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Thread: stretching time between feedings?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    16

    Default stretching time between feedings?

    hi! i am exclusively breastfeeding my 6 week old baby boy. he was born on the smaller side, at 5 lbs 11 oz, but has gained well and was 9 lbs 15 oz at 5.5 weeks.

    his "schedule" for feeding during the day is very variable -- sometimes he'll be hungry after 30 minutes, and sometimes he'll sleep for 2 hours between feedings. at night he consistently wakes every 2 hours to eat.

    his pediatrician has recommended that i try to stretch time between daytime feedings to 2.5-3 hours to "make sure he's really hungry" and have him take in more milk at each feeding. he said this will help the baby to sleep longer stretches at night.

    i'd obviously love if the baby could sleep longer at night, but i'm unsure of this advice. should i ignore hunger cues (rooting, etc) and try to distract him or help him fall asleep? does this have the potential to hurt my supply? are there other ways to help the baby take in more at each feeding so that they'll naturally space out without my watching the clock?

    thank you!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: stretching time between feedings?

    You are not going to find anyone on this forum that would advocate scheduling or stretching out feedings. As he gets older he might start to develop more of his own schedule but he is still very young, so I would just feed him when he acts hungry.
    My little man was born 12/17/2010.

    Baby girl was born 4/30/2014.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    middle of IA
    Posts
    1,882

    Default Re: stretching time between feedings?

    your pediatrician sounds like he doesn't knowm uch about breastfeeding. stretching out feedings like this can absolutely hurt your supply, and there's no guarantees at all that it'll result in longer stretches at night. in fact, my guess is it will result in MORE nursing at night to make up for the missed feedings during the day. which some moms are ok with - "reverse cycling" is something especially working moms sometimes like, especially if they're cosleeping so that all the extra night nursing isn't very disruptive.

    my suggestion - just don't watch the clock. not now, not really ever except to nurse MORE often. feedings naturally space out when the baby is physiologically ready for it, often gradually throughout the first year and a bit more once they're taking in reasonable amounts of solids (sometime between 6-12 months for most). you might also try switch nursing - puttin baby on both sides, or even 3-4 sides, and doing manual compressions while baby nurses, to try to increase the amount baby takes. but your 6 week old's feeding patterns are COMPLETELY NORMAL (even though your pedi seems to be implying they're not).

    eta: unlike with formula, breastfed babies don't really increase the amount of milk they take in, from about this age till 6 months (when it gradually declines due to replacement with solid food, though nursing should always be primary food till 12 months). perhaps your pedi doesn't remember/know this.
    hang in there!
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: stretching time between feedings?

    Due to my experience with my DS I wouldn't try to encourage him to eat more at each feeding. With mine, if I tried to get him to eat more by switching breast he would end up spitting most of it back up anyway. Then I would still have a hungry baby in an hour PLUS a load of laundry to do . He is a little baby with a little belly and can only eat so much at a time. As he grows things will get easier.
    My little man was born 12/17/2010.

    Baby girl was born 4/30/2014.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    16

    Default Re: stretching time between feedings?

    Thanks for your feedback. I suspected it wasn't sound advice but wanted to get some other opinions!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    24,043

    Default Re: stretching time between feedings?

    Sounds like your pediatrician missed the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on breastfeeding, which says (in part):

    "6. During the early weeks of breastfeeding, mothers should be encouraged to have 8 to 12 feedings at the breast every 24 hours, offering the breast whenever the infant shows early signs of hunger such as increased alertness, physical activity, mouthing, or rooting.170
    • Crying is a late indicator of hunger.171 Appropriate initiation of breastfeeding is facilitated by continuous rooming-in throughout the day and night.172 The mother should offer both breasts at each feeding for as long a period as the infant remains at the breast.173 At each feed the first breast offered should be alternated so that both breasts receive equal stimulation and draining. In the early weeks after birth, nondemanding infants should be aroused to feed if 4 hours have elapsed since the beginning of the last feeding.
    • After breastfeeding is well established, the frequency of feeding may decline to approximately 8 times per 24 hours, but the infant may increase the frequency again with growth spurts or when an increase in milk volume is desired."

    I think it's really important to focus on the "may" in that last sentence, because while SOME babies will decrease their nursing frequency to just 8 sessions per 24 hour period, many will nurse far more often than that.

    ignore the pediatrician.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    9,067

    Default Re: stretching time between feedings?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*betsytacy View Post
    Thanks for your feedback. I suspected it wasn't sound advice but wanted to get some other opinions!
    So glad you trusted your instinct. Sadly many moms lose milk production and many babies don't get enough milk due to this type of suggestion. Never mind the fact it would obviously lead to an unhappy baby! I have talked to many moms who so wanted to nurse their babies and were undermined by this type of advice. It's frustrating!

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