Day 141: How long to feed for?

Ah the eternal question. Just as we’re on the cusp of weaning and actually having boobs that are not agony to feed from I wanted to reflect on how long she feds for. Why? Well there doesn’t really seem to be any real guidance on anything as each person is different, so all I can do is remind myself of what we have done.

Here’s her feeding routine now (4.5 months):

  • 7am: feed from both breasts (12 mins total)
  • 11am: feed from both breasts (10mins total)
  • 2.30pm: feed from both breasts (7mins total)
  • 6pm: light feed from ONE breast (3mins)
  • 7pm: (post bath) feed from both breasts (10mins total) and formula (180ml, 20mins)

I still feel that although I’m roughly using Gina Ford’s routine for her age which also works well with her natural rhythms (eating every 3/4 hours), that I am feeding on demand. She eats regularly at allotted times (which some would say is not feeding on demand) but what I mean is that I let her eat as much as she needs. For example her 2.30pm feed is normally quite short. This I hope allows her to form the habit later on in life of eating when she’s hungry/eating what she needs rather than eating everything every time (which I only grew out of in my early 20s). I honestly do wonder if how our babies eat now is linked to how they eat when they grow up: i.e. binge eat, always finish their plate even if not hungry, little and often etc.

How long does she take to feed? At the very start it would take 30mins a breast to feed but we were told not to offer the other boob unless the baby still seemed hungry. Well as you know I started operation ‘save the nipples‘ about 44 days after she was born. They were in shreds and I started feeding directly from the breast for only half the time and expressing the other half. I did this for a month and during that time I also started to reduce the amount of time I would allow Lo-Lo on each breast. So instead of 30mins, it would be a maximum of 15 mins per breast. As I was sure she would not fill up on 15mins, I offered her the 2nd breast. This was already at 1.5 months. Breastfeeding advisor did not like this as she should be encouraged to finish one boob and be happy with the one. But, I disagreed. I needed her not to stay on one for too long to allow them to heal so effectively allowed both nips to bear the load. So length of feeds has been as followed, but I do wonder how much of that was dictated by me not allowing her to stay on one breast too long:

  • 0-1.5 months: 30-45mins per breast, single boob feed at a sitting (always last feed with formula)
  • 1.5-2.5 months: 15mins per breast, both breasts offered at each sitting, 3 ‘feeds’ by breast and 3 from expressed milk (always last feed with formula)
  • 2.5-4.5 months: 5mins per breast, both breasts offered at each sitting, (always last feed with formula)
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