What I learned about Breastfeeding from my Dairy Goats

From the Farmer’s Wife

It takes hard work to produce milk. I know, because I’ve breastfed four babies. I know what it feels like to be in pain because I didn’t nurse on time. I know what it feels like to get mastitis, and blocked ducts. I know what it feels like to be pinched and bitten… I also know the hunger pains that moms go through when they are breastfeeding because it seems like you just can’t eat enough!

Over the years I have had many lactation consultants. I’ve been in breastfeeding support groups, worked with doctors, read dozens of articles from KellyMom, Le Leche league and even WebMD, taken supplements to increase supply, and used a breast pump hundreds of times.

But nothing compares to what I’ve been able to learn from my dairy goats.

The livestock and human milk connection

Believe it or not, goats are very similar to humans when it comes to health and specifically milk production. Just to name a few…

  • goats get mastitis
  • goats have to be milked at the same hour every day
  • the more often you milk, and the more completely you empty the udder, the more the doe will produce for you
  • goats have a “let down”
  • the health benefits of goat milk is pretty incredible, and they produce antibodies, too

And here is the most important one: the more nutrient-dense, protein-packed food you feed them… the higher quality, fattier, nutrient-dense milk they will produce.

What You Eat Matters

Over the years, I’ve been told by every lactation consultant, every doctor and every blogger that babies eat in ounces. Funny… because you are supposed to measure a goat’s milk product in weight, not volume.

Why? Because the fattier the milk, the more valuable it is. One breed of doe might produce less than another breed, but if their milk is richer, creamier and weighs more… then its a sign of quality nutrition. What you feed them also plays a huge role in their pregnancies and kid (baby goat) survivability.

The lesson here is about our own diets. What we eat makes a huge impact not only on our own milk production, but the quality of it. We already know that if we eat spicy foods… baby lets us know. It really puts a whole new spin on “you are what you eat.”

The more nutrient-dense foods you eat, the more nutrient-dense milk you will be giving your baby.

Of course, as a breastfeeding mom we are always very conscious of what we put in our bodies. There was even a time when I stopped using most deodorant brands because of the aluminum in them. Apparently, what goes on your armpits goes into your milk… who knew.

For many of us – at some point – our milk production comes to a halt. And we are faced with a decision… what are we going to feed our babies? Traditional formula is always an option. For me, I wanted to give my babies the best chance not only at physical health but also brain development. So when that time came I chose fresh goats milk as the best option as a replacement for my breastmilk (in addition to a few supplements recommended by my pediatrician).

For my babies, goats milk early in life gave them strength and nutrition. There is a lot of research out there indicating that cows milk may be unhealthy. A lot of parents actually seek out goats milk because it is the only thing their babies can tolerate, apart from breastmilk. Still, there are concerns over giving infants raw goats milk because it is so different from breastmilk.

Goats Milk Formula Recipe

Personally, I don’t always agree with the pediatrician – but I listen because they know a whole lot more than I do about a whole lot of things. My pediatrician recommended adding Vitamin D as well as a Folic Acid supplement to the goats milk.

Benefits of Goats Milk

A few of the benefits of goats milk are…

  • easier to digest
  • high calcium and fatty acids
  • low in cholesterol
  • absorbs nutrients and minerals better than cows milk

Plus, its delicious!

Learn about how you can obtain a goat herd share

The Farmer's Wife