Hey friends! I have had a few people lately ask me how my breastfeeding journey is going and how things have changed since I’ve been back at work and just really how I handle the scheduling of it all. So in today’s blog I am going to talk all about the 3 hour schedule that is on repeat all day. Stay tuned to learn all about my breastfeeding and pumping schedule.
So first off I want to point out that my sweet baby girl is going to be 5 months old in about a week. What?! I can’t comprehend how in the world this has happened or where the last 5 months have gone. It’s amazing how fast time flies. Being reminded of this brings me such encouragement on how far we have come in our breastfeeding journey. If you want to read about those first few months of breastfeeding then check out my older blog called Our Breastfeeding Journey Thus Far to hear my take on breastfeeding after birth.
I was so blessed to be able to take off twelve weeks when I gave birth to Penelope. She wasn’t born until almost two weeks into that leave though, so that left me with about ten weeks to be home with her. Once we were home from the hospital and my milk came in, I was having some issues with engorgement. Penelope was only really eating from one side each feeding and would be full by the time she finished that breast. This left the other one still full. Now before you all jump on me, yes, I know you are supposed to wait like six weeks before starting to pump to allow your milk to regulate. This however is just my experience and I have loved it.
I started pumping about a week after she was born. Penelope would eat from one side for about ten minutes and I would pump the other side for about five or six minutes while she was eating. Then at the next feeding I would switch. I did this at every feeding. My daughter was very consistent and took to a schedule right away. She ate every three hours on the dot. Her feeding schedule was as follows from about birth until around two months: she ate at 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, midnight, and 3am. Now my daughter never woke herself to feed at night and still doesn’t to this day. I always woke her to feed her at the 9pm, midnight, and 3am feeding. I also pumped at all eight of these times while she was eating.
At around two and a half months of age we decided we weren’t going to wake her up at 3am to eat and see what happens. She ended up sleeping right through it with no issues. So our new schedule went to 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, and midnight. So I would feed her for about ten minutes at these times and also pump the other side for about six minutes, however some time around this time frame my pumping time increased to around ten minutes. I didn’t feed or pump from midnight to 6am. Thankfully it only took a few days for my body to adjust and everything was fine. It didn’t drop my milk production at all.
I then returned to work when she was almost three months old. I was prepared for my supply to drop, but since I had an oversupply I didn’t really think it would be a bad thing. Once back at work our schedule went as follows: I would breastfeed her at 6am and pump the other side, about 10 minutes for each. Then for her 9am, noon, and 3pm feeding she would get a 3-5oz bottle of breast milk. I would pump both sides at work for 10 minutes each. Then I would breastfeed her for at 6pm, 9pm and midnight while also pumping the other side for another 10 minutes each side, each time. Keep in mind that during growth spurts she would breastfeed longer. I never ended up experiencing any decrease in milk supply. Yay!
Now at five months old we have changed things a bit more. During her four month appointment the doctor let me know that I didn’t have to wake her to feed her if I didn’t want to, but that I totally could if I chose to do so. So we took this information and decided that we would try it out. Like I said before, Penelope doesn’t wake to eat during the night. I wake her mainly because I worry about her going that long without eating and because I honestly just enjoy the bonding time with her, especially since I went back to work. I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I got to breastfeed her and bond. We decided to try and skip her 9 pm feeding though and see how she did. Well, Penelope took it like a champ. There was no adjustment period. She just slept right through it. I expected her to wake for the midnight one and be super hungry since we skipped the 9 pm one, but she still doesn’t wake for it. I wake her for it. She would probably sleep for twelve hours straight if I just left her alone, but mamma’s heart isn’t ready for that yet. So our schedule now looks like this: I wake her at 6 am to breastfeed and pump the other side. She now will breastfeed at this time for anywhere between ten to twenty minutes. At her 9 am, noon, and 3 pm feedings she eats 5 oz of breast milk by bottle and I pump both sides for ten minutes on each side. I then breastfeed her and pump the other side at 6 pm. This feeding is almost always twenty minutes of her feeding and ten minutes of pumping. I did change the way we do this feeding and instead of feeding and pumping at the same time, I will just breastfeed and bond for that twenty minutes and then will lay her beside me while I pump for ten minutes on the other side. I really want to just spend this feeding time bonding with her. Penelope then goes to bed around 7/7:30. I will still pump both sides for about ten minutes each at 9 pm, but Penelope will not feed at this time. I have chosen to continue to pump at that time for now because I don’t want my supply to drop just yet. I’m not sure if my body is ready to have two six hour gaps between stimulation: remember that breast milk production is a supply and demand job. I will then wake her to breastfeed and pump at the same time at midnight.
The days that I don’t work look a bit different. The feeding times are all the same, but I just breastfeed her and pump the other side for all her feedings. If I am not working, she doesn’t get a bottle. We are also still sticking firm to the fact that mamma doesn’t give bottles. So I have never fed her a bottle. My thought process on this is that she will always associate me with the breast. I feel like if I feed her a bottle it might confuse her. I don’t have any scientific reasoning behind this, its just a hunch.
So this is my current schedule of breastfeeding and pumping. I am sure that this probably seems like I spend all day breastfeeding and pumping, but it really isn’t that bad. Thankfully I have a child that is a fast eater and is usually done in about ten minutes and I also only pump for ten minutes and usually do them at the same time. So ten minutes every 3 hours isn’t that bad. I do have an oversupply, but it has truly been the greatest gift. You hear so many bad things about oversupply, but I haven’t experienced any of those. I have been able to donate over 1,200 ounces so far to other mommas and it warms my heart that I get to use this gift to help other people. I can’t wait to see what the next step in our breastfeeding journey will be.
Baby Dust To All,