I breastfeed. Maybe I’m a crazy hippie.

I can’t even count the number of times someone asked me to consider using formula – from hours after Bella was born and didn’t latch right, till just a few months ago. Then got upset or offended when I explained I wanted to just breastfeed, and I knew I could. And I got The Look. It’s the look of “OK you crazy hippie – since you know better than I do.”

(ETA: Since quite a few of you know my Dr. personally, let me be clear that it was not her. It was nurses, trying out new pediatricians, and last minute doctors we saw that often suggested this to us. Our old Dr. is a bf’ing advocate.)

Since we’ve had to take Bella to Children’s Hospital for her reflux, and then lack of significant weight gain, I have been told time and time again to consider putting Bella on formula, both for her reflux and since my supply didn’t seem to be enough for her. Each time, I’ve said Bella is exclusively breastfed and asked if there were any other options. Which – there are. Olive oil, butter, and other fats for her weight, medicine and time for her reflux.

Yet, she was in the 5th percentile or less every time we went to see a doctor. More prescribing would be done because she was so small. More tests. Some so awful that Bella still screams in terror when we lay her down in a doctors office. Labwork that cost thousands of dollars. Diagnosis for “Failure to Thrive” that made me cry all the way home for apparently being a neglectful mother, but not knowing how that could be. Questions that eluded to us not feeding her properly. Questions about stress, our marriage, home, diet, care… “What about formula?” they’d suggest.

No. Sam and I discussed it, even went to buy some, but once again decided it wasn’t for us. I don’t have anything against formula when it’s used in the right context, but I breastfeed. And I didn’t believe that was the issue, although after months of having it suggested I began to doubt my choice to exclusively breastfeed her.

I knew from other breastfeeding moms that their kids were also considered small, or underweight, at visits to the doctor. I wondered if perhaps because some children do become heavier on formula, if it had changed the curve babies were measured against. I brushed that thought off – I had told all my doctors we breastfed, so of course they were taking that into consideration.

Today we went in for our last appointment at Children’s. The doctor was pleased to see Bella gaining weight and doing so well. He turned the computer to show me the curve she was on, and how she was still under the 10th percentile but very healthy as all the tests had come back normal. And then?

He pulled up another screen. “And this is the WHO chart for breastfed girls/boys, we’ve just recently started using it. So as you can see, compared to other strictly breastfed babies, Bella is in the 50th percentile for height/weight. Which is right on target. It looks like you guys are good to go.”

I.WAS.FLOORED.

All the months we spent worrying about her weight – when probably for at least the past five months or so she’s been fine. Right where she should have been as a breastfed infant. She never had to go through most of those horrible tests.

Before you think I’m getting all judgy on the medical community – I’m not. I love Children’s. I really liked our doctors, I know that they were trying to do the right thing for us. I’m ever grateful they fixed her reflux and noticed a problem with her weight curve. She did need a few more fats in her diet.

BUT.

If they had used the WHO chart after I explained she was breastfed – we would have never had to put her, ourselves, and our finances through hell. We would have had two visits and determined she was back on track. I would have never questioned my decisions and beliefs that what I was giving Bella was what she needed.

In a small way, today was a personal victory for my choice as a mother. It erased all my doubts, my worries about not doing the right thing for Bella. I’m just sorry I never thought about pressing them to see if other breastfed kids her age were also her size. I believe my doctors would have looked into further, and gladly, with me had I confidently brought up the subject.

So here’s my advice to moms that choose to exclusively breastfeed – if your doctor talks about your child being underweight, bring them the WHO chart and talk to them about it. Do it yourself at home. Research it. Ask questions. You should have the information needed to feel confident in your decision. Formula, breastfeeding, whatever. Make sure you know why you do what you do.

Even if you do get the crazy hippie look once in a while. It’s fine – just flash them the peace sign.

And maybe a boob.

———-

Girl’s Chart: http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/chts_girls_p.pdf

Boy’s Chart: http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards/chts_boys_p.pdf


Comments

  1. My doctors don’t even have breastfed growth charts in their office either!! This is a common problem.
    Thank goodness Bella is right on target. All we can do is strongly encourage (and keep asking) docs to use the PROPER breastfeeding growth charts for our kids!!

    • I didn’t even know there was one till a while back. And then I forgot about it, but I wish I had thought to bring it up with my Dr.

  2. you’re really smart to breastfeed. I would probably have switched to formula and regretted it.
    I don’t have kids, I’m a dentist that treats a lot of kids though, and I would hazard to say 80% of them are overweight. I start seeing them around 1 y old, so your hypothesis about the original growth chart curve seems spot on.
    way to stick with your instincts and ask for other options to increase her weight. I’m inspired.

  3. I exclusively breastfeed too and Claire has always been somewhat small as well. She has only been in the 10th percentile for weight (born in the 25th), but she has had a good growth curve. Her weight had me worried for months and I would keep the breast pump attached to me whenever I could to try to up my supply to keep her from dropping off the chart. Our doctor was always supportive and never suggested supplementing with formula except in the very beginning when she dropped almost a pound after birth and had a little trouble latching. But even then he gave us until the weekend to come back in for a weight check before we supplemented. I’m glad our doctor was so supportive of it because if I had all those suggestions flooding in I don’t know that I would have been as strong as you to hold my own. Even though we had a great supportive doctor these charts make me feel SO MUCH BETTER about where she is at. THANK YOU! :-)

    • You’re welcome!! I’m so glad your doctor was supportive about this. Mine was too, it was more of the bigger hospital or last minute doctors we saw that were quick to suggest formula.
      I love those charts.

  4. ‘flash the a boob’!! lmao! Genius. At Sarah’s last visit, her 5 year, I was all concerned b/c she is small and eats so poorly. As she always has. The dr pointed out that she gets enough calories, just not quality ones. AND that THEY, the DR’s had done us a disservice, as they were finding out was happening alot. They get small babies. Alarm moms into pumping them up, the moms do, and continue to do so. She’d just seen a ‘small’ baby in her office. He was 250 lbs and 15. Mom was STILL concerned that he was not eating the right calories. So, once again, Victory for Diana!

  5. This is great to see. I stopped breastfeeding my youngest son after only a few weeks due to, among other things, taking the advice of doctors who told me to give him formula due to reflux/lactose intolerance issues. I regretted the decision and it has taken me a long time to forgive myself evev though he is a happy andhealthy little boy. Props to you for sticking it out!

