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Paleo and Breast Milk Supply

by (15)
Updated about 4 hours ago
Created August 31, 2011 at 4:40 PM

My second daughter was born in early February of this year. She is now 6 months old. I have started her on paleo solids, because breast milk alone was not sustaining her anymore, but am still nursing her about 5 times a day and 1-2 times a night. I nursed my older daughter for 15 months on a SAD diet and never had any supply issues.

This time around I went low carb 6 weeks after the delivery, then full-on paleo at 4 months post-partum. This is a paleo challenge through our CrossFit gym so we have to send photos of our meals to a nutritionist. He is confident that I am eating plenty of fat and protein. I certainly never feel hungry or deprived. I do CrossFit three times a week and have lost a total of 25 lbs by this point (with 18 lbs still to go).

My only complaint thus far is that I have had chronic dry lips since going paleo. I drink nothing but water, sparkling water, iced tea and one daily cup of coffee. At one point I was drinking so much water I felt like I might start spraying it out my ears. Yet my lips were still dry. (I've also started taking cod liver oil, using coconut oil on them, nothing helped.)

Now, eight weeks into this paleo challenge, drinking only when I feel thirsty, my lips are starting to feel better. I only have to apply lip ointment 1-3 times a day instead of 6-8. But, it seems my baby girl is getting increasingly frustrated by my ever-slowing letdown. One of the reasons I've been OK with her still nursing at night is because that's one time I know she'll get a full belly of milk with little effort. (I cut my older daughter off from nighttime feedings at 5 months.)

So I guess my question is, are there any moms who have nursed for long period of times on a paleo diet and lost weight without supply issues? Should I be worried that my supply is dwindling? (I am not a fan of pumping, btw.) I have also not had a period yet, which I am guessing is a result of losing weight while breast feeding.

I would really like to nurse baby girl for at least 18 months...

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1801 · September 03, 2011 at 9:06 PM

Thanks for the clarification. Wonder why it's persisting though? Doctors in the UK are incredibly guilty of prescribing the cheapest drugs when they know fine well that the majority or people will not find them useful, so they'll have to prescribe another course (that costs more...).

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293 · September 01, 2011 at 1:04 AM

Woohoo on your 134 pound loss!

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15 · September 01, 2011 at 12:58 AM

I will try more carbs, thanks!

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15 · September 01, 2011 at 12:57 AM

I flew back to the Midwest for summer vacation when baby girl was four months and she blew her eardrum on that flight. She got antibiotics for that ear, but 2 months later, we discovered pus in that ear at her 6-month checkup. Pediatrician tried a holistic remedy first, but that did nothing. So more antibiotics. A week after that round, she came down with it again. Theory is, those antibiotics were not strong enough. We'll see after this round.

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24538 · August 31, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Nursing nonstop and irritability were the first signs of the couple of ear infections our little guy had. I thinking the action of suckling acted to relieve some of the pain. So it might not be a supply issue, but more of a comfort nursing thing. It drove me nuts having him try to nurse ALL night, rather than his normal 2 night nursings, but he seemed to need it.

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1307 · August 31, 2011 at 9:22 PM

134 pounds lost!!! Congratulations!

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1801 · August 31, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Heather, feeding your DD for a year is something to be pretty happy about. Not a lot of mothers get that far at all. Well done :-)

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1801 · August 31, 2011 at 8:48 PM

@Huey - ear infection and antibiotics. I'd say this was probably more a problem than you not being able to give her enough milk.

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4764 · August 31, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Oh! Another helpful thing would be "deep breast compression". Again, it can be found in the jack newman videos. I'd still make sure to get around 100g *starchy* carbohydrate per day and would not count fruit or non-starchy veggies toward that end. Sounds like you're on the right track though.

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15 · August 31, 2011 at 5:01 PM

I also eat liverwurst once a week. But I will add the bone broth and will do more switching of the breast. Thanks.

