Parent Directed Feeding vs On Demand Feeding

Why is it that when it comes to our own children we need outside professional help to do what we get paid to do professionally for others?  My Aunt in law suggests that our children are here to humble us; at any rate, I know I am not alone here!  When it came to scheduleing and sleep training my own daughter, I couldn't do it without help from other Newborn Care Specialists.

For the first month of Gigi's life I feed her every 3 hours during the day and whenever she needed it at night.  But, she didn't gain weight....so I had to add a supplementary bottle, which I did not like.  In an effort to improve my breast milk supply I was told to nurse more often and for as long as the baby wanted to.  I was initially opposed to the on-demand style of nursing, but scheduling wasn't working because my daughter wasn't thriving, so I gave it a try. 

Well, it certainly worked to improve my milk supply, but my daughter still needs the supplement in order to gain weight.  Feeding On Demand made me crazy though!  I struggled to know if my baby was fussing because she was hungry, tired, or just needed a change of scenery?  My life had NO predictability, I could hardley make plans unless they litterally hours ahead of time.  Hoping I wouldn't have to give up breast feeding I knew I couldn't last like this much longer. 

Right when I was coming to terms with having to supplement my daughter more formula and more bottled breastmilk she went right back to eating every 3 hours during the day and sleeping 8-10 hours at night- all on her own!  Fortunately my daughter is a natural nighttime sleeper, but during the day she is the alert, looking around, smiley, playful baby who fights sleep and wants to be with mom..... Then she is the VERY LOUD screaming overtired baby who you CANNOT ignore.
With night time sleep consolidated I just had to get her to take regular daytime naps.  My problem was that my baby would sleep on the breast while nursing and not go down for naps, so I tried putting her down before she ate so she would be rested.  She cried the whole time, and only wanted to engage and interact.  I tried putting her down after nursing since she had been sleepy.  Neither worked and I just could not get it right.

That was until I reached out to my local circle of Newborn Care Specialists for help! Terian Johnston,CNCS guided me through E.A.S.Y.  E.A.S.Y., or Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (mommy) time, is a middle of the road, parent directed while following baby's cues, approach.  I always liked the EASY model but when it came to my own child I found the "S" to be anything but easy.  But after a little guidance from Terian, a Certified Newborn Care Specialist, my daughter in now napping, eating, and playing "on schedule" like clockwork! 

Once again I am a happy mom enjoying a happy, sweet, talkative baby that spends her days discovering herself and her world, rather than constantly trying to sooth a frustrated and overtired baby.  Not to mention I now have my life back!!!  I can confidentally make plans that won't interfere with my baby's needs, and my baby has a predictable routine she can come to feel in control of, and is getting nourished and rested evenly throughout the day.

I especially love the EASY because it's based on the same respect principles and practices as something I've been following for years called RIE. I know I am respecting my baby's needs and loving her better than ever!  She is sure to be a confident child as the daily things in her baby life aren't happening to her by force or surprise, rather flowing predicitably and calmly as her body's natural rhythm goes, and she can always count on me to care for her like that!


Melissa Neece said...

Hi. Yes, from what I have discovered most moms that schedule baby feedings (every 3 hours) often have trouble with their milk supply. A lot of babies won't even put up with this because breastmilk digests completely in about an hour and a half so they are starving and they let you know it within 2 hours of the last feed. So if you must schedule, plan on every 2 hours in the beginning, but it is usually best to "feed on demand" for the first 8 weeks. I think this is nature's way of telling moms to slow down, rest a lot, and take care of their babies. Hysterectomies, cysts, and other uterus problems are on the rise because moms don't rest enough after giving birth - we also have one of the highest maternal death rates in the industrialized world - all because we don't rest enough after birth. As one midwife put it, if the big gaping wound that is our uterus could be seen on the outside, people would gasp and insist on bed rest for weeks. Because it can't be seen, moms are expected to do too much, and breastfeeding on demand really helps moms get the rest she requires, and the baby the milk he needs. Anyway, I digress, I've read countless stories like yours of how feeding a baby every 3 hours diminishes milk supply and then mom needs to supplement. However, all moms that I know that feed on demand have no supply issues (and if they do for a day, fenugreek often takes care of it) and often can breastfeed exclusively with no solid foods for 6 months to 12 months, depending on the baby's dietary needs (some families with food allergy histories need to exclusively breastfeed for a year or more with no solids or formula supplementation, this is with doctor approval and many cultures around the world naturally do this anyway).
I also know moms who breastfeed triplets exclusively - yes, this does mean she is tied down to those babies for a few months - but what is a few months of being with baby vs a lifetime of other experiences? Having a newborn and a baby is worth taking 6 months or so to devote exclusively to that baby - anybody who is TTC for 2 years or more would tell you that they would give anything and give up any experience to be able to be with a baby "on demand" for a few months of their life. I was TTC for 3 years and in the process befriended a lot of other TTC women so I know what I am talking about.

Melissa Neece said...

I find that a lot of people's experiences depend on what type of culture they are surrounded with - those who have people who encourage moms to breastfeed, stay home and enjoy their baby and all their friends do this as well have a lot easier time breastfeeding than the moms who are surrounded by those with expectations that because she has a degree she is expected to have a career and that formula feeding is ok.

