It is totally normal to feel overwhelmed with the amount of advice you receive during the first few weeks of your breastfeeding journey.
In this article, we're outlining six things that you might ask yourself during the first few weeks of breastfeeding your newborn - that are totally normal!
"Am I Producing Enough Milk? Is My Colostrum All My Newborn Needs?"
This is one of the most asked questions by new moms. The answer to this question is YES.
That thick, concentrated, cream or yellow colored milk coming out of your breasts (in seemingly small quantities) is all your baby needs in the days following the birth. Colostrum is chock-full of antibodies, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fat-soluble vitamins. It’s basically a superfood for your baby!
Your newborn's stomach can only hold about 1.4 teaspoons of milk at 24 hours of age. Between days 2-5 after the birth, your breasts will start filling fuller and heavier. That’s a sign that your body is producing your mature milk.
If you’ve had a c-section or a more challenging birth, your milk may take a little longer to come in. In most cases this is normal and your colostrum is more than enough just as nature intended!
As long as your baby is content after feeding, has adequate wet and soiled diapers, and is gaining weight, there is no real cause for concern.
"How Do I Know If My Baby Is Well Fed?"
To ensure that your baby is getting enough milk and to establish a healthy milk supply, you’ll want to nurse at least 10-12 times per day (this also includes night feeding). Here are some tell-tale signs that your baby is getting enough milk.
A healthy breastfed newborn can lose up to 10% of their birth weight and progressively gain it back—in 5 to 7oz. increments within a period of 2 weeks after the birth. You’ll know whether or not your baby has started to gain back the weight during your first well-baby visit (usually a week after the birth).
If it is found during your first well-baby visit (usually a week after the birth) that your baby has not started to gain back the weight, seek help from a Certified Lactation Specialist before you decide to supplement.
Adequate Wet & Soiled Diapers
In the early days, a newborn’s pee and poop diapers will typically be equivalent to their age. So a 3 day old baby would have at least 3 wet and 3 soiled diapers.
Once your milk comes in around day 5 and baby has more to feed on, the number of wet and soiled diapers will increase. You can expect 4-6+ wet and soiled diapers daily.
Here some other signs that indicate your baby is getting enough milk:
- Your breasts are no longer full after each feed
- You can hear your baby swallowing milk
- Your baby unlatches on their own at the end of each feed and seems satisfied/content
- Your baby looks healthy (skin is not pale, lips and tongue or not dry, fontanelle is not sunken in)
"My Breasts Are So Full and I’m Uncomfortable!"
The first time you experience breast engorgement will most likely be when your milk first comes between days 2 and 5 postpartum. Your breasts will be fuller and harder, they may appear to be shiny due to the skin being stretched, and you may have lumps near your armpits.
Although this is “normal”, it can become a bigger problem such as clogged ducts, mastitis, or low milk supply if left untreated.
To minimize the risk of engorgement, it’s important that you nurse on demand a minimum of 10-12 times per day, ensure proper latching, and effectively empty your breasts by stimulating them to get your milk moving and letting your baby fully finish on one side before offering the other.
You’ll also want to avoid using bottles and pacifiers!
"Is Breastfeeding Going To Be Painful?"
During your first couple of weeks breastfeeding, you may experience latch-on pain; that is, discomfort/pain that occurs when your baby first latches onto your breast and subsides after several seconds.
This type of pain can be normal and has to do with your nipples getting “broken in”. In other words, your nipples are working on getting used to your baby’s suckling. You can use your own breast milk or nipple balm in-between feedings to soothe your nipples and speed up healing.
Sometimes the root causes of nipple pain run much deeper and may need to be addressed and remedied. If you find yourself experiencing toe-curling pain, bleeding/cracked nipples, and pain in the nipples long after the nursing session has ended, please consult with an IBCLC as soon as possible.
Other common causes of nipple pain include:
A Shallow Latch or Poor Positioning
Tongue tie compromises your baby’s ability to latch on deeply and suck efficiently since it reduces their tongue’s range of motion. Some tongue ties don’t impact breastfeeding while others can negatively affect both you and your baby.
If you’ve assessed your baby for a tongue tie and suspect that your baby has a tongue tie and it is affecting breastfeeding, let your healthcare provider know as soon as possible.
Lip ties restrict the range of motion of the upper lip, causing baby to have a shallow latch that is very hard on the nipples. However, just like tongue ties, some lip ties won’t affect breastfeeding and others will cause issues.
If you’re experiencing pain while nursing and suspect that your baby has a lip tie and it is affecting breastfeeding, let your healthcare provider know as soon as possible.
"It Seems Like Both My Baby and I Are Just So Hungry!"
If your baby is wanting to nurse a lot more than usual— every hour or so in short spurts, and can’t be soothed until they are fed, it may indicate that your baby is cluster feeding.
Cluster feeding is normal and beneficial for both you and your baby, but it can definitely take a toll on you mama! You’ll probably find yourself being more hungry and thirsty than usual too!
Stock up on some healthy snacks and drinks to make sure you are replenishing your body. It's also important that you remember to take some time to yourself when baby isn’t nursing, get help if you need it, change your perspective and consider it as an opportunity to bond with your newborn, and well, just be patient.
We promise, cluster feeding does not last forever!
"I’m Experiencing A Roller Coaster of Emotions"
Breastfeeding during the first couple of weeks can be challenging for you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It is 100% normal for you to love it one second, and not want to breastfeed the next. It’s normal for you to experience a wide array of emotions especially when you’re dealing with hormonal changes, postpartum recovery, lack of sleep, and a hungry newborn!
Whatever you’re going through, we want you to know that you are not alone. Join moms going through similar experiences through our LaVie Mom Facebook Community!
We encourage you to acknowledge those feelings and work through them whether it be on your own through journaling, or with the help of a friend or breastfeeding professional.
Whatever you’re going through, you are definitely not alone. Find support and find your mom tribe. You are doing the best you can and that will always be enough.