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15 · August 31, 2011 at 5:00 PM

I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and make sure to have a sweet potato at least twice a week. I also eat carrots, parsnips, beets, etc. which are pretty starchy. Her two bottom teeth just broke through and she's on her third ear infection, for which she's on yet another 10-day course of antibiotics, but she's not fussy except for when the milk doesn't come quickly enough. Even after she's nursed for a good amount of time, she cries if I take her off and will only stop if I distract her. I do figure that if she is still super hungry, she wouldn't be so easy to distract. At least I hope.

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5 Answers

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4764 · August 31, 2011 at 4:53 PM

wrt the carbs: Paleo is not by definition low carb. I'd add some "safe starches" a la Perfect Health Diet - around 400 cals per day (ie 100-150g carbs)

WRT the nursing: What behaviors is she displaying that cause you to think she's not getting enough? How is her growth? Any chance there is a tongue tie? Have you seen an IBCLC? Could she have an ear infection, be teething or have reflux? Those can all look like "I'm unhappy at the breast".

Some basics:

Nurse more frequently. Superswitch. That means that as soon as she's finished with the letdown on one side, switch her to the other side. Go back and forth like that as long as she'll let you.

Try to spend a couple days at home with lots of skin to skin - or at least carrying her in a sling so that she can nurse on cue...again, frequently switching sides.

Work on her latch every single time. Really go for a deep asymmetric latch (see Jack Newmans videos) as it can make a significant difference in milk transfer.

Be sure you're not getting excessive protein from muscle meat. Try to switch out some of the muscle meat meals for offal (brain, sweetbreads, liver - once a week would be ideal for all of them. When you do eat muscle meat, go for brisket, tongue, high fat ground beef, fatty fish.

Try to add a couple of cups of bone broth per day for the glycine and other nutrients.

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24538 · August 31, 2011 at 9:48 PM

Nursing nonstop and irritability were the first signs of the couple of ear infections our little guy had. I thinking the action of suckling acted to relieve some of the pain. So it might not be a supply issue, but more of a comfort nursing thing. It drove me nuts having him try to nurse ALL night, rather than his normal 2 night nursings, but he seemed to need it.

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1801 · August 31, 2011 at 8:48 PM

@Huey - ear infection and antibiotics. I'd say this was probably more a problem than you not being able to give her enough milk.

Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34
4764 · August 31, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Oh! Another helpful thing would be "deep breast compression". Again, it can be found in the jack newman videos. I'd still make sure to get around 100g *starchy* carbohydrate per day and would not count fruit or non-starchy veggies toward that end. Sounds like you're on the right track though.

4e35234c4ac63dfc0bb69c71ca9b431f
15 · August 31, 2011 at 5:01 PM

I also eat liverwurst once a week. But I will add the bone broth and will do more switching of the breast. Thanks.

4e35234c4ac63dfc0bb69c71ca9b431f
15 · August 31, 2011 at 5:00 PM

I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and make sure to have a sweet potato at least twice a week. I also eat carrots, parsnips, beets, etc. which are pretty starchy. Her two bottom teeth just broke through and she's on her third ear infection, for which she's on yet another 10-day course of antibiotics, but she's not fussy except for when the milk doesn't come quickly enough. Even after she's nursed for a good amount of time, she cries if I take her off and will only stop if I distract her. I do figure that if she is still super hungry, she wouldn't be so easy to distract. At least I hope.

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1049 · August 31, 2011 at 6:31 PM

Yes. I am currently nursing a 15 month old and have lost 134lbs (still going). I did notice my supply lowered with this child more than the others around 7-8 months (he's my 3rd) but I'm starting to think that's a natural decrease because they need less milk and it's more of a comfort thing. Allows them to have a greater desire for solids maybe?

