Do I Have to Schedule Breastfeeding Sessions?

My baby has no set breastfeeding schedule – am I doing something wrong?

Granted one of the biggest challenges to becoming a new Mama is the unknown. It’s downright terrifying! Many of us are determined or pressured to establish a predictable nursing schedule as soon as possible to regain some semblance of control in our lives. Totally understandable – but what do traditional practices and modern research have to say on this hotly debated subject?

The Many Reasons Babies Nurse

To explore this issue, It’s important to recognize the many reasons babies nurse at the breast. Experienced Moms are the first to admit that growth spurts, illness, teething and developmental milestones are often associated with temporary changes in feeding patterns. Comforting and meeting sucking needs at the breast are quite possibly one of nature’s all time best designs! Ask your local osteopath and they will be the first to tell you that non-nutritive suckling plays a critical role in oral-facial development. It’s actually beneficial to pacify your baby at the breast! So while it may seem that a lot of Moms around you are trying out a set nursing schedule, consider instead tossing the spreadsheet aside and nursing on demand.

Yes, it’s true that while some babies in your Mom group may meet their suckling needs during their feeding time, your child may need additional suckling – often soon after a feed. They may not be hungry for milk – but hungry for love and affection.

Babies are often hungry for love and affection

But what about nursing patterns?

Studies confirm what traditional cultures practiced – babies fed on cue naturally, over time, do settle into a unique pattern. They won’t nurse around the clock forever – even though some days it feels like it. Resist putting arbitrary limits on the frequency or duration of nursing sessions. Like all relationships, breastfeeding relationship with your baby is dynamic and ever-changing – there’s no need to be rigid. Toss the books to the side and read your baby instead.

If you are wondering how often at minimum your baby should be eating, check out our blog articlehow often should my newborn eatLa Leche League International also has a great article about Feeding On Cue.