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Yay! You were able to successfully induce lactation! You may be getting drops to ounces, but you’ve got something and that is important to celebrate. As you are counting down the days to your baby’s arrival, you are likely wondering how you and your partner can schedule feeding times with your newborn. We are going to review what an ideal schedule might look like and how you can adjust that for your own specific needs. 

First, you need to make sure that you are continuing your pumping schedule before the baby arrives. Bodies typically adjust quickly to changes in lactation needs, so keep that in mind. There are a few principles we are going to follow when creating a schedule: The birthing parent needs to establish their milk supply and milk removal directly impacts production.

Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Once you get to the hospital for your scheduled induction time, here’s what you can expect: 

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  • The birthing parent does not yet have an established milk supply yet.
  • It is critical that they nurse the baby within the first hour of birth for as long as the baby would like. Nursing in the first hour has a huge correlation with milk production. 
  • The birthing parent should be the only person directly nursing until their milk comes in.
  • Or if that is not something you and your partner want to do, then they need to replace every feeding with pumping. Before the birthing person’s milk comes in, it would be great for the induced lactation partner to spoon feed their milk to the newborn after each feed.
  • Why spoon feed? Nursing burns calories, so if the baby is latched to the birthing parent for 30 minutes and then the other partner continues feeding, they could be burning more calories than they are taking in.
  • Spoon feeding the extra milk gives them additional calories and protects the birthing partner’s milk supply.
  • It takes about 6 weeks after birth for the birthing parent to have an established milk supply. 

An Ideal Schedule for Two Parents with an Established Supply

Once both parents have an established supply, then you can create a schedule for how you can take turns feeding your baby. For example: 

7am- Birthing Parent (BP)

9am- Induced Lactation Parent (ILP) 

11am- BP

1pm- ILP

3pm- BP

However, there are other things to consider that might affect your schedule.

Do one or both of you work outside the home? You might need to work around that schedule.

5pm- ILP

7pm- BP

11pm- ILP

3am- BP

5am- ILP

The ideal schedule has both of you regularly nursing to continue to have emptying which will encourage your body to continue making milk. If that’s not possible and you want to maintain supply, then you will need to pump.

Here’s another schedule of the ILP that works outside the home and only wants to nurse occasionally:

7am- ILP

9am- BP

11am- BP

1pm- BP

3pm- BP

5pm- BP

7pm- ILP

11pm- BP

3am- ILP

5am- BP

In this schedule, the ILP is nursing the baby before work, after work, and one overnight feeding. They are nursing frequently enough to maintain their lower supply and not pump. In a co-lactating relationship, neither parent needs to have a full supply since the responsibility is split.

How can you tell if your schedule is working?

Once you have established a routine, you will know that it is working if you both are able to maintain your supply, keep baby fed, and avoid clogs. If you start having a hard, lumpy breast/chest, then you will need to remove milk more regularly or let your supply naturally decrease.

Will your body adjust if you need to increase/decrease your supply? 

In short, yes, your body will adjust to different demands. Everyone’s body is different, so you may find that your body will easily adjust up or down or you may find that you suffer from clogs or a low supply if the demand changes.

You won’t really know what your body will do until you are in the situation.

This often comes up if one parent is going to go away for a few days and the other parent wonders if their body will be able to keep up with a new supply.

If you were only nursing two or three times a day, it’s unlikely your body will be able to respond quickly enough for your baby to get enough. You also want to keep in mind how easily your body is able to downgrade production.

If your body has a hard time with the changes, then you should plan to nurse at your usual times and offer expressed milk or formula at the other times. 

Chestfeeding is really hard and at the same time a beautiful and bonding way to care for your baby. Being able to share this relationship with your partner lightens the load on one person and allows them to share in the experience.

There aren’t a lot of parents that have pursued co-lactating, so try to find a community online of parents that have gone through this experience. You might also find luck with adoptive parents that have induced lactation. 

Good luck! We believe in you! If you need support in creating a schedule, reach out to emily@bigfatpregnancy.com to discuss coming up with a nursing schedule that works for your family’s unique needs.

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