Monday, June 1, 2009

Being the mother of a small baby

Our culture is supremely concerned with weight. Overweight men and women are made to believe they are ugly, weak and good-for-nothing. I had a taste of the other side of the coin, when Shira's pediatrician decided that since she isn't gaining weight at the expected rate, we must supplement with formula.

Shira, indeed, has been gaining weight very slowly after her first month. However, we didn't see anything unusual in her behavior, and she was definitely growing in length and outgrowing all her clothes so I thought we're fine.

I always breastfed on demand and never gave any bottles and/or pacifiers. Thinking back, I probably had a dip in my milk supply after Shira started sleeping through the night at 2 months. We never pushed sleeping through the night by methods such as letting her cry, introducing a pacifier when she wanted to nurse, or any other way, but we let it be. Now I think it was way too early for her to night-wean, but I was so tired back then that I just took every bit of sleep I could have. Setting the alarm clock and waking up in the dead of night while my baby was sleeping peacefully and I could be sleeping too was simply too much for me at the time.

Another concern of mine was that I've read a breastfeeding mother must keep on at least a small, minimal "cushion" of extra weight in order to maintain an abundant milk supply. As much as I tried, I just kept losing weight. I was living the dream: when Shira was two months old, I had lost all my baby weight and had a little one who was sleeping through the night. But I would gladly go a size up and be awake five times a night, if necessary, to ensure my baby's well-being.

I asked the pediatrician if night weaning was what might have caused a dip in my milk supply but it was obvious she couldn't care less. She told me that she was only able to nurse her son for 10 weeks and that was it - for some women, milk "just dries up" and we're endangering our child if we won't supplement with formula. Of course, from numerous examples I saw, I knew that supplementing can very soon become a substitute for breastfeeding. Shira is so young and I so hoped to nurse for at least a year!

The pediatrician classified Shira as FTT, which made me feel terrible. I, as you know, was firmly set on exclusive breastfeeding and decided to give it my best - and perhaps last - shot. I started offering the breast even when Shira wasn't showing signs of hunger. I nursed her for comfort and nursed her to sleep. I tried breast compression. I started taking fenugreek. I tried pumping between feedings but it was so slow and frustrating that I thought it makes more sense to just nurse often, especially since Shira has no problem to nurse.

Other than her weight, Shira always seemed to be a happy baby - she's calm, alert, active, playful, smiley, giggly and is developing very well for her age. She has never been ill so far. She makes plenty of wet diapers. She grabs things, plays with toys and started rolling over freely at 4 months. Her blood work and urine came back just fine. Everyone who has been around her notices what a very sociable, communicative, company-loving baby she is.

I nursed and nursed and nursed, nearly all day, for as long as she would take the breast and at our next appointment the pediatrician was pretty happy with her weight gain, but then we had a "control feeding" (weighed her before and after feeding) and she gained only 20 gr (less than an ounce). I did feel she just nibbled through that feeding, but the pediatrician told us we must supplement with formula and to come back every day to check Shira's weight. They wanted to give her a bottle of formula right then and there, to make sure I know how to do that, but thankfully, they had no samples on hand.

After that appointment I went home and cried my eyes out, and then called the local La Leche League hotline. The lady who answered my call told me that I don't need to be worried about that one unsuccessful feeding, because breasts aren't bottles that refill at exactly the same rate at all times, and perhaps my baby takes just a few big meals during the day and the rest is "snacks" and it's normal. She also told me that since both my husband and I are tall and lean, it's natural that our baby tends to have the same constitution, and that we have to remember breastfed babies don't grow as fast as formula-fed at this age, and also that it's pointless to check baby's weight every day because it just leads to fretfulness. She told us that even early introduction of solids doesn't undermine breastfeeding like supplementing with formula and so we should avoid it if at all possible. And that I should just keep doing what I have been doing - nurse, nurse and nurse.

I also asked counsel from a couple of friends who are/were breastfeeding mothers, and am so grateful for them sharing their experience, specifically with slow weight gain which later resulted in perfectly healthy, normal children (without having to switch to, or supplement with formula). I also read several breastfeeding stories such as this one, which confirmed my belief that it's possible for babies to be misfits concerning growth charts, and still be following their own version of normal. Yes, it's very cute when a baby has big round cheeks and chubby legs, but it doesn't mean that lean babies cannot be just as healthy and well-developed.

My mother instinct told me my baby is fine and healthy, but we were under so much pressure. Everyone in the family told us how thin Shira looks. My mother kept comparing her to her friend's grandbaby (who is formula fed and doubled his weight by 2 months). Of course we weren't going to give her formula because of what others think, but we were seriously concerned. I've been feeling so terrible about Shira's poor weight gain, almost as though I'm a failure as a mother, to the point of not wanting to see anyone because I'm afraid people will ask me about her weight or point out how small for her age she is.

We decided to forgo obsessive weight check-ups, trust the Lord (while closely observing our daughter for any signs of distress, malnutrition, or dehydration), and simply nurse often. A couple of days later, I rejoiced when Shira woke up to nurse earlier in the morning than she was used to. Every other day, she started waking in the middle of the night to nurse, too. Some parenting books might have warned me about messing up good, convenient sleeping and feeding patterns, but I couldn't care less. I didn't care about sleep deprivation, not getting things done around the house, or not having enough "me" time. All I wanted was to give my baby the best possible nutrition. I trusted my body. I knew I could make milk, and therefore, even if there's a problem it can probably be resolved. I didn't believe what the pediatrician said - that I simply cannot make enough milk and I should just give up. Over the next days, both my husband and I prayed that my milk would be enough and plenty to provide for all Shira's nutritional needs.

I don't want it to sound as though we dismissed the pediatrician's concerns, but I must say I wasn't impressed by her attitude towards breastfeeding. Milk production is a bodily function like any other, not some sort of mystical phenomenon - and when something seems to be wrong, it should be checked, not dismissed. Offering formula as an immediate choice is not a solution, it's a bypass.

Frequent nursing (such as every hour or so), coupled with drinking plenty and a supplement of fenugreek - and lots and lots of prayer - seems to be the answer for us so far. I don't know exactly how much weight Shira gained lately, but her growth is noticeable, even though she is not (and probably won't be) chubby. Last week, my heart rejoiced when my mother-in-law picked her up and commented on how much she seems to have grown, and asked whether I've been supplementing. She was very surprised when my answer was a happy negative.

Our breastfeeding story isn't by any means near the end, but I still thought I would share it because it might be encouraging to another mother who is perhaps struggling with the very same issue. I hope to write a happy follow-up as time passes.

I think it's also important to say that my last intention would be to cause any hurt feelings by writing this, specifically to mothers who for some reason didn't breastfeed or stopped breastfeeding early. Perhaps you were in a similar situation and made different choices. I know how terrible it feels when your very best is labeled as not good enough, and I wouldn't want to do it to any other mother. My purpose is only to offer encouragement and support, which I generously got from fellow mothers.


Michelle at #!/usr/bin/mom said...

Oh, Anna! I wish I had known you were going through this so I could encourage you! My second biological child was always very thin and long, just like Shira. In fact, when he began walking at 13 months I had to laugh and point out that he looked an awful lot like a newborn walking! That's just how some babies are. These days he is a very healthy and fit five year old. In fact, he's the only five year old I know who can do a seemingly endless number of push-ups on command!

Be encouraged, Anna. I know you are doing right by your daughter. I firmly believe that she will be healthy and happy as long as you continue as you are!

Anonymous said...

Hello Anna,

I just had to share with you my experience. My son is just 3 months, but he has been exclusively breastfed from day one. He was small at birth (just over 6 pounds) and ate every 2 hours or so the first severeal weeks. He started sleeping through the night right around 6 weeks - not kidding - and I have never woken him up to feed.

Of course my production has slowed down because now he's down to about 5 feedings a day or so, but he has never been supplemented and has always seemed satisfied.

I believe that if the baby is hungry and not getting enough, she will definitely let you know. You would not have such a happy, peaceful little girl if she was going hungry.

