Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Breastfeeding - What is 'normal'?

Medela recently researched breastfeeding patterns. Their findings were then put into this really interesting table. It just goes to show how every breastfeeding journey is unique, and no two will be exactly the same.

Breastfeeding was never a sure thing for me. When I was pregnant I just thought I'd give it a go and see what happens. However once he was born I knew I wanted to continue breastfeeding, although I felt like giving up once in the early days I'm so glad I didn't.
Our 'normal' could change daily, we fed on demand so had no set times for feeds.
I was once asked 'How many feeds does he get a day?' and when I couldn't give an exact answer she was baffled. I think demand feeding isn't completely understood unless you've done yourself or know someone well who has. I certainly had no idea about it before.

From my not very great memory this is how I remember our breastfeeding journey.

Newborn days - When Osian was a newborn he would feed every 2-4 hours, it could vary daily but sometimes his pattern would stay the same for a fair few days. We did have the odd night where he would want fed constantly all night, but I'm very thankful this didn't happen often. I'm also thankful the original soreness/sensitivness of breastfeeding only lasted about a week.

6 weeks old - Osian stopped sleeping in his moses basket during the day, so unless we went out in the car or went for a walk where he would sleep in the pram he spent most of the day sleeping/feeding in my arms.

2 months old - If we spent the day in the house Osian would want fed pretty much hourly, but if we were out and about he would be quite content doing other things, or would sleep better with the movement of the pram or car, so could last much longer between feeds. I'm pretty sure this was around the time evening cluster feeds began - I was not prepared for these, not one bit. They would start as early as 6pm, and finish as late as 1am. I had no idea how tiring cluster feeds could be, or how uncomfortable I'd get being sat in the same spot for so long. Cluster feeds seemed to help Osian sleep a little longer at night time. He sometimes stretched up to a solid 6 hours!

3 months old - I think this was the age that Osian enjoyed doing a few other things, such as laying on his baby gym. This meant he fed slightly less, but he could still spend the majority of his days laying in my arms feeding/sleeping. The cluster feeds started lasting a little bit shorter, only an hour or two, but it felt like such a difference.

4 months - This is the month he started going for quite a while longer between getting fed. His stomach seemed to hold milk much better, and seemed to become much more efficient at feeding. By this age he would sleep between 6-10 hours, with the occasional wake up before 6 hours.

5 months - By now the cluster feeding had gone, his longest feed of the day would still be before bed but, would be 2 hours max.

6 months - This was the age we started to try and get Osian to nap in his cot during the day, up until now he would fall asleep feeding but not go into a deep sleep and just doze and feed on and off for a while, but at this age it was starting to not be enough for him. He would still be tired when he woke up and wouldn't be very happy. I would still feed him before trying to get him to nap but feed him until he was sleepy and then put him down,

7 months - By now Osian was only feeding  before his two naps, first thing in the morning and before bed, and maybe an extra time during the day. He just wasn't bothered about feeding the rest of the time, he took much more of an interest in his toys and things.

10 months - Up until recently he continued the same feeding pattern, until one day he refused to feed. I'm pretty sure it was because I was on antibiotics and he didn't like the change this made to my milk. I originally thought he was a nursing strike, but it has gone on way too long for that now. He hasn't fed from me since, I was managing to express enough so he could have a bottle of expressed milk a day, but I've always struggled to express and that's down to a bottle every other day. Otherwise I've had to substitute with other milk.

Although I haven't fed Osian in a fair few weeks now, I'd like to think as long as I'm expressing our journey isn't quite up yet, but I'm unsure as to how long I can keep the expressing up.

It has truly been an amazing journey. The part that's happening now isn't so amazing, but I'm trying to look on the birght side, we had 10 great months. I'm so glad I decided to give it a go, I very nearly didn't but I knew I'd regret not trying.


  1. What a great post!!
    I am currently feeding my daughter who is 9 months, and we have followed a broadly similar path to you, except that she is still feeding up to 5/6 times a day not including nights and she doesn't sleep as long in one stretch.
    It nice to share experiences and work out what is 'normal' I have no close friends/relatives who have breastfed so I had no real idea what to expect or what was 'normal' so posts like this are great!

  2. So good to see the huge range of what is considered 'normal'. Well done for feeding Osian for 10 months - you have given him such a great start and it's great that you're still managing to express to keep your breastfeeding journey going for a little longer. My eldest was mixed fed from when she was born and gradually started to take more formula and less milk from me so breastfeeding came to a gradual end when she was 17 months old. My youngest is 10.5 months and to be honest, I have no idea how many times she feeds in a day - I just feed her when she wants it. I love the way you have shared all the different stages too to show how the breastfeeding journey evolves over time - I remember the cluster feeding in the early days and how completely exhausting they were x

  3. A really interesting post. I started to express towards the end of breastfeeding and found it all a bit of a pain to be honest! Grace gave up breastfeeding at 9 months - her choice but I am so glad I did it now (despite how difficult it got). Thank you for linking to PoCoLo :) x

  4. Great post! So glad to hear your expressing too! No two women's or babies breastfeeding experience is the same. There are of course some similarities so sharing experiences can be hugely beneficial but so many thins are unique to that very special relationship. Thanks for sharing with #BFingDiaries

  5. Great post. I had two very different journies with mine (though neither lasted long at all) but it just shows all babies are different. #pocolo