“I wish I’d known about the length of feeds: everyone from the night nurses in the hospital to the home visit midwife had me thinking I was doing things wrong, and too often. I was in hindsight very fortunate, in a way, that I had fast letdown and over supply with both babies. That meant that they got all they needed from one boob within 5 minutes, but even from the very early days in hospital with the old school matronly night nurse chastising me because he *must* feed 20 minutes from each side, I felt I was doing it all so wrong and he wasn't getting enough before he fell into a milk coma again. With my second I knew better and knew to trust rather than question my instinct!”
There is a huge range of normal when it comes to the length of a breastfeed. Mothers have different storage capacities, different speeds of milk flow (milk ejection reflex), numbers of milk ducts and babies are different too. Feeds may also happen for different reasons – for hydration, for hunger after a longer interval, for comfort. Sometimes a baby might receive higher fat content milk from the start of a feed if the breast is emptier and if the baby is cluster feeding. When it comes to babies, there is very little ‘should’ about breastfeeding. If a baby is producing the expected nappies and is meeting their weight gain expectations, they are feeding for ‘long enough’. If a baby is feeding for a very long time, it might be worth a mum checking the way the baby is positioned on the breast by attending a breastfeeding support group.