Front Porch Society said...

I was small as an infant, as well. And I began sleeping thru the night by the end of the 2nd month. My sister was not small and she took longer to sleep thru the night. We both were breastfed the same way. Some babies just are smaller than others and sleep thru the night sooner than others. So be encouraged that you are doing nothing wrong. It is just her natural way of being the baby that God created her to be. :)

Anonymous said...

My babies were both thin too, and were almost off the bottom of the weight chart. But then I, as an adult, am still well below "normal" (as if there is any such thing) weight for my height, and my children (surprise!) take after me (and, not coincidentally, after the rest of my family). There were concerns with both of them, and immense pressure to bottle feed. I don't blame women in the least who do opt to use a bottle at that point - it's a tough decision, either way, and each woman, along with the support of her husband, has to do what she feels is best - but I decided to continue with exclusive breastfeeding. They both fed well past babyhood.

My daughters are now 9 and 12, both hale and hearty. They are intelligent, active children who have had no major health issues at all. It is awful to feel you are failing to feed your child - I know, because that is how I was made to feel too. But as Shira's mother, you KNOW if she is thriving. Charts and government guidelines cannot trump the sense of a mother for her child's wellbeing.

I wish you every success with your continued feeding.

Sasha said...

Even though I don't have children yet,I would like to express my opinion too.
I think you are 100% right,and chubby child may not be a healthy one. Shira is so sweet and happy,I don't think she has nutrition problems.
And instead of formula the mother can give extra food (plus the mother's milk) as Gerber or home made fruit or other mixes.
Good luck 2 u!

Sasha said...

P.S. : I personnaly know a mother that she and her husband are both tall and big,and the doctor claims their baby girl is overweight.
The doctors always try to scare tand to be extra cutious,so it's your deciion to listen or not to listen to them.

Anonymous said...

Hello Anna - I'm a long time reader of your blog, and this has motivated me to 'speak!'
You're doing entirely the right thing. Lots of rest, lots of liquids/proper nutrition - and LOTS of breastfeeding :) Both my children slept through the night from a month old, and everyone told me to wake them to nurse. I didn't - but I did do 'demand feeding' through the day (well, I *think* it would be classifed as demand feeding. I tried to keep two hours between feeds to avoid them drinking only foremilk, which is less satisfying to them. They were both over 9 pounds at birth, I did not introduce solids until they were 6 months old. They thrived. The eldest was a very chubby baby, the second was not so much, but my point is that you were right to pay attention to your own instincts. I think you are doing a great job and I'm pleased you have the support of your husband :)


Rebecca said...

My friends daughter (3 ys old) was also very thin until recently. She gained weight very slow as a baby, but was physically very agile. My friend recieved raised eyebrows from the doctor on many occasions because she refused to feed with formula. She was constantly told by everyone how thin her child looked. Her girl has developed perfectly normal and now you would not even know that she was underweight as a baby.

Pls also consider that people nowadays are used to see fat babies! I have heard that in TV commercials they are using fat babies because they look apparently cuter.

Pls do not worry about Shiras weight too much. As long as she is happy she is doing fine. You are a petite person so what do you expect your baby to be?Shira will be ok, just lean on God with this issue and trust in His wisdom.

Julia said...

I'm glad you didn't take that pediatrician's word at gospel. I hear so many stories about small babies and doctors who don't take the parents' size into account. If you and your husband are naturally leaner than average, of course your baby probably will be too.

Amanda said...

This post could not have come at a better time. I've had quite a weekend worrying about how much my almost 6 week old daughter was nursing and about how much she was or was not gaining. She has started fussing at my breast in the evenings and sometimes not taking both breasts in a feeding. But otherwise she is happy and healthy and doing things a 6 week old should be doing. :) I think I'm always going to be a worrier about weight since my son was a slow gainer. *sigh* But he's a happy and healthy and bright toddler.

Anyway, thanks for this post!

Karen (Canadian Soldier's Wife) said...

Bless your sweet LLL helper!!! Sadly, many doctors don't "get it" - they compare all babies to the same charts and don't allow themselves much room for individual differences. Thankfully I was blessed with great friends in our local breastfeeding community who let me know what to expect and talked me through any concerns that came up. And my doctor has always been very supportive, looking more for consistency than for keeping to the charts.

My girls are on the opposite end of the spectrum - both have been roly-poly since birth, to the point where people would comment about them being OVERfed. People will always look for something to criticize.

You're doing an awesome job :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I am so glad you were able to talk with someone from La Leche League! I really admire your desire to give your sweet baby the best, even if it means extra work(and lwss sleep) for you! May God continue to strengthen you and give you wisdom as you serve him by caring for your little one. Thanks for sharing your story--I am sure it will encourage many.

Ganeida said...

I had thin babies & worrying/obsessing about weight gain & milk production is the worst possible thing for your supply. Get rid of that pediatrician & find one supportive of your desire to breastfeed & who understands each baby is an individual that works to their own God created agenda. Ugh. That sort of poor advice makes me wild. I would encourage you to feed as your baby demands. She's about due for a growth spurt anyway & will demand feeds more often & really 6 months to a year is such a short period in a little person's life to be cuddled & fed & adored. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...


You are doing the right thing for your baby! Don't let anyone pressure you to go against your mother's instinct.
I never breastfed my children, which I regret now. My daughter, who was only formula fed, never had the cute little baby fat. She was lean by nature and even the formula (which IS fattening) never plumped her up. She got up regularly in the night for feeding and I did feed her on demand, but she never plumped up. It was just her nature to be lean, as it probably is Shira's.
Have you considered finding a new pediatrician who will support your breastfeeding efforts?

Jen in OK

Tracy said...


My babies were always chubby as my milk was near cream. That being said, I've had friends whose milk was very thin and their babies were thin. But you know what? BOTH babies were healthy, and happy. I think that you are wise to trust the Lord, and to follow your mother instincts. It sounds like Shira is thriving in every way. Keep up the good work!

Tovah said...

I agree. Find a new pediatrician. I'm a mom of 8 and I've had babies who were very slender and babies who were very chubby. And their milk supply always came from me. Same mom, similar milk. I was a skinny baby. I've had 2 skinny daughters and now I have 1 skinny grandaughter.

To demonstrate that different babies are just different, my 8 month old grandaughter weighs almost as much as my 2 yo grandaughter. Again, same mom, same milk, different DNA in the child.

What I watch is: are they energetic? Are they content? Are they growing, however slowly? And are they doing developmentally appropriate things? If you can answer yes to all of these, your little one is thriving. I'm not sure you even need to bother yourselves with all of these extra feedings.

Blessings to you.

Dee said...

Hi Anna,

I've never commented before, but I wanted to encourage you that you are definitely doing the right thing by continuing to breastfeed Shira! My sons were both lean babies, only 16 pounds at one year (some formula-fed babies are double that!). Fortunately, we had a supportive pediatrician who breastfed her own daughter until almost 2, and who realized that the growth charts were compiled with statistics from formula-fed children. My oldest is now 11, 5'1" and 95 pounds of solid muscle. :)

Rachel said...

I didn't read all the other comments so don't know if someone else said this, but it's possible the doctor is comparing Shira to formula-fed babies. The growth charts are usually for formula fed babies and you might need to request an exclusively breastfed growth chart. Glad you listened to your mothering instincts and continued to nurse on demand (or on cue) Blessings!

Kacie said...

Hang in there! Sounds like you're doing great.

Perhaps you can find a pediatrician who is more supportive of breastfeeding up until age 1 and beyond.

When I was pregnant, I was consistently measuring small. Ultrasound after ultrasound showed that my baby was fine.

I chalked it up to my stature -- I'm long and lean like you.

Not all people fit those medical growth charts!

Emily G. said...

Anna, I am glad you had the strength to stand up to your pediatrician. My siblings and I were always very long and skinny. We nursed often and grew well, but never put on fat weight. Some babies are just like that. Now all seven of us are healthy,normal adults and teenagers. I am sure Shira will be fine, too. She's just not meant to be fat. I hope things continue to go well for you; keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

My first two were lean, with differences.

