There are a lot of standards with breastfeeding where the same information will help many, many moms. There are also a lot of differences between baby behavior and mom personalities. I have six kids. And I’ve had six different breast feeders. I’m also a different mom now than I was with my first. You might be, too. Whether you like structure or prefer to go with the flow, you can breastfeed for your personality.
The difference in my kids and how I learned to parent them differently
If there is a typical, my first is a typical oldest child. I nursed him on an every 3 hour schedule. At the time I was a NICU nurse where most everything runs on a schedule. The thought of nursing more often than that did not occur to me. He was happy, a good sleeper, and gained weight well. Later on, he gained quite a bit of weight. I worked three, twelve hour shifts each week and he drank BIG bottles of breastmilk in my absence. Whoops. Oh well. He was happy. Now, he likes structure, he follows directions and he doesn’t understand why anyone would do differently. 😉
When we went to the doctor for an early check up with my second she asked how often he was nursing. My husband quickly responded, “Whenever he wants.” He didn’t nurse on a schedule but he was a very happy, easy baby. I had no reason to change that how we were nursing. I never had to sleep train him. He slept with me, he slept in a crib, he slept in a stroller. As I write this, it occurs to me that the best word to describe him (as a baby) might be FLEXIBLE.
#3 wanted to nurse all the time and never wanted to sleep if not in my arms! #4 had a miserable four month sleep regression. I had to get very structured with his sleep in order for us all to function better. Maybe just so I could function better. 😉 Each baby continued to be different.
More details on my story here, but all of this is just leading up to me telling you that BREASTFEEDING IS NOT BLACK AND WHITE. Anyone who tells you it is, is doing you a disservice. You can breastfeed for your personality.
Breastfeeding does not need to be done one way. You can adapt to your and your baby’s personalities.
Why should you breastfeed to your personality?
Mom’s have so many different personalities. It’s important to know that you can (and should!) tailor breastfeeding to fit with your personality. If you try to change your type A, structured personality just to make breastfeeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping work you might just drive yourself crazy.
If you really love to go with the flow and your baby thrives with that, please don’t listen to the book that says you must have a schedule and you must pump at a certain time in a certain place. That is unnecessary stress and work. Sometimes books written by experts are great. Sometimes they need to go in the trash. (Or recycling.)
We’ll dig into different details but know that it’s okay to have a schedule and it’s okay not to. It’s okay that you’ve breastfed before and now you have a new baby throwing you for a loop. This won’t be the first time you have to change your parenting based on your child’s personality. Hopefully you can get a little chuckle when you notice that their four year old love language or six year old discipline strategies resemble their first year of life. Cheers to a wild ride!
If you prefer to let baby lead
After baby is born, you’ll track the number of times he nurses each day, their wet diapers, and their dirty diapers. If you’re getting close to two weeks and everything is looking great: baby is growing well and nursing is going well, then you can stop tracking those things. If you’ve been feeding baby whenever he shows feeding cues, you can keep doing that. It can take one thing off your plate to not know or keep track of what time it is. You’ll be able to look back on each day and estimate how many times he nursed. You’ll also notice that over the next couple weeks that how his clothes fit changes. They are big at first, then they fit perfect, then they’re a little snug. That tells you he’s growing. You can concentrate on other new mama things instead of the clock and respond to your baby as he tells you he’s ready to eat.
If you prefer a schedule
It is recommended to nurse your baby “on demand” the first few weeks. This means to nurse baby whenever he shows feeding cues as opposed to making him wait until it has been a certain amount of time. Newborns tend to latch better and transfer more milk if they get to eat when they choose. After the few few weeks, if you would like to put baby on a nurse schedule, you can. Some people always know what time it is and like to know what is coming, when. That’s fine. Your baby should still nurse at least 8 times a day until he’s bigger.
If your baby is ready to eat a little earlier than the schedule, you can distract him by walking him around before you feed him. If he’s still sleeping when you’re ready to nurse, you can place him skin to skin and express some milk to wake him up. He will likely adjust to the schedule pretty quickly.
Individual recommendations can help you learn how to breastfeed to your personality
Both of these suggestions assume breastfeeding is going well by 2-3 weeks. If that’s not the case, a more individualized plan will probably be very helpful. Contact your local lactation consultant to discuss where your breastfeeding is currently at and where you’d like it to be. If you don’t know of any, try searching lactation consultant and your city.
What is your personality like? Do you like structure or are you happier to take life as it comes? Comment below!
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