Also, a breastfed baby from the beginning does not gain the same weight as a formula fed baby - the range for breast fed babies is 4 oz to 10 oz a week (from 1 to 4 months)- either one is ok as long as they are peeing and pooping. Then from five months on it is about a pound a month. Which could mean he might gain 2 oz one week, and 8 oz another and that is ok. Most moms rely on www.kellymom.com for basic information on breastfeeding.
If you want more information on attachment parenting, babywise, or the CIO method, www.drmomma.org is a great site for research.

Also, http://www.kellymom.com/store/reviews/books-to-avoid.html shows you books to avoid that would sabotage your breastfeeding relationship (including baby whisperer and babywise). And http://www.promom.org/bf_info/stinkers.htm . Obviously following a 3 hour schedule sabotaged your own breastfeeding relationship by supplementing (I feel for you on that one!) but hopefully you can get back on track - http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/decrease-formula.html

Babywearing is also great for nursing on the go, once you get the hang of it and the baby has good head control, you can nurse while babywearing.

Here is a great article for moms going back to work - http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/balancing-breastfeeding-when-moms-must.html
The comments after the article are great too.

Here are two great sites that lists great books on breastfeeding (most of which I have read)


This book is new and really fantastic on helping moms increase their supply. I have lactation consultant friends who rave about it and give it to all their clients that are having milk supply issues.
The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk by Diane West.

I am a mom of one, I have 2 Masters degrees - one in library science - and I am a research fanatic, having read over 100 books on the subjects of pregnancy, newborns, and breastfeeding, and countless websites, blogs, and mother's stories.

Melissa Neece said...

oh, and I love discovering science like this - it is truly miraculous the relationship between mother and child:

Ground breaking lactation research demonstrates that there is an intricate method of communication in the saliva of a baby that triggers mother's milk production via receptors on the areola. This communication signals all of baby's needs to mother by way of hormones and enzymes (and likely things we have not even begun to understand). How much milk your baby needs, the fat/calorie composition he requires today, what specific antibodies he needs a boost of, the immunological properties he requires most right now -- it is all transferred to you and your body's amazing milk making wisdom via your baby's suckling at your breast.

Your baby's nutrition, brain, and immune system needs change on a day by day, hour by hour basis. Therefore, it is always best to breastfeed anytime, any day, anywhere that baby expresses the desire. Nurse on demand. This is baby's only way to regulate her needs -- and she can do so quite perfectly if simply given the opportunity.

Babies nurse for 3 reasons -- hunger, thirst, and comfort. Suckling differs between these three needs and infants are skilled at nursing in just the right way to meet their particular moment's need. You may have noticed the deep, hard sucking that occurs when baby is very hungry. Or the shallow, light sucking when baby just needs a drink. Especially if you are not using an artificial nipple substitute for comfort (plastic pacifier) at home, you have likely watched in wonder at the light, butterfly flicker of your baby's tongue, or the gentle fishy-lips as baby nurses gently for comfort and security. Each style of nursing serves an important purpose for your baby.

from Dr.Momma's website:

Melissa Neece said...

oh, and my baby (yes, we are AP parents) met all the sleep milestones according to weight - most people don't realize that it is not age that matters but weight. So as a newborn at 8 pounds, he slept 3 hours, at 10 pounds at 2 months he slept 5 hours, at 12 pounds at 4 months he slept 7 hours, and at 5 months at 14 pounds he slept 8 to 9 hours - all exclusively breastfeeding. And you could tell the 48 hours when he hit a growth spurt, it would be about 4 hours at night.
So my friend whose baby was 5 pounds at birth slept 3 hours for the first 3 months, at 8 pounds at 4 months he slept 4 hours, and at 12 pounds at 7 months he finally slept 5 hours.

Melissa Neece said...

Another thought about scheduling breastfeeding - one mom told me, that yes she heard that some moms have trouble with babywise methods, but her babies did just fine with them. Its like literacy in schools. Some kids will learn how to read no matter what curriculum you use, even if its dumb, while other children will greatly struggle with said curriculum. Some children will learn how to read by only spending a few minutes a day on reading skills (ie. the usual elementary school setting) while other children need intensive one-on-one attention for hours a week in order to master the most basic of skills. Are these children wrong to need this? Are we "spoiling" them by spending time teaching them to read? The other children get along fine with just basic classroom instruction, why can't they? Is it all just a waste, should we let them just slip through the cracks, never knowing how to read? Sure, just let them feed/read for a few minutes every 3 hours, they'll survive - but will they thrive? Is that not how illiteracy multiplies - by assuming all children can learn alike, is that not how breastfeeding is sabotaged - by assuming all children can feed alike? But what if every child had intensive one-on-one attention - the complacent ones, the ones that do just fine on a few minutes of learning every day, would they not then greatly exceed their potential? If every baby was fed on demand, would those babies not only go beyond thriving, beyond their potential, and make us marvel at what they can truly accomplish?

- I was a Reading Specialist for several years, as well as being a first grade teacher.

Melissa Neece said...

oh, by the way, those that like the methodologies of ezzo, hogg, and ferber, often have great success with the following book, and unlike those three authors, this book has the stamp of approval of most breastfeeding sites as one that will not sabotage the breastfeeding relationship.
No Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help your Baby Sleep through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, and The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley.

You can try your local library for any of the above-mentioned books. Your librarian can help you with interlibrary loan if your local library does not have the book you want.

Post a Comment