Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Many new moms are worried they have low milk supply and struggle with breastfeeding. If you do have low milk supply, you might be wondering how you can increase your milk supply and what is causing your low milk supply.
There is one breastfeeding mistake you might be making that could sabotage your milk supply. What could this mistake be? Newborn Feeding Schedules. Hold on second! I know that can be shocking, but keep reading to understand the effect of newborn feeding schedules.
In a world of busy schedules, structured routine, and too-long-to-do lists, and unrealistic expectations from work, school, the world, and family demands, the truth is babies, in their primal, biological form, really just don’t fit in our world.
In an effort to “make it work” we have a tendency to implement routines and schedules to fit in ALL the things. In many ways this can bring peace and structure to an otherwise chaotic home. But when it comes to your baby, establishing a strict newborn feeding schedule can totally sabotage your breastfeeding goals.
Yep. You heard that right. And I know that’s a hard pill to swallow, Mama Bear. But if you know me, you know I don’t sugar coat, and I’m all about managing expectations. Stick around and let’s talk more about newborn feeding schedules so that you can be ready to understand your baby’s needs and to remind you that YOUR BABY IS NORMAL!!!
Understanding our babies:
Humans are “Carry Mammals”
There are all different types of mammals and they’re all born at different maturity levels. Horses, for example, are born with the ability to walk the same day they’re born. While they do depend on their mother’s milk and close proximity, they do not need to be in constant contact. Gorillas, on the other hand, we observe will hold their babies pretty much 24/7, nursing their babies “on demand”.
Which of these two mammals are our human babies more closely related to?? That’s right… Gorillas. So it’s not shocking that our babies want to be on us and nursing like… all the time.
So why is it that our baby’s need to have unfettered access to the breast and that newborn feeding schedules can destroy your breastfeeding goals? Supply and demand.
The more milk removed from your breast, the more milk your body is signaled to make. When milk “sits” in the breast too long and the breasts get full, they signal your body to slow or stop milk production.
I call this the “bottomless mimosa” analogy: When you’re out to brunch and you order bottomless mimosas, the more you drink, the more the server pours. The less you drink, the less the server pours. Likewise, the more your baby drinks, the more your breasts make. The less your baby drinks, the less your breasts make.
Breastfeeding on a strict schedule does not allow the supply-demand feedback loop to work as it is designed to, so when your baby’s milk needs change (for example during a growth spurt) your milk supply will not reflect that.
What could this mean for breastfeeding?
The risks of breastfeeding your newborn on a schedule is that you could set yourself up for low milk supply and/or your baby could struggle with gaining weight.
When a baby is struggling to gain weight, one of the first questions I ask is how often they’re nursing and if they are being fed on demand. More often than not, adjusting to an on-demand feeding approach will resolve the weight gain concerns.
The solution? Breastfeeding on demand. Breastfeeding on demand allows the body to exactly what it was designed to do: make milk to meet your baby’s needs. And yes, this can sometimes feel like your baby is nursing constantly. And, no, it doesn’t always seem sustainable,but there are tools for finding success! If you are having trouble navigating breastfeeding, Jaimie offers one-to-one virtual lactation consults! To schedule yours, email email@example.com or visit LittleBear.intakeq.com/booking
Still pregnant and ready to prepare for reaching your breastfeeding goals? Join me for Breastfeeding With Confidence, an on-demand breastfeeding class for pregnant MamaBears and their partners!
Jaimie Zaki is a Birth Doula and Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) offering online, on-demand childbirth preparation classes, breastfeeding classes, and one-to-one virtual birth planning, prenatal breastfeeding planning, and postpartum breastfeeding support.
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