There are numerous benefits of breastmilk/breastfeeding, but let's also acknowledge that sometimes it comes with challenges as well. In private practice, I often find families trying to find a balance of what feels like endless feedings, especially as they prepare to return to work,
It is essential to find a balance between structure and flexibility
Structures make rigid plans that can increase postpartum anxiety and depression when things derail and don't go as planned. The structured approach aligns more with schedules. There are so many sleep training programs online today that don't always have the breastfeeding parents' best interest at heart. Flexibility allows some grace and cushion when things don't go as planned and aligns more with routines. For example, every night we will give our baby a bath, feed, and read a story. Routines can be essential to parenting and help children develop a sense of consistency. Below I am highlighting the pros and cons of both schedules and routines.
Pros of Schedules:
The goal of predictability for both the mother and the baby.
Helps in establishing a feeding routine.
Cons of Schedules:
Babies might not always adhere to a strict schedule
Potential stress for the mother if the baby doesn't follow the schedule.
Does not allow for responsive or cue-based feedings
Can signal downregulation of production.
Tips for Implementing Schedules:
Observe the baby's natural feeding patterns.
Be flexible and willing to adapt the schedule as needed.
Use tools like breastfeeding logs to track feeding times for the first month or so.
Pros of Routines:
Allows for flexibility in feeding times.
Encourages responsive feeding, responding to the baby's cues.
Reduces stress for both the mother and the baby.
Cons of Routines:
Lack of predictability can be challenging for some mothers.
Some babies may not establish a consistent feeding pattern, but this is normal with breastfed infants.
Tips for Implementing Routines:
Pay attention to the baby's hunger cues.
Create a general daily routine around feeding times.
Encourage self-regulation and responsive feeding.
Take naps when you can.
Finding the Balance:
Flexibility is Key:
Emphasize the importance of adapting as the baby grows.
Recognize that what works for one baby may not work for another.
Don't fall into the social media comparison trap, as comparison is the thief of joy.
When deciding on which approach to take, give grace, and remember infancy while a challenging season, is just one season of the parenting journey. Trust your instincts and find what works best for you!
Tiffani Dickerson RN-IBCLC