Posted by: Admin | June 7, 2011

My thoughts on the frequency and length of breastfeeding


We assume babies will breastfeed on a schedule similar to the eating schedule of adults: three times a day with snacks in the morning, afternoon and before bedtime. This adds up to 6 meals per day, with no eating during the night as we need our sleep. But babies are not like adults. Babies have different needs. First of all, they do not have the neurological maturity to sleep all night, and their stomachs cannot handle all the food they need by breastfeeding only during the day. As a result, it is important to breastfeed a baby at night until he does not wake up on his own. Also, babies cannot follow a set schedule. For multiple reasons, they cannot take the same amount of milk at each breastfeeding, so they might need to breastfeed more frequently at certain times and less at others. This variability in their schedule is completely normal, and we must respect it. Here is a short summary of what breastfeeding mothers need to remember…

FREQUENCY of breastfeeding sessions:

  • Babies breastfeed from 8 to 12 times per 24 hours.
  • Never breastfeed a baby on a specific and strict schedule.
  • It is possible for a baby to want to breastfeed again a few minutes after having finished breastfeeding.
  • It is normal for a baby to cluster feed – that is, breastfeed constantly over a period of time – and then to sleep a longer period of 4 to 6 hours.

LENGTH of a breastfeeding session:

  • Babies should be allowed to breastfeed as long as they needs; do not limit sessions to a specific number of minutes.
  • Babies are all different and will order the amount of milk they need to meet their hunger.

EXAMPLE of a typical breastfeeding session:

  • Baby breastfeeds for 12 minutes on left side and stops by himself.
  • Mother takes baby off the breast and burps him .
  • Baby breastfeeds on right breast for 7 minutes and starts to fuss.
  • Mother takes him off, changes his diaper and offers the right breast again.
  • Baby breastfeeds for 3 minutes and sleeps.

Many babies wake up again as soon as they are put down in a crib. Remember that it is possible your baby fell asleep before he was full and might need to breastfeed again. It is also possible that he prefers the warm and sof embrace of his mother’s arms. That is when the baby wrap comes in handy! Read my post on baby carrying if you want to know more about the benefits of baby wraps (and of baby carrying in general!).

🙂

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