    • I’m so sorry – I almost did so many times. There was a point in between the extreme pain and the constant vomiting where I was like, “What am I doing?”

  6. that kinda sums up our experience. minus the reflux and add in a picky eater who really wanted nothing to do with solids (minus puffs) unitl he was about 15 months old. BUT now C is almost 22 months and Im ready to get done with breastfeeding. I finally got him down to 4x a day but the rest, he is not going to go down without a fight!

    • I think it’s cool you stuck it out this long – and probably he had some added health/nutrition benefits since he just wanted puffs. :)

  7. I’m sorry this happened. I didn’t breastfeed, but I don’t think that any woman should be judged for the decision she makes for her child. Not by random strangers and not by doctors, nurses and the medical community. I’m actually quite surprised and saddened that you didn’t find more support. But good for you, for sticking to your instincts and doing the right thing for Bella. Isn’t that what being a parent is really all about? A lot of gut instinct, some prayer and some figuring it out as we go.

    • Agreed – no matter what your choice is on feeding your baby, no one should judge you. I mean, of course, like for Bella, there was a time when they were suggesting because of helpfulness. But there were several nurses that were adamant I not bf her. I have no idea to this day why.

  8. WOW! just wow! i know everyone pushes for formula. i was just going to write a post about what is going in my breastfed baby world. because i’m getting a little frustrated with it.

    you are a hippie & i love you for it!

  9. ferryl sweeney says:

    Diana.. I’m so proud of you!!! You were my inspiration all through my pregnancy to breastfeed! And I loved knowing I could call or text you whenever I had questions or concern or pure frustration. There were several times I thought that putting kua on formula would have been SO much easier (newborn days). And it was definintly encouraged by several friends! I’m happy to say he is 8 months today and exclusively breastfed! he isn’t seeming to like to eat much else- babyfood, applesauce, etc.. But I think he’ll start to enjoy in soon! I hope! However… Its news to me that its common for breastfed babies to be smaller!!! He has always been a chunky little monkey!!!! 90% on weight chart lol!!! He’s starting to lean out now that he’s trying to walk all over!! He will walk around with his little push toy ALL day!! And I’m happy to say my doctor always praises me for breastfeeding and even gives me high fives! Its nice to have his support and I feel for you having to push through without that support! Your an amazing mother! :)

  10. Good for you! And thank you for sharing – at least now we all know about this and more kids wont be put through the wringer… poor Bella!

  11. Twitter: hhhippiemommy

    Wow! I’m so glad my Dr’s been using the chart for breastfed babies! My son has been just over the 50th percentile since he was born until now at 10 months. If they hadn’t been using the right chart, I might have been told the same thing! So glad that got sorted out. Breastmilk is truly the best – way to go!

  12. Oh my God, dude.

    I’m so sorry you and Bella had to go through all that – but glad to know she’s doing awesome (as if there were a doubt she’s awesome!)

    Thanks for putting this info out there!

  13. WOW! There’s a WHO breastfed chart?! I bet we would have realized Ava wasn’t such a tiny nugget either! That’s good to know. And I’m glad that you stuck to the best choice for you :)

    • Seriously – I know! Where was this info in all the books I read? None of them ever mentioned a different weight chart for bf’ed babies.

  14. Wow…I had no idea there was a seperate chart for breastfed babies! Too bad there were so many months of testing, stress and added costs for you guys before it was introduced to you. But, at least you don’t have to worry anymore. Go Bella!

  15. Wow, that is eye opening. It makes alot of sense though when you think about it, why didn’t anyone bring this up before to you? Poor Bella, all traumatized :( And im loving the “flash a boob” part LOL

  16. I’m right there with you. I caved with my first because she was 10 lbs at birth and lost a pound in the hospital. She struggled to start BF because at first it wasn’t as fullfilling as the 1 bottle of formula. I swore I would never cave with my others. I have found with all 3 of my kids that I have had to fight for what I know deep down. This is life people, it doesn’t always go by the book. My youngest at 6 mos is now at 50th percentile in weight and 30th for the others. She’s growing out and not up. :) Good for you! And thank you for sharing. If this gives one new mother the idea to fight for her instincts, you’ve done her a service. I think new mothers aren’t given enough credit to run with what they know.

    • I agree – with whatever we feel is right for our kids. I know many times our decisions are questioned – even by ourselves for our lack of knowledge.

      • That’s disturbing to me that they were concerned about weight-loss in a 10 lb baby. My son was 9lbs 5 oz at birth and had a surgery at 3 days old. He basically ate nothing for 4 days after the surgery but no one was concerned about his weight or my breastfeeding him, everyone in the NICU was amazed how big and strong he was since they mostly see preemies.

  17. I completely support your decision to exclusively breastfeed, but I am going to throw this out there, just because I don’t think it is always the right decision, even if it IS what we want to do as mothers. And please don’t think I am defending what happened to you and Bella, because it is AWFUL that they used the wrong choice and doubted what you were working so hard to do.

    But for some babies, especially reflux babies, specialized formula (like Neocate) can make a huge difference in their comfort level. Some cases of reflux can be caused by protein or other allergies, and it can be a lot of trial and error to find out what is actually causing the allergic reaction. Neocate is crazy expensive, but I know some doctors will recommend it in order to stop the reflux immediately, as opposed to the time it sometimes takes to find the trigger foods in a mother’s diet.

    I almost didn’t write this, because I don’t want you to think I’m attacking your decision AT ALL. I think you are a fabulous mom and admire your dedication to BF and other ecofriendly choices. I just wanted to put that out there for other people that might find the information useful, at least as something to keep in mind when trying to figure out reflux issues.

    • Angela – I am SO glad you wrote this. It crossed my mind to explain why we didn’t at least try it for her reflux when I was writing this, but then I had so much to get in without making it a novel I edited it out.

      So I agree with you. Absolutely. It can be a lifesaver in some cases for reflux. The reason we didn’t was because we didn’t know there was special formula for reflux until Bella was about 7 months. A friend told us she put her baby on it.

      Our doctors suggested formula at 2 months because they thought Bella was allergic to my breastmilk, or that at 6 months I was tired of bf’ing her round the clock every 2 hours. I didn’t know formula might actually help with reflux – I just thought that they were saying, “Either keep bf’ing and wait it out or switch.” Our *main* family doctor was great about bf’ing, but didn’t really know anything about her reflux and what to do other than prop and feed her less – more often.

      I don’t know if I would have tried it back then had I known it might have helped. Maybe not. I know a lot of moms that did use or switch to formula for reflux and had massive vomiting issues.

      But I thank your for mentioning this, because it’s important to know. Reflux is so predominant in babies tody for some reason.

      • And reflux sucks! I don’t know what you finally determined with Bella, but I had feeding issues with both of mine. My daughter had a milk protein allergy with no reflux, so I had to cut all milk/soy proteins out of my diet and finally had to supplement with Alimentum when I went back to work (I worked until I had my son.) He had unexplained reflux, with no indication of any sort of protein allergy (I tried a lot of food elimination and nothing helped). He’s super chubs, though, so we didn’t deal with the nightmare of testing and are still BF, though I am ready to wean!

        It’s so tough trying to figure it all out, and it’s even more difficult when you don’t have all of the information or doctor’s aren’t forthcoming about their reasons for their advice.

        You crazy hippie :)

        • Lol. She was finally diagnosed with severe reflux, we think it had been GERD but at the time the testing was done it was the beginning of the end. Her stomach produced so much acid when anything was in it (milk, solids, spit) that she barfed it all up. Almost immediately. So more than likely formula would have never worked anyway, we had to put her on Prevacid to get it to heal.

  18. This was really eye-opening for me. Both of my (exclusively breastfed) boys have been at the bottom of the weight charts – below the fifth percentile, and although I haven’t been pressured to switch to formula by the doctors, it is constantly mentioned that they should be ingesting more calories. Both kids eat really healthy, well rounded diets that include lots of fat…but they are small. Not skinny, but they aren’t pudgy, squishy babies. I am certain that the doc wasn’t pulling out a different growth chart, and I didn’t even know one existed. It certainly would have saved me quite a bit of stress, as I’m confident that they are quite healthy and, like Bella, would have been just fine when compared to other breastfed babies. I’m bringing that chart to my next visit. Thanks for the info!

    • You are welcome – and the more moms that write “I didn’t know” on here – the more I realize we really do need each other for this kind of stuff. I don’t think there is a ton of info out there for issues that pertain to breastfeeding and a child being small.

  19. Noelle Spooner says:

    Love this. I think you’re amazing for breast feeding Bella. Next Wednesday I will have nursed Hudson for six months. Yay for boobs!

  20. Man…this drives me crazy cause I’m taking Cedella for her 12 month next week and know I’m going to hear how small she is. Good for you for sticking with your motherly intuition in the face of such pressure to supplement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been given formula or suggested to feed her a formula bottle at night to get Cedella to sleep. WTF?! What our bodies make is absolutely 1000% good for our babies. I know there are lots of moms who can’t breastfeed or who don’t have enough milk. I know there are tons of moms who just aren’t educated about breastfeeding to know it’s best. But doctors?! There’s no excuse for that. The WHO chart should be the one they go on. Maybe then we wouldn’t have so many obese children in our country!

  21. Well, I made the hard decision to stop breast feeding Abby at 7 months. We were having to supplement her with formula before she even went to day and I went back to work. (She did scream bloody murder at times when the boobs where empty…fun supply issues.) Anywho…from 7 months to 12 months, she was 100% on formula. And check it out, at her best she is at the 10% for weight, but under that for most of the time. So I think the whole formula equals weight gain is a bunch of bull shit. I mean I have to go with my kid as the example…right? At 13 months Abby weighed 18.75lbs. She’s tiny. That’s the way she was made. I wish people would just get off our cases about our kids weight. It’s like we are setting them up for a future of body image issues. (NOTE: I know for some kiddos, lack of gaining can be alarm for serious health concerns, but if after some are just petite…you know.)

    • I know what you mean – and in no way am I trying to imply formula is bad or if you put your kids on it you’re doomed to raise a porker. You did what formula was meant for – and you breast fed Abby the majority of the time she needed to be. You are amazing for that, I think you need to remember how hard you worked to pump and keep going in the face of the stress and changes and working full time. You are an awesome mom for caring so much – because honestly, I would have given up.
      I’m not wanting to do a formula/bf debate because I’m not out to prove anything. I just want moms who do exclusively bf and are told time and time again to supplement or to add fats to make sure that’s really what’s going on. Because we went through a lot of unneeded stress. Some kids are going to be chunky regardless of how they were fed as infants, and some will be thin. It’s our job as parents to make sure that we know that’s just the way our kids are – and it’s not because we’re doing something wrong.
      Thank you for commenting – because I know how hard it was for you to stop, and I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings in any way with my post. <3

  22. Just have to say I am so happy you wrote this. Thank you. You know I appreciate this. I had heard of another chart but never looked at it. Bailey is small (read: NORMAL and healthy), just like your little Bella. Bailey is still breastfed and eats a very healthy diet. We are constantly harassed about her weight also. I usually just node my head, but after a while, I get tired of it, so now with all my research and with these charts I can explain my view (which I do not need to do but will). Thank you again!

  23. Ah, geez. Here I go again. First of all, my daughter was breast-fed for the first 5 1/2 months, and she was a porker. Like, super chunk. We’re talking 75-95% for weight at every appointment. And ever since I stopped BF’ing, she’s been in the 35-45% for weight, and she just turned 2 years old. So the whole formula=bigger babies is something I just can’t get on board with. Although, I think everyone can agree that most babies that are exclusively breast-fed tend to be on the smaller side.
    With that being said, the actual percentile is not what doctors will base their decisions on. They look at the trend of growth, or non-growth, over a period of about 3-6 months in order to make a true and informed decision regarding the child’s growth. *OBVIOUSLY not the case in extreme cases, and if the doctor is aware of a certain condition that may interfere with proper growth. Some babies can be in the 50% and still need supplemental formula, and some babies in the 5% will be just fine, and grow just fine. So I think growth charts are ridiculous. What’s important is that your baby is growing, not the actual percentile. And trusting your own mom intuition.

  24. Wow. After all of that… It makes me wonder if when I was trying to breastfeed William if he was really on target for what he should have been… But I didn’t stay strong and switched to formula. I have nothing against what any mother decides to do but really? I can’t believe you had to deal with all of that! And poor Bella too!

    I’m sorry you were judged for your decision. It would be nice if moms were cut a break from all of the judgement.

  25. I am blessed by an incredible doctor that doesn’t use ANY charts! I was concerned about my daughter’s weight gain (once she started crawling she practically stopped gaining weight) and when I talked to her doctor about it she wasn’t concerned at all. She thinks that the percentile thing is ridiculous because different people have different bone structures and metabolisms and thus they gain weight differently. I am rather small (105 lbs on a “heavy” day) and both my husband and I have high metabolisms. My doctor has taken that into account with our kids and is very understanding. Once my daughter switched to solids my doctors biggest recommendation was to make sure that I’m feeding her good/healthy foods and not junk.
    Kuddos to you for continuing to breast feed despite everything and everyone! I wasn’t able to for as long as what I wanted to with my daughter but I AM with my son (he’s made this decision easier by refusing to take a bottle! lol). I just found you’re blog a couple days ago and am LOVING it :)

  26. Thank you so much!

    I stumbled across your blog by accident this morning after visiting the doctor yesterday for my son’s well baby check up. He is 10 months old and 21.9 lbs. The Dr. was concerned with his growth since he has really slowed down the past several months. He started walking 3 weeks ago and has always been very busy. I’m almost 6 months pregnant and he has been exclusively breastfed with solids starting at 6 months. I have been beating myself up about my conceiving so early and not being able to provide him with the needed nutrition although I am still producing an adequate amount of milk. I’ve been concerned with the contents of my milk and have toyed with the idea (only the idea) of formula. I am MORE THAN HAPPY to see the WHO growth chart, where he falls in the 70th percentile range. Thank you so much for sharing your story and this great resource. It has confirmed my intuition and decision. My son is perfectly healthy :).

    • This is why I wrote this – hoping so much someone would stumble on it and find some relief. I’m so glad you did, I know the emotions that come with your doctor saying what you are doing for your child all along may not be the right thing.

      I’d love to hear a follow up if you take the chart in! Thanks SO much for leaving a comment and sharing your story. Made my whole day. :)

  27. “Crazy hippies” got a lot of things right, as I’m trying to show in my new website, Thank A Hippie, natural childbirth and breastfeeding among them.

  28. This makes me so angry. The exact same thing happened to us, EXACT same thing, and I was pressured into formula, and now we only BF about half the time. I feel like i was gypped out of an EBF relationship with my 5 month old and I’m so upset about it.

  29. This is totally fascinating to me. We have had the exact opposite problem. I BF my daughter for 20 months and she is a chunk! She has always measured 140% in weight. Our Dr kept suggesting that BF babies tend to be heavy and that I should stop bf’ing do much or not let her do it on demand as I’d always done. I didn’t listen because nursing my daughter was really special and we both loved it but I’ve spent the last 3 years feeling super guilty about her weight. She just turned three and she’s a little chubby compared to all the kids in her preschool – but I think she’s starting to stretch out…. And she is so healthy and happy. I wish bf’ing wasn’t such a hot button issue.

  30. Oh my god! I wish I would’ve read this two years ago! My daughter was born 5lbs 7oz, 20 inches. Then has stayed on her tiny course these last two years. I can’t count the number of times I left the doctor’s office about to cry because they convinced me she had a weight problem. They even brought up the whole “failure to thrive” topic when she was 14 months and 18lbs. She has been on her own curve her entire life. I breastfed her for a year, then didn’t start her on whole milk after because I have known allergies. She ate a healthier, more varied diet than any other kid I met, but the doctors kept telling me I had to put her on milk. So I finally did, and she plumped up. But she also developed acne, wouldn’t eat much, and got the worst diaper rash I have ever seen. It wouldn’t go away for anything. She even spent a week diaperless and it didn’t budge. So we stopped the milk and it cleared up in days. Why did she have to suffer before they would believe me? Many, many more weight check visits later and I’ve finally convinced her doctors that she is normal for her. Honestly, how many times do I have point to her and say “does she look like she isn’t thriving to you?” Every time I got “she looks perfectly healthy, but her weight and height are too low on the chart”. Ugh! Now I know better.

    • I think you’re me! My dd was 4lb at 34+6 gestation. She had inter-uterine growth problems but once she was out and healthy (2 weeks in SCBU) she breastfed like a pro and plumped up fast. But she was still tiny and it was hard to shake off the doctors because of her problems early on and her diagnosis of mild biplegic CP. She followed her own line just under the bottom of the centile chart. At her 18 month check the doctor (female, 4 kids) said she was ‘failing to thrive’ because I’d missed the window of opportunity for weaning, and she was now emotionally dependent on bf, and therefore not eating enough solid food. She hadn’t actually looked at the baby at all, just the chart. So I suggested she looked. She was obviously surprised to see a plump, alert, friendly child and actually admitted that I might be right :) We didn’t bother with any more routine checks after that.
      She’s nearly 14 now, she’s just hit 5ft, she’s fit and healthy and her CP is hardly noticeable. She finally weaned when she was 5. People don’t come in standard sizes; you’ve only got to look around you to see that. I’m the tallest in my family (including my dad) at 5ft 6, and she’s got my family’s genes.
      And incidentally, my son has the opposite problem. 5ft 10 and 14 stone, he’s got huge bones and he’s all muscle; there’s not an ounce of fat on him. But he’s clinically obese! It’s a joke.

  31. GOOD FOR YOU! I exclusively bf all three of my kids. From my son 14 months, (I only stopped from so much pressure from my MIL, FIL and hubbie {who was getting pressure from his parents} because I was pregnant and he restarted once the baby was born – I KNEW I should have continued, yes, you can tandem bf two kids NOT the same age), my daughter, 17 months, she quit on her own. To my last baby, who nursed for 3 years. I suffered though mastitis, plugged ducts–over and over and over and over- all three years. She also had horrible acid reflux and we were told she needed tests b/c she was so tiny. I wouldn’t have any part of it. I knew she was tiny b/c she was suffering from acid reflux, and only ate small amount. BUT I also knew she was fine! I was ready to slap the next person that told me I was being a martyr for continuing to bf. I so WAS NOT! Exclusive bf was very important to me. My kids are NEVER sick now and they do not have any allergies! I would have loved to have known about the other chart though! Basically, like you, follow your heart – only you know what is best for your baby!

  32. Dana Lauducci says:

    I’m curious why you decided not to consult with an LC through these issues or whether you did and just didn’t include that in your blog post. Any decent LC would have immediately charted the weights on the WHO chart and would have worked hands-on with you on developing strategies to maximize her intake and weight gain.

    Other moms reading this, if you have a breastfeeding-related problem, it usually has a breastfeeding-related solution. See a board certified LC or La Leche League for knowledgeable help. Here’s a directory to help you find an LC in your area: http://www.ilca.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3432. Here’s a directory to help you find a La Leche League Leader in your area: http://www.llli.org/webus.html

    • Hi Dana, I wrote this on FB as well but it wouldn’t let me tag you. :) At the time I lived in a small town with almost no resources and had no idea about an LC or what they did. Anything we did medically was a 5 hour drive to the city. Our problem was not due to breastfeeding but due to severe reflux, and so our Dr. took appropriate steps with her recommendations for us. Not everyone has access, or knows, about an LC, but many women see their Dr’s for these problems. Bringing a WHO chart eliminates the weight issue but still leaves the reflux one to be dealt with.
      Thank you for your comment!

    • And now I need to apologize for not reading your response correctly – yes. Seeing an LC would have certainly cleared up the weight part and made it easier to find out about the WHO chart. Should this happen again (we’re pregnant with twins so, oh, please no!!) we are in a large city and are currently seeing an LC for other problems I face with my daughter that were never fixed. HUGE help even pre baby!!

  33. I feel so lucky to have the pediatrician I have. I can’t believe your doctors put you (and your wallet!) through all of those unnecessary tests. My daughter was low in the CDC percentiles, but we were never harassed and put through the ringer like that. (I’ve always wondered if it’s because our pediatrician is very slender herself – she may know what her numbers were as a kid & know that she was perfectly healthy.) I think the possibility of supplementing was brought up at one of the really early visits, but it wasn’t brought up again after I made it clear that breast milk was for us (and that I produced tons of it). We told her my husband was very petite until he hit puberty (basically middle school age), and she seemed to understand that genetics are strong in his family. They started having the WHO charts available at the office around the time my daughter was 1 yr old, and despite the fact that the “official record” is still recorded in CDC numbers, they have always considered the fact that she was happy, healthy, and meeting all of her milestones. Also her weight-for-length ratio has always been appropriate.

    Just because I’m curious – did they ever test the fat content of your breast milk? I would think with that being such a non-invasive test that they would have that as one of the first tests.

  34. That sounds exactly like what we went through, reflux and all, except her silent reflux was not discovered until just after somebody turned us into CPS for “neglect”. Even then, they would not believe that the reflux could be contributing to her weight gain issues, and we went through 8 months if absolute HELL because of it. The hospital insisted that she had lost 6lb, that I had refused orders to supplement, and basically made me out to be a depressed violent psycho, none of which was true… it’s amazing what kind of lies people will make up to get you investigated, people that never even met you before and don’t know anything about you… absolutely unconscionable to me. They wouldn’t let me have unsupervised contact with my kids for 2 mo and forced my family (we were filing bankruptcy) to pay thousands for daycare, threatening to put them in foster care or a shelter if we didn’t. After my old pediatrician went to bat for us and disputed all the false information, they backed off a little and ruled that they didn’t have enough information to decide if neglect occurred. In the meantime I was forced to quit breastfeeding and couldn’t keep up with pumping while taking care if a 4mo old and 20mo old, and we had to start buying super expensive formula because if her reflex. The formula caused her first diaper rash ever, which of course everyone tried to blame on the cloth diapers… grr. They are finally in the process of closing the case, and I am strongly considering filing a complaint against the hospital staff that lied to get us in trouble. Not that I expect it to go very far, since most of the lies end up being they said/ we said and no way to verify anything either way. I am avoiding hospitals in the future whenever possible, including future births. Honestly my faith in humanity has been irreversibly shaken… I never felt paranoid before, but it’s hard not to after an experience like this :(

    • ((hugs)) Your story gave me chills. I am so sorry you and your family had to deal with this. Thank you so much for having the courage to share it and help others who may be facing your situation.

      • Thanks. Believe me this mama bear is pissed as hell… just scared to make a wrong step and risk retribution against my kids. The system has already proved it is anything but fair and just.

  35. Also we had just moved to TX 3 days prior to all this starting. My baby was tiny, but happy and meeting normal developmental milestones. The hospital tried to make it out like she was at death’s door. Nobody that saw her prior to hospitalization ever had any concerns about her or me. My breastmilk was never tested. The threats were so swift and horrible that there was no time to do anything to defend ourselves… not that anybody would believe anything I said after the hospital trashed my credibility with their lies.

  36. Courtney says:

    My son was born at the 7% for weight and 92% for height and any time we went anywhere other then our regular doc we got chasitsed especially when they found I exculusively breastfed him. Our regular doc on the other hand used the WHO chart (my son was still low on that chart too) and saw no issue with his weight gain as long as he was plus or minus 10% of where he was born at. This doc also saw my husband as a child and knew that my husband was very tall and skinny until he hit puberty. We have since lost that doc, but he had been training his replacement for years and that is now who we see and love. My son is now 7 years old and still very tall and skinny for his age but no worries from the doc.

  37. Amanda R says:

    I couldn’t have found this article at a better time. My daughter, now 16 months was born at the 95th percentile at nearly 9.5 lbs. She was EBF until 6.5 months at which point we introduced solids. I’ve always made her baby food and fed her nothing but wholesome, healthy foods. She has become very petite over her first year of life usually hovering between the 3rd and 5th percentile. Her doctor told me if this continued we’d have to get blood work done. Other than her weight being an “issue” everything else with her is perfect. She has hit every milestone at or before the scheduled time and is incredibly smart. She has no digestive issues, is never sick, and is a happy girl.

    At her last appointment on April 4th she dropped to the 1st percentile. At this point we were urged to get lab work done. I have been putting it off and stressing so badly about this as I don’t feel it’s necessary and some of the tests seems quite intrusive.

    Thank you so much for pointing out to me the WHO charts. I had no idea there were 2 different charts. After speaking with my daughter’s doctor I found out that she is being measured on the CDC charts. I will be forgoing the lab work for now and bringing in the WHO charts at her next appointment to discuss them with the doctor. I’m hoping this is all we need to make him change his mind. Either way, my instinct says my baby girl is perfectly healthy, just petite.

