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Newborn and Infant Care

Re: bowel movements of baby and milk

01/25/1999

Question:

I'm a working mother and I only breast fed for a month (only in the afternoons), but now I feel guilty, am I depriving my baby a lot of nutrients? and also, while the baby is entirely on infant formula now, is it normal that sometimes he will have bowel movements every other day?

Answer:

Congratulations on your new baby! Congratulations also on providing your baby with your milk for the first month. Several studies indicate that any breastfeeding/breastmilk a baby has gotten has a positive effect on that child's health. Therefore, any amount of breastfeeding/breastmilk is better than no breastfeeding/breastmilk.

Although the nutrients in human milk have evolved so that mothers' milk provides optimal nutrition for human infants, infant formulas are the choice when breastfeeding is no longer an option. Infant formula manufacturers combine carbohydrates, fats and protein as closely to human milk as currently possible, however they cannot match human milk exactly. Some aspects of the nutrients are somewhat different than the ones in human, so infants' bodies do not use them exactly the same. Studies show that infants do grow appropriately on infant formulas.

Mothers often feel guilty about one thing or another. Unless you can change or reverse a decision you made in the past, let go of guilt. It's really a waste of mental energy. If it's possible, change or reverse decisions when necessary. Otherwise, accept that you made the best decision you could with the information you had available at that time and then move on. That mental energy probably would be better invested in making decisions for and building a relationship with your baby in the here and now.

If you are interested and it's only been a few weeks since you stopped breastfeeding, it is a decision that you very likely could reverse. It is often possible to bring a full or partial milk supply back in. Write again if you would like more information.

All the best...

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC

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Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati