Should You Breastfeed on Demand or Schedule the Feedings? This is What You Need to Know
While many moms believe that the optimum way of breastfeeding is as per the whims and fancies of your baby, there may be reasons for opposing views too. Some pose a point of discipline, stating that if you breastfeed your baby at regular intervals, you will form proper eating habits. Truth is, the right time to breastfeed is subjective. Let’s look at some facts that will help you decide the best schedule for your baby and you.
When or How Often to Breastfeed Your Newborn
If your new born weighs below the ideal baby weight bracket, then it is very important that you breastfeed your baby at regular intervals and often. The most common time schedule advised by doctors and lactation experts is once every two hours.
During the first few weeks after the baby’s birth and also during growth spurt period, your baby may engage in what experts call ‘Cluster Feeding’. This basically means that the baby feeds as often as every 45 minutes to an hour, for a period of several hours. This is actually your baby’s effort to ‘tank up’ for the night. This actually helps the mother stimulate her lactation, and it will help the baby gain weight as well as sleep longer during the night.
Human Milk Quality Improves With Frequent Feedings
Research has proven that the more frequently a woman breastfeeds the higher the content of fat in her milk. The scientific reason behind this is that the highest fat milk comes from soft, empty breasts. When a baby receives feeding from a full breast, the milk she receives is relatively low in fat. High fat milk is extremely healthy for the baby and also helps the baby gain weight.
It is also very important for babies to switch breasts before they have had their fill. However, please note that premature switching can rob the baby of the higher fat milk which is very important for his physical growth and development.
Option for Babies With Normal Birth Weight
Some researchers are of the view that human breastfeeding seems to be designed for on-demand feeding. When babies decide the timing and duration of their feeds, they are more likely to get what their body needs. The production of milk in the mother’s breast increases or decreases in response to the baby’s demand. Breast milk quality may improve too. So if your baby’s birth weight is normal at the time of delivery, you can also choose to breast feed on demand rather than sticking to scheduled feeding.
A very important part of knowing whether your baby is getting enough breast milk is by keeping a track of her daily wet diapers. Do discuss with your paediatrician what works for you if you are still unsure. Our guess is that you have it down just right!