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What to expect in your first week of breastfeeding

You might be wondering, “What is there to learn? Breastfeeding is natural; just give baby your breast and they nurse, right?”

We wish we could say it was always that simple. In our experience with new mothers, we have seen some struggles getting started with breastfeeding. Some of these problems are readily solvable with quick fixes while others can be more challenging. A recent study provides empirical support for what we’ve observed in practice. Specifically, it found that 92% of mothers with 3-day old babies had at least one ‘bump in the breastfeeding road’

While breastfeeding may be “natural” it does take some time to learn.
For many women, breastfeeding their baby will be their first time witnessing the process up close. So while breastfeeding is ‘natural’, it may not come naturally to you and will take some time to get used to. To that end, we want to tell you four important things that will make the first week of breastfeeding much easier.

1) Understanding newborn baby talk

Evolution equips us all with reflexes that help us to adapt to our environment and survive. Babies are no different. The sucking reflex and rooting reflexes (searching with the mouth) are important for feeding. When baby makes sucking motions, therefore, he is signaling that he wants to be fed. And when he starts crying after his signals have not been heeded, he is- in short- saying, “I tried to be nice about it but you missed my signals. Now I’m ‘hangry’ and this is stressful for everyone! Always take a few minutes to calm and soothe your baby before putting them to the breast.

Try to watch for and respond to those earlier ques as the baby is easier to latch and frequent feeding causes the mother’s body to produce more milk.

2) The “Ravenous Second Night”

A baby’s second night can be a demanding one for mothers, baby wants to feed often, mum’s breasts are soft. Many people assume this means they don’t have enough milk and are tempted to turn to formula.

This period of frequent eating, however, is to be expected. Your baby is doing exactly what it should be. Frequent feeding signals to your body that it should produce more milk. Interfering with this natural process by giving formula can deter your bodies’ ability to produce milk in the long run.

3) You do not have to endure nipple pain

Nipple pain is common in the early stages of breastfeeding. Feeding is new to your body and initially, can be tough on the delicate skin (barrier cream can really help). But that doesn’t mean that it should be blindly accepted. Nipple cracking or bleeding indicates that the baby is exerting too much pressure on the nipple. To allay some of this pain, unlatch your baby, adjust your breastfeeding position and try to get baby latched more deeply. If these simple adjustments don’t work, you can take our free workshop on breastfeeding to refine your technique.

4) A breastfeeding support team is critical

Bringing a new baby into the world is one of the most transformative experiences you’ll ever go through. It is impossible to imagine how dramatically your world will shift. On top of all of this, you’ll be learning how to breastfeed- something that, as the points above indicate, is trickier than it looks.

Amidst this sea of change, you’ll need support to keep you afloat. Indeed, research shows that a partner’s support is key to ensuring breastfeeding success. If you don’t have a partner, recruit a friend. When you are struggling or have questions in the wee hours of the morning, you will need someone to support you and tell you that you are doing an amazing and important job. Try to surround yourself with friends and family who have had positive experiences with breastfeeding. Look to these people- rather than Google – to answer your questions and support you.

The first week of breastfeeding is challenging. Hopefully, knowing these four things will help to make it easier. We believe in you! Begin your breastfeeding journey today, sign up for our FREE Prepare to Breastfeed Workshop, suitable for expectant parents in their second and third trimester.