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Breastfeeding an 11 month old - OK to express and give to a newborn?

(18 Posts)
adviseonexpressing Sat 17-Oct-09 20:52:41

My sister is 36 weeks pregnant and has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will not now be able to breastfeed her new baby and is devastated. I am breastfeeding my DS, who is nealry 11 months, and i have discussed with her that I would like to express milk to give to her baby. I am only doing two feeds a day, so want to try and build up my supply more again - not to the point of providing all feeds for her baby, I dont think that would be possible, but in order just to give as much as I can to supplement whatever route she decides on (milk bank, wet nurse, formula etc. I am starting now - and will store in the freezer until needed. My main concern, though, is whether my milk, made for an 11 month baby, will be OK for a newborn? my mum raised this question, but I think surely although it changes, breastmilk is still breastmilk? Is anyone able to advise on this?

onemoretimetoday Sat 17-Oct-09 20:55:51

I Don't know the answer but I am sorry to hear about your sister and hope that she responds well to treatment and I just wanted to say what an amazing sister you are for considering doing this for her.

Drooper Sat 17-Oct-09 20:57:36

What a lovely thing to offer to do for your sister. It much be such a worrying time for you all.

My gut reaction is that it would be fine for the new baby to have your milk, probably similar to tandem feeding.

I don't really know, so interested in what others think.

star6 Sat 17-Oct-09 21:00:55

that's a tricky question, I'm not sure about the answer to that. I think tandem feeding is different because you've carried the newborn and your body produces the hormones or whatever is needed for a newborn.

You are such a wonderful sister to do this for her. I am so sorry to hear about her diagnosis.

Lulumama will know for sure, or tiktok.

theyoungvisiter Sat 17-Oct-09 21:05:22

So, so sorry to hear about your sister's news. What a double blow - and how lovely of you to do what you can to help.

I'm not 100% sure - it will be different from tandem feeding because in tandem feeding your body knows you've had a baby so it recalibrates the milk to newborn level, I think. I know that fat levels change over time, and that if you donate they ask you to register before your baby is 6 months old.

But my gut reaction is that while it may be slightly different to newborn breastmilk, it's probably still going to be more ideal than formula, particularly if you can be in contact with the baby sometimes so you are exposed to the same bugs, but I don't really know, I am not an expert just someone who has bfed and tandem bfed.

Hopefully someone expert will be along to help. In the meantime very, very best wishes and enormous sympathy to your sister.

adviseonexpressing Sat 17-Oct-09 21:19:41

Thank you all. It just feels a very obvious thing to do, if I can, and I so so so hope I can. I also think actually, even if not OK for a newborn, there will be a time when it is OK for the baby wont there? even if that is when the baby is 11 months! but likely before - 6 months??, when she starts weaning and has other things in her diet? 3 months? I just dont know..perhaps there is no obvious answer. I hope Lulumama and or Tiktok come soon.

GreenMonkies Sat 17-Oct-09 21:24:23

Your milk will still be better than formula, it's not the same as tandem feeding, but it still has antibodies etc in it that formula won't have.

It is worth getting your sister to talk to some breastfeeding experts about this, as how they are intending to treat her cancer means that she may be able to do some feeds herself. Women who have had single mastectomies have later gone on to breastfeed with the remaining breast, so what, if any drugs they are planning to use and so on are worth looking into, and her desire to breastfeed her baby if possible is worth discussing with her consultant.

Good luck to you both.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 17-Oct-09 21:24:28

Yes, it's fine. It would be best if you had close contact so your body gets an inkling of what you are up to - don't know as it would help but it might help motivate you.

I gave to the milk bank for newborns and they won't let you do it for a while after birth so your milk is automatically not first baby milk. I donated when DS was 8 months old and DD umm two and a bit.

Good for you.

whomovedmychocolate Sat 17-Oct-09 21:26:07

Also I had surgery on one of my breasts and have subsequently fed two children, so tell her not to lose hope (but please to focus on getting over breast cancer obviously - a well mum trumps a mum who is guilty about formula in my book!)

treedelivery Sat 17-Oct-09 21:33:24

Bless you both. I guess bearing in mind that many countries have active and flourishing milk banks furnishing the full nutritional requirements of newborns and babies in special care units, your human milk [though not on the same time line] will be a wonderful start for the new baby. I'm also sure that historically the human race has always relied on wet nurses and family nursing, as it does in many countried still.

I don't know that as my own knowledge, but I think with research you will be able to find expert opinions to give you reason to feel confident.

All the very best for the months ahead.

adviseonexpressing Sat 17-Oct-09 21:57:51

OK that is excellent, and I feel very reassured by this. Actually, when I google wet nursing, it feels like less of an issue (and that is something we will also talk about). I think what you say, treedelivery, that the human race has relied on wet nurses etc, says it all really - or enough to make me feel confident. Thank you so much. And to you too wmmc, for your hope as well.

thaliablogs Sun 18-Oct-09 19:35:45

What a fantastic thing to be able to do for your sister.

The bit of milk that will be most different is that you won't be able to produce colostrum, but perhaps your sister will be able to feed for a couple of days after birth so that the baby gets this? Might help how she's feeling about things too.

