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Thread: How to go longer between feedings? Should I?

  1. #1

    Default How to go longer between feedings? Should I?

    Hi all! I have a question about breastfeeding and sleeping… My little one is 4 weeks and we are exclusively breastfeeding her. She is doing amazing with a good latch and is way above her birth weight. She is nursing every 3 to 3 ½ hours during the day. Sometimes when she naps during the day she would keep sleeping if I did not wake to nurse her. At night, the longest stretch of time she has gone is 4 ½ hours (only one time). My question is when will I be able to space out her feedings longer than 3 hours during the day? Of course, I would ideally like her to have longer stretches of sleep at night. Any advice would be awesome!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,131

    Default Re: How to go longer between feedings? Should I?

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby and on getting to 4 weeks of EBF!

    I don't think you're going to like my answer to your question, which is that you should not space out your baby's daytime feedings until she's over a year old. If the baby chooses to go longer between feedings, that's a different matter. Spaced out feedings are a ticket to low supply, because milk supply is created by the baby's demand. Any time you restrict demand, you also restrict supply.

    Now, here's the part that you're really not going to like. Your baby has been giving you a ridiculously easy time so far, and it isn't likely to last. Going 3-3.5 hours between feedings is extremely rare for such a young baby: most babies who are under 6 weeks old are feeding 10-12 times a day or even more frequently, which sometimes means that a mom is feeding every hour or two, for up to an hour at a time! After 6 weeks, a baby may decrease her feeding frequency to about 8X per 24 hour period, but she is likely to increase her nursing frequency during growth spurts or any time an increase in milk supply is required.

    At this point, maybe you're going ... but you shouldn't. Nursing a newborn is a lot of work and it's not particularly rewarding, because all newborns do is eat, poop, and cry. But nursing is going to get easier and more pleasant with time- just wait until your LO smiles adoringly up at you with milk dripping off her chin!- so whatever is stressing you out about nursing right now is probably going to grow less stressful with time.

    Sleep is a tough one for a lot of moms, even way beyond the newborn period. Some level of night-waking and night nursing is very normal throughout the first year, and many babies continue to wake and nurse into their second or even third year. If you want a realistic look at infant sleep, I suggest taking a look at Elizabeth Pantley's book "The No-Cry Sleep Solution". One tip from that book which is really relevant to your question is that if you want more sleep from your baby at night, feeding her more often during the day may help.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    5,602

    Default Re: How to go longer between feedings? Should I?

    Congrats on new baby! What a precious time for you. Ok, so Mommal is right, typically a newborn has to nurse 10 or more times a 24 hour day, for at least the first 6 weeks. After that frequency may decrease, or it may take a bit longer, but usually it will decrease over time just naturally. But it is seldom linear-frequency may decrease for a few weeks and then ramp up again due to a growth spurt or something.

    As long as baby is gaining well and mom is not overly full or engorged, these frequent feedings do not have to be on any particular every such and such hours schedule. In fact, many moms find that following babies lead and cue feeding allows baby to cluster feed (feed very frequently part of the time) and then take longer sleep stretches-longer meaning, maybe up to 3 or 4 hours once or twice a day, maybe even 5 hours here and there. This then possibly allows mom more chance for uninterrupted sleep. Cue feeding (as long as baby is cueing frequently enough) is typically best for healthy breastfeeding. In fact, cue feeding is now more and more being suggested for bottle/formula fed babies as well. Babies have tiny tummies. So healthiest is if baby eats small amounts frequently no matter how they are fed.

    Is there a particular concern you are having about nursing frequency? Are feedings really long or tiring for you? Is nursing uncomfortable for you? Do you have other responsibilities you feel you cannot get to due to nursing? Is someone suggesting baby should be on a schedule? Any other issues? You will find lots of tips for handling these intense early days here.

    This is a nice article about what is normal in the early weeks with a newborn: http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing/
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; November 23rd, 2012 at 12:19 AM.

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