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New kid on the block: a beginners guide to block feeding

New kid on the block: a beginners guide to block feeding

Being a second time mama, I felt like a fraud, especially when another mama talked about something I didn’t have a scoobie about. When pregnant with number two, I was somewhat lacking in the breastfeeding lingo. I thought one-up-one-down was a housing situation, feeding necklaces were for the babies and nipple confusion was a reluctant nip that didn’t want to make an appearance. So when a friend mentioned block feeding, I did my usual, smile, nod and a sneaky google; despite being once around the block as a mama, I had never heard of it. Why block feeding had never been mentioned to me before, I do not know. My issues with milk over supply were so great I was unable to breastfeed my first born. Block feeding is the simplest and, in my personal opinion, most effective way to combat milk over production.

There are lots of recommended, although not always evidence based, techniques for dealing with milk over supply such as skin-to-skin and Laid Back Feeding. But, block feeding can be a game changer if you’re in the major milk leagues like I was:

the milk “came in”. My GiGantic (GG) bras were too small. I resorted to vests stuffed with sanitary towels, the kind you are given in Sex Ed. I leaked through my clothes and a shroud of towels around four times a day. Sleeping was difficult. I lay immobile, rooted by pain and the prospect of having to change my bedsheets… again

from My Story: Spilt Milk

Unsure whether block feeding is the best game plan for you? First up, get the professionals in; always consult with your Dr, Health Visitor or Midwife if you have any feeding issues. A sure fire sign that you may be struggling with oversupply is how quickly your baby is growing. My boy went from below the 25th percentile to the 91st percentile in a couple of months.

Block feeding relies on tricking the boobs – ensuring that they send the appropriate signals to reduce milk production. This is done by creating a super engorged boob; the pressure releases hormones to inhibit milk production. The engorgement is created by feeding off one boob for a set period of time, usually three or more hours, with no half time changes! Only offering the same boob within this time, no matter how many times the baby feeds. This allows the other boob to become engorged. You then switch at the set time to the engorged boob, and repeat. The interval can be increased depending on the severity of the issue. Warning – by block feeding you are increasing your risk of becoming a Red Hot Mama and developing mastitis, which is why you should only attempt it under the guidance of a professional.

Most literature states that you shouldn’t be using this method for more than a week, and if you are still having trouble then to get expert advice. But again, I believe if you are considering block feeding, you should start by getting expert advice. My son’s feeding pattern naturally evolved to three hourly feeds, so he really only ever had one breast per feed. And in time, I applied the same technique to weaning, allowing me to gradually reduce feeds and flow.

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we don’t know we don’t know

Donald Rumsfeld, 2002

Parenting is full of known unknowns and unknown unknowns. We should embrace our ignorance, and ask questions. Likewise we should spread our known knowns for all to hear. Thank you Rachel for teaching me about the best unknown unknown. It was my game changer, and my foundation blocks of feeding.

This post was previously published at Frank About Feeding

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