#1 was long and lean from day one. He would get a fat roll, as soon as I would see it, I would know he'd get taller soon and it would dissapear! He was in the 90th percentile for hight ... he is still tall for his age. And a lean, tireless 3yo!

#2 was 4lbs, 4oz - he caught up, quickly, getting rolls and stuff, and then about 6mo he grew taller and didn't gain hardly at all for 3mo. Talk about panic. I started him on food, xtra goat's milk, etc. Part of it might have been that my supply dropped when I hit 2nd trimester with my 3rd pregnancy. We fed the poor child nothing but good fats and he didn't gain.

He's still small today, just off the charts. His is a champion eater, though. He will eat anything! And you can tell, he just sparkles he's so healthy. :)

In our families males range from 6'2" to 5'2 so there is a big range. I think my first got tall genes and the second, shorter ones. :)

#3 she's been big from the beginning, though she was not my biggest baby by far. It is so strange to have a baby with as much body fat as she does. I haven't done anything different!!!

We don't do well baby checks; we measure hight and weight at home and take steps when we think necessary. We also look at charts online so we can say "he's in the XYZ percentile" which is what most people are reassured by, oddly enough. We also keep detailed records of all our children's weight, i n case we ever need to show that we are keeping an eye on it!


Susan said...

It may be worth it to look into finding a male pediatrician. In my experience, male doctors are much more likely to be supportive or at least agnostic when it comes to breastfeeding. You may still get some misinformation but you won't get the crossing of the personal/professional line that I've experienced with female doctors who have had kids("I only breastfed for three days and my kids are just fine.")

Unfortunately, breastfeeding/bottlefeeding is still a very emotionally charged subject.

Lori said...

I still don't uderstand why you trust Shira to eat what she needs (when offered) but not to sleep when she needs. And I don't understand why, despite your problems, you refuse to believe that some women's mild does dry up prematurely through no fault of their own. I appreciate that you want to ecourage mothers of smaller babies, but you seem to do it at the expense of women with low milk supply. "Oh only try harder" seems to come across pretty loud and clear in you bf postings. I certainly think you're doing well though to back off from your unhelpful ped'n.

Undersharing said...

Isn't it amazing that doctors will test anything that looks different from a textbook but in this case they won't? I think those weight average charts are skewed towards the hefty end given our emphasis on super-growth, anyway. I was a spectacularly chubby 1 year old and leaned out to the knobbiest kid ever by the time I was 4.

Not to pick on you, but you do come from a culture full of Jewish mothers. "You look thin" might as well be a standard greeting to them ;)

Mrs. Anna T said...


I didn't say there is no such problem as low milk supply, and it's certainly not the mother's fault. I merely expressed my dismay with how some doctors are unwilling to check whether this is indeed the case, why it happened, and what can be done about it. Like Undersharing said, "Isn't it amazing that doctors will test anything that looks different from a textbook but in this case they won't?"

Meagan said...

You go girl. Just keep going and as long as she is doing the normal or above nrmal for her age, don't worry about the milk supply. You could weigh that baby daily, hourly or whatever the doctor wanted but it wouldn't matter. Some kids are big eaters others are not.

The docs do the same thing to the pregnant ladies out there. My doctors were worried cause I only gained the low end of expected pregnancy weight with my second child. My daughter though was still 8 lbs when she was born. Other women gain 40 pbs and have smaller babies..... It just matters how the body uses what it is given,not the actual measurable weight.

Feeding more often than actually desired will increase your milk supply, but it may not be needed long term. If you do it more often than needed you could find yourself engorged. Milk is made at the rate that baby wants it. Unless she stops feeding cause she is too tired, Shira's apetite is the determining factor. If there wasn't a n adaquate milk supply and she was still hungry, she would pull away from the breast crying.

Anonymous said...

We don't go to well-child visits but if we had, I'm sure my daughter would have been considered FTT as well. She was in 6-9 month clothes for her first birthday; she's always been tiny. She is now growing like a weed though, after hitting her stride at around 14 months. A friend of mine with a similar sized baby was subjected to all sorts of alarmist tests for her visibly healthy baby, just because she didn't meet the chart's expectations, and it's so sad; they even did a spinal tap because they couldn't find anything wrong with the bloodwork and other tests they did. Obviously they didn't find anything wrong - there WAS nothing wrong!! We too breastfed on demand and I think it was absolutely what she needed. She isn't quite "caught up" in size with her peers, but she is closing the gap, and her milestones for walking, talking, laughing - everything has been on par or ahead of the game. I relied on mother's instincts and I *knew* she was just perfectly healthy, and she is. I'm sure you are quite the same with knowing your daughter without having to compare her to an arbitrary chart. If one can't figure out who a malnourished, sickly baby is vs a small but healthy one... well that is just shocking to me. And yet it happens over and over and over again among friends with small babies and the doctors who panic over the charts. It's crazy to me.

LizJames said...

I know it doesn't make sense to offer this advice to a new mom, Anna, but I would try not to worry too much. I know several moms who've had babies who were considered "too thin", but still made lots of diapers, were alert and happy, and didn't show signs of wanting more milk (like nursing constantly). They grew up just fine (they are still thin, but very healthy). Babies, like people, come in all weights. The doctors have a chart of weights (often based on formula fed babies, who gain weight faster in the first six months than breastfed ones do) that represent a norm. Shira is thinner than most (like you and your husband)--so the only question is why. If she were hungry, she'd be asking for more food--wanting to nurse constantly! She'd be unhappy and listless. You know in your heart that she is fine because you spend all day with her watching her--and you know what hungry looks like. Your pediatrician doesn't have the same information you do, and so is playing things on the "safe" side. If the pediatrician is making you feel anxious and bad about your mothering, I would look for a different one. I suggest that you try hard not to let this keep you from relaxing and enjoying this precious time. Shira is clearly doing just fine from your description (if the medical opinion is important to you, I just asked my husband who is a doctor, and he was the one who pointed out that a hungry baby asks to nurse (unless they are badly dehydrated or very young), and said he'd have no concerns from your description (unless Shira's weight were absolutely ridiculously low).

I don't mean this to discourage supplementing in mothers who do feel that something is wrong--I just would like to encourage you to trust your instincts.

Hearth said...

Dear Mrs. T,

I went through horrible nursing trials, despite my deepest desire to nurse exclusively. I want to send you MAJOR kudos and a huge hug.

I too have wept and done anything and everything to produce plentiful milk... I know the feeling.

Just couldn't let this post be without sending you a hug.

jAne said...

As Shira's mother, you have excellent intuition as to what to do - and have done - with great success. You are such a tender, thoughtful mama, AnnaT. :o)

That said, my Lizzie was very small at birth and remained petite through her infancy and remains so on into her adulthood. 5'11" at birth and 18'2" at one year, and very lean at 19. She was formula fed (medically necessary - for those who don't know my story) and still didn't gain a great amount of weight.

A dear friend of mine had her 8th baby about 6 months ago. This sweetie is petite. Her mama breastfeeds exclusively and other than her baby's petite frame, she's sociable, plays and is overall just a wee joy to behold. She's fine.

Bless you,
jAne @

Lori said...

I apologize. You did say you didn't want to discourage other mothers in your last paragraph - your rhetoric really was non-intrusive, and logical: "Milk production is a bodily function like any other, not some sort of mystical phenomenon - and when something seems to be wrong, it should be checked, not dismissed." But for the record, neither did I claim that you said, "there is no such problem as low milk supply." Obviously I can recognize that this was a posting about problems with low milk supply. However, I was certainly being over sensative. I apologize. Good luck in accomplishing your goals.

Karen said...

Hang in there. You are a good mother! I know how hard it is when your child won't gain weight as expected. Like you, I am on the thin side and around age 3, my daughter started not gaining weight nearly as well as she should have. She was vomiting all the time, avoiding food no matter what I did. She would eat a little, then throw up. She was pale and looked so thin, everyone was commenting. She had some medical issues that we were treating with a doctor's care. They finally figured out she had severe acid reflux. Once that was treated, she got better, but she was still too thin, nearly FTT according to the doctor. I will never forget how bad that label scared me and how much of a failure it seemed. We started taking her to a nutritionist at a children's hospital and she had to be weighed every two weeks. Two years later, she still looks thin, but is in the 50th percentile on the growth chart in weight, up from barely the 20th. It took a long time.

I will never forget that time, trying so hard to get her to gain weight. I just wanted you to know you are not alone and it will be o.k. after some time. As a mother, this is one of the scariest things to go through. It can really rattle your confidence when everyone is looking at you like you aren't feeding your child right and you know how hard you try.

Rosemary said...

Oh Anna, I am so glad that you called La Leche League for advice and encouragement. I, too, had some lean babies. (4), I nursed them all for at least a year. They are healthy, successful adults now. Babies come in all different sizes, with different growth patterns. Breast feeding is a natural process, but also an "art". Each mom and babe must work together to establish what is a normal for them. Good work, Mama!

His Wife and Their Mommy said...

A lot of Pedis do not support breastfeeding and therefore try to undermine you doing it..There is nothing wrong with what you have been doing and I encourage you to keep up the good work. Shira sounds like a wonderful happy baby and that means you are doing a great job!!!

Jenna said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Very encouraging! My mom exclusively breastfed her six babies and I remember telling her that her last was too skinny! (We are also a family of "long and lean" bodies.) He was healthy and completely fine... I think our society just expects babies to be chunky with fat cheeks! Probably due to formula feeding lack of activity. Your Shira is a blessed little girl with parents who love her dearly. You're doing wonderfully with motherhood!

Tammy said...

Anna, this is wonderful! I'm so glad you got the information and encouragement from LLL! You are an attentive mother who knows a healthy baby when she sees one. I pray that it continues to go well with you. :o)

Anonymous said...

Oh, my....what you have been through , my heart goes out to you!

Well, of our seven kiddos, number four was the longer, leaner,"skinny"one. Oh, he was fairly chubby for awhile, but once he started walking at nine's been lean ever since.

Ignore the naysayers, use your God-given common sense, and keep nursing that little Shira! Our "skinny" is now the pitcher of his baseball team at 8 yrs old...accurate, fast, smart as a whip and strong as an ox. Saturday he pitched several strike outs in a encouraged....Shira is the Lord's handiwork, and she is just how He has planned her to be...

Your friend in Nova, OH...I love reading your blog everyday...the first one I check up on.:)

Deanna said...

Dear Anna,
I'm sure you'll keep a close eye on your sweet daughter and her weight gain, strength, growth, etc.

Check and see what can be done if your milk isn't rich enough.
Don't completely excuse your doctors attitude about all of this.
As much as you want to nurse, your milk may not be rich enough.

It doesn't mean that you're a failure as a may mean you're milk isn't rich enough and your sweet daughter will benefit from some supplimentation.

I don't have the old fashion recipe for home-made formula for what women used before store bought formula was on the market but I know there's one out there somewhere, because my mom used it with her children. Internet time. Think it had sweetened condensed milk in it. Not sure...need to locate one.

You could still nurse and add a little boost from a supplimentation knowing you're doing what's best for your baby. Giving children vitamins doesn't mean we're failures...right?! It means we're adding nourishment where needed.

Alot of women struggle with feeling like they're not a good mother because of having had a caesarian.
If they didn't deliver naturally...they struggled with having had the surgery instead of focussing being thankful the baby is born alive.

They're not a failure, they had a c-section.

So pat yourself on the back and don't be so hard on yourself. You are a blessed Wife and Mother.

It's alright.

Jan said...

Anna, as the mother of three children, ranging in age from 26 to 14, all I can say is that no two children are alike. My oldest and youngest are both boys (the middle child is my only daughter) and while my daughter was breastfed, the boys were not. I was not encouraged to breast feed my oldest son in the hospital (long story) and my youngest was 3 months premature - and as you've noted so well in this post, it's hard to bond with a breast pump.

To make a short story even longer, LOL, my daughter was a chubby, chubby baby and the boys were lean and lanky. Feeding Shira formula is not going to automatically give you a plump little dumpling of a baby, no matter what the pediatrician says; heredity and genes are going to play their part. I am also appalled that your pediatrician would encourage you to have her gain more weight more quickly when she is a happy, healthy and alert baby and progressing so normally - especially in light of the growing obesity problems in industrialized nations.

Continue to do what you're doing, and if the concerns over her weight continue, begin to slowly introduce solid foods when she's about 6 months old, if you feel comfortable doing so. Everything will be fine.

Lydia said...

Oh Anna,
I can so relate to this. As with every situation, a child is not a statistic, but an individual. Sometimes sorry to say people who should know better like doctors forget this. God bless you as you go through your journey. Shira is blessed to have you as a mother. Since I cannot hug you in person, I am sending you a hug via the internet (((Hugs))).
God Bless you Anna and litlle Shira.

Brooke H. said...

Isn't it awful how our society, in almost every area, would rather just sweep a problem under a rug than figure out what the problem is and fix it? People want quick, easy fixes for everything, but typically that is not what is best. Bravo for sticking with your convictions!

Anonymous said...

You're doing a great job as a mother to your little one. My baby's pediatrician was anti-breastfeeding, but he also admitted to me that "no one knows a baby like his or her mother" and "you will always know what is right for your baby. Trust your instincts."

This doctor wanted baby's to start rice cereal at two weeks, if you can believe it! So, every time we went for a check-up, they would ask, "Have you started rice cereal yet?" and I would reply, "No. I'm not starting it until he is four months old."

Your precious Shira sounds like she is thriving to me! Not every baby is a "text book" baby. Trust your instincts and trust God. Blessings to you!

Sarah said...

Dear Anna

I live in the UK so I don't know what the system is in Israel but this topic has been in the new a lot over here recently:

This story shows that breast fed babies should have their weight measured on different charts to bottle fed babies as they gain weight differently(especially 20 weeks plus).

I have really enjoyed reading about your life as a young wife and mother. I have found it to be such a blessing and hope to be in your situation in God's timing.

Thank you for being so open with us,


Alycia said...

Dear Anna! I have gone through this twice, and I understand your anxiety. Both of my babies were decently sized at birth (4000 g and 3800 respectively), but as soon as I lost all my baby weight they both started plummeting off the growth charts. My son was scarcely 8000 g by a year, and my eleven month old daughter is only around 7300 g and hasn't gained an ounce since January 1. I fed them both on demand, all day and all night (they sleep with me during infancy) and fed as many solids as they wanted after six months of age. They are happy, energetic, and the healthiest children I have ever seen, but they are very tiny. My husband and I are also tall and thin, so as far as I can tell, that is the reason. I can't say for certain that we have made the right decision in not supplementing with formula, but my mother's instinct says that both are doing fine. And Shira too! :)

Anonymous said...

Anna, in my humble (unprofessional) opinion, I would think that there would be other evidences of FTT if that was a problem. She would certainly be crying lots, weak, miserable, fewer wet diapers, and so forth. She sounds like a very happy, healthy baby. One thing I did learn is not to put all my trust in the professionals. A good mother's instinct goes a long way! I've noticed children seem to grow length-wise before they then fill out. If she's happy, busy, energetic, etc., then what's the problem? She'll let you know when she's ready for mashed potatoes! :-)
Mrs. L.

Harper said...

I truly needed this post just now. My little Ezra, too, gains weight very slowly. In our case, he was 10lb 10oz at birth (about 4.8 kilos). Because our due date had been incorrectly estimated, he had two extra weeks to fatten up in the womb. When he was born, the midwife also noticed that the placenta was more akin to what she would expect for twins! Outside of the womb, who can wonder that I have difficulty feeding one child as though he were two?!

In addition to that, Ezra started out with acid reflux, so he refused to eat enough, causing excessive post partum weight loss and seriously damaging my milk supply. We saw a lactation consultant, and ever since, I've been pumping, using an herbal tea, an herbal tincture, AND Motilium. While all of that has helped, I still don't produce enough (going off of Ezra's cues), so I use a supplemental nursing system to give him what I pump or formula while he nurses--and that protects my hard won supply.

He still gains slowly, having gone from the 98th percentile at birth to the tenth at present. However, at four months, he is as long as a 6 month old; his head circumfrance is fine; and he is meeting (and sometimes beating) ALL of his developmental markers. His doctor says that the alternative is sufficiently invasive (gastric tube) that he's fine with the status quo, so long as Ezra continues to gain at all.

The growth charts are based on formula fed babies, and so do not reflect the habits of the breastfed ones very well at all. And from what I've read, slow weight gain that can't be explained by feeding method is perfectly normal and rarely diagnostic. Ezra's weight, like Shira's for you, is a serious point of insecurity for me. I don't know how many times I've cried myself to sleep over it. And I HAVE tried switching over to formula (while pumping just in case)--he wouldn't eat enough of that either! If it doesn't fix the problem, why do it? I don't know about anyone else, but I have yet to figure out how to make a baby eat more than he wants to.

One thought for you, though, I introduced Ezra to solids recently, an he's been a much happier baby for it. The dr agreed that avocado was a good first, because it's so caloric and fatty. Oddly enough, it has increased his appetite for milk. Of course, I only did this because Ezra was showing all the signs of being ready, but it is something to think about.

Thank you so much for this post. Shavuot was really hard for me, because one of the older women in the synagogue took me out to ask about Ezra's weight and told me not to give him the breast anymore. I had to go in the back and cry for the rest of the service because of it. Your posting this today, I believe, must have been divinely inspired.

Anonymous said...

you have a true mother's heart, Mrs Anna T. It really shines thru your writing.

I applaud your desire to do what's best for you and your baby.

(I did have to suppliment with that nasty smelling formula at about 3 months with my son, because he was sooo hungry and fussy in the early evenings. I was so resistant to formula. But it lasted only for a few weeks and I was able to drop the bottles. He was a long and slender baby/toddler. BTW, we nursed until he was 19 months. Now he is almost 24 yrs and looking forward to marriage and his own children!)

I say this because there obivious is not one set scenario for breastfeeding. Like a recipe for stew, each cook has their own version and it may vary with each meal.

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I had one baby that was chubby and one that was skinny. Both breast fed for a long period of time. It just depended on their individual metabalisms. My skinny one once she started solid food I would mix breast milk in with her cereals and thicken it with formula powder. Or pureed fruits thickened with baby cereal. Once she was over a year old I would give her whole milk and put butter in her food sometimes. It seemed to help. I nursed my first for 8 1/2 months and my 2nd(the skinny one) for 12 months. I am expecting again and plan to nurse long term with this one as well.People can't expect for a very active baby with a high metabalism to gain weight as quickly as a shorter, chubbier, less active baby.Like us they are individuals.

Joslyn said...

I am not a mom, but I feel so sorry for mothers nowadays. Maybe it's just my perception, but it seems like there are so many more written and unwritten rules about what a mom "should" do regarding food, breastfeeding, allergies, sleeping, discipline and so on.

And "Failure to Thrive" is a terrible label for a baby who happens to be a little less than some charts, but is overall healthy. I think a lot of moms hear "failure to thrive" as "failure as a mom". "Failure" is just a very powerful word. I'm surprised that when so many other diagnoses and labels are being changed, that this one isn't.

Breastfeeding because you think it's best for your baby isn't a failure. Neither is supplementing with formula. Under both conditions, your baby will most likely be just fine.

Maybe in a few days you will decide to supplement and that's ok too. Either way you are a good mom.

C. said...

Oh I feel your pain! My now 4 year old was a tiny baby...a tiny toddler..and still a tiny child. That's just the way she is. My second daughter is tiny as well but in a different way than my first. It's irritating when people feel the need to make comments. It's not helpful in any sense of the word. I wish others would realize that.

I'm happy to hear you stuck it out though! Way to go!

Audrey said...

It really angers me that doctors are so quick to say "You're not good enough, so here, take this formula. Don't try to boost your milk supply because it probably won't work."
My daughter weighed 18 lbs when she was a year old. And that was her heaviest... I had to wean her and give her formula at 9 1/2 months (long story, I think I've left it in a comment on another post of yours already!), so after that she gained weight like crazy. Even now, she is 23 months old and weighs 21 lbs. She's just naturally very small. She was always very smart, and she did not show signs of malnutrition, she was just not a very big baby. Her dad and I are also very small, so this did not come as a surprise. I'm so glad that things are getting better for you and for Shira! I'm also glad you did not take what the pediatrician said to heart, as so many women (myself included) do.

Coffee Catholic said...

When we need a cow to produce more milk we feed her more food. Maybe all you need to do is eat more ~ much more. It seems as if you're suffering from what some of our cows and sheep suffer: we jokingly say, "The food goes in their mouth and straight out of their udder!"

All of this fear of being fat... so I'm not surprised that your doctor hasn't suggested this to you. Doctors expect women, evne NURSING WOMEN, to starve themselves. Sounds like she just gave up and, "Oh well. Use formula!" Typical modern medicine.

Our best milkers are those animals that were fat at birth. Then they have the reserves to produce milk. But not everyone (every animal either...) is naturally fat. I say: eat a lot more, Anna! I know you'll eat only healthy food so I am not afraid to give that advice hahaha! But do try and get lots of PROTIEN and fats also ~ however a vegetarian gets fats? Cheeses? Yogurts? Full-fat milks? Nuts? This things will make milk.

It's pretty obvious that the food is going in your mouth and straight out of your breast and hardly any of it is getting to your body. EAT lol! Even if you have to snack all through the day. You're still eating for two, after all!

I sound like a grandmother! "Eat! Eat! EAT!" But I'm totally serious. **HUGS** May your breasts fill to bursting!

Coffee Catholic said...

Oh - something I forgot.

Do you know about expressing the "sugar milk" off before letting Shira feed? That way she doesn't get full of the sugar milk and not have as much room for the cream milk?

The sugar milk is kinda watery with a bluish tint and it's always the first milk to come out. It's full of sugar and fills babies up but doesn't do them much good. It also keeps them from taking a good fill of the fatty cream milk.

CappuccinoLife said...

Oh Anna, how horrible to have that FTT diagnosis. :( I hope that won't cause you problems with the legal system or anything. I know a "bad egg" in the CPS system here can cause families no end of trouble over things like that. :(

I think you are doing exactly the right thing. You have a good balance between instinct and respect for medical opinion. You are watchful, and you know what to look for in genuine FTT, I assume. Basing it on weight alone with a breastfed baby is as ridiculous as calling an exclusively breastfed baby "obese" because he's off the charts the other way. Boo to weigh-obsession, I say!

Kayleen said...

Dear Anna,
I have never posted a comment on your blog before, but after reading this post I feel like I should, even though you have many other encouraging comments already :), I just wanted to say that I am going through almost the exact same thing right now! My little one was born February 8th, right around the time your daughter was born (I believe; I have only read your blog for two months now) and our pediatrician told us the same thing about our baby not gaining enough weight to satisfy their guidelines. Louisa is certainly petite, but as in your case - she acts healthy, has normal development - is strong and happy too! I had so much trouble with breastfeeding and felt like giving up many times. Now things are much better, but I struggle with the same question, "is she getting enough?" I don't know what else to do except to trust in my own motherly instinct as you expressed in your post. It is tricky, this parenting thing, but it's comforting to know that many other mothers are going through similar things and dealing with similar emotions. So thank you for sharing your experiences and I do hope God grants you the grace that you need right now.

Many blessings,
Kayleen said...

