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Getting to Know My Baby’s Feeding Patterns

Getting to Know My Baby’s Feeding Patterns


Recently, I gave birth to our second daughter after five years of prayers. Thankfully, things were different this time around; the pregnancy was normal and the birth was a dream come true (VBAC). But nursing brought me to the same place I was five years ago. Again, my baby had a low birthweight (just above 6 pounds), whichAs with every conflict, I searched for a resolution made me anxious about whether she was getting enough nutrition. Both daughters were also jaundiced, for which the doctors and nurses recommended giving formula. So I supplemented with formula after I breastfed but felt conflicted inside.

As with every conflict, I searched for a resolution. I researched breastfeeding and milk production. I rested. I ate healthy meals and snacks. I took fenugreek pills morning and night. But what helped me the most was reading this one line in Ellyn Satter’s book Child of Mine: “If your baby wants to eat after half an hour, feed him. You will be able to make milk because most of the milk is made when your baby asks for it.”1 After reading this, all the doubt and fear about my milk production suddenly disappeared. I stopped trying to schedule my baby’s feedings every two hours. I stopped comparing myself to my friend’s baby and started to get to know mine. When she fussed, I would try to calm her by nursing her. When she fussed again, I would check what else might be bothering her, and if she still wasn’t happy, I would nurse her again.

Some days, I feel like I am nursing her all the time, and doubt and fear creep into the back of my mind: “Maybe I don’t have enough milk?” But then I tell myself this must be a “hungry day,” and I know this is the way my body will start to produce more milk to suit her growing needs.

It takes determination to be successful at breastfeeding. It takes letting go of control and following your baby’s lead. You have to take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Don’t compare yourself to other women. The frequency of feeding times while nursing is highly individual and dependent on the mother and baby.2

Nursing a baby also takes a strong will and prayer, as we learn from Channah’s supplications to G‑d that we read in the haftorah on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The verse says: “And Channah spoke upon her heart,”3 referring to her chest. The Talmud4 explains that Channah prayed to G‑d, “Master of the world, everything YouIt takes determination to be successful created in a woman has a purpose—eyes to see, nose to smell, mouth to speak, hands to make things, legs to walk and breasts to nurse . . . give me a son so I can nurse.”5 Why was her prayer heard by G‑d? Because she convinced G‑d with her claim, and her words gave G‑d great joy.6

Whether we are nursing or formula-feeding our babies, we should pray that we are nourishing our children to be healthy and to grow to their full potential.

Ellyn Satter, Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense (United States: Bull Publishing Company, 2000), 150.
Satter, Child of Mine, 164.
Samuel I, 1:13.
Tractate Berachot 31b.
Rav Shalom Arush, Women’s Wisdom: The Garden of Peace for Women (Israel: Chut Shel Chesed Institutions, 2010), p. 323.
Rebbi Nachman, Likutei Mohoran, Torah 124.
Aliza has a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of California, Davis, and a master’s degree in Public Health from Ben Gurion University. She recently finished a course in nutrition education and counseling through the Ellyn Satter Institute. She lives in the northern Negev of Israel with her family.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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jim dallas November 4, 2016

G-d KNOWS all so well i believe the mind and heart of G-d creates EVERYTHING, including your body etal! and that of your baby! and everyone is unique, as is He! bless you and all of yours! Reply

Aliza Israel November 2, 2016

Feeding on demand... The purpose of my article is to encourage women to believe in themselves that they will have enough milk if they choose to breastfeed.

I know that breastfeeding is not always an option for whatever reason and I completely understand your reason.

In my opinion, it is so important to feed your baby on demand whether with breast milk or formula. Scheduling feedings should only begin with the introduction of solid foods. This will promote a healthy feeding relationship between you and your infant. Reply

Anonymous via October 31, 2016

great article BUT I enjoyed reading your article... pls be aware that many woman NEED to supplement. ( PCOS is the factor for me...) I supplement and don't give up on my nursing... ( baby #6!) I love every moment and so does my baby....

for me the nursing on demand ( and feeling like im nursing all day) drive me mad... I just couldn't handle it... so for me supplementing was the greatest gift I can give to myself my baby and my family. Reply

Aliza Israel October 31, 2016

Sometimes we just need a bit of encouragement. Thank you for your comment!

Kol ha'kavod to your daughter for nursing her daughter for 3 months! The first three months are definitely the hardest. Breast feeding takes a lot of faith and encouragement.I would have never succeeded if I did not live in a community that strongly encourages it.

I reccomend for your daughter to have a look at the book "Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense" by Ellyn Satter, to get feeding off to the right start. Reply

Marcy Rivka Brooklyn October 30, 2016

Hey Aliza!! Don't I know you from seminary ?? Marcy Rivka ... Reply

Alan S. New York October 30, 2016

Well written article. My daughter recently finished nursing, but not by her choice. For the first 3 months, her production was excellent, but slowly, the production ceased, regardless of the needs of her daughter. Although my daughter was quite upset, things have a way of working out. My granddaughter was born at 5.8 pounds, and although she was gaining acceptably on breast milk, she has truly blossomed on formula. Reply

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