Breastfeeding on demand - I broke up with my spreadsheet
Breastfeeding Tip – relax! You’ve got this, Momma. You may giggle, but honestly, for my firstborn I had a full-on excel spreadsheet detailing all of his naps, his feeding and wake times. I was desperate for him to fit into a schedule – because the books I was reading told me he should. I was so disappointed that his routine was nowhere near what all the books told me a “normal” baby of a few weeks old would look like. Rather than enjoy a twenty-minute nap, I was stressed that they weren’t 45 minutes – constantly watching the clock instead of relishing in much needed downtime, however short.
Don’t get me wrong, keeping track of wet and soiled diapers and a nursing schedule in the early days is very useful for your lactation consultant and medical practitioner. Resources are wonderful and reading to prepare for the biggest change of your life is a good thing – if it strengthens you and inspires your journey as a new Mom. But I had taken it to the next level – because I thought I had to. Rather than calm me down, my confidence was obliterated. Gratefully, my second baby required a lot of time to adjust to life outside the womb – I needed to carry her ALL the time and nursed her around the clock. And you know what? It was easier.
Breastfeeding on demand supports optimal milk supply and may reduce stress.
No planning. No schedules. No spreadsheet. Despite her being what the textbooks would term a “more difficult” baby, I enjoyed it more because I wasn’t so stressed out. My milk supply soared. So for our third child, I offered her my breast as soon as I started to see signs that she wanted to nurse. At first, this may feel awkward but as you get to know your baby's behaviour, but in time your confidence will soar. Babies want to nurse when they're thirsty, hungry, or need comforting. The signs include searching with their mouths or sucking on their fists. Watching for signs when your baby is fully awake and calm will also help since this is the best time to nurse. Remember that the benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond physical nourishment. Many health practitioners will tell you that non-nutritive suckling promotes optimal cranial formation. Don’t be afraid to offer the breast to a baby that needs to be calmed down.
Trust yourself. No textbook knows your baby like you.