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Natalie Clauss

About breastfeeding on demand

It is always said that breastfeeding should be "as needed". The rigid rhythm of breastfeeding every four hours has fortunately been largely replaced. I write, fortunately, because this interval is almost always too long. As a result, babies had to cry a lot. It used to be assumed that babies needed to be nurtured from birth and that "constant" breastfeeding would spoil them.

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Today, studies have long since proven that pampering is not possible, at least in the first year of life. Likewise, it has been established that breastfeeding on demand has only positive effects on the development of babies. This is generally true of rapid need satisfaction. Postponing needs is a developmental step that takes time. And it succeeds much faster and better when needs are met promptly during infancy.

So a mom should breastfeed as soon as the baby feels the need. Breastfeeding is more than just taking in food when the baby is hungry or thirsty. Breastfeeding also satisfies the need for closeness or comfort.

However, breastfeeding on demand usually ignores the needs of mothers. Moms have needs too, just like babies. The difference is that adults can usually postpone their needs for a bit. Nevertheless, there are needs that have either been postponed for so long or that need to be met directly. Moms, for example, also have to eat something in between. They have to go to the bathroom. Surprised? Yes, these needs must also be taken care of.

If the needs of two (or more) people are in conflict with each other, it must be weighed up which need is more urgent. Various other factors must also be taken into account, such as the fact that a baby is not yet able to defer needs to the same degree.

A mother's needs may include opening the door when the doorbell rings or something else that is important to her at that moment.

In addition, the baby may sleep unscheduled for a long time, so that the breasts may be very full and tense. In this case, mom may well wake her baby and put her on to nurse. Otherwise, the alternative would be to express the milk until the feeling of tightness subsides.

Breastfeeding on demand thus always means the baby's need AND the mother's need.

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