Welcome to Real Mom’s, Real Stories! Next weeks topic is all about how you can successfully breastfeed on a schedule. We have 5 great stories lined up for next week, so be sure to check back. Read all of the stories by clicking here (once they’ve posted). I hope you enjoy and please share this information with other mamas!
When I was pregnant, I read the research. I read about “feeding on demand”, and I read about feeding using schedules. I loved the idea of feeding on a schedule, but wasn’t sure that it would fit with breastfeeding. Little did I know, it is a perfect combination! Our bodies are so amazing and thrive with predictability! As I mentioned in my post, “8 Benefits of Keeping Baby on a Schedule”, breastfeeding on a schedule can actually help your body regulate its milk supply. Your body actually learns the schedule and knows when to produce milk. You won’t find yourself engorged nearly as much, and you are much less likely to be used as a pacifier for your baby. Your baby will learn to eat when she is hungry, and you will both know what to expect throughout the day. This makes planning and getting out of the house much easier!
Breastfeeding on a schedule worked wonders for us. Caroline was induced right at 37 weeks, so the doctors wanted us to feed every 2 hours (to make sure she gained enough weight). So, right off the bat, we were on a schedule. We fed every two hours- even through the night. We woke her when necessary.
Once Caroline had gained enough weight (by her 2 week appointment), we got the go ahead to let her sleep as long as she wanted during the night. We chose to keep using a schedule throughout the day, however, and I am so glad that we did.
We watched Caroline’s cues, and built a schedule around her needs. We watched for tired cues, hunger cues, etc. Keep in mind that, during the first few weeks, the schedule was just a goal. Caroline was just figuring out her world, and we were just figuring out, well – everything. You don’t automatically know what your baby’s cries mean, so it is a guessing game. I quickly learned, however, that the schedule eliminated the guessing game. If I was successful in giving her full feedings, and enough feedings throughout the day, hunger was rarely the cause of her cries.
By month 3, we had a great schedule established. If we ever veered off of schedule, Caroline made sure to get back on it! She loved her schedule, and so did I! We always built in some flexibility, and when we would start to notice that the schedule wasn’t working quite as well, we made adjustments. You can find all of our monthly schedules here. Each month was often slightly different based on Caroline’s needs. Scheduling isn’t as simple as just setting the schedule and sticking to it. You have to learn to be an observer, to be proactive, and to anticipate your baby’s needs. That’s easier to me than trying to play detective, however, once your baby is upset!
Breastfeeding started off difficult for me in the first few weeks. My nipples were raw, and I was in pain. I also wasn’t producing as much as the hospital wanted me to in the first few days. These issues are going to arise no matter when or how often you are feeding, however. And, little did I know, you don’t actually start producing milk until around day 5. The hospital had me thinking I was supposed to be producing enough milk to pump off as of day 1. That simply isn’t the case. As a result, my journey started off with a rocky start. Once Caroline and I got her latch down correctly, however, we were unstoppable!
In the first few weeks, I pumped after every feeding. I did this to stimulate my supply and to build up a freezer stash. Once I had a decent supply, I backed off of the pumping and only pumped first thing in the morning, and in the middle of the night. If I didn’t pump, my letdown was too strong and would cause Caroline’s reflux to act up.
Once she was sleeping through the night consistently, I stopped waking up in the middle of the night to pump, and then stopped pumping all together. We were in a great rhythm, and my body adjusted to the new demands. After just a few days of not pumping in the middle of the night, the engorgement subsided, and I was back to “normal”. At 4 months, Caroline slept 12 hour nights, and I went 12 hours without pumping or feeding her. My body handled the change perfectly. Even when Caroline was down to 1 feeding per day, my body kept its supply without any issues. I never pumped to keep my supply going, and we breastfed for 1 full year.
Using Babywise techniques does NOT mean that you don’t get to breastfeed. Just like it does not mean that you must do sleep training. Babywise is an amazing tool that you can utilize, and it can be used in conjunction with breastfeeding. You might just find that breastfeeding is easier using Babywise schedules! I certainly did!
Read all of our Real Mom’s Real Stories series here! We’ve had some great stories submitted on sleeping through the night and birth stories!