  38. Hurray for you mama! I was given a little crap from my own family for choosing to (and still at 17 months) breastfeed my daughter. I was lucky to not have acid reflux issues and supportive doctors. There was one point at the the 1.5 month mark when I noticed she was looking thin so I consulted with my doula and went to see a local holistic doctor and midwife. She was VERY supportive, helped me with my milk supply, and never once mentioned formula. I am so very grateful to her for that.

    P.S. I’m a brand new reader and I’m very much enjoying reading your blog!

  39. I’m curious to see the boy growth chart? The links in the post just bring me to the girl, and I tried a search on the WHO website, but couldn’t find this specific chart. Any chance you can help me find it?

    I have two boys exclusively breastfed/feed, and have never had any issues with judgement on their growth, but fortunately haven’t had to take them to big hospitals, either. My first started out average, but clearly has my husband’s metabolism, as he dropped to the 5th percentile by 6 months, and stayed there. He is now three, and quite healthy, but super thin! My second is now 6 months and busting out of 9 month clothing. He comfortably wears 12 month sizes. He is also very healthy. I am truly just curious what my older son would have charted at using this one!

    Oh, and congratulations for holding strong, revisiting your principles through this challenge with your daughter, and not blaming the doctors for the stress it caused you! I don’t think I would be as generous! :)

  40. My doctor suggested we use formula. at. our. first. visit. We didn’t. Our son struggled with weight gain and reflux. After bringing him in for numerous weight checks, he finally mentioned that maybe we would like to try medication. When I asked about breastfed babies gaining differently than formula babies, he told me that breastfed babies weighed more…Ummm…not true.

  41. Thank you for posting this! My daughter was exclusively breastfed as well and I was dead-set to keep it that way. I had a copy of the WHO growth chart on my refrigerator and marked her weight after each doctor’s visit. She was exactly on the 50th percentile curve every time, even though she was under according to our doctor. It reassured me that I was doing the right thing!

  42. Where is the chart for boys?

  43. YEAH for the WHO charts… BOOOOO for the Dr’s who aren’t informed enough to use them. We had the same experience, only the other end of the charts- 125th percentile: 21lb 3 oz at 6 months. We were immediately sent to a ped’n for possible endocrine disorder concerns, told to supplement our EBF 4 month old DD with water at night as she didn’t need to nurse at night. Cried for hours and sought an informed second opinion.

    This ped’n uses the WHO chart, laughed at our GP’s suggestion of an endocrine disorder, and said- “By 3 you will never know she was this chubby.” And you know what, she’s now 31 months old and has only gained 8 pounds in the past 2 years. Not bad for a little girl who was thought to have an endocrine disorder. She just likes to do things BIG- it’s who she is and I wouldn’t change her for the world!

    Way to Go!!! Glad you found someone who is informed and has up to date information. You gave your daughter a voice when she didn’t have one! Keep it up!

  44. I’d like to point out that no matter which chart is being used, the charts are average weights of normal babies. So if your baby is on the chart, he’s normal. Even if he’s at the 5th percentile. It seems like every parent is shooting for the 90th percentile, like it’s a grade, and we want to get an “A,” lol. But someone has to be at 5%, 10% etc. As long as your baby is on the chart, and following a curve (not dropping), it’s not fair to label him Failure To Thrive.

    • Truth Bomb right there. If your kid is “on” the chart, you should be ok. Love this, thanks Nicole!!

      • Yes! This exactly! 10% of happy, healthy, perfectly NORMAL babies are at the 10th percentile — that’s how percentiles work.

        I have a PERFECT petite 5th to 10th percentile-er (on the right chart) and I went through a tremendous amount of needless grief about her weight, leading me to do some things I regret about her diet — giving her juice, for example.

  45. Hi! I’m always interested in reading breastfeeding experiences…because I had difficulty and feeding is such a tough decision. Just wondering if your daughter ever stopped peeing/pooping…and if you counted daipers as a way of monitoring what she was eating? I know my son lost weight…he cried all the time and tried to nurse constantly…but the real decision came when he stopped peeing/pooping. I did have one LC tell me still not to supplement and not to take him to a ped…who would force supplementing. I did BF every feeding (used meds/herbs/pump to up supply) but my son would still drink formula too. Just wondering if any of these issues were part of your experience?

  46. That´s *exactly* what happened for me and my babies… until I quit worrying. They all were breastfed, and I became a LLL and later an IBCLC. When the who growth standards came out, it was so nice to my to know what I already knew. That my kids were growing perfectly, and that all the worries, were not justified. BTDT. I became an expert in the WHO software, and wrote a special post about what you expose here, in spanish: http://cozybebe.blogspot.com/2011/12/crecimiento-normal-del-bebe-amamantado.html

  47. I exclusively breastfed all of mine(even tandem nursing and extended) but I had NO clue there was a different chart!

  48. Milkstained says:

    We went through that as well with a 34w preemie twin. She was 3.5lbs at birth – totally a peanut – but growing consistently on breastmilk once she was out of the NICU & totally at the breast. She was under 5% for ages and ages. FTT was never discussed with me. When she started walking, her growth curve dipped – I assumed it was because she was ON THE GO. We were referred to a pediatric GI specialist at the Children’s Hospital.

    Bloodwork, urinalysis. The GI doc said he didn’t think he’d see us again. I continued seeing that ped, who gave us an Rx for duocal, which is a nasty powder you’re supposed to add to food, drinks, everything – extra calories for bulk. We were also recommended to fry up everything for her in butter, feed her ice cream at every meal, and not ever say no to treats like oreos, cookies, etc.

    Are you still with me? Is your mind blown yet?

    They’re almost 9 now, the twins. I got their medical records from that ped. office last year. Not only did it have FTT written ALL OVER IT – every single visit – but the GI specialist’s letter to the pediatrician talked about possibly eventually needing a feeding tube. You can imagine how awful it felt to read all this for the first time, years later. (I can only assume they saw she was healthy but wanted to cover their butts just in case?)

    As it turns out…wrong chart! Not only that, but the dip in her growth curve was because the doctor CHARTED IT IMPROPERLY! When I went and did it on the correct chart, it didn’t move her into a huge percentile, but it brought her up over 5%.

