February 5, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Breast Milk

My doctor recommended I consume more fatty foods in order to thicken my breast milk.

What foods do you recommend I eat?

-- (Name withheld)

New York, NY

Oh, dear.

If I were a betting man, I would bet your doctor never took a single pediatric nutrition class.

That's the only way I can rationalize such inaccurate -- and untrue! -- advice.

Eating fatty foods will not result in thicker breast milk.

Depending on what sorts of fats you eat, the the fatty acid composition of your milk (ie: more monounsaturated and less polyunsaturated) may vary, but not its total fat content or texture.

Fat content of breast milk usually relates to the amount of breast milk containted in the breast.

A full breast contains a lower percentage of fat than one running empty (which is why babies should be fed from one breast until it it is fully empty, as this guarantees they are taking in the thicker, fattier hindmilk, which is released at the end of a feeding.)

In any case, the only reason I can even conceive of your doctor recommending thicker breast milk is because your baby may have reflux.

Assuming that is an official diagnosis from a pediatric gastroenterologist, you have two options: express breastmilk and mix it with a thickener or purchase pre-thickened formula.

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