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All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

AA Answers The Daily Mail Question - How To Keep A Hungry Baby Happy

Health: How to keep a hungry baby happy - Daily Mail

I didn't like Sarah Stacey's answer in the Daily Mail on the link above to the question below
. So I decided to reply myself.

Q: I am a first-time mum and don’t produce enough milk for my hungry six-week-old baby boy at night, which makes us both stressed. I want to avoid using formula if possible so the health visitor advised expressing milk with a pump in the mornings – when I have plenty – but I find a manual pump very difficult to use.

A.  What makes you think you don't produce enough milk at night? During the evening it's very normal for babies of this age to cluster feed, which is when they take multiple feeds with shorter spacings in between, sometimes back to back.

In the early days, hunger is driven partly by a hormone called CCK - the same hormone that induces relaxation and sleep. After a feed baby has a high level of CCK, which tells him he’s full, but it drops after another 10 or 20 minutes, so he thinks he’s hungry again. He may go through this loop several times, in what’s known as cluster feeding, before dropping into a solid, longer sleep. This is thought to allow baby to fill their whole digestive system, so excess hunger doesn't occur during a longer sleep spell.


The other thing to consider is that babies often have something called a "growth spurt" at 5-6 weeks ish (sometimes termed "fussy spell"), which can last anywhere from a couple of days to a week or so. This is when a previously settled baby has a sudden increase in appetite and wants to feed feed feed, sometimes appearing insatiable and generally fussy.  It's a normal developmental step seen in both breast and bottle fed infants and they may have a few days sleeping lots after the spurt, which is when some suggest the growing (physically or mentally) occurs.

Therefore the first thing to ascertain is whether you really are not producing enough, or whether you actually have a perfectly normal supply and your baby is just doing what  babies do (but which many "experts" fail to tell parents about).

You mention you have plenty in the mornings, enough to express - which wouldn't suggest a shortage of milk?  It is though totally normal for milk volume to be greatest in the morning and fall gradually as the day progresses, which can leave mums concerned there isn't enough.  But it's also worth knowing that if we measure the fat content of feeds this increases during the day as volume decreases - magic!

Really you need to look at the big picture.  Does baby pee, poop and gain weight as expected, was he previously settled after feeds and you felt things were going well prior to this point?  Is feeding pain free?  If you answer yes to the above, following your baby's lead and feeding on cue is the quickest way through a fussy spell without using formula (which you mention you would like to avoid using). 

If not and your baby remains unsettled or you're experiencing any pain or discomfort,  there is specialist help out there.  From Lactation Consultants to Breastfeeding Counsellors there are lots of options if you know where to look.  Ask your Midwife or Health Visitor for details of local groups and breastfeeding counsellors, find out who is your local Infant Feeding Advisor or call one of the helplines.  If you prefer there are also private Lactation Consultants who charge for their one to one services.  Keep hunting for effective support, with which the vast majority of mums can make enough milk to satisfy even the hungriest of babies.

11 comments:

  1. Wow. I was really shocked to read the original advice. As if citing the abysmal exclusive breastfeeding rates in the UK makes it ok to undermine a mother's confidence in her milk supply. It's appalling that a so called expert recommends increasing supply and giving formula rather than checking that a problem actually exists or offering any reassurance.

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  2. And they put a picture of a baby being given a bottle, and a bad position no less, in the article. Ugh!

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  3. AA they need people like you answering there qesions in the genreal press. Then maybe we'd get some really good information out there to all those mum's who are struggling in the early weeks.

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  4. Great answer! However, who writes to the daily mail with a breastfeeding question?

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    1. Haha bloody good point! I think I smell a rat.

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  5. Actually, I like Marie's suggestion a lot. You should have a column, giving advice in one of the general press. I think it would be very helpful and would reach a lot of mums and mums to be. :-)

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  6. I'm absolutely horrified at the original advice and I'm sure the plug for Aptamil is illegal?

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  7. Great reply AA. I really hope the person that asked the question actually gets to read it and not just the pathetic reponse in the Daily Mail

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  8. Wow, that reply was as bad as the 'breastfeeding advice ' I got from a formula company when I gave birth. Thankfully I had good research and a huge support network already in place. 6-8wks was the worst. I hope this mom got better help than the original response

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  9. Wow, I can't believe just how appalling that advice is. There's a good chance that in a couple of months that mum will be genuinely not producing enough milk because she's trying to express and stressing about it, instead of just going with the flow. And it's sad because that's the advice so many new mums get. I see them so often on Facebook asking how to express because the midwives have recommended a top-up after each feed. Put the baby back on the breast it will top itself up!
    snootyandoffensive.blogspot.co.uk

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  10. Wish I'd read this when I was still feeding. This is exactly what I needed to hear, and would have stopped me using formula!

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