I am so excited to finally be writing this post. I’ve spent lots of time chatting with new mamas about nursing. The first two weeks are without a doubt the hardest. It’s not easy learning or re-learning how to nurse a new babe, recovering from birth, and figuring out the new rhythm of your family.
While I’m not expert, and I’m definitely not a lactation consultant, I have successfully nursed two children in the last three and a half years! I am thankful that both times have been rather seamless! Here is how to survive the first two weeks of breastfeeding!
How to Survive the First Two Weeks of Breastfeeding
Note: As with all of my content, I am writing about my experience. I want you to know that I am not claiming to know everything, nor do I want you to use this advice in place of the advice of a pediatrician or a lactation consultant. Just read this if you need help, and talk it over with your personal medical professionals.
CHECK OUT MY POST “MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS FOR THE NEW BREASTFEEDING MOM”
The First Two to Three Days
Ahhhh, the first time you breastfeed. What an amazing moment. Well, for some. Haha. It can be extremely stressful too. With Grace (my first child) it was very stressful, as I had just come out of a traumatic c-section. With my second it was more relaxed, and I felt like I was ready to tackle it, though still didn’t know what to expect.
Here is what you need to know about the first few days of breastfeeding:
1 // You’re practicing your latch and positioning.
This time is all about baby and mom learning how breastfeeding works. What does a good latch look like? Which position is most comfortable?
For us, the best position was the cradle hold. It was the most natural for me. I’ve heard that some c-section moms prefer the football hold to avoid any contact with their midsection.
2 // Baby’s stomach is the size of a marble.
Did you know that you CANNOT overfeed a breastfed baby? (source) You can, however, overfeed a formula-fed baby so keep that in mind! Baby’s stomach is so tiny. The amount of food they need is very small (which brings me to my next point).
3 // You’ll produce colostrum.
Colostrum is very thick and concentrated breastmilk! The little bit you give to baby is liquid gold. You won’t be leaking breastmilk all over quite yet, haha! Check out this informational pdf to for more info on how much food baby needs in the first 24 hours of birth compared to 8-10 days after birth!
4 // It will hurt.
This was not something I expected, but it’s truly painful. They say that if the latch is correct, then it won’t be painful. That is definitely true, but the pain is mostly from baby nursing so frequently. I view it like this. Your nipples have to build up callous and stamina when it comes to nursing. Once that’s done it really doesn’t ever hurt again, unless baby cuts teeth later on!
A Proper Latch
A proper latch is something you want to have checked over and over. With my first baby I had the lactation consultant come in almost every feeding while I was at the hospital. I wanted to be sure she could see it and help trouble shoot if there were any issues. You don’t want baby to just have your nipple in their mouth. It’s much more complex than that — baby has a lot of your areola in their mouth too.
THE TRICK TO A GOOD LATCH: MAKE A BOOB SANDWICH
Sounds weird, right? But truly, you want your boob to be flattened out, so grab the area around your nipples and pinch it to make it flat, then stick it inside baby’s mouth so that your nipple is far back down to their throat. I know it doesn’t sound very scientific the way I describe it, but this graphic might help! Truly, try to consult a lactation consultant because they’re so incredibly helpful!
Visit Kelly Mom here for lots of info on proper latch!
The First Two Weeks
After about five to seven days of breastfeeding the cracked nipples and overall soreness started to subside. I felt more confident in my ability to nurse, and started to notice that tingly letdown feeling each time I would feed Norah. My supply also balanced out after the initial engorgement, and all-around breastfeeding seemed easier.
Still, it’s important to remember the following:
1 // Find a Community of Breastfeeding-supportive moms/people you trust.
The key to keeping up your nursing momentum is to find encouraging people you trust. Find a support group locally (many hospitals offer them for free), get your husband to encourage you, call your breastfeeding friends, and DEFINITELY join a support group on Facebook. I have a motherhood support group here with lots of breastfeeding moms. Join it if you need some help or just want someone to chat with about nursing. We’re all mega fans 🙂
2 // Engorgement
Engorgement is simply your milk supply evening out to what your baby needs. The cool thing about breastmilk production is that it’s supply and demand! So, as your feeding times become more regular in the first two weeks (and by regular I mean, they’re still most likely every one to two hours), your body will understand how much milk it needs to make to keep baby nourished.
Engorgement is weird. Your breasts get super full, and you wake up and they feel like rocks. The good news is that this doesn’t last forever. If you need to just take the edge off, consider using a Haakaa handheld pump. It’s quick and simple, and you can save the milk for later if needed.
3 // Eat, eat, then eat some more!
This one is so important! You HAVE to eat! Breastfeeding hunger is so intense! Keep yourself fed, otherwise your postpartum hormones and the intense need to eat will consume you whole. It will affect your mood, your patience levels… everything!
My favorite easy and healthy breastfeeding snacks are hummus and Mary’s crackers, bananas with peanut butter (all day, every day), and lactation cookies (which can be made ahead and frozen).
4 // Use an app to track feedings, if you wish!
You might be thinking, what the heck… why do I need an app to breastfeed my baby? Well, you don’t NEED one, but if you’re a first time / anxious mom like I was, you want to know when baby ate, which side, and for how long. These are questions your pediatrician might ask for the first few weeks, and it’s much easier to track it through the app then try to invent your own system. This isn’t sponsored or anything, I truly just wanted to share what I used when Grace (my 3 year old) was breastfeeding. It made those first few weeks of breastfeeding so much easier on me.
Products I Swear By
Read this post to see all of the must-have, nursing mom products I swear by!
Surviving As a Mom of Multiples
One of the questions I was asked most when I conducted the survey on Instagram was, What do you do with your toddler while you’re nursing your newborn?
I actually was fortunate enough to have my husband home to help me during the first month or so of having Norah. So, I had him spend time with Gracie as much as she could. When he had to go back to work though, things got real and I started to stress out so much.
For some reason, for toddlers, a nursing mother is a magnet. She wanted to lay on top of me, lay on top of the baby, and stroke the baby’s face as she tried to nurse. Meanwhile, I’m trying to just make sure I get a good latch, ahhh!
The most advice I can offer on the subject, and what I ended up doing is either a. screen time, or b. activities. Quick, premade activities like these Melissa & Doug Water Wow pads may help buy you a half hour or so each time you need to nurse with other littles running around. But I’m going to be completely honest and say that we watched a lot of TV the first few weeks, and I feel no shame in admitting that.
Nursing After Birth Trauma
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I hope this post on how to survive the first two weeks of breastfeeding was helpful to you! Thank you so much reading!