All to often, when working with clients who have been given breastfeeding advice by someone else, I hear something similar to this:
"The current plan is to feed for 20 mins a side, then pump, then top him up with expressed milk or formula"
So many things wrong with this plan, not the least of which is,
WHEN ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO ENJOY YOUR BABY?
But the one I want to focus on today is the timing part.
Lets play a game.
I have invited you to dinner. You come to my home, we chat for a bit, and then we sit down at the table. (after I clear away all the toys, bills, random bits of art work etc.).
'At our house, we have rules around meals' I say.
'You can eat, as much as you want, BUT, you only get to eat for 20 mins'
Odd, you think. That seems like a bit of a strange way to serve a meal. But you're hungry, so you agree to it.
If you look at things with an adult in mind, they seem ridiculous. Why do they make sense if we transfer them to a baby?
When we watch a clock and not a baby, we can come to conclusions about the clock.
We can't say that the baby ate for 20 minutes. We don't know that because we didn't see that. What we can say, is that the baby was at the breast for 20 minutes. We can probably say other things to, like the clock is red, or its a wrist watch, or it makes noise. We might even be able to say things like 'the baby fell asleep'.
We can make conclusions about where the baby was and how much time baby was there, but, we can't make any conclusions about how much the baby actually ate, just like we can't say you ate dinner because you sat at the table for 20 mins.
Sitting at the table doesn't mean we're eating. Falling asleep doesn't mean a baby is full.
When we watch a clock and not a baby, we can come to conclusions about the clock."
Conversely, if we watch the baby, and not the clock, we can come to conclusions about the baby. If we can identify when the baby is drinking as opposed to nibbling or resting, and we watch their behavior, then we know if the baby got enough milk or if they're still hungry.
If you need help learning how to tell that your baby is getting enough milk, reach out for help. A good lactation consultant can help you identify drinks vs. sucks and pauses. Once you know how to see that, you're off to the races!