In fact, I didn’t expect it at all, and it seems that I’m not mistaken when I say that a large number of women who are mothers for the first time didn’t expect it either… And why?
It’s hard to know why we have these expectations for our babies. Maybe because we have little contact with babies in our daily lives, maybe because the experience of motherhood is so intense that you don’t really realize the situation until you experience it in the first person, maybe because depending a lot on the people who accompany you along the path of pregnancy, it is likely that an outdated message such as this unfortunately still persists and reaches you:
“The baby breastfeeds 10 minutes from each breast every 3 hours”
Yes, it is very likely that your environment, be it family, friends or even professionals, will launch this message almost daily when you are already in the last trimester of pregnancy. But it is also very likely that much of the information that you receive will squeak and you will decide to inform yourself by other means such as bibliography, blogs, magazines, internet and various networks, and if you hit the right button you will arrive at the truthful information, which the scientific evidence sustains, that of the WHO and other serious and contrasted organizations and you will read the famous:
“Breastfeeding is on demand”
Well, once we get to this point, we do a little more research on “on demand”, and we understand that it’s all the baby wants/needs.
All right, so it shall be.
What we cannot imagine is that the demand from a baby can become frenetic, eternal, and immeasurable, and we are very used to measuring everything: quantities, time, and so on. And here my friends, things change. We only have our knowledge base and our intuition and this, whether you like it or not, at first can make us feel overwhelmed.
All babies are different, sure. But whether skinny or chubby with pink cheeks, such as those in magazines, those who always come out with their eyes closed and faces of absolute satiety, are actually real suction pumps.
There are as many types of babies as there are babies in the world. Some of them may breastfeed eternally, calmly and with delicate devotion. Others are really effective and express the milk from your breast at the speed of light, but then, 20 minutes after finishing breastfeeding, they ask to do it again. Others, depending on the time of day, do one thing or another. The point is that what we certainly haven’t “understood” with “on demand” is that babies not only suckle to feed but suckle for pleasure, to practice the sucking reflex, for comfort, to calm down or to fall asleep, even suckle to love you and that gentlemen and ladies translates into having one or two breasts out for many hours a day, in some cases “without rest (*3)” others with fleeting rest, but in the end, the breasts will see the light of day and the darkness of night many more times and hours than we would have imagined.
Often, following by heart “the instruction manual”, like anticipating hunger signals, making skin-to-skin, embracing our baby without limits, etc., does not work as we expected. I mean, it does work, but the baby continues to demand, cries more than our head had foreseen, wakes up every hour… All these completely usual situations but that we did not expect make our heart speed up and we think we are doing something wrong. There are sensations that can be very overwhelming and that’s where support and resources are basic, but in short, it’s all part of adapting to motherhood, and adapting our baby to the world. Little by little everything will be put in its place and we will move on to another stage.
Surely we will read this post and when the time comes, the high demand for our baby will continue to surprise us and is that there are things that are not enough to internalize them, you have to live them. The big difference in our quality of life during the postpartum period is in how we live them, if we do it with a certain naturalness, the road will become flatter.
However, it is very important not to generalize, this is why we explain some signs and exceptions to take into account:
- Although breastfeeding is on demand, it is very important that the first few days and until the baby has regained the weight of the birth, we ensure that the baby is breastfeeding what it is supposed to, and for that it must be able to wake up and breastfeed a minimum of 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
- Baby gets wet and dirty diapers often. At LactApp you will find a Breastfeeding Test so that you can assess whether you have established breastfeeding efficiently.
- If your baby is sick, premature or underweight or does not meet the 8 minimum feedings, the demand will be directed to you until he recovers.
- (*3) If your baby does more than 12 feedings a day, your nipple/areola or breast hurts, you have cracks, signs of infection, breast engorgement or any sign that you think something is wrong, you should consult your lactation professional and go to the nearest breastfeeding support group.
In the LactApp app you will find a specific consultation section for these increases in baby demand so that you can assess the causes and look for solutions. You can download the app for free on iPhone or Android.