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Block Feeding

In normal situations breastfeeding experts recommend "baby led" nursing patterns. Baby should be allowed to finish the first breast, before burping and offering second side. This may mean baby will nurse, for example, 20-ish minutes on first side, burps, then may or may not be interested in the second side.

In situations where a mother has a very large milk supply, then a "block feeding" or "block nursing" pattern may be suggested. Occasionally if baby is nursing in a very, very frequent pattern - meaning that the baby is nursing hourly or even closer than hourly and experiencing marked fussiness and perhaps has consistently green stools - a loose block pattern may be suggested as well. (Note that frequent nursing - meaning about every 2 hrs from start of one feeding to start of next feeding - is totally normal)

What is Block Feeding?

Block feeding is a feeding pattern often suggested when mother has oversupply issues, and occasionally a loose block pattern is suggested for other situations where that type of pattern may help.

The suggestion would be to the mother to use one breast per session, and to keep baby to one side for a "block" of time. In mild cases of oversupply, that may be a 2 hr block, in more severe cases, it may be 3 hr block, or in cases where mom has a monster supply, and has gotten no results from the shorter blocks of time, then a longer block of time may be recommended.

An example of a 2 hr block pattern would be as follows: Mom starts out nursing at 8 am on the right breast. If baby indicates desire to nurse again at 8:45, then mom would nurse again from right side. If baby wants to nurse again at 9:30, she'd offer right side once more. At 10 AM she'd offer left side, and no matter how many times baby indicates need to nurse, she'd keep to left side until 12, then switch back to right side again.

An example of a 3 hr block pattern would be 8 am on right breast, 11 am switch to left, 1 switch back to right, 4 switch back to left, etc.

How Does Block Feeding Help?

In cases of oversupply, block feeding can help signal the breasts to slow down production of too much milk . Understanding how milk production works, helps mom to understand how block nursing can help gently slow production to a level that is more in line with baby's needs.

When mom is considering use of block nursing, it is wise to consult with a breastfeeding expert, such as a board certified lactation consultant. An expert in breastfeeding management can assess the situation and help mom determine if she might benefit from using a block nursing pattern, and if so, what type of pattern to use. Most experts recommend starting out with smaller blocks of time and increasing them if needed after a couple weeks.

How Long Does It Take?

Block nursing is not an "instant fix" for oversupply, but it almost always helps if given enough time to help. In mild cases of oversupply, for example, it may only take a few days to a couple weeks to see good results. In more severe cases it may take several weeks to a couple months to see good results, although almost always mom will see improvements in the situation within just a few days of implementing the use of the block pattern.

Do I Need To Continue Using the Block Pattern, Once Supply Adjusts?

No, one doesn't need to continue using a block pattern once the situation is resolved. Mom can go back to using a "normal" nursing pattern of offering first breast until baby is finished, then burp and offer second side. If things continue to go well, there isn't a need to do any additional adjustments. If the symptoms of oversupply begin to return, she can resume a block nursing pattern once more for a while longer, and then later on can see if a "normal" nursing pattern will work.

As suggested above, it is recommended that mom locate a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) to assess each individual situation, provide assistance, information and support.

Copyright 2000 - 2003  Jim Yount

Send email to Paula Yount for any questions or comments about this site.

Disclaimer:  The pages contained herein are meant purely for informational purposes and every effort is made to provide accurate and up-to-date information. This information, however, is not meant to take the place of your doctor, nor should the information contained on this web site be considered specific medical advice with respect to any specific person and/or any specific condition. The author, therefore respectfully but specifically disclaims any liability, loss or risk - personal or otherwise - that is, or may be, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from use or application of any of the information provided on this web site.