Anna, I am so glad that Shira is gaining weight, and that she is such a happy and healthy child.
I am mother of two; both of them stated to sleep during night when they were 1 month old (and slept for 10 hours). My breast were FULL and sometimes I was expressing milk to relieve tension, but I never woke my children up. They gained weight by the book. But, I noticed that if they were nursing too often that my milk production was decreasing. In my case my children were happiest, chubbiest, moste peacefull when they ate every 4-5 hours, and slept for whole night... So, it seems that there are no strict rules - even rule that there is no rules is not a rule for everyone :)
Good luck, God bless!

Anonymous said...

I know that I will probably not be the most popular post... I think you should listen to your doctor. I have had to family members that nursed their young babies but both could not nurse for long and their babies almost starved. The parents thought they were actually feeding when they really were not...both babies lost so much weight.

My sister-in-law decided to do formula and still breast feed for his "snack" and "comforting". He is over 1 years old and she still does this. She enjoys it and so does the baby.



Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

I just had to respond, this is exactly what happened to me! I figured out why, though it was too late to totally fix the problem. Go get your Thyroid levels checked at your doctor! It's a simple blood test. It's common for women with no previous thyroid problems to develop it during the postpartum period and first it goes hyperthyroid, then hypothyroid. Some common symptoms I had were fatigue, weight loss (I was 10 lbs. below pre-pregnancy weight by 4 months postpartum with no dieting at all) and breastfeeding supply issues. If you do have a thyroid problem and take medication for it then you have a very good chance of your milk supply returning 100%.

My heart breaks for women who were unable to completely breastfeed like this. Just so you know, I was able to continue breastfeeding half-time, supplementing 1-2 oz. after every feeding, so an extra 6-8 oz a day total. I chose to stop at 9 months when I had a second supply dip and a big family trip coming up but next time I hope to breastfeed to 12-14 months at least.

flourishing olive branches said...

i am so happy to hear that you were able to let your mother's instinct take over! my first three children were the typical chub-chubs, but number 4, who wa almost 7 lbs. at birth, was not gaining weight and very soon was disgnosed with FTT. how distressing when you are sometime made to feel as though you are doing something wrong. the dr. would weigh my daughter, then tell me that according to the growth percentile scales, she wasn't even on the scale. i ignored all of the advice and crazy numerous weight check appointments since jaelle's personality and capabilities were always spot-on. at almost 2, she is still very tiny, only weighing 21 lbs. but you know what i realized, to even have a percentile scale, someone has to be on the small end of it. as parents, between dr's, media, and well meaning 'advice' from everyone we know, its a wonder that we can keep our wit about us at all and trust in our own instincts. it took me a while to realize that jaelle is just little, and likely will always be petite--and thats perfectly ok! i'm due with number 5 this august, so i'm curious to see what this baby will be like. many blessings to you and your family!

flourishing olive branches said...

i should add, to my last post, that there was a short period of time when i was concerned with jaelle's lack of growth--but only becaue i kept thinking, if she gets ill, losing a pound(or more which can happen with illness of stomach or whatever) might be quite serious for her as she just simply had an extreme lack of baby fat. but you know what happened--this little girl never once got sick. i think our human nature is to worry, but with all the 'ideals' shoved down our throats, its hard not to worry and to just trust that our children are fine. i do think that doing what you can to keep you milk supply up is wonderful, and i'm happy that you've found a support system in lll--they have been very helpful to me also in the past, and i'd not hesitate to contact them in the future for encouragement! we don't immunize our children(another reason i firmly believe for part of the extra chubbiness in some babies) and we no longer go for well visits, which, lets face it, are really only for immunizations anyway. its taken me 4 children to realize that i can trust my own instincts and to seek out answers in ways that aren't always traditional(dr's). have you ever read Mothering magazine? very very VERY encouraging publication for women who have an interest in on-demand feeding, not forcing sleep schedules, extended breastfeeding, etc i think you'd enjoy it!

Katy said...

I am sure they consider me quite rebellious here in America. I don't take Little One to pointless check ups and I space out her immunizations. When your baby is reaching her milestones and making plenty of wet diapers you don't need a doctor's opinion.

Kolfinnas Korner said...

At least you have resources! when my youngest was born 13 years ago, I tried and tired to breastfeed, the nurses in thd hospital were no help at all, and told me I couldn't do it. They didn't even bother showing me or help me or offering advice etc. in any way. I didn't have any friends/family I could talk to, so I just gave up. I didn't know as much back then as I do now, thanks to the internet. If I knew then what I know now I know I COULD have done it.

Also my oldest was always "sickly" and under weight according to the norm, and my youngest was fat andover weight according to the norm. Both boys are totally normal, and have always been normal. Keep on keeping on with hat you're doing, you know your daughter way better than the doctor. :)

Purple Envelope Project said...

Anna, thank you for raising this subject. As a new mother I'm sure hearing the FTT diagnosis was quite hard.

I am also the mother of a child who was diagnosed FTT. My son was born prematurely and was small even for his gestational age.

At 2 he had not "caught up" to his peers. He was always happy and healthy, but very small compared to his peers.

It was then we decided to have some testing done. We found out that he is growth hormone deficient as well as insensitive to Insulin Like Growth Factor. He is responding fairly well to HGH.

He was in the 3rd percentile for both weight and height. He is now in the 7th percentile for height, but still in the 3rd for weight.

I say all of this only to tell you that if there is a legitimate issue with your daughter's growth, it may not related to her feedings at all. If she continues growing slowly despite good nutrition, it might be worth taking her to an endocrinologist to make sure all of her growth factors are normal.

Rhonda in Chile said...

You're doing fine, just keep up the good work! Just a side note of encouragement, my friend had a baby recently, and she wasn't gaining weight properly. They gave her formula to supplement her milk supply. I encouraged her in her breastfeeding, and after two months supplementing with formula, gave it up and is breastfeeding exclusively now. The Lord made our bodies so wonderfully that we can even undo a mistake!


Ace said...

Hi Anna,

I am so sorry you were going through all that. I got that pressure too. I have heard more than once that when babies sleep through the night early the Mother's milk will start drying up. So it is great that you adjusted.

Your body will produce MORE milk the more she sucks. So let her have it all day and all night. Don't worry, it will adjust. It will start coming in more.

And, they go through growth spurts and such. So she may suddenly want to nurse alot to build up your milk production,then suddenly slow down (because you are making enough at each feeding). Let her lead you.

Basically, I just sit around topless for the first couple of months LOL.

I am SO glad you followed your instincts.

By the way, pumping messed with my milk BIG TIME. Just let her nurse. And YES, the feedings can be different during differnt times of the day. Sometimes they nurse to feed and sometimes they are just thristy. Just like we do, we have full meals, we drink between meals and sometimes we have a little snack.

La leche is awesome, so glad they could help. As long as you have growth, a happy baby, wet diapers and bowl movements (though, prepare yourself, breast fed babies have LESS bowl movements and less often as they get a bit older)...she should be fine.

If I were you, I would think about getting a new Pediatrition....

Many Blessings :)

Jennifer said...

I know that many women have already shared here, but I thought I would add my two cents anyway. While my babies have never been on the small side (my husband and I are tall, yet not small people), a friend of mine has 3 children and they are all small.

Her eldest is 6 and weighs about 30 pounds. My 3 year old weighs 34 pounds and my 6 year old weighs over 60 pounds, just to give you a comparison.

Your daughter will be just fine, please don't worry. I can imagine that hearing that you are "starving" your child hurts just as much as hearing you are "killing" your child because s/he is "over weight" (our 8 year old weighs 100 pounds and is about 5'2". While that sounds bad, you must know that she is very active and we eat a very well balanced diet. I do not allow snacks or grazing through the day for anyone and we rarely have desserts. She's just very "solid", like her parents).

You have to take what the medical community says with a grain of salt. They mean well, I suppose. But in many instances, they do more damage then harm. They actually want me to put her on a diet! At 8! As if she doesn't have the rest of her life to fret about her weight, they want to start her off now! I obviously refused and thankfully, she has been blissfully ignorant of the whole matter.

At any rate, trust your instincts and be confident in what you are doing. Your daughter is just how He made her and your doing exactly what He made you to do.

