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Scheduled nursing question

545 Views 10 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Momtwice
My friend is nursing her brand new ds every 3 hours. The baby was 6 1/2 lbs, but a few weeks early so he is in the nicu for some breathing problems. Is this normal? Is it healthy? I dont have children yet, but I thought newborns nursed a lot more than that plus she needs to get her supply up, right? I don't want to say anything if it's perfectly ok. BTW, she doesn't have any other children, so she doesn't really have any other responsibilities at this point. I just don't want their bf relationship to suffer based on what the nurses think or something like that. Thanks!
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My daughter was in the Nicu for 2 weeks. Once she started taking EBM (through a tube first then bottle) the nurses had her on a 3 hour feeding schedule. When she was able to breast feed we kept the 3 hour schedule, but it felt wrong to me. We were waking her up to eat and trying to calm her if she was awake but it wasn't time to eat.

I asked the nurses if I could just feed her when she seemed hungry and they said "well, you're setting yourself up to have a 'snacker'" but it's okay with us. I think the 3 hour schedule was so that they could have consistant diaper/temperature/pulseox information. I started feeding her when she wanted and I made sure to get the nurses their information.... I think sometimes the nurses assume they know what will be 'easier' for Moms instead of asking or offering alternatives. It can't hurt to ask.

We're still nursing at 9months, so the (amost) two weeks of scheduled feedings didn't seem to harm our nursing relationship.
Well, the recommendations or guidelines say 8-12 times per day is normal. Every 3 hours is 8 times a day, so it's bare minimum. Some new babies will sleep a lot and need to be woken up for every feeding, because they don't wake up on their own, and in that case waking the baby up every 3 hours is not uncommon. However, the bottom line is that if the baby is hungry at 2 hours, he should be fed at 2 hours, and not be left to cry in hunger because it's not "time" to eat yet. So it all depends on the situation, but I would say that generally, schedule feeding is absolutely not recommended, and if this baby is hungry he should be fed as soon as he shows early signs of hunger (before he is screaming and frantic).
Three hours is the minimum for a new baby, to make sure she eats enough and you get your supply established. It's this asinine "feed only every three hours" advice Ezzo used to give that caused some babies to be severely undernourished.

I don't doubt that a strict schedule makes things easier for the NICU nurses, but your friend has no such restrictions on her time and energies.
Yes, every 3 hours is the minimum for a healthy newborn, but also remember that since he's in the NICU, and was early, he may tire out much more quickly than a full-term newborn and need more rest... She can probably still try to nurse on demand (which is the ideal, of course), but with medical situations, all that needs to be taken into consideration. Once she gets home with him, it will be much easier to drop the "schedule," but it's worth asking about while at the hospital.
It depends if she is listening to her child or watching the clock.

My twins only nursed every 3 hours, no matter if I offered every 5 minutes. It just wasn't time to eat until that 3 hour mark. (And they grew fast and are still tall, healthy boys!!) My oldest ate non-stop until he was 2!

So perhaps you could comment on it, "Wow, it is so amazing that he only wants to eat every 3 hours. I thought newborns ate every 2 hours."
Is he still in the NICU or is he at home now? that's going to really affect what she does...
Every 3 hours is the minimum IMHO. Breastfeeding expert Katherine Dettwyler has an article where she specifically says that most mothers will not make enough milk nursing every 3 hours, although some will.

There is a lot of good info at
I was one who only fed about that often too but because I couldn't get my lo to wake up before that. She would nurse ANYTIME she wanted but USUALLY it was about 3 hours. She was also one who started going longer between sessions early on. I would def. comment on it or just ask curiously about the situation. If the baby is crying from hunger she SHOULD feed it and if not let it be until three hours that's what I did and will do again!!
About babies getting too tired if they feed often...they also get tired if they don't feed often enough.
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