There was a time when a clock was a must in a breastfeeding shopping list. It was extremely important to keep track of when the baby started to eat and how long he would take on each breast, and most importantly to switch breasts after a certain period of time (usually 15 to 20 minutes).
Does it sound familiar?
This was the rule in our mothers’ times, and it was the general recommendation from healthcare providers and lactation professionals. However, it’s been some time since Science made up its mind, and found evidence that limiting the time at the breast for a baby would be counterproductive… And WHY is that?
You may have heard of the “foremilk”, the low-fat thin milk and comes at the beginning of the feeding, and the “hindmilk”, that thicker high-fat milk and comes at the end. The truth is that your milk is all the same; the reason why it may seem different is that the amount of fat gradually increases as the milk is removed from the breast.
The problem here is that we don’t know exactly when and how fat increases in the milk, and neither how much fat the baby needs. It simply doesn’t make sense to set an amount of time for the baby to eat, because some babies may need more or less time than others.
We have to trust our bodies and how Nature uniquely designed them, and the best way to honor this is by going by our babies’ instinct - letting them finish one side before offering the other. Think of it as “meal and dessert”; you may have some space left for dessert or maybe you just fill up with the meal.
Time at the breast is not important, as long as baby is actively sucking most of the time; and by active sucking I mean swallowing. Make sure you learn how to recognize the difference - this is the basis for a healthy start - and don’t hesitate to look for professional help if you feel you need it.