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Ep. 15: How Much Breastmilk To Put In A Bottle

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So I usually say, okay, pace feeds, slow flow nipple. Start with about two ounces, especially if you’ve never really bottled fed before. You don’t know what’s normal for your kid. And then yeah, they might fuss and cry a little bit. Try to calm them for about 10 minutes. If they’re still really upset at that time, still showing hunger, hunger cues, feed them another ounce.

This is Maureen Farrell and Heather O’Neal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way.

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Hey listeners. Welcome to another pod snack. We’re here for it. Ugh. Today. I wanted to quickly answer a question that I, I think I literally answer at least three times every day in our Facebook group. Good for you. I can’t keep up as good as you can with the questions cause I’m like making a lot of the content. So God bless you for answering that over and over.

And one of our moderators, Laura does it a lot too. She just fucking copy and pastes the same graphic. Bless her for it. Okay. So this one is how much breast milk should I put in my baby’s bottle? Oh yeah. Hit it. Oh yeah.

Heather’s just like, every day. We see it every day and I get it because it’s much easier to find guidelines on how much formula to put in your baby’s bottle. And this is completely different. This is what causes the pictures of pumped milk in our group all the time where people are like, is this enough?

And it’s like 15 ounces, six to 15 ounces. And then every person that thinks their supply isn’t enough looks at that and goes, oh my God, I’m not enough to feed my baby. And it causes this whole debate in our group about, am I enough? Am I too much? Is this what my baby needs? How do I know what to put in there?

It’s kind of a shit show every time. Let’s be clear. You’re enough. You are enough. You don’t have to be validated by how much milk you make. That is not what gives you value. Yeah, your milk production does not give you value. You are more than your boobs. We’re going to, I’m going to write that on a t-shirt. We’re going to have one that says communicate and lubricate.

You are more than your boobs and they’re sisters, not twins. Yeah. And your milk production does not equal your, your self worth. Yeah. Anyway. Okay. So like I was saying, how much do you fucking feed your baby? Because this is confusing. So the guideline for breastfed babies guideline. Yes. Again, ding ding ding keyword, it’s guideline.

You can deviate from it if you think you need to, but it’s a general piece of advice that you can use to make your decision. Exactly. Okay. The general guideline doesn’t change from birth to six months for a breastfed baby. Hmm, because the content of your breastmilk changes to fit your baby’s needs. Well, doesn’t that just make a whole ton of sense?

Right? Whereas if you’re feeding formula, you have to change how much they eat. And also you do have to sometimes change what kind of formula you buy. Calorie. Formulas are the same calorie all the time. Breast milk is not the same calorie all the time. Right. I’m just going to add in though that toddler formula is a scam.

Okay. Anyway, so here we are. I just can’t stop bitching about formula today. Formula companies specifically. I got, I cut that whole part out of our formula episode, Heather. I had a whole rant about that too. Okay. Sorry. How much breast milk does my baby need? Okay. So the general guideline for babies from zero to six months is one ounce per hour.

So on average breastfed babies have about, they eat about 25 ounces of breast milk per 24 hours. That is the absolute median. Median. So it can be anywhere from 19 to 35 ounces in a 24-hour period. Yeah. 19 to 35 ounces. That is a really big range. Yeah. And the ones that are eating 19 ounces are probably getting the same amount of calories as a baby eating 30 ounces because everybody’s milk is a little bit different and it’s specific, specific, specific, specific specified for your baby.

Specific to your child’s needs. Exacto mundo. Okay. So what the fuck does that mean? That means if you are dropping your baby off at the sitter and it’s noon and you just breastfed and you’re going to be gone till six, that you should leave about six ounces of breast milk. And I would encourage you to tell your caregivers to feed about two ounces at a time and on demand. On demand, when your baby shows feeding cues.

Yes. One of the big things for making sure that this amount of food keeps your baby satiated is that you want whoever’s feeding in a bottle to pace feed and to use a slower nipple, a slow flow. So pace feeding is when we kind of sit the baby mostly upright. They can still be reclining a little bit. And the bottle we keep as horizontal as possible.

