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Breastfeeding
Benefits
Breastfeeding
Is Going Well If ...
Sleepy Baby

Latching

Scheduling Feedings
Pumping
NO Bottles
or Pacifiers
Breast Care
Breast
Compression
Lactation
Support

What About Scheduling the Baby's Feedings?

It’s best not to try to get the baby on a schedule.

While you are establishing your milk supply the secret to good milk production is frequent and unscheduled feedings (8-12 times per 24 hours), usually about every 2 hours. Try not to go more than one 4-5 hour stretch in a 24 hour period. Babies may nurse for 10 -60 minutes in the beginning weeks.  This is normal.

Babies can spend most of their time on the breast in the first days after birth and this stimulates the milk to come in and sets the volume at a high level. 

If the baby is sleepy and not feeding frequently, try to awaken the baby by undressing to a diaper and put them skin to skin.  Give them a massage or open up the diaper.  Do switch nursing from side one to side two frequently to keep a sleepy baby awake.

After several weeks when they have learned on the breast and are gaining well they will usually begin to go a little longer between feedings.  By 4-6 weeks they are much faster with their feedings and it won’t take as long at each feeding session.

In the first few weeks discover the baby’s own schedule, and pattern your life around that.  Focus on meeting the baby’s needs; try to figure out how he tells you he is hungry, curious, interested, bored, uncomfortable, or over-stimulated.  Let the baby call the shots.

It is much easier for the household to adjust to the baby at first than to make the baby adjust to the household.  
Make it your goal to meet the baby’s needs, as expressed by the baby- you’ll be happier if you do.

A suggestion that helps to get some babies to go longer at night (no guarantee) is to feed very often during wakening hours usually about every two hours or cluster feed.  If you have fed close to 7-8 times before bedtime they have more calories and will sometimes go longer at night.

Why Scheduling Doesn’t Work

It is best to watch the baby and feed according to their cues.

Studies have shown that world wide women produce on the average about 25-35 oz in a 24 hour period..  Women with smaller breasts produce the same amount in a 24 hour period as those with larger breasts but they don’t have the storage capacity and will need to feed more often.

Milk volume can be more or less at different times of the day and some women produce less in the evenings when they are tired than they do in the mornings after sleeping.

The milk supply is driven by frequent emptying of the breasts and if you go longer than about 3 hours the prolactin levels begin to decline and over time so will the milk supply. It’s better to nurse every 1 ½ - 2 hours than  to go every 4 hours.  It may seem that you have more milk if you wait 4 hours but less milk will be produced in the next few days if you don’t empty frequently.

Breast milk is easily digested in about 2 hours and another feeding should take place.  If you try to schedule a baby every four hours they may stay hungry and not gain well.  They can be very irritable and not happy if they have to wait for feedings.