By Ashley Franz, attachment parenting leader (API of Central Arkansas, USA)
A couple of friends asked me lately how to avoid running low on, or running out of, milk when breastfeeding. My answer is: Quit scheduling. Easy as pie. Yet, why is it so hard for us?
I am reading this totally inspiring book called Simplicity Parenting, and it’s all about eliminating all the clutter from our lives that causes us to run on such a cram-packed, tight schedule. I think the book is meant for those with older kids in school, with extra-curricular activities, computers, video games, TV, etc. But even with tiny kids who stay at home, it still applies because it’s hard not to pack things and activities in and get obsessed with our “routine” and our “schedule,” because we think that’s what we are supposed to do, because our society values punctuality and order so highly and we are used to having it, so it makes us comfortable.
At my daughter’s first doctor’s visit, this old man pediatrician who has seen about a zillion kids in his career, did all of the usual stuff, then sat down at his laptop to enter the information. (Poor guy…switching to electronic records in his late 60s has to be frustrating!) He is getting quicker now, but still just learning how to use the new program.
He asked, “Breastfed or Formula?”
I said, “Breast.”
He said, “How often?”
Me, “I don’t know.”
Him, “How many minutes on each side?”
Me, “I don’t know.”
He pulled down the menu on his answer box and said, “Hmm…like…every two to three hours? About 10 minutes on each side?”
Me, “Well, that might happen sometimes…. I’m sorry, I really have no idea. It could be anywhere from one minute to one hour for a feeding….or more, or less….and she might eat every couple hours, but she might eat every 15 minutes…or more or less…for a few hours, then sleep for four or five…I have absolutely no order. The answer is, I feed on demand.”
He scrolls down and says, “Hmm….there’s no option for that! Very interesting because…” And he went on to say that breastfeeding is designed to be done that way and told me about this study that was done on a primitive tribe in South America by an anthropologist who visited the village and made the observation that the babies there never cried. He said, “The conclusion was that because the babies were carried around in ‘bags like yours (slings)’ and had access to the breast at all times, they never cried…because they weren’t hungry!” and he just cracked up laughing, like “What a novel concept!”
I looked down at Natalee who was happily tucked into my “bag” and thought about all my babies. They never cried. I had never really thought about that before.
My only real point in writing this is to let you, the world, the people, know that feeding on demand is okay, and it is an option you can consider. You might have to simplify your life a bit or re-structure (un-structure?) some, but you might find it to be worth the effort.