And then we use the slow flow nipple that has a flow more similar to a breast. And that basically keeps it from being a firehose that just guzzles milk down in the gut. And, you know, as an adult, it takes a while to sometimes for your hunger and full signals to get from your tummy to your brain.

It’s about 10 minutes for babies too. So imagine you have two ounces, you know, your sitter, your husband, your mother-in-law, whatever doesn’t know about pace feeding and slow flow nipples. And that baby guzzles down two ounces in one minute. I mean, just like swallow, swallow, swallow, gone. Cries.

Right? They’re going to be crying for more because while their stomach is full, it’s going to take a long time for their brain to get the signal that that’s true. So when we slow the feed down, it gives baby a chance, one to control the feed themselves with their own suction and their own swallowing. And then two, it just gives their body time to catch up and say, oh wait, we’re kind of full now. You can stop eating.

So I usually say, okay, pace speed, slow flow nipple. Start with about two ounces. Especially if you’ve never really bottled fed before, you don’t know what’s normal for your kid. And then yeah, they might fuss and cry a little bit. Try to calm them for about 10 minutes. If they’re still really upset at that time, still showing hunger, hunger cues, feed them another ounce.

Yup. And for kids that are going to daycare all the time and you know, always going to be eating from pumped milk during the day, I took a poll in the Breastfeeding for Busy Moms group that we have and 300 people answered. And I asked how many ounces do you put in the bags, in the storage bags or bottles that you leave for the care provider?

Because a lot of times people are like, I don’t want to do this many ounces because I don’t want it to be wasted and I don’t trust them to manage the breast milk. And that’s understandable. And I can tell you 50, almost 50% said that they put four ounces in a bag, which actually I think is a little bit much. I think three, three is okay.

Like anything’s okay. But you know, if you do three and then you ask them to just wait 10 minutes, you might see that they’re actually okay. Yeah. And I, and I think we see a lot of people who maybe their, their babies kind of got used to overeating when they started bottle feeding. And so that, yeah, that means that that’s how they’re going to want to continue eating.

I mean, I certainly do when I overeat. I’m like I could have six pieces of cake again. That sounded great, Heather. Yeah. My stomach is stretched out and ready. Right. Yes. And, and that happens, and I don’t want you to feel bad about that, but you know, also just understanding the mechanisms about that, you know why that happens kind of makes some sense and helps you figure it out.

When you hear someone that’s working really hard at work to work and pump and they’re like, I feel like I just can’t keep up with her up with her demands. And it’s like, okay, well maybe what she’s getting is actually way more than what she actually would get if she was home with you. Yeah. Because people say like, I want to make sure I put at least four ounces in the bag because I don’t want to starve her.

And it’s like, okay, but keep in mind, the other 18 hours in a 24-hour period, she’s with you. Right. And she’s still eating and she’s going to eat throughout the night and they make up for lost time. They really do. So they will get that 19 to 35 ounces in somehow, some way. And I think when we’ve kind of polled our sample group before and talked to people, we really do see anywhere from one to five ounces in a bottle.

Yeah. And, you know, let me just say personally speaking, I would pump usually between both breasts, somewhere between three and four ounces, somewhere between two and a half and four ounces. And because the bags are not that accurate with how much is in there, I didn’t worry about it. Right. I would pump, and it would be somewhere between two and a half and four ounces.

I’d put it in a bag and I’d send it to daycare and she’d eat it. Yeah. And I wouldn’t hear anything about it because they’re just going to give her what they’re going to give her. And sometimes I would trick the daycare provider and I’d write on the bag three ounces, even though I knew it was two and a half, because I knew she wasn’t going to tell.

And that way she wouldn’t bug me about starving my baby. You know, and baby was still satisfied. She is in the 90th percentile for weight. Like she’s good. We’re fine. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And then, you know what? After six months the recommendations do change. It entirely depends on how much complimentary food your baby’s getting.

And so I’m not really going to get into that right now, but we, we have some great resources for where to look more into that and kind of how to figure that out. So we’ll, we’ll post them in the show notes. And I hope this was helpful for you guys. Yes. I hope it was too. Don’t freak out about your don’t freak out about your amounts.

Stay calm. Communicate and lubricate. And just, you are worth more than the volume of milk you’re able to pump guys. Yeah. Love you.

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