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I have breastfed three babies now and also have successfully implemented Babywise schedules with all three. It is often said that babies can’t be breastfed and be on a schedule and that’s simply not true. A common way the “haters” will hate on Babywise is to say that it is too structured and ruins milk supply. Again, completely untrue! It’s not only possible to have a baby on a schedule while breastfeeding, but it’s also beneficial!
To have success with both scheduling and breastfeeding here are some tips I’ve learned through my experiences:
1. Focus on Full Feedings: If from birth you focus on full feedings with your baby, it will help establish your milk supply and also help keep your baby fuller longer which allows them to naturally fall into an eating schedule. A full feeding is typically defined as spending 15-20 min nursing from each breast at each feeding. Anytime you nurse your baby, focus on keeping them awake and actively nursing and just aim for that goal of nursing from each side!
2. Feed on Demand: Babywise is NOT about having a set schedule from birth! It’s very important for your milk supply as well as for your baby’s health to feed on demand for the first 2-3 weeks. You will find that by feeding on demand and focusing on those full feedings that your baby will NATURALLY fall into a solid 2-3 hour schedule on their own by about 2 weeks old.
3. Wake to Feed: It’s important to keep your supply up that you nurse your baby often, even if it means waking them up and even during the night. Often hospitals will offer to keep the baby for you and let you rest. Be hardcore about getting that baby so you can feed them! I even set an alarm on my phone to wake me up so I can call down to the nursery and have them bring me my baby. In the early days it’s important to nurse every 2-3 hours, around the clock. If your baby doesn’t wake on their own…then wake them to nurse!
4. Set a Desired Awake Time: When your baby is 2-3 weeks old and you are ready to start scheduling, you must be hardcore about their desired awake time. The day flows from this time! Even if your baby wakes at 5 am to nurse…feed them and put them back to sleep then wake them again at your desired awake time to start the day and feed them again. Even if you are more flexible with nap times or feeding times throughout the day…starting with a consistent desired awake time each morning will be a BIG help in successfully implementing your schedule!
5. Pump for Missed Feedings: I’ve had a lot of people say that their husbands handle night feedings for them so they can sleep. While this is SO sweet of their husbands, it’s terrible for their milk supply. Anytime your baby is drinking from a bottle…you MUST pump to replace that milk! Not only is this important for your supply but it’s also important if you want to have milk stored up to give bottles to your baby in your absence. By having a baby who is on a schedule it makes it easier to leave the baby in someone else’s care. You know when they will be drinking their bottle so you can be sure to pump at that same time!
Through my experiences of breastfeeding and scheduling I never had any significant issues with my supply nor did I have problems keeping my children on their routines. All three of my children slept through the night at young ages (6-9 weeks old) and all three of them have been healthy across the board from birth. Neither breastfeeding or scheduling is easy. Both take a LOT of work, time and commitment. I have struggled with practically every nursing issue under the sun (hyperlactation, clogged ducts, mastitis) but I’m so thankful I never gave up. I can also relate to the tough times of setting up a schedule for a new baby. Whew. That first three months is no joke! But it’s ALWAYS worth it! To have children who love to sleep and who sleep well is such a blessing!
Here are some of my posts that may also be helpful: