As a new mom, you may dream of having a baby on a fixed feeding schedule, bringing some semblance of order to your otherwise unpredictable day. But for most breastfeeding moms, that dream will need to be put on hold. Breastfeeding on demand, at least in the early weeks, is the best way to establish a full milk supply and develop good feeding habits for your child.
As soon as you have delivered your placenta, your progesterone level falls, triggering your body to start making mature breast milk. This process of establishing a mature milk supply takes about two weeks. The more milk your little one drinks from the breast in the first few weeks, the more milk-making capacity your body will establish. After the first two weeks, it becomes more difficult to increase your milk supply. If your baby is not breastfeeding well in the first days and weeks, you may need to pump to ensure a full supply. Breastfeeding your baby whenever he shows interest will help to bring your supply up to his demand.
Type-A moms, don’t despair! Once your baby is back to birth weight, (usually at about two weeks of age) you may be able to help him establish a more routine feeding schedule without concern about decreasing your milk supply. Remember, babies can’t tell time, and they haven’t read the breastfeeding books, watched the DVDs, or researched it on the internet. They only know what they need to survive and thrive, and they will do their best to let you know when they need to eat. Learning to read your baby’s cues is more important than watching the clock.
And while your schedule may be a little looser in the beginning, your laundry pile will likely be smaller. Breastfed babies tend not to spit up as much as moms with formula-fed infants, since they generally stop feeding when they are full.
Breastfeeding on demand is important as your little one learns the feelings of being hungry and then satisfied. They also satisfy their instinct to suck. Babies can do this perfectly while breastfeeding since they can control the flow of milk from the breast by sucking more but taking less milk. A great lesson for all of us is to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full. When you place your infant on a rigid schedule, you are controlling the amount of food that your baby is taking rather than letting him decide how much is enough. With breastfeeding on demand, your child learns to do that right from the start. Your little one is very smart. Give him credit for knowing when and how much to breastfeed. This process usually makes for a happier mom and baby.
How long did it take you to adjust to breastfeeding on demand? Share your thoughts with other moms.