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REAL MOMS, REAL STORIES: Breastfeeding on a Schedule- Story # 1

Name: Beth Banco
Baby’s Name: Harrison
Baby’s Age: 12 months (on January 25th)

If you are at all on the fence about feeding on demand vs. feeding on a schedule, take a look at this story from Beth! She admits to some of her initial thoughts, and how some of those thoughts changed once she was breastfeeding. She keeps it real, shares her opinion, but is also very supportive and open minded. This is one mama you might want to talk to and pick her brain!

Why is breastfeeding important to you?
     I was a breastfed baby and I grew up just knowing that breast was best. I always planned on breastfeeding my baby just because I was familiar with it and I knew it was good for them. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant and started researching that I truly understood the full reasoning behind why breastmilk is such an incredible gift to your baby. I know there is a lot of Mommy Wars out there about breast milk vs. Formula and a lot of people trying to be politically correct and not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings about their choices of how to feed baby. But bottom line is that research shows that breast milk is far superior nutritionally and that breastfed babies have much lower instances of ear infections, allergies, and the list goes on. The fact that breast milk is a living substance that is slap full of antibodies and wonderful things to protect baby against sickness is amazing. And because I am a working mom who pumps, I am able to see how my milk changes consistency with the time of day and even over a period of months. The fat content changes, the color changes, and it is so cool to see. Our bodies have truly been created to provide nutrition for our babies and I just feel so blessed to be able to give my baby that gift. Obviously there are reasons that some women are not able to breastfeed and some women who simply choose not to, and so formula is the next best option. There is nothing wrong with formula, but I was very much committed to making breastfeeding work. I truly think successful breastfeeding is 10% milk supply and 90% determination. It is really hard at first but perseverance pays off. It is such a great bonding experience and it saves so much money! Breastfeeding has been one of my favorite parts of being a mommy for sure.

– Why using schedules is important for you and baby
    I am a very Type A person and tend to be very organized. I like making to do lists, I like a schedule, etc. I am a teacher and that comes with the territory. I guess because I am around more people like myself I just figured that everybody put their babies on a schedule. My mom also was a stay at home mom and we always just had a routine, a set bedtime, and we’re just more scheduled people. I know that routine and consistency are important for children just as a teacher. But I did not realize how much a schedule could be a gift to a baby and a parent until I started implementing Babywise. I had heard about Baby wise from other moms before I even found out I was pregnant, so I ordered the book early on thinking that I would just read it and try it out if I felt like it. I ended up not reading it until about 2 weeks after I had my son. I decided that I would just see how things went and just go with the flow at first. I obviously spent the first couple of weeks just getting the hang of being a mommy and getting breast feeding down pat. But about 2 weeks I realized that I did not like the whatever whenever mentality. Breastfeeding on demand was exhausting and I definitely was craving some kind of routine and consistency to our day. So I started reading the book and finished within a couple of days. I started implementing the eat wake sleep cycle and slowly worked my way through getting him on a nap schedule and feeding every three hours. It was so much better and so freeing. I knew what to expect and so did my baby. My son started sleeping long stretches pretty early on. I would get seven to nine hours out of him by 8 weeks. I know that is considered sleeping through the night, but that still meant he was waking once around 3 a.m. I kept on being super consistent and he got to 11 to 12 hours a night around 5 months. He was not doing exactly what the book said at exactly the right time, but it was pretty close. I could not imagine having gone the past year without a schedule. They eat wake sleep cycle allowed me to not have to nurse him to get him to sleep. He is able to put himself to sleep. Our nap  routine involves laying him down in his crib and walking out the door. It is so freeing. I don’t spend hours rocking and shushing and patting. He also has a set bedtime of 7 o’clock. That does mean we are homebound early, but that also gives me and my husband protected time together each night. I feel like our marriage has not been under nearly the amount of stress that many couples talk about because we have gotten quality time together since pretty early on. I mean those first couple of months are hard, but if you put in the time and the effort early on to get on a schedule, it pays off and you reap the benefits of your work. We have truly enjoyed this past year with our baby. We are not exhausted and making it from day to day. A schedule truly is key.

– How you were successful breastfeeding and using schedules together?

   Before I had a baby I did not know much about all the different styles of parenting, but because I was breastfeeding I joined a couple of breastfeeding support groups on Facebook. One of the groups was the La leche league group. While they were very helpful and while I got a lot of good information from the group about breastfeeding, I realized early on that the majority of the women in the group or more of the attachment parenting type.  I did not even know what attachment parenting was, but basically these moms are strictly breastfeeding on demand, baby wearing, co-sleeping, anti-schedule, etc. type moms. Now I would consider myself a “crunchy” mom for sure. I baby wear, I make my own baby food, I eat organic, I use essential oils, make my own lotions/soaps, etc. But one thing I do not do is cosleep…..and I am all about a schedule. I made the huge mistake of mentioning Babywise in a post I made in that group and got absolutely blasted. The complete ignorance of some of the moms in that group about Babywise was astounding. There are literally people that accuse you of starving your baby and say that your milk supply will dry up and that your baby will be failure to thrive if you put them on a schedule. It is complete hogwash. I continue to see posts from the moms now that my son is almost a year old, and I see moms post things all the time about their 18 month old or 2 year olds still nursing three and four times a night!! Many of these moms cosleep also. I just honestly don’t know how they do it. I would absolutely die. I am a working mom and I have to have my sleep. Every now and again I will see posts from some of these moms asking for help with their babies sleeping, & I just have to laugh. How in the world can they expect their babies to sleep through the night if they have not expected that from day one?  I have had great success breastfeeding on a schedule. I have a really good supply, over 600 ounces in the deep freezer, & I have donated over 800 ounces to other babies. I pump several times a day at work and before bed too. I honestly think that breast feeding on a schedule has helped and not hindered my supply. Honestly, some of the moms I know who breastfeed on demand would go longer between feeds then I was on a schedule!! But focusing on getting in full feeds those first few weeks is such a key part, because it keeps Baby from snacking. If baby nurses for 3 or 4 minutes and then is allowed to nurse again for 3 or 4 minutes and half an hour to an hour, then they are going to continue that pattern. But if you teach them how to get in a full feed, then they go longer in between feeds and you have a little more freedom. Feeding on a schedule also allows you to be more in tune with what your baby needs. Just because a baby is crying does not mean they are hungry.  Lots of moms think whenever the baby cries they need  to feed.  But that really doesn’t help you get in tune with what your baby actually is crying about.  Having a schedule allows me to gauge what the issue was better.  If I had just fed 20 minutes ago and he was crying, chances are it was not because of hunger.
     We started a 3 hour schedule around two weeks. Every now and again I said slightly early, because obviously feeding the baby is the most important thing regardless of what the clock says, unlike what many Babywise critics say. But in summary, I have had nothing but success with breastfeeding on a schedule. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

– Did you start on a schedule or make a switch to using one?
    I fed on demand for the first two weeks which I was perfectly fine with, because I wanted to make sure my supply was good and give as much stimulation as possible. But very soon after I started a baby wise schedule, so it was pretty much from day one.

– Did your supply benefit due to implementing a schedule?
     I definitely think so. I have a great milk supply and have always made enough for my son and more. Like I said previously I have over 600 ounces in the deep freezer and have donated over 800 ounces, in addition to nursing and pumping enough for him for the next day at daycare.

– Benefits you see of using schedules
       A schedule gives you some routine and consistency to your day. Babies and children need routine and consistency, and so do adults. We are creatures of habit. When we know what to expect, it helps us feel more secure and our environment. Children truly thrive off of routine. As a teacher, I see this every day. When I do something out of order or we change of our schedule, the kids notice and immediately wonder why things are different. They like knowing what comes next. They like knowing what to expect. It gives them security. Breastfeeding is hard enough as it is. It is very demanding especially at first. Nursing on demand for an entire year would be absolutely exhausting. Being able to have a schedule allows you to make plans and be away from Baby if you need to. You can schedule your outings around Baby’s schedule. You can also make plans around Baby’s naps. Being consistent with a schedule from the start also helps everything fall into place for baby sleeping through the night early on. Not all babies may be sleeping through the night exactly at six or eight weeks, but I guarantee you your baby on a schedule will be sleeping through the night much sooner than the non-scheduled baby. I see it all the time with friends of mine. I try not to come across as judgmental when I give advice…. But when friends ask how I got my son to sleep so well and take such great naps, I tell them about Babywise. But honestly, they can’t get the same results starting Babywise at 6 or 8 months that they could have if they had started from day one. The advice “begin as you mean to go” is absolutely the best advice I can give new parents.

– Was your baby able to sleep through the night while breastfeeding and on a schedule?
      My son was sleeping long stretches very early on. He was sleeping seven to nine hours stretches from about 8 weeks on. Around four months he started sleeping 10 or 11 hours and then the four month sleep regression hit us hard at 4.5 months. He started waking up once a night again and it started getting old! I had gone back to work and was so tired. We kind of waited it out for a while because there are a lot of developmental changes going on around four months, hence the sleep regression. But at 6 months we decided to do the Ferber method of sleep training. It was very successful and I would highly recommend it. It took about 5 nights and my son was sleeping 11 to 12 hours pretty much every night after that. Obviously we had a couple nights of teething or if he was sick that he might have woken up once. But otherwise he has slept beautifully ever since.

– Your experience in general
      I will definitely do Babywise with our next baby. We have been so pleased with how our first year with a baby has gone. Obviously a baby changes everything, but I do not feel like I have been overly stressed or exhausted like so many new parents are. I truly feel like I have enjoyed my baby and his first year, & I truly attribute that to Babywise.

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