Hope it all goes well.

jkklpu Sun 18-Oct-09 19:44:09

What an amazing thing to be able to do. Have you successfully kept your own EBM frozen before? If not, you might want to do a test of some after a few weeks in the freezer just in case you have high levels of lipase on your bm, as I had, which means that it goes off much more quickly than advertised time limits. I still remember being gutted and crying as I had to pour away the bags of EBM I'd built up over weeks to help to cover the first period of going back to work when ds1 was 6mo. And it would be truly awful for you and your sister to discover this after building up your hopes of making this wonderful arrangement work.

adviseonexpressing Sun 18-Oct-09 21:25:15

Thank you so much everyone. I just feel so incredibly grateful that my sister wants me to do this and that I can do something tangible and practical to help her - and me - through this.

Jkklpu - yes, I have succesfully frozen my ebm before. But how awful for you not to be able to.

My only issue now is building up supply. I wonder if anyone can help on this? I normally feed 11 month old DS morning, at some point during the day (varies when, somtimes a quick go if we are out and about at playgroup with my older DD, sometimes if he wakes after short while from nap I will give him a bit of breast to resettle), and in evening. I also give him two bottles of formula, one during the day at some point, and one after his bf in the evening (only introcuded the formula once he started biting with his new teeth a few months ago! So eg at night, I feed for as long as he doesnt bite, then when he bites I take him off and finish the feed with a bottle). Then probably 2 or 3 times a week I feed once or twice in the night - when he wakes I always feed him to resettle basically. Other nights he sleeps through. He also has a really good appetite and eats lots of solids. So all in all, I dont really know how much breastmilk I produce for DS, not masses, but still fairly significant I think.

So, I expressed once last night after his 7pm feed, then three times today, once after his morning feed, once at lunchtime (when he was asleep, before I gave him a bit of a bf about an hour later) and ocne this evening after his 7pm feed. I am getting about 10 - 20 ml each time. Which doesnt feel very much. In the first 6 months of exclusively bf my DS, I could express around 100-150ml anytime I wanted (very lucky) so I have never had problems with milksupply, with either my DD or DS,when exclusively bf. Obviously I dont expect that to be the case now. But does anyone have anyone advice on a) whether I can build this up to produce more or b) when and how often I should be doing it, both in trying to get my supply up (how long would that take?) and once it is 'up'.

It all feels a bit unknown, I dont quite know how much I want to be producing, I just want to be able to produce as much as possible to give my dearest sister as much as I possibly can.

adviseonexpressing Sun 18-Oct-09 21:29:17

Sorry, just to clarfiy, to relate that to my OP - my two regula 'feeds' of DS a day are in the morning, and in the evening. But most days he will also snack, either out and about, or because of broken sleep, either in the day or the night. But, certialy during the day, he is easily ditracted and enver stays on for very long (as is prob the case with most 11 month olds!)

joyjac Sun 18-Oct-09 21:58:31

It would probably be possible to build up your supply to cater completely for your sister's baby, but you might find it hard to balance your life with your own little nursling. Pumping every 2-3 hours will increase your supply. Google domperidome if you feel your body is slow to get the message, a few weeks of domperidome might help to kick start your supply again especially if they decide to deliver your sister's baby early. Get your sister to check if the hospital would get in banked milk for the immediate post delivery days.
What you are thinking of doing is so generous and I really take my hat off to you. Be prepared to feel very emotional, your dsis will be ill and you will have a close bond to her baby too. Try to remember to look after yourself, both physically and emotionally. Also you may find that some people will not understand what you are doing and why.
All the best to you and your sister.

thaliablogs Sun 18-Oct-09 22:09:22

Agree you probably need to pump quite a bit. If you have had such a good supply before you probably haven't used things like a double pump and a hands free bra? Makes it a lot easier to pump without feeling like your life is being totally disrupted. Would be good at least for now to do a couple of pumps overnight as well. You will need to think about what you can cope with.

Biggest recommendation is to keep a log of what you're producing as it will probably start to increase and seeing those numbers go up is a big motivator to keep going.

adviseonexpressing Sun 18-Oct-09 23:08:50

That is fantastic, and extremely helpful. And to know I probably have to get going every 2 -3 hours is useful too. ie I have to act like I am feeding a very young baby?

You are right, and I have to think about what I can cope with. I am not working at the moment (dont return until May next year) so pumping per se is not 'difficult'. We lead fairly structured routine based days with my 2 year old DD and 11 month DS - both nap during the day, and settle well in the evenings. So regularly pumping feels entirely possible. I had no firm plan on bf DS, but I had in mind I wanted to get to a year (though that crept up on me and I had no plans to give up). So in fact I am thinking under these circumstances I would carry on beyond a year for definite- pumping and feeding DS, so it would be a win win situation for him.

it sounds so cliched, and the type of thing I read so often on these type of things, and I enver thought I would be in a position to say this...but to me it almost feels selfish, rather than generous. I genuninely feel I have been given this gift of being able to do something practical and tangible to demonstrate how much I love my sister, and how I would do absoultely anything for her. My beloved big sister is everything to me and this diagnosis is beyond devastating for me and my family (we have 2 other sisters) - that I have a daily actvity on whcih I can focus, and that will actually help take just some small amount of the pain of it all away from both of us feels like more than I could ever have asked for.

Thank you for the recommendation of the log, that is a great idea.

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