Breastfeeding: Worried About Schedules

by Zombiemommy

You've been wondering if there's something wrong with you. The book you've been reading says to put your baby on a schedule. "He needs routine. A little crying doesn't hurt a baby." But your heart breaks to hear you little one crying and your milk lets down and you yearn to hold him and nurse him. Is there something wrong with you?

No! There is nothing wrong with you. You were made to respond to the needs of your baby and his only way of telling you there's a problem is to cry. Since certain books have been published, various groups have spoken out against rigid schedules for babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also issued statements that putting newborn/young infants on a schedule is/can be detrimental to not only establishment of milk supply, but to their growth and development as well. There was also a bunch of cases of babies with failure to thrive, dehydration, etc and the mothers were following a strict schedule.

If you're interested in Attachment Parenting and co-sleeping with your baby, schlep yourself to Barnes and Noble, or order from Amazon.com, The Breastfeeding Book and The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears. If every grain of your mothering instinct is telling you that scheduling advice is not for you, if your heart is breaking when you are away from your baby - then maybe Dr. Sears will be more your style.

Breastfeeding is not easy in the early weeks. Our society makes it less easy by people who've never breastfed a baby telling you what to do. You can't turn to your family for advice in most instances -- you can't ask your Aunt or Grandma, because they didn't breastfeed. Back in their day, they were supposed to give the baby a bottle, put baby down, and not bother with respond for another 3 hours. If the baby cried, let her cry. Thank God things have changed for motherhood and we can now follow our hearts and do what we feel is best.

Regarding the whole schedule thing, the pacifier/comfort thing, my best advice to you in these early months is:
•Follow your heart. If you feel content and your baby is happy and you feel secure, things are fine. If you feel that something is amiss, look further. Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? Are you getting too much advice from others? Are you trying to do too much? Are you ignoring your heart? It is so much easier to give in to your mother love. It sounds hokey, but it is so true!

•For the next few weeks, pretend you live in Africa (or India or the Amazon or somewhere of that ilk). You have no clock. Bottles don't exist. Nobody has ever heard of a schedule. It is commonplace to carry your baby constantly and nurse whenever the baby squawks. Babies don't lie in cribs crying; they are at their mother's breasts.

•You have your extended family of grannies and aunties and sisters (we'll fill in here on Pregnancy.org ) around to give you advice if you need it. Sit in your hut with your shirt off and do nothing but love that baby.

These first weeks are the most trying time, but in my opinion they are the most magical. This is your honeymoon with the baby. He'll never be so little again. Don't worry if it's been only 30 minutes since the baby last ate and he wants to nurse. Nurse him again and stare at his eyelashes and kiss his hand. Don't worry about "is he hungry, or is he nursing for comfort?" How do you know what he wants? His belly might be bothering him. He may be afraid. He may need a little loving. He might just want to be held. The only comfort that he has in the world is you and your breast. As he matures neurologically he will find other things to interest him. But right now, you're it, mamma!

You can try a pacifier if he will take one, but it really isn't necessary. Why shouldn't you be his pacifier in these early weeks? Aren't you supposed to be? (If Mother Nature had intended that there be an artificial way to comfort your baby like a plastic pacifier, there would no doubt be a pacifier tree growing somewhere!) Pacifiers are breast substitutes. They are wonderful for bottle-fed babies who have no other way to comfort themselves, who don't have the luxury of being able to comfort at the breast.

Sucking is a primal need. Babies need to suck. And guess what -- you have the equipment. If you want to try a pacifier for those times that maybe you get a little sore or you need to go pee or something, there's nothing wrong with it. Just realize in these very early weeks, any sucking is helping to build and establish your milk supply.

Back to my advice -- if he is sleeping and it's been 4 hours, let him sleep. He'll wake up and eat again soon. Cover the clock. Does it really matter what time it is? Eat when you are hungry too. You need 500 more calories a day then before to make milk so have that extra sandwich and snack! Go to the library and get a few good books, and a boppy pillow. If you get things arranged right, you can read a book when he is nursing for those 40 minutes. Maybe you will get like me and not want him to wake up so you can keep reading. Your husband can wait on you.

"Honey, he's sleeping on the boob, I can't get up. Can you get me another cookie, honey? And maybe could you do another basket of laundry? I hate to wake him"

**wink** Ah, think of the relaxation! If you want to hold him, hold him! Believe me he won't want to sit still on you for very much longer. If you want a break, give him to your husband or your mom or the neighbor. Or put him in his bassinet for a little bit if that is what you want to do. If you sleep better with him in bed, do it. Don't listen to unsolicited advice, and don't heed any advice that goes against your instinct. You will never say, "Oh I wish I didn't follow my heart", "I wish I didn't hold him," or "I wish I did more laundry."

Take him outside everyday, either holding him, or in a carrier/sling/baby carrier/frontpack/stroller -- however you both are happiest, and get some fresh air and sunshine. It will do great things for your mood and it will help him adjust to night and day.

The time of my nursing relationship with my son is quickly coming to an end. He doesn't want to nurse in the daytime anymore unless he gets hurt and even then rarely. He still nurses at night a bit and I know that will be going away soon as well. I am not weaning him; I am letting him wean himself.

My son was one of those every 45-minute-nursers in the early days, and the best thing I ever did was throw away the advice books.

My husband said, "We are stressing over nothing -- what do they do in India? They have no clocks, they don't write every poop he makes on a piece of paper. Just let him be. Let him eat when he is hungry and sleep when he is tired and he will figure out what to do. There are a billion people in the world. If it was so hard mankind would never have made it".

That was probably the most stunning revelation my husband has ever made. My son has never had a bottle, a pacifier or formula. I never let him cry it out. He has slept with me in some way from the beginning (currently he is in his room on the floor on a mattress and comes to my bed at 2-3 a.m.). I have never stressed over things like sleep and schedules and all the nonsense my friends and neighbors are obsessed with.

We live in the present. I enjoy every minute of him, and motherhood has been wonderful thus far. We sleep when tired. We eat when hungry. We go out when we feel like it. I took it further to find confidence and joy in my body -- to trust that God and Mother Nature have created my body solely to create, birth and feed/sustain/nurture my child. My son is smart, healthy and strong, and he grew from one cell in my body and then was fed nothing but my milk for 6 months. He grew and thrived and look he's almost two! I am very sensitive lately that my baby is now on the threshold of little boy ness. Can you tell?

Anyway, I never thought my son would make it an hour without nursing. Now when daddy is home, he pushes me to the door and gives me my keys, saying "Bye mommy. Go?" and sends me off with a kiss.

Every cell in your body knows what it needs to do to sustain your baby. You just need to find yourself and learn to trust yourself. Trust yourself, follow your heart, and find peace. Nursing is the most precious gift you can give your baby.

Zombiemommy is the mom of a two-year-old son and has another baby on the way. Before being a mom, she was an ICU/trauma nurse.

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