Here’s the scene: It’s 8:00pm. Your newborn nursed at 6:00 and you’ve been holding him since. Now that you think about it, you’ve been holding him pretty much all day.
Your stomach is growling for your dinner that’s sitting cold at your place at the table because you haven’t yet mastered eating with one hand while soothing a baby in the other.
The bags under your eyes are so dark you might as well have gotten into a bar fight.
You haven’t taken a shower today, despite the spit up crusted in your hair, and your living room floor is a sea of blankets and burp cloths and soiled onesies.
And then, amazingly, in a moment of awe and wonder, the heavens open up and your cuddly bundle lets you gently put him down without protest.
First order of business? Eating that cold dinner. You’re so hungry you don’t even care about the temperature.
But a mere three bites in, you hear it.
It pierces the hard fought silence and reverberates through your whole house. And it’s unmistakable—it’s your baby’s hungry cry.
Your eyes dart to the clock. Only two hours since the last feeding!
And that is the moment you utter the phrase a breastfeeding mom should never say:
“He can’t possibly be hungry again already!”
I get it because I’ve said it before. With my first child I said it quite a bit, actually.
But I’ve since come to accept that while it would be very convenient for babies always to eat every X number of hours, like clockwork, babies are not clocks. They’re people.
That means sometimes they eat big meals and sometimes they eat small meals. Sometimes they have growth spurts. Sometimes they feast and sometimes they snack—and when you’re breastfeeding it can be hard to tell which they’re doing.
So while you might expect your little one to go three hours between feedings like he usually does, there will be times he only goes two…or less. And there will be times his belly is full for four hours or more.
The only guarantee is that it won’t be the same every single time.
It can be inconvenient and annoying the way that so much of parenting is. But you didn’t want a robot for a child, right?
So breastfeeding moms, let’s stop questioning our babies’ hunger so much. Let’s stop looking at the clock all the time, and instead spend that time looking at our babies’ sweet faces. We’ll all be happier for it.
18 responses to “The One Phrase a Breastfeeding Mom Should Never Say”
I have said this a lot. Sometimes it does help to try to find another way to soothe them, to see if maybe they’re not hungry. My first wanted to nurse all the time, even while he was asleep. I was his pacifier. I took a breastfeeding class while pregnant and they said to feed baby for as long as he wants…I took it very literal. I know better now with my second baby.
I was unable to breastfeed due to medical complications, so my thoughts are a little skewed, because it was obvious when my child was finished eating, and if she complained when the bottle was empty, she wasn’t finished. Having said that, the lack of sleep will cause any adult to not be paying close attention to when a newborn is actively eating, and just pacifying themselves. Because I loved cuddling with my babies as much as possible, I would look at the bottle and think “oh, she’s not finished”, when in fact, she was just gnawing on the nipple and not sucking.
Ugh. I was writing down my first’s feedings. It did help me and my pediatrician trouble shoot what was wrong [there was a lot wrong!], but it also drove me crazy.
I found myself saying that a lot with my second born son. He would nurse, nurse, nurse and then would be content for about 20 minutes. Back on the boob he would go. I stopped questioning it, and just did what needed to be done.
All three of my kids nursed every 2 hours or less whenever they were awake for their entire first years. With my first it was hard because I was working and people kept promising me she would begin to space out but never did. I’ve just gotten used to life with a baby involving feeding every 2 hours and have learned to live my life around it.
Sometimes saying that is just about being tired and frustrated–not about refusing to feed your hungry baby! I breast fed as long as I could with both of my girls (supply issues, despite the efforts of lactation consultants and BF support groups and supplements and…you get the idea), and was passionate about doing it. But nothing could have stopped me from being tired and cranky sometimes; didn’t mean the baby went hungry. 😉
haha I said this a lot with my son! I still fed him of course, but he liked to eat… a lot. The funny thing is he still loves to eat, just solid food now. I think a lot of first time moms say it because it’s really surprising how often babies nurse. You forget just how tiny their stomachs are.
I definitely said that. I couldn’t believe how much my second child wanted to eat. Yikes!
And even if you’ve embraced this reality as a nursing mama, there are often well intentioned family members who like to impart unsolicited advice/commentary by uttering that phrase…
So very true!
I absolutely agree with you. If a baby is hungry, you fee them.Period.
I’ve breastfed all of my children (four in total). The shortest duration being 3 months, the longest was 3.5 years. I breastfed each one of them on demand.
Personally I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude that you have towards it. For me, breastfeeding was something that was second nature. I never found it to be a hassle!
Invest in a baby wrap/sling and co-sleep. You’ll never have to wake in the middle of the night or eat a cold dinner. I did these two things with my children and I never suffered one sleepless night.
Honestly, I would find any other way to be stressful. At least if I breastfeed, if little one is hungry when it is my dinner time, then I just pop them in the sling, attach them, and sit down and eat my own HOT dinner. The same applies in the night. If they are hungry, then I roll over, attach them, and go back to sleep.
It sure beats getting up in the middle of the night, going down to the kitchen, boiling water, mixing formula, and waiting for them to finish the bottle. I don’t even know why someone would want to do that!
I agree, in the middle of the night breastfeeding seems SO much easier! (I can’t compare, though, because I haven’t bottle fed.) I haven’t mastered nursing in a wrap yet, but I want to try! I use my Baby K’tan all the time for holding my little one.
I would have let the baby cry and eaten my dinner an hour before that even happened. Moms get hungry too, especially breastfeeding moms.
I have definitely been guilty of saying this before!
I have come to the realization that nursing isn’t only for food. My son nurses when he’s scared, or after he’s fallen down, he nurses when he wants to reconnect with me, and when he’s feeling alone. So, while it might be true that he’s not hungry, I’m happy to give him that comfort for whatever reason he may need. Thank you so much for sharing this!
Yes! Nursing is about so much more than food – and that’s a good thing!
My daughter loves to nurse. She nurses every 2 hours mostly less the past few weeks. Ans I don’t mind. But people keep asking when she can start eating solids. And that I should begin giving her solids. She is almost 5 months. And also asking do you have enough milk.
I didn’t say that much – but my husband did, a lot! And it drove me crazy!