You can read from a few posts I wrote at paleoparents.com - but the simple answer is, eat right and all will be OK. If you must there's natural supplements to increase your supply. But, at that age with introducing solids just give your baby paleo super-foods like liver and avocado and enjoy getting to sleep through the night. The 5am nursing can provide just as much milk as the 1am and 3am combined - your body will adjust as baby does.

p.s. don't complain about no period! I didn't get my period until a year with my first 2 but then got it at 3 months with my 3rd baby - no fair!

Stacy paleoparents.com

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293 · September 01, 2011 at 1:04 AM

Woohoo on your 134 pound loss!

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1307 · August 31, 2011 at 9:22 PM

134 pounds lost!!! Congratulations!

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1801 · August 31, 2011 at 8:59 PM

I started LC and then paleo (on and off 80/20 ish) when my DS was about 6 months old. He's now 2.5 - and he still feeds a LOT - He has a feed about 11pm/12am and then wakes at about 5am in the morning for one - daytime feeds are as and when requested (unless he's asking constantly, which he does!!!).

To the supply issues though... I seemed to have oversupply issues when he was first born, so, no, I've not noticed that diet change was an issue. I've asked him if there's still milk there and there is (I've seen the evidence occasionally).

I think that rather than issues with supply, we need to consider whether we as breastfeeding mothers are receiving the right amount of nutrition that we should be. Personally, I had some nutritional issues during pregnancy with my DS and post natally too.

I think I still have some, so take supplements to counteract this.

I see you've mentioned a recurring ear infection too? Could the problems you're seeing be anything to do with this rather than supply?

Robb Wolf's podcast recently mentioned inflamation in the sinuses and ears due to certain foods (was a question asked my Stacy and Matt actually ;-). Is there anything in either or your diets that could be causing the inflamation?

And FWIW, I got my period back as soon as we introduced solids - bang on, every month, regular as clockwork... I was hoping for a longer LAM time!!!

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1801 · September 03, 2011 at 9:06 PM

Thanks for the clarification. Wonder why it's persisting though? Doctors in the UK are incredibly guilty of prescribing the cheapest drugs when they know fine well that the majority or people will not find them useful, so they'll have to prescribe another course (that costs more...).

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15 · September 01, 2011 at 12:57 AM

I flew back to the Midwest for summer vacation when baby girl was four months and she blew her eardrum on that flight. She got antibiotics for that ear, but 2 months later, we discovered pus in that ear at her 6-month checkup. Pediatrician tried a holistic remedy first, but that did nothing. So more antibiotics. A week after that round, she came down with it again. Theory is, those antibiotics were not strong enough. We'll see after this round.

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0 · March 30, 2013 at 6:22 PM

I am exclusively nursing my 3 month old and been eating paleo for 3 weeks now. I have only noticed a supply decrease when I don't eat enough calories. My recommendation would be to focus on what is going into your body: lot's of sweet potatoes, fruit, rather than cutting any calories. Supply is directly related to calories you are intaking. If you cut calories to try to lose weight, your supply with decrease. Breastfeeding mothers are burning 500 calories a day from nursing, so EAT EAT EAT!

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305 · August 31, 2011 at 5:41 PM

I had low milk supply too, I only made it to a year breastfeeding my daughter (I pumped during the day, BF morning and evenings). I had to eat a sweet potato almost nightly for dinner or some quinoa or brown rice, I did also eat fruit. But it seemed that keeping my carbs up helped my supply along with Mothers Milk tea (Fenegreek). I still had to supplement though with formula once a day. At 8 months old I added some whole raw milk very slowly, half milk half water, 3 oz a day increasing to 6 oz half water half milk eventually. I used this to replace one feeding of formula. She started to thrive on this, and a bonus, her excema cleared up! If you can get raw milk, be sure it is from a reputable farm (I use organic pastures) and once opened, use it within 5 days.

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15 · September 01, 2011 at 12:58 AM

I will try more carbs, thanks!

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1801 · August 31, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Heather, feeding your DD for a year is something to be pretty happy about. Not a lot of mothers get that far at all. Well done :-)

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