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Advantages of Breastfeeding on a Schedule

When I was pregnant with Caroline, I read SO many posts and articles about how to be successful at breastfeeding. According to everything I read, it was key to feed on demand. I was really drawn to using schedules with her, but it just didn’t appear that it could be done while keeping my supply up (from what I’d read).

Up to the point of delivery, I was convinced that I’d have to feed on demand, and was thus planning on doing so. I’d saved all sorts of baby schedules, but was resigned to the idea that it just wasn’t going to work.

Luckily, since Caroline was born at 37 weeks, the doctors put us on a feeding schedule immediately. I am so glad the doctors pointed us in the right direction for our family. We started using schedules immediately, and never turned back!

Caroline is now 3 years old. I was able to breastfeed for a full year, all while using schedules. I couldn’t be happier with how that first year turned out.

Knowing that many breastfeeding moms think schedules are not an option (as I once did), I am on a mission to spread the word that breastfeeding on a schedule is not only possible, it works insanely well!

Here are the reasons I’d recommend breastfeeding on a schedule, versus  breastfeeding on demand:

– Allowed nipples healing time
Breastfeeding hurts. While it’s “natural”, it is far from easy. Caroline didn’t come out a breastfeeding pro. My nipples weren’t ready to be sucked on and even bitten. It was hard. My nipples were raw. So raw that if I so much as put a shirt on the first couple of weeks, my nipples would stick to the shirt and I’d have to peel the shirt off of them in agony. Yeah- far from pleasant. But… because of having a schedule, my nipples had some healing time. Caroline wasn’t feeding every minute of the day. The schedule gave my nipples time to air out and get ready for the next go around (even if it was 2 hours later).

– Wasn’t used as a pacifier
Drinking milk, and sucking on a nipple is comforting to babies. Unfortunately, for us moms, this means we can often be used as a pacifier instead of just for feeding. Using schedules, taught Caroline to only use my boobs for eating- not for random soothing. This allowed us to know when she was truly hungry, versus just needing some comfort.

– Encouraged full feeds
When your breast milk is not available every minute of the day, it forces everyone to figure out one basic idea- getting in a full feed. Mama learns quickly how to teach this concept to her baby, and the baby figures it out as well. There is no snacking throughout the day. Instead, there are set times to eat, and both mom and baby learn to make these feedings worthwhile.

– Encouraged better sleep
Full feeds, means your baby is happy and content with a fully belly. This means, they will sleep better and won’t be waking out of hunger. Schedules help promote good sleep habits in SO many ways, and this is just one of the many reasons sleep will improve when babies are on a good, solid schedule.

– Regulated supply
Our bodies are insanely smart. If your baby is eating every minute of the day, this can cause your body to overproduce. It literally thinks it needs more milk because baby is eating so much. If you have a set schedule that your baby uses throughout the day, your body learns that schedule and makes the amount of milk needed for that schedule. Even with dropping feeds, my body regulated itself and adjusted its supply perfectly.

I breastfed WITHOUT pumping for an entire year! I only pumped in the first few months to have a little freezer stash (I’d do so right after a feeding to keep the schedule). Caroline was sleeping through the night at 4 months, and she was down to only 1 feed per day at 11 months. My body maintained its supply throughout all of those changes. Why? Because the changes happened gradually, and we were consistent (due to the schedules).

I cannot say enough good things about using schedules while breastfeeding. Without the use of schedules, I honestly don’t think I would have kept up with breastfeeding. It’s hard to give up your body for someone else to just use as they please. Breastfeeding is just that. I appreciated having control, consistency, and knowing when I could leave the house. I rarely had to feed outside of my home, since we had such a great schedule to work around. It was such a great perk!

If you are drawn to schedules, but also want to breastfeed… know that it is possible, and even helpful!


This week, all of the bloggers in the Babywise Friendly Blog Network, will be sharing their ideas on the topic of breastfeeding. Here’s the full line up. I’ll be linking to each of these throughout the week:

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