    What I learned from all that is never to be afraid to ask questions, never be afraid to ask for more detail, and always ask for a copy of their charts if you think something doesn’t seem right.

  49. Wow. So sorry you had to go through all that! My son was nearly 9 lbs when he was born but dropped quite a bit within the first few days. He was in the 5th percentile. The pediatrician was concerned and recommended that we supplement which I refused. We had to go in for weekly weight checks and even had to consult with a more experienced ped. THANKFULLY, that Dr thought everything was fine.

    The main issue was constant vomiting due to food intolerances. I had to cut out dairy, wheat, citrus, nuts and tomatoes because he would either vomit or develop rashes or behavorial changes. I had to figure all of this out through trial and error because no one thought his symptoms could be anything other than normal infant behavior. “babies cry, babies spit up, babies get diaper rash” (we cloth diaper)

    My baby is now a healthy and happy 20 month old. At our last well baby check up our ped told me I was right about my son just being little (like my side of family). I couldn’t believe it! While it was gratifying, it would have been nice to have the WHO chart and not have to go through the stress of all the extra visits or second guessing my ability to feed and care for my son.

    Thank you for you post and the links!

  50. I was floored at my last Pedi appt for the 15/16 month checkup. it’s a teaching hospital and our regular pediatrician had a sudden family emergency and had to leave the office for about 1/2 hour. In the meantime, the intern/resident came to see us and the had to get a random doctor to come in for the second half as the supervising doctor since our pedi was out. I was shocked to find myself suddenly being interrogated nutrient by nutrient as to how my son was getting adequate nutrition ( we are vegan) when my son has always been quite healthy, “bright-eyes and bushy-tailed”, never gets sick, is developmentally on track and his bloodwork showed no anemia or any issues whatsoever. Then the resident goes on to tell me that they want me to make a special appt in two months because they are very concerned with the fact that he’s dropped percentiles in his weight gain.

    The very important context to that is that my son used to be in the 95th percentile while we were exclusively BF’ing cause apparently I only make heavy cream :). At 5 months my son looked like the Michelin man and wa in the 99th percentile for weight-for-length. Had my son continued to carry that much weight it would have been very unhealthy for him! So yes, now he is in the 25th percentile for weight as a toddler but he is also in the 30th percentile for height, still has a high weight-for length, and still has no visible wrists and fat creases in his forearms. The idea that he was somehow “underweight” was completely laughable and made no sense once you took his length into consideration as well as the known medical fact that growth in the first 6 months is highly dependent on nutrition but growth after that point is largely controlled by genetics.

    I emailed our regular pediatrician afterward and she apologized and agreed that Adam is just now settling into a growth pattern related to his genetics and since length and weight has shifted in tandem, there was nothing to worry about. I was a small child for my age until puberty (now above average height) and it seems likely that my son will do the same though he was a big infant. It’s like doctors today have no common sense.

  51. Jennifer Iddon says:

    I have twin boys and am a British expat living in France where they quite simply do *not* support breastfeeding. I had an argument in the hospital with the paedeatrician because I insisted on exclusively breastfeeding my twins. They took 3 weeks of assistance with a few days of tube feeding (born 1 month early but on schedule for twins), but then grew along the perfect breastfed centile! At 4 months the doctors and mother in law told me to introduce solids. I refused (many arguments there too!) but with the support of the WHO charts and my own intuition, I continued until they were 7 months old. They’re healthier than some other children who constantly have colds and infections, they’re growing beautifully and and are the happiest babies I know. So WELL DONE you for getting it right :)

  52. just came across your blog. you really hit a spot with me. in a good way.
    thank you.

  53. I came across your blog and felt compelled to share my story. My son was born 2.5 weeks early at 8 lbs 11 oz. He easily latched and was nursing quite regularly in those first few days. He lost 1 lb while we were still in the hospital. The pediatrician, even a lactation consultant, pushed formula. I stood my ground and begged the to come up with a solution that wasn’t formula. No one could. It was my partner that finally suggested that I pump and then use the S&S system to feed my son with my expressed milk. So for the next 36 hours I was feeding or pumping and not sleeping. My son didn’t even want to eat that much. He was producing more than enough wet diapers and he wasn’t jaundice. Still, the pediatrician fought us. It turned really ugly. And that’s when I found out that my nurse overnight never wrote down any of my sons wet diapers so they thought he was dehydrated. The pediatrician wouldn’t even come see us after the mistake was realized. We were discharged and sent on our way.

    My son never failed to thrive. In fact, at his six month check up he was over 18lbs and that was from exclusive breastfeeding. Despite all of that, I was pressured to feed him formula, pressured to introduce solids at 4 months (we’re doing a baby led weaning approach) and my son isn’t even small! It’s just amazing to me how I can do something that is completely natural and healthy for my son and continue to be criticized for that decision.

  54. Hi, congrats first of all!! I though you might be interested to know “Artificially fed infants consume 30,000 more calories than breastfed infants by 8 months of age” (equivalent to 120 Mars bars – 4 a week). Student Study Guide for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation KG Auerbach, J Riordan – 1993. So it is no wonder that our babies tend to be smaller.
    Good luck! Thanks for you posts.

  55. GREAT article! You should be proud of yourself for knowing what was best for your baby and sticking to your guns!

  56. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. You’ve armed me with the power of information for my second baby (I’m 15 weeks pregnant). I breastfed my son (now 3 1/2) for two years. He latched on like a champ at the hospital, but my milk took 5 days to come in (c-section) and the nurses said he had to pee in 24 hours or they would have to do invasive tests. Of course now that I think about it….I’m sure I could have challenged that. We gave him a little formula to get his plumbing going and it worked…until the next 24 hours rolled around and he hadn’t pee’d again. So we did that one more time before we took him home. Fortunately that never interfered with his nursing. He’s always been a slender baby and child. My pediatrician was aware that breast fed babies tend to be smaller, but still recommended we start solid foods at 4 months. I think we started 2 weeks later. I was cracking up at the lady above that said she only makes heavy cream. I do believe your body makes what your baby needs, but also think genetics can drive a lot of it. I’ve always been slender and so has my husband. Be were both skinny kids as well. I also have my neighbor’s example – she has three kids (all breastfed) and two were chunky babies and one was a slender baby. So you just never know! I breast fed my son for over two years and I’m planning to do the same with my second. I plan to keep an open mind concerning any issues we encounter, but this gives me much more to discuss with the doctors, nurses and pediatricians!

