Scheduling Feedings



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     You’re important, not only toyourself but to others.  You have important things to do.  Manyof those things are scheduled.  You’re picking your mother up at theairport Tuesday at 3:00.  You have a hair appointment Thursday at10:00.  Your workday has a definite beginning and end.  So doesyour partner’s.  That means it works best to have the day’s majorevents scheduled. 

     Now imagine that, on top of allthat, you also need to schedule your bathroom breaks.  You need totrain yourself to use the bathroom every 2 1/2 hours.  No runningto the bathroom between times, no skipping a bathroom break because youdon’t feel the need.  Every 2 1/2 hours.  On the dot.

     What?  No time among theimportant events in your day for that kind of rigid scheduling of a trivialevent?  Of course not.  Our day runs most smoothly when it’sorganized around the major events, with minor events fitting in on a fluidbasis, not when it’s organized around the minor events. 

     Our culture has come to thinkof feeding a baby as a major event, and there are plenty of books thattell us we need to schedule this major event in order to have our livesrun smoothly, in order for the baby not to take over our lives, in orderto make time for everything else.  Ah, but what if feeding a babyis a minor event?  If it is, aren’t we allowing it too muchcontrol over our lives if we elevate it to “must-be-scheduled” status?

     At first, nursing a baby is time-consumingand all-consuming.  You feel as if your whole day revolves aroundfeeding the baby, and it sounds good to think that you could schedule thismajor event and somehow get some control over it.  Scheduling soundslike a sanity-saver. 

     But once you learn how to positiona baby easily for nursing, once the baby learns how to latch on quickly,once the early weeks are past, feeding just isn’t a major event. You can nurse while you cook, in bed, while you watch tv, or eat, or write,or walk.  If your baby is given the chance to snack as he sees theneed, he’s never really hungry, and you can “top him off” because youwant to do something rather than because he’s asked, stretching the nextnursing interval as a result.  Or you can stall him for a bit whileyou finish an activity.  Or you can take a quick break from that activity,nurse for just a couple minutes, and leave him full enough to wait a bitlonger. 

     This kind of free-wheeling approachof frequent, short, flexible nursings leaves your day free to structureitself around other more interesting activities.  When feeding thebaby is an incidental activity, like snuggling him, everyone’s day usuallyruns more smoothly, including the baby’s… and yours.

©2010 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC
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