Breastfeeding on demand is becoming the norm again. For a while, the modern thought became feeding, whether breast or bottle, should be done on a schedule.
Parents set the schedule, the baby follows it. Boom!
But breastfeeding on a schedule may not be the best for you and your baby. Obviously it's your choice. There are benefits to both. And ultimately you need to choose the one that works best for you and your family.
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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What is Breastfeeding on Demand?
Breastfeeding your baby on demand is more of a baby-led type of feeding schedule. You watch your little one for hunger clues
Your little one's hunger initiates the feedings. There are several feeding cues that most babies demonstrate. Everything from rooting, to sucking, to full-on screaming. Which by the way, the point is to read the feeding cues to avoid the screaming.
With Breastfeeding on demand, you watch your baby and not your schedule or clock. I suggest you take an easy online breastfeeding course to fully learn feeding cues and more.
How Often Do Newborns Breastfeed?
If you take a class or if you talk to a labor nurse/lactation nurse/postpartum nurse then you have heard this: Feed your breastfed baby every 2-3 hours and don't go longer than 4 hours.
Most babies should eat 8-10 times per day. But keep in mind that is most babies. Your baby will signal you. Some days your baby might eat more and some days less.
Some of my babies were snackers and some were feasters, it all depends on the baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding on Demand
- Less stressful
- Adjusted according to baby's needs and hunger
- Babies tend to gain weight faster
- Regulates and increases milk supply much more effectively
- No scheduling and adjusts to your routine better
- Studies have shown it results in improved cognitive benefits
- self-adjusts to growths spurts
How to Know if Your Baby is Getting Enough Breastmilk?
Your little one should be more satisfied and content if she/he is well fed. The baby should wet 4-6 diapers a day (fluctuates with age) and have regular bowel movements. The baby will be alert when awake and should be gaining weight.
Bowel movements are ever-changing. When you first bring the baby home from the hospital, he may have 2-4 bowel movements per day. After a month the baby may have only one dirty diaper per day and sometimes every other day.
However, again your baby's pattern may be slightly different. If you are concerned, speak to your pediatrician and a lactation consultant.
Signs Your baby is Not Getting Enough
- Slow or no weight gain
- Cries often (This can also be a sign of a Milk Protein Allergy called MSPI)
- Doesn't seem satisfied
- Has too few wet diapers or is not having regular stools.
Expect to feed more during Growth Spurts
- one to two weeks old
- Around two months
- four months
- six months
You need to be prepared to breastfeed on demand more often during growth spurts. So don't be surprised when this happens.
- You are not bound to one decision. For instance, you may begin breastfeeding on demand and then choose to switch to a scheduled breastfeeding plan. Or you may start out on a schedule and decide that on-demand works better.
- You are the mother and you know your baby best. So if guidelines say eat 8-10 times and your baby is doing well on a little less or a little more. Go with your gut.
- Usually by six months of age, most baby's fall into eating, sleeping, and pooping schedule all on their own.
OK, I know this is my mantra and it will continue until my last breath. Education is key to almost everything in life. I highly recommend you take a class and learn everything there is about breastfeeding and become uber comfortable with that knowledge. The first time you feed your baby in the hospital can be radically different if you are educated.
If you are in a crunch for the time then take an online breastfeeding class from the comfort of your home.
After the baby comes, you have access to the instructor or you can reach out to your local La Leche league or Lactation consultant.