby with bottle. He has never taken the milk from my breast, despite numerous attempts, many sessions with breasfeeding councillor, many hours on the phone with both NCT and LLL. No one knows for sure why he wouldnt take the breast, believe me, I have tried everything. I just accepted this, and luckily, with the help of a breastpump, I can still give him breast milk.

He seems to burp well after a feed, but the farts are so distressing to him. And boy, do they smell! Maybe he has a sensitive digestion, now that I know its not my milk thats making him so unhappy, I feel I can cope a bit better.

Reallytired Mon 27-Oct-08 20:41:45

Wow! I am impresed that you have expressed milk for so long. I think you deserve a medal!

The only thing I can think of is reflux. My son had reflux and I found it help to hold him in an upright position for a couple of minutes after a feed. Maybe you could ask your GP or health visitor about gavicon.

Tryharder Mon 27-Oct-08 21:44:31

I read somewhere that in Germany, women give babies sips of fennel tea as a cure for colic/wind. Or perhaps you could drink fennel tea and it might come out in your milk.

Nancy66 Mon 27-Oct-08 23:04:33

It's not true to say that poor diet doesn't impact on the breastmilk a baby receives - it can do, particularly if the mothers diet is high in transfats or low in animal proteins

ElviraInanEcup Mon 27-Oct-08 23:21:50

Message withdrawn

Nancy66 Tue 28-Oct-08 00:07:06

There was a big study done in 1997 by Professor Chen on LCPs (long chain fatty acids) in breastmilk. I havent got a link but it should be easy to find.

There was also a Canadian study done on transfats in breastmilk - by the University of British Columbia I think.

Those are the two that spring to mind and i'm sure there was a recent study on transfats in breastmilk - originating in south America.

ElviraInanEcup Tue 28-Oct-08 07:56:09

Message withdrawn

ElviraInanEcup Tue 28-Oct-08 08:11:31

Message withdrawn

tiktok Tue 28-Oct-08 09:39:31

Of course maternal diet has a relationship with breastmilk, Nancy - but it does not decrease its quality.

The type of fats a mother ingests will affect the profile of fats in her milk, as you point out. But this does not make the baby 'suffer' in any way.

A maternal diet low in animal proteins is normal for many populations of the world, and throughout human history for many peoples, and of course a vegetarian diet has no animal proteins in it at all. This does not decrease its quality. Strict vegan or macrobiotic mothers might do well to get some vit B12 into their diets as an 'insurance' policy.

But Nancy, your vagueness about your sources for the issues about transfats and animal proteins and the sources you do give make me, as usual, regard your posts with little confidence.

Nancy66 Tue 28-Oct-08 11:24:10

The Chen study is a very well known and respected and still, widely referred to by medical professionals

I was simply making the point that it is wrong to say that diet doesn't filter through to breastmilk - it does.

I would also suggest that if you want impartial advice then it's probably an idea to go to an impartial source.

scarletlilybug Tue 28-Oct-08 11:32:11

Nancy66 - not quite sure what/who you would siggest as an impartial source of information? Any good suggestions?

tiktok Tue 28-Oct-08 11:39:42

I can't find Chen's work anywhere peer-reviewed or recent - can you help me out, Nancy?

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