I know, I know. I really hesitate to bring this up because schedules (of the baby sleeping, eating, playing variety) are somewhat of a marmite subject for mums. But as usual I have to have my two pennyworth so here goes...
I like schedules, I do. I am all for (trying) to instil some good habits in my little monster before the point where it becomes really painful to break the bad ones. So it may be surprising that I've sacked mine off.
And the reason?
One of my best friends has had a great experience with establishing a routine and her son sleeps through 7pm-7am with set naptimes during the day. When I heard this, I wanted a piece of that...who wouldn't? So, I read up on the approach and I really thought I could make it work. Having a little instruction manual for how to deal with the (albeit cute) creature from outer space that had descended upon our household seemed really appealing. On top of that, the midwives and doctors seemed to support the approach too, by instructing me that my little one should be fed every 3 hours.
The thing is, what I -heard- was that he only needs to feed every 3 hours, when in fact they meant 'don't leave him any longer than 3 hours'. Five weeks down the line, I was tired and tearful and frustrated. Josh didn't seem to understand that he was supposed to be able to last 3 hours between feeds, he wanted feeding every 1-2 hours. He was telling us he was hungry - chewing his fists, rooting, turning his head - but the schedule and advice made us question everything. Perhaps he's just feeding for comfort? If he's only supposed to feed every 3 hours, perhaps all this feeding will make him overweight? We tried to stick to the schedule and distract him from his perceived hunger. We assumed his crying was overtiredness and tried to settle him.
Reading this back, it sounds obvious that he was hungry and I feel guilty now for even admitting that we didn't immediately feed him. But in trying so hard to do the right thing, we got it wrong.
So at 6 weeks I canned the schedule, at least for the time being, until Josh really can last longer between feeds. Yes, it's exhausting being a human milk machine and yes, I often feel like a prisoner on the sofa because going out just doesn't seem like an option. But Josh is happier and I am less stressed because I've accepted that right now, my son needs me. He needs to feed often and snuggle against me to sleep. I don't think I will spoil him by feeding on demand at this stage and the breastfeeding specialist assures me you can't overfeed a breastfed baby. For now, I will try to just take pleasure in this time to bond with him - there's plenty of time for making plans tomorrow.