Mooving on from breastmilk?

I’ve mentioned before that feeding Sadie is a heavy responsibility. And I’ve done a lot of it by following my own instincts, as well as trusting Sadie to follow hers. I think, for the most part, Sadie eats a healthy, well-balanced solid diet. As she gets closer and closer to her first birthday (less than two weeks–what the?), my milk supply is getting lower and lower, at least in terms of what I can get when I pump. I suppose this isn’t totally unexpected, but until recently I had been mostly planning on continuing to send Sadie to daycare with expressed breastmilk to drink, even after she turns 1. I hadn’t given much thought about Sadie switching to cow’s milk at that age, other than it costs money, while breastmilk is free; I drink skim milk, and so we’d have to start keeping two kinds of milk around; and I’m still sort of clinging to the making-breastmilk-keeps-the-fat-off effects of lactating (though I’m seeing a pretty significant decrease there, too!).

But when I realized this weekend that I only had three bags of frozen milk to fill in the gaps when I don’t pump enough, I was hit in the gut with repulsion at the thought of Sadie drinking the milk of another animal. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE milk. I drink it at least once a day, and I can frequently be heard saying, “I’m thirsty for milk,” while eating a variety of foods (pizza, spaghetti, ice cream, tacos). Although I’m not super crazy about commercial dairy operations, I do purchase organic milk that at least claims to be sourced from small farms, and I don’t have any inherent repulsion at the thought of people drinking cow (or goat or sheep) milk. Heck, I’ve even milked a goat, home-pasteurized the milk, and had a warm glass (don’t like it once it’s chilled). And it’s not like Sadie hasn’t been enjoying dairy products. She loves yogurt, and just this past Sunday we learned that she has quite the taste for expensive, strong cheese (thank you, Kroger Sunday samples). But I’m somehow really turned off when I think about Sadie actually drinking milk.

One of my sisters is The Queen of Pumping (and I do mean this in the most loving, impressed way), and she does not have the “and when she got there, the cupboards were bare” problem where frozen milk is concerned. In discussing my supply change and hesitancy to send Sadie off to daycare with a sippy cup of cow’s milk, she kindly offered to pass along some of her frozen supply. I’m not sure about the rest of our family, but I think I’m correct in saying that she and I, at least, view breastmilk as liquid gold. So this is a testament of love, in my eyes. And I will likely take her up on it, at least for a while. Because, although her breastmilk is not the same as mine, the thought of Sadie drinking her milk doesn’t wig me out like Sadie drinking cow’s (or goat’s or sheep’s) milk.

The thing is, though, this isn’t a sustainable solution. There are certainly limits to how much she can give me. Yes, she has much to give (I’d love to tell you how much, but I want to respect her privacy here, or at least what’s left now that I’ve named her The Queen of Pumping). But she has her own baby who will one day nurse less and less, like Sadie has. And although she may not have the same hesitations about cow’s milk that I seem to be having, I know she’d like her baby to be able to drink breastmilk as long as is reasonable.

So where does that leave me? Of course, I’ve “googled it,” but there is SO MUCH conflicting information. Soy milk? Rice milk? Oat milk? Almond milk? Concerns: providing Sadie with enough calcium, vitamins, protein and fat. Curiosities: If Sadie continues to nurse past one year (which I believe she’ll still do, primarily at night), and her solid food diet is diverse and healthy, would she be alright without any of these “substitutes”? Could I send her to daycare with sippy cups of water? Are there special baby nutritionists?

I suspect I’ll get over myself and this milk issue before too long. I mean, I LOVE milk. So who am I to deny Sadie one of my all-time favorite beverages? But this is what’s rattling around in my head these past few days. Envious, aren’t you?

5 thoughts on “Mooving on from breastmilk?

  1. Stephanie

    We’re in a similar place. Sean and I don’t drink cow’s milk at all (I can’t remember why we stopped), and instead drink coconut and rice milk. Neither of those are suitable for babies, because they don’t have enough fat in them. I was going to give Jasper goat’s milk, because I read that it’s the closest to human breast milk, but his pediatrician told me that it can cause a type of anemia. Jasper is already anemic, so I don’t want to encourage any other types. I think we’re going to introduce him to organic whole milk in a week or two…ayiyi.

    1. Brooke Post author

      Was she saying that goat’s milk can cause anemia after the first year? I know that anemia is a big reason not to supplement breastmilk with either cow’s or goat’s milk before they’re 1, but I think that for a toddler goat’s milk is just as suitable as cow’s (really, neither is truly “suitable” unless you’re a baby goat or cow). Of course, I am by no means a nutritionist, but I think if you’d prefer to serve Jasper goat’s milk over cow’s, it might be worth digging a little further into. I know y’all have had to push some things back because Jasper was so early… maybe this is one of those things that you can do once he’s closer to what would have been his first birthday.

      For me, there’s not much difference between giving Sadie goat’s milk or cow’s milk. I think I’m going to accept some breastmilk from my sister’s stash if I need to until we go in for Sadie’s 1-year appointment next month. And then I’ll see what she says. I really think, as long as Sadie continues to breastfeed a fair amount when we’re together, and she gets enough fats and protein and the like from her solid diet, she might not need any sort of milk at all when we’re apart.

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  3. Ashley

    yeah, i totally get this. it makes me really uncomfortable that we adults, let alone 20ish pound one-year-old babies, drink the milk from an animal which was intended for a several-HUNDRED pound calf. i mean, the milk for a 20 pound human baby is so much richer and thicker than the milk for a 10 pound newborn. think about what is in the stuff that’s meant to grow a friggin COW! (i know i’m not helping here, btw.)

    but truly, honestly, as an uber-breastfeeder/breastfeeding advocate, you’ve done enough. that’s my opinion, of course, but anyone who’s pumped knows what a HUGE accomplishment it is to have sent 100% breastmilk to daycare for a whole year!!! are you kidding me??? i had to get my wisdom teeth out when bradley was a little baby, and it took me a week to pump enough for one 24-hour pump-and-dump period after the procedure…and i was STILL two bottle short!! it IS liquid gold, and whoever coined the phrase “never cry over spilled milk” never spilled their own breastmilk!!!

    as far as milk goes…i think of it as another food, like mashed bananas or chicken or cheese or bread. as long as sadie is still breastfeeding some of the time, even once or twice a day, i would not hesitate one second to send water or very diluted juice with her to daycare. introduce cow’s milk but don’t make it her main source of calories or her main drink. give it as a treat, then after she’s weaned from the breast, give her a glass/bottle/cup of milk or two a day. i think it’s really fine in moderation, but not good for them to drink all day every day (like bradley did for awhile–killed his appetite and didn’t do anything good for his overall behavior).

    instead of letting her toddle around with a full cup of milk (like a lot of parents do…what???) and giving her juice or worse for a “treat” drink. let her toddle around with water and save milk for the “special” times.

    that’s my 2 cents! good luck, sister!

    1. Brooke Post author

      Thanks, Ashley. I like this advice. I just ordered some whole cow’s milk from a local farm, and I’ll be picking it up this Saturday. I’m just going to bite the bullet and test her out on it. Yesterday was interesting, though. She was home with Trevor, since it was Tuesday, and he said she consistently rejected the sippy cup with breastmilk in favor of the cup with water. Maybe she’s stating her own preference, anyway, and I don’t need to worry so much (ha!).


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