Thursday, April 1, 2010

Scheduling Breastfeeding

 Here's a post I made on a website that welcomed comments from dissenting viewpoints.  Her main problem was that she is a woman who needs to have control in her life (like most American ambitious/career-oriented women) and so scheduled feedings for every 3 hours.  Some babies do ok being fed every three hours, but I have read so many anecdotes from women whose breastfeeding relationship was sabotaged by trying to schedule feedings.  After all, when you think about it, we eat when we are hungry, why can't baby?  I don't know about you, but I hate the painful feeling in the tummy when its empty, I can't imagine what a newborn baby feels about it.
What are they doing that is so important anyway?  Women keep saying that all their time is spent with the baby (hello?) and they can't get anything done.  So housework is more important than baby?  Grocery shopping more important? Television more important?  I finally got my kitchen back the way I like it at around 20 weeks of age, and I finally tackled several piles of laundry around the same time.  Baby and I went on our first grocery store trip together when he was 18 weeks old.  I always sent my husband or went when baby was sleeping before that.  Believe it or not, I am a bit of a control freak in that I want to know what is ahead, and plan for it accordingly.  I guess reading about newborns prepared my expectations in that I expected to be "tied down" to the baby for the first few months.  And I wouldn't change it for the world.  Women need to expect to give most of their attention to the baby - their life as they once knew it is over, and a new life (and in most ways, a better life) has begun. Oh, don't get me wrong, when he is available, baby often goes to daddy for a little mommy alone time, but I have always breastfed my baby when he is hungry.

Another thought about scheduling breastfeeding - one mom told me, that yes she heard that some moms have trouble with babywise methods, but her babies did fine with them.  Its like literacy in schools.  Some kids will learn how to read no matter what curriculum you use, even if its dumb, while other children will greatly struggle with said curriculum.  Some children will learn how to read by only spending a few minutes a day on reading skills (ie. the usual elementary school setting) while other children need intensive one-on-one attention for hours a week in order to master the most basic of skills.  Are these children wrong to need this?  Are we "spoiling" them by spending time teaching them to read?  The other children get along fine with just basic classroom instruction, why can't they?  Is it all just a waste, should we let them just slip through the cracks, never knowing how to read?  Sure, just let them feed/read for a few minutes every 3 hours, they'll survive - but will they thrive?  Is that not how illiteracy multiplies - by assuming all children can learn alike, is that not how breastfeeding is sabotaged - by assuming all children can feed alike?  But what if every child had intensive one-on-one attention - the complacent ones, the ones that do just fine on a few minutes of learning every day, would they not then greatly exceed their potential?  If every baby was fed on demand, would those babies not only go beyond thriving, beyond their potential, and make us marvel at what they can truly accomplish?

From my post:

Hi. Yes, from what I have discovered most moms that schedule baby feedings (every 3 hours) often have trouble with their milk supply. A lot of babies won't even put up with this because breastmilk digests completely in about an hour and a half so they are starving and they let you know it within 2 hours of the last feed. So if you must schedule, plan on every 2 hours in the beginning, but it is usually best to "feed on demand" for the first 8 weeks. I think this is nature's way of telling moms to slow down, rest a lot, and take care of their babies. Hysterectomies, cysts, and other uterus problems are on the rise because moms don't rest enough after giving birth - we also have one of the highest maternal death rates in the industrialized world - all because we don't rest enough after birth. As one midwife put it, if the big gaping wound that is our uterus could be seen on the outside, people would gasp and insist on bed rest for weeks. Because it can't be seen, moms are expected to do too much, and breastfeeding on demand really helps moms get the rest she requires, and the baby the milk he needs. Anyway, I digress, I've read countless stories like yours of how feeding a baby every 3 hours diminishes milk supply and then mom needs to supplement. However, all moms that I know that feed on demand have no supply issues (and if they do for a day, fenugreek often takes care of it) and often can breastfeed exclusively with no solid foods for 6 months to 12 months, depending on the baby's dietary needs (some families with food allergy histories need to exclusively breastfeed for a year or more with no solids or formula supplementation, this is with doctor approval and many cultures around the world naturally do this anyway).
I also know moms who breastfeed triplets exclusively - yes, this does mean she is tied down to those babies for a few months - but what is a few months of being with baby vs a lifetime of other experiences? Having a newborn and a baby is worth taking 6 months or so to devote exclusively to that baby - anybody who is TTC for 2 years or more would tell you that they would give anything and give up any experience to be able to be with a baby "on demand" for a few months of their life. I was TTC for 3 years and in the process befriended a lot of other TTC women so I know what I am talking about.  What's a movie/theater going experience or a business presentation worth in comparison to having a baby?  Not much in my mind.

