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The First Two Weeks: A Breastfeeding Mama’s Survival Guide


mom in bed with her newborn


Congratulations! You have just been through the marathon of labour and birth and now have a precious little bundle of joy in your arms. You are now responsible to take your baby home and keep them alive, all while healing and resting yourself. You may be feeling a little overwhelmed to say the least. You likely find yourself with a lot of questions about feeding in the early days, no matter how much you prepared beforehand. Take a deep breath, you got this!

 

“Is this normal?”

The first 24 hours with your new baby may have you a bit fooled into thinking that you have a quiet and easy-going baby, and we hope that may very well be the case! However, there is a phenomenon called Second Night Syndrome. Babies being generally sleepy and quiet in the first 24 hours after birth is a normal adaptation that allows mama to rest and begin healing. On day two of life, you may notice your baby is more wakeful and fussier. It will feel like they want to feed constantly (also known as cluster feeding). They may also wake shortly after you lay them down and cry a lot more. This can be worrisome, stressful, and exhausting for you mama! But rest assured, this behaviour is normal too.

There are things you can do to make this time easier on yourself and help your baby adjust to their new world. Lots of skin-to-skin time will help calm your fussy baby (and you!) as well as help in the production and release of breast milk by stimulating two specific hormones—prolactin and oxytocin. The well-known line “sleep when the baby sleeps” can sometimes feel impossible but try your best to make sleep and rest a priority. Lean on your support system or talk to a professional to help you through this challenging time.

 

“Is my milk coming in?”

Once your baby is born, your milk production changes from hormonally driven to supply and demand. The first 14 days after your baby is born are crucial in establishing a good milk supply. If you don’t remove milk from your breasts, your brain will not know there is a baby to feed and will inhibit production. On the other hand, the more milk you remove from your breasts, the more you will produce. The first couple of days postpartum can bring some engorgement when your milk “comes in”, so make sure you pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues. Your breasts will need stimulation—either by latching or pumping—to establish your milk supply. Newborns feed around the clock eight or more times a day, so you should not expect your baby to sleep through the night right away and likely not for the first few months or so.

The early days postpartum are a huge adjustment, so remember to go easy on yourself. You will find a routine that works for you, and it will get easier! If you are experiencing some discomfort with full breasts, breastfeed or express milk often. Manage engorgement with some gentle breast massage and a cold compress after feeding. You can also experiment with different positions to ensure a deep latch to prevent soreness and to help your baby empty your breasts completely.

 

“When should I call a lactation consultant?”

You can reach out to a lactation consultant anytime. Whether you have concerns about your supply, are experiencing any pain with feeding, you need help with pumping, or simply, anytime you feel like breastfeeding isn’t going well for you, these are all perfect times to ask for support. As the first two weeks after birth are important predictors of a successful breastfeeding journey, it is a good idea to plan ahead, think about your breastfeeding goals and find out what kind of support is available near you for when your baby arrives.

 

Click here to talk to a lactation consultant today, we are here for you!


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