  57. I have exclusively breasetfed two babies (and still bf them both at 2.5yrs. and 10 months), and have NEVER heard of this chart!!!! And that’s with 2 different peds.
    I am so annoyed/amazed/perplexed by this!
    Thanks for the heads up!

  58. I could echo everything you experienced here with Bella. Our little one was always under the 5th percentile and we went through more testing that one can fathom. She is two now, super healthy and spunky but just little. Thanks for this great article and chart.

  59. WOW – what a struggle for you guys!! so sorry you had to go through all of that! Goose has always been around the 10th percentile, but thankfully our general practitioner has ALWAYS been a huge bfing advocate and has never once commented about Goose being too small, she’s always said “she eating well, she’s active, she looks healthy, she looks great, keep doing what you’re doing!” I can’t imagine how hard it would be to hear everything you did along the way! I’m glad that they’re using the WHO chart now, and hopefully you won’t have any more problems like that!! *hugs*

  60. Thank you for sharing! I am sorry that you went through all of that.

  61. My son was also breastfed. At first, he had difficulty latching on, so he was on formula a bit at first, but as soon as my milk came in, I weaned him off formula and breastfed him exclusively for about 3 months. Then my mother and grandmother – both of whom breastfed their kids – began pressurizing me to give him formula “because you’re not producing enough.” (My mother has never fed any of her kids formula, so I was surprised to see her encouraging me to use formula) At the doctor’s appointment, my son continually was measured in the 10th percentile for height and weight. Eventually, with my mom and grandma pressurizing me, I caved and gave him a bit of formula, but I still primarily breastfed him. He was given formula only once a day, the rest of the time he was breastfed. He hated formula and would cry when he drank it, but he never complained when I nursed him, and he loved to drink the breast milk. Finally, I stopped using formula altogether and just continued to breastfeed him. He thrived, and while he continued to be in the 10th percentile, his doctor acknowledged that the chart is based on formula fed infants, and knowing that he is breast fed, she said he was otherwise healthy and she wasn’t too worried about him. I have never seen the WHO chart for breastfed babies, but I didn’t feel a need to since his doctor acknowledged that breastfed infants tend to weigh less than formula-fed infants, and that the chart is based on formula-fed infants.

  62. I had the opposite experience. My daughter was born 10 lbs, 3 oz so she had a good head start on the growth charts. She’s EBF and is just over 18 lbs at 4 months, she’s a big girl, and it’s all from mama :) She looks like a FF baby! I’m so proud to see how she’s grown and that I’ve helped her do it. I’ve never heard of the WHO chart either, but I was expecting her growth to slow down because I read many things stating that EBF babies were on the smaller side, or that they would keep up with FF babies in their growth patterns until about 4 months and then they would lean out, turning into what they call “banana babies”. I don’t know if my little girl will turn into a banana baby, but we’re happy with the plump little plum we have. I’m glad to hear it all worked out for you, and you stuck to your guns, that takes a lot. I know I’ve felt the pressure of others pushing formula on me, but I just tell them “Look at her, she clearly is doing just fine” and that’s that.

  63. Danielle Adken says:

    Thank you for this. Have a very similar story that 5 years later still brings me to tears. GG started to vomit at day 10 and then didn’t put on any weight (or very insignificantly) for months. We went through he tests. We spent that whole first year in and out of Children’s. They almost collapsed her veins twice. She had nightmares for 2 years.

    “could it be some sort of dairy allergy?” I asked when she was 10 days old, and again and again we were told no. They finally convinced me to stop breast feeding and we tried every hypo allergenic formula under the sun.

    Long story short, GG is off the chart allergic to dairy protein. All I had to do was cut it from my diet and the whole year, the heartache, expense, stress….all for nothing. Milk protein passes through breastmilk – something my “top” paediatricians never addressed. And soy has a 98% protein compatibility. All things I learned on my own during and after the fact.

    Finally I took matters into my own hands, and GGs albumin levels went up and she gained 4 lbs in a week. I missed nursing my sweet girl, but I still feel like I took control and figured out what she needed.

    Moms – trust your instincts nd research, research, research!

  64. I’m over here from Cecily’s page.

    I can’t apparently leave comments on the recent sad post. I want to send you a virtual hug. Our society takes for granted the conception/gestation/birth process, until things go wrong, and we realize how delicate everyone is. Then, we go back to pretending these things don’t actually exist. I’m glad you at least have Cecily and others go go to who have similar pains. I suspect, from reading Cecily’s blog for nearly 6 years, that these pains are quite common and yet untold.

    Don’t be afraid to tell your blog readers when you are experiencing this pain- now, or over the next 80 years. Because, being able to talk about will help others see that it’s ok and normal to always keep your sons alive in your heart.

    I think I would rather be a fetus that didn’t survive but was loved so deeply than a human baby who was not greeted into the world with love. You have given your sons love, and this makes them valuable people. Wrap yourself in the love of others who are here to give you support.

    Love,
    Donna

  65. About the breastfeeding. Geeze Louise!!! I cannot believe we still struggle with this in our culture!!!

    I have a 4yo a 6yo and now a 2mo. In HUP with him, I was more keenly aware of the pressures to bottlefeed, after having two kids nursed to toddlerhood. (Exculsively, but until they began grabbing food from me, not by my pressuring them with pureed whatever-the-heck-it-is.)

    I would like to note that my “baby” sister was born with developmental issues, and my mom ended up exculsively, and I mean EXCULSIVELY breastfeeding her until 20 months of age. (My mom stopped cold turkey, having no support group to help her figure out how to do it gradually, as my sister would not take food.) This was not my mom’s choice, but my sister’s. My mom didn’t realize my sister was having trouble with swallowing. Anyhow, the point I’m making is that a child can stay on just breastmilk nearly forever, and I really believe that the more developmental issues there are, the MORE important it is that the kid has the right food.

    I am so mad that there are still pediatricians who don’t see the difference between bottle/breast. When will we grow up???

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  2. […] ignored that. It wasn’t right for us. Turned out we were right later on when she wasn’t underweight for a breastfed child. We didn’t start her on solids till 5 1/2 months after being told to at 4. And the only […]