I find that a lot of people's experiences depend on what type of culture they are surrounded with - those who have people who encourage moms to breastfeed, stay home and enjoy their baby and all their friends do this as well have a lot easier time breastfeeding than the moms who are surrounded by those with expectations that because she has a degree she is expected to have a career and that formula feeding is ok.

Also, a breastfed baby from the beginning does not gain the same weight as a formula fed baby - the range for breast fed babies is 4 oz to 10 oz a week (from 1 to 4 months)- either one is ok as long as they are peeing and pooping. Then from five months on it is about a pound a month. Which could mean he might gain 2 oz one week, and 8 oz another and that is ok. Most moms rely on for basic information on breastfeeding.
If you want more information on attachment parenting, babywise, or the CIO method, is a great site for research.

Also, shows you books to avoid that would sabotage your breastfeeding relationship (including baby whisperer and babywise). And . Obviously following a 3 hour schedule sabotaged your own breastfeeding relationship by supplementing (I feel for you on that one!) but hopefully you can get back on track -

Babywearing is also great for nursing on the go, once you get the hang of it and the baby has good head control, you can nurse while babywearing.

Here is a great article for moms going back to work -
The comments after the article are great too.

Here are two great sites that lists great books on breastfeeding (most of which I have read)

This book is new and really fantastic on helping moms increase their supply. I have lactation consultant friends who rave about it and give it to all their clients that are having milk supply issues.
The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk by Diane West.

oh, and I love discovering science like this - it is truly miraculous the relationship between mother and child:

Ground breaking lactation research demonstrates that there is an intricate method of communication in the saliva of a baby that triggers mother's milk production via receptors on the areola. This communication signals all of baby's needs to mother by way of hormones and enzymes (and likely things we have not even begun to understand). How much milk your baby needs, the fat/calorie composition he requires today, what specific antibodies he needs a boost of, the immunological properties he requires most right now -- it is all transferred to you and your body's amazing milk making wisdom via your baby's suckling at your breast.

Your baby's nutrition, brain, and immune system needs change on a day by day, hour by hour basis. Therefore, it is always best to breastfeed anytime, any day, anywhere that baby expresses the desire. Nurse on demand. This is baby's only way to regulate her needs -- and she can do so quite perfectly if simply given the opportunity.

Babies nurse for 3 reasons -- hunger, thirst, and comfort. Suckling differs between these three needs and infants are skilled at nursing in just the right way to meet their particular moment's need. You may have noticed the deep, hard sucking that occurs when baby is very hungry. Or the shallow, light sucking when baby just needs a drink. Especially if you are not using an artificial nipple substitute for comfort (plastic pacifier) at home, you have likely watched in wonder at the light, butterfly flicker of your baby's tongue, or the gentle fishy-lips as baby nurses gently for comfort and security. Each style of nursing serves an important purpose for your baby.

from Dr.Momma's website:

oh, by the way, those that like the methodologies of ezzo, hogg, and ferber, often have great success with the following book, and unlike those three authors, this book has the stamp of approval of most breastfeeding sites as one that will not sabotage the breastfeeding relationship.  No Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help your Baby Sleep through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley.
My own personal experiences:

Only now, at five months, do we have one period of time during the day where he can go for 3 hours without feeding (I marvel at the moms who schedule all their baby's feedings every 3 hours - that would not have worked for my son.).  He is now usually 1.5 to 2 hours between feedings, and he sleeps 8 or 9 hours at night.
He was a Cluster Feeder (go to for definition of cluster feeding) from the very beginning, and for the longest time could only go 45 minutes to an hour inbetween feedings during the day. He still has at least 2 x 40 minute long sleep nursing sessions during the day.  But he has always gotten good sleep at night.

My baby met all the sleep milestones according to weight - most people don't realize that it is not age that matters but weight. So as a newborn at 8 pounds, he slept 3 hours, at 10 pounds at 2 months he slept 5 hours, at 12 pounds at 4 months he slept 7 hours, and at 5 months at 14 pounds he slept 8 to 9 hours - all exclusively breastfeeding. And you could tell the 48 hours when he hit a growth spurt, it would be about 4 hours at night.  Some moms that have 10 pound babies at birth get great sleep from the very beginning - 6 to 8 hours every night, other moms that have 5 or 6 pound babies at birth only get 3 hour stretches for months and months until their baby finally gets to be 10-12 pounds (which might not be until 5-7 months).

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