Jennifer D

LeAnna said...

All I can do is echo the others in their exclamation of how glad we are you stuck with your instinct! My son is almost 5 months old, and in the last few weeks I've noticed his weight has maintained rather than gained. I do not take him to a pediatrician (stopped doing that at 2 months...) but knew that if he were going in, they would surely have me put him on formula. He's happy, has his own little chubby thighs, but is just a smaller built baby. Besides, the growth charts that the doctor's offices have are supplied by none other than formula companies! We just nurse more often, and make sure he empties both sides and it's been stable. I also drink a cup of Mothers Milk tea every morning, it has fenugreek in it, as well as several other herbs that help maintain a healthy milk supply. Goodness knows you have to fight for breastfeeding, regardless of how natural it is, so you find yourself doing whatever it takes to keep it! It takes time, effort, and perseverance, for sure. I cried many a tear over it, but there is nothing too big or too small for the Father. He cares about all things, including how we feed our children. :)

Keep up the good work!

Blue Castle said...

I nursed both my babies the same, but my firstborn weighed 25 lbs at 9 months - and then stayed there for the next year - while my second son was long and lean. To this day, he seems "skinny" to me, but it's just his body type. He never was pudgy and hefty like his brother. Today, my boys are 8 and 6 and healthy, happy, and neither one is overweight or underweight. They're perfect for their body types. But, when I first nursed my older boy, my husband's family was very concerned because my son was so chubby. He was like a little bowling ball. :)

I do know some women truly have trouble nursing, but I don't understand how your little one could be labelled FTT when she was steadily growing. As long as there is growth and not decline, that's what is important.

TeachKaren said...

Glad that you and baby are doing well. I enjoy reading your blog but from time to time I'm a little confused. It seems that there are a lot of negative comments about doctors floating around. Not saying you, Ms.Anna. I come from a family of doctors and find it sad when people who feel they know better make snide comments about them. I'm so thankful for doctors and feel that the medical field is losing great respect.
I know a few women who were so die-hard about giving birth naturally, had mid-wife, and suffered major complications because they refused certain procedures and medications. Thankfully, the babies are doing fine. However, because of their refusal, they must have a C-section for their next pregnancy. A couple women told me they regret being so stubborn and prideful.
I'm all for trying to give birth naturally. But if a woman decides to have an epidural, is she less of a woman? Or if she chooses to feed her baby formula after a few months, is she an uncaring mother? I know women who choose many different ways to give birth and care for their children. The babies are safe, happy, and healthy.
I praise God that He gives doctors certain gifts and now we have choices. We're able to make the best decision for our family. And I'm sure families who lived decades and centuries ago would have wished they had the choices that we have today.

Anonymous said...

Oh Anna!! I wish you had shared your concerns with us your "online" support group! We could have told you that the growth charts used by the doctors today are ones that were made using the current bottle fed babies as the norm! With the huge numbers of women returning to their careers quickly after birth, they would HAVE to bottle feed, for the most part anyway. I am sure a few really, really dedicated ones would pump. That would not be the norm. And for the doctor to not take into account the build of you and your dear husband is beyond ridiculous! Why would they in all reality expect a tall lean couple to produce a 'short fat baby'?? It is another example of the breakdown of the medical profession in the realities of normal natural feeding of an infant!

You and your husband know your "little song" better than anyone, including any doctor! It angers me that they would try to scare you over something that is a complete non-issue! And all because they don't have any training in the natural feeding of babies. But as the La Leche League stated, breasts are not bottles and 'production' can't be easily measured!!

You are doing a wonderful job of caring for your little daughter. If she is as sociable and happy a baby as you state, then you have:
*fed her properly & sufficiently
*provided for her PROPER socialization needs
*provided for her PROPER development needs
*given her the best gift you could by giving her a loving momma and daddy

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

~Mrs. R

Mrs. Anna T said...

Ladies, thank you all for your very encouraging comments. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and leave a note!

I'm glad I could be an encouragement to other women, too, by sharing my story.

All children grow differently. I remember looking, for example, at pictures of my mom and her sister when they were young. My aunt was plump and well-endowed. My mother, no kidding, looked like she had anorexia (but of course she didn't). Same parents, same food - just different children.

Checking my thyroid seems like a good idea, because my mother suffers from it, too.

I try to eat plenty, but it's just so hard to keep any extra weight on. I have always been lean, and fit into my highschool jeans (not that I would let anyone but my husband see ;-)) two months postpartum!

I am not disrespectful towards doctors, but I do believe many pediatricians need to know a lot more about breastfeeding than they do now. When a doctor tells me, "nothing you do will affect your milk supply either way", I feel angry because I know this is simply not true, yet presented in such an authoritative way.

Also, I kindly ask everyone to please refrain from comments along the lines of what we should, or should not be doing, unless you have been to our home, seen our baby, and know her weight gain pattern starting from birth and her progress in the past few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna

please excuse the slightly bad english :)

i know this post is oldish but i just thought i would comment anyway...

here in Norway it is generally accepted that night feeding is what keeps the milk supply up, something to do with hormones (i only have Norwegian references to this, nothing in English so i didnt bother linking them) so if you want to keep your supply up then you have to try and continue to feed during the night...

I had severe problems BF'ing myself and my daughter has been on formula almost since birth, but all of my friends BF and most of them until their children is over 1 year old, however all had problems with milk supply once their children started to sleep during the night (around 3-4 months) and most started supplementing with formula/cereal at 6 months because of this. They still BF but they can't give the child everything they need so they give the bottle after the feed to give that little bit extra.

My point is: dont give up! But please don't think formula is that bad either. of course mother milk is best but formula has improved so much over the years and is rich in vitamins and minerals. I was also a formula fed baby (my mother had the same BF'ing problems as me when i was born) and i am a healthy and fit adult. In fact, i get the flu far less than my brother who did get only mothers milk!

Anyway, you can listen to what your doctor says and take it into consideration but also remember that you know what is best for your baby and it certainly doesnt sound like she has any problems. I have found that i also get alot of help from asking my mother in law who is abit "old school" and more about babies than my doctor :) I hope you have someone you can ask too?
Some babies are just small and nothing can be done about it :) It is great you found the La Leche League because they are a great help and know everything about BF'ing!!

take care and best wishes for you and your child


CappuccinoLife said...

Anna, I am the daughter of two doctors. So obviously, I respect doctors very much, and I love my parents.

About 15 years ago, my parents had an experience which changed their perspective completely changed about birth and breastfeeding. They were in a community which had it's own birth center and they attended hundreds of natural, complication-free births. They had been *trained* see birth as a medical disaster. That experience re-trained them. It was the same with breastfeeding. They saw the vast majority of the women in that community breastfeeding successfully, and saw how community support and the wisdom of experienced mothers corrected the majority of the problems the women ran into.

Because of this I am very grateful to have medical backing when I make "alternative" decisions about birth and breastfeeding. Doctors are smart and very well-educated people. But they can also be *wrong*. History shows us that the entire profession has been drastically wrong in some cases, resulting in many unnecessary deaths. While we should respect the medical profession and take their recommendations into consideration, the medical profession needs to be cautious of arrogance.

Anonymous said...

please don't let this interfer with your joy! If you are up to it change doctors as soon as possible. My friends and I all go to the same ped. my friend with naturally skinny babies that are now really skinny kids has been harrassed about ftt all these years ,by the way they are seldom ever sick. They eat well as kids do at home and when visiting here same as my kids, same as the fat kids next door, The only difference I see is activity level skinny kids are active kids fat kids are laid back and regular kids are some of each. My baby who was a fat baby was labeled ftt at about 8 months because their scale malfunctioned I was treated with suspicion I cried, I took the poor fat baby home and stuffed her with food till she puked I really let it ruin what should have been a joyful time, I know understand why my friend with the natural skinny kids is absolutelty obbsessed with their eating habits constantly trying to get them to eat more or have heavy snacks etc .If I was wiser then I would have changed dr.s just from the way my friend was treated and my small brush with ftt was enough to see how horrible that is to lay on a mother whose child is otherwise healthy. This attitude continues let me tell you as my 11 yr old daughter started her period it has been 6 months of light irregular periods and the dr said if this doesnt become regular in the next 6 months they will need to do something to regulate it!!!! Same attitude !! So my suggestion is to search now for a good dr, because if you have lots more babies you will be dealing with this attitude in lots of different ways. You are a good mom

Mrs W said...

I wouldn't tell any mom what to do in this area, but I will say, because of all the comments to the contrary...

FORMULA IS NOT THE DEVIL. To some of us, it's a blessing. And please, some of us formula feeding moms are sick of getting told off for "abusing" our babies. If I were still nursing I'd be abusing milk was literally BURNING the insides of their little mouths...I wouldn't want to eat either.

But Anna I think if your baby is doing well nursing, keep at it if that's what you want to do. I think that's great!

J in VA said...

You have received many good testamonies here. I would like to add one more.

At 42 weeks, I delivered a 8-13 baby girl. I breastfeed her (after a VERY rocky and difficult BF start) for 3+ years. At 8 1/2 mo, she started to walk weighing about 15 lbs. By one, she only weighed 19 lbs. I'm sure if we'd have had another Ped, we'd have had weight issues because she was 10 months old before she doubled her birthweight and most kids triple or sometimes quadruple it by one.
I thought if I had been underfeeding her it would show up when we added solids but she continued on at her own pace.

Today, she is nearly 10 and stil hasn't hit 70 lbs. yet. She's tall and thin and developing appropriately.

I believe development is a far better gauge of health for babies that plotting on a growth curve. I don't know about the curves in Israel but many in the US are of single ethnic group predominantly formula fed babies. There are some online around for exclusively BF kids which might be better but as someone said--someone has to be at 1% and someone else at 99% for the curve to even work.

Ace said...

Hi Anna,

I know that I already commented and that you have moved on from this post but I wanted to pass on something that I forgot worked for me and I was advised on.

Oatmeal can be a great food for breastfeeding. I was told that it can help with increasing and stabilizing milk production because I was nursing two at the same time. I had some every morning with cinnamon, coconut oil, some ground up nuts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, a little vitamin c powder and maple syrup (real). I did find that it worked. My toddlers eat it now for breakfast :)

Just thought I would pass it on.

Many Blessings :)

Kari said...

Sorry this has been such a struggle Anna! While I go the breastfeeding route too, I can understand why moms choose formula as well. There are so many breastfeeding-related struggles that crop up, and doctors seem to not know a lot about how to handle them aside from supplementation. As a bit of encouragement, my sister and I were both very skinny babies, and were both formula fed from about 3 months on - my sister was allergic to my mom's milk (which is extremely rare), and my mom was too sick to nurse me. So formula doesn't always mean that kids pack on the pounds, especially if they are built long and lean. My sister and I both were at the top end of the growth chart for height, and barely registered on the weight side of things.

Does your doctor use percentage growth charts at all? I know the public health nurses here only really worry if a baby has dropped two percentage placements in a short time (i.e. was in the 75th percentile and dropped to 25th).

Nothing shocks me anymore... said...

I have not read other comments so I am likely repeating myself. Eat Oatmeal.. Lots of it!

You know your child best and you are observant and steadfast and meeting all her needs. Trust yourself and your instinct. Obviously if she was not growing/gaining you would have a reason to supplement with formula, at this time that doesn't sound like the case. As long as baby is fed- that is the most important part. I nursed twins and they also recieved formula supplementation as needed- but I digress.. that is a whole different conversation!

Shannon said...

Hi Anna,
I am sure that little Shira is doing fine and will continue to thrive. I am so glad you consulted the La Leche League. They are such a good resource for nursing mothers. I know you are a good parent and I enjoy your blog so very much. May G-d comfort you and help you overcome this difficult time.

Sarah said...

i havent read all the other comments, but just had to weigh in. as long as the baby is happy, enough wet nappies etc, the precise weight gain isnt that important. my son at one point was at 97th% for height, and only 10th% for weight. long and skinny, and perfectly happy. and he was on formula and breastmilk because things just werent working (not my milk supply. i could have fed an entire nursery, he just didnt want it). my little one now feeds every two hours and her height and weight still dont match up. some babies are just skinny.

if you've managed to increase your supply, and little shira is feeding more, and you think its an improvement, thats brilliant, but dont let it stress you out any more.

Lindsay said...

If you feel like you might want to add another supplement...try alfalfa. It worked WONDERS for my supply. Fenugreek helped a little...alfalfa helped A LOT!

You're doing AWESOME!

Mrs MIlls said...

I think the only thing you need to change immediately is the pediatrician!. Your baby just isn't fat that's all (lucky girl!). You're a great Mom Anna, find a doctor who supports your choices and encourages breasfeeding.

Beth said...

This reminds me so much of those bittersweet early days of breastfeeding my oldest! She was, and still is, very tall and slender, and I had the hardest time with her pediatrician, who was clearly NOT pro-breastfeeding. I finally switched doctors and it was such a relief. Anyway, as others have said, exclusively breastfed babies do not gain weight nearly as quickly as their formula fed peers, but somehow many doctors haven't noticed! Abby went for weeks without gaining much of anything, but she was totally fine. She caught up with growth spurts. Clearly, if a baby is generally happy and alert, she is not hungry.

If you're still worried about milk supply, I agree that checking your thyroid and increasing food intake (protein shakes are helpful to some people) are good ideas. Also, and you probably already considered this, a new pregnancy usually diminishes our milk.

Blessings to you all!

Buffy said...

I am so glad you managed to resolve this, I can imagine how upseting it must have been.

I do feel sorry for those women who want to do the best for their babies through breast feeding but, with the best will in the world, it can't be done and when this is the case they should not be made to feel bad mothers.

On the other hand, as you rightly say, in this matter as in so many, the medical professional lacks the time or knowledge to understand we are all invidivuals and that given enough patience and understanding, there are alternatives to the rigid set of rules that have been applied for our own health and safety!

CappuccinoLife said...

Mrs W, where are you getting from anything here that others think using formula when necessary is abusive?

When a woman wants to breastfeed, asks for encouragement, and gets encouragement, of course the response is going to be pro-breastfeeding. The fact is that *when it is possible*, breastfeeding is the best option healthwise--even by admission of the companies who make formula. That does not mean that formula is evil, or that mothers who use it are bad mothers. The key phrase there is *when it is possible* breastfeeding is best. There is no shame in doing what you need to do for your particular children in your particular situation. It is wonderful that when we need it, we have something available that can stand in for breastmilk that is nutritious and truly supports a baby's growth and development.

Mandi said...

I didn't read all the comments but just wanted to share a little encouragement. My husband and I are both medium-height and naturally lean. I too lost weight rapidly after both births (I have two boys, 11 months apart) but without breastfeeding. I fed both my boys the best formula available and fed them as much as they would eat and they are both way down in the 1st or 2nd percentile for their ages. They're just skinny kids. I gained 55 pounds with each pregnancy (starting weight a muscular 135) and my first was only 6 pounds at birth and my second only 5 pounds. I envied my breastfeeding friends' their chubby-cheeked children. But at 1 & 1/2 and 2 & 1/2 my boys are never sick and I'm confident in my choices. It does help that my doctor is very supportive but all of this is just to say that Mom knows best. You know your daughter and while your doctor, the La Leche League and the rest of us here in cyber-space may be helpful or hurtful to varying degrees, you are right to trust your own judgment as you carefully weigh your options.

And all of us should be gentle as we judge other's choices. No woman should be forced into another's mold.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. T-

Was Shira tested for CF after she was born? I know of several children who were diagnosed as being FTT shortly after birth when in fact their CF made it difficult for them to absorb sufficient nutrients to grow appropriately. Some were even tested and screened negative for CF at the hospital, and it was caught later. Just a thought. It's quite common in Ashkenazi populations.