Breastfeeding: The First Six Weeks

You've just spent 9 months focusing on labor and the delivery. Now it's time to learn the mom-and-baby breastfeeding dance. Breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your baby, since neither of you have done this before. It takes time, and you learn by doing it—and doing it, and doing it some more. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the first few weeks of breastfeeding.

What your baby takes, is what your body makes...

Think of a large marble that's roughly the size of your newborn's stomach. So keep in mind your baby needs to eat at least every 2 to 3 hours (see 'How Often your Newborn Should Feed' for more info). In other words, your baby isn't eating more often than others.

If you have concerns about milk supply to keep up to his demand, don't worry! What your baby takes, is what your body makes; you will have enough milk. Did you know that the size of your breasts has nothing to do with the amount of milk your body produces?

Learn more: How to know if your baby is getting enough overall (Diapers, Weight Gain, and Infant Behavior)

Ouch!! Seek help for pain

Yes, breastfeeding might hurt and cause sore nipples in the first few days, but it should not hurt for the whole feeding or over a period of a few days or longer. If pain persists, don't tough it out—seek help. We have resources and support available to support breastfeeding success. Roughly 95% of the time, the problem of sore nipples can be solved by simply improving your latch.

Learn more: How to LatchHow Latch FeelsHow to know if you have a good latch.

Are these my breasts?

If you didn't think your breasts could ever be this big and feel as hard as Mount Everest, don't worry, they will settle down after the first few weeks, and when you've established a nursing routine , they'll settle down in size and weight. In the meantime, enjoy and love your enhanced cleavage.

Learn more: Engorgement, Care Plan: Sore Nipples, and How your Breasts will Change.

Make peace with dust bunnies

Leave the dust bunnies and dirty dishes alone for the first few weeks. The world won't stop revolving if you have a messy house or you don't make a gourmet dinner every night. Now is the time to focus on your baby, to get to know one another, learn to read his cues and sing silly songs to him. Don't be afraid to ask for help, either, or to accept it when someone offers. Friends and family are marvelous at folding laundry, making meals or running to the store. All you need to do, is ask!

Listen to your instincts

If you're hungry, eat. If you're tired, nap. If you want to wear pyjamas all day, do so. If you're too tired to welcome visitors, don't. In other words, it's essential to take care of yourself as well as your baby during these first few weeks.

Master the Breastfeeding Dance

By about 6 weeks, you and your baby will have learned the breastfeeding dance and settled into somewhat of a routine. Life will feel more familiar, your breasts will look more familiar. Remember that breastfeeding takes time. Give yourself and your baby time to transition, to learn, to relax and to fall in love.

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Heather Kelly
Heather is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
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