Breastfeeding: the first few weeks

Breastfeeding: the first few weeks – it might be easy or you could be feeling like it is a battle that you are losing. For some women it can be emotional, frustrating and lonely. I have written about breastfeeding in the first week – this page focuses on 2-6 weeks.

Feeding frequently will boost your milk supply so expect to feed about 8-12 times a day, some days your baby may want to feed more often. Continue to read your baby’s cues, so you are feeding before he is getting upset.

Breastfeeding: the first few weeks
What can feeding be like?

In a word – varied! It can be a mixture of short feeds and then long feeds, of evening cluster feeds and growth spurts – these generally take place between 7- 10days, between 2-3 weeks, between 4-6 weeks. Babies are not hungry and thirsty at set times so expect varied feeding.

Signs that your baby is getting enough milk

Poo – about 3-4 a day until about 4-6 weeks old when they may poo less often, even going a few days between poos

Wee – about 5 or 6 wet nappies a day, this may reduce slightly after 6 weeks

Gaining weight – the average is about 6oz a week but this can vary a lot from week to week for some babies. Try to remember that babies grow in spurts, not gradually so don’t weigh your baby too often. If you are concerned about your baby’s weight gain, talk it through with a breastfeeding specialist and your health visitor.

What’s going on with your boobs?

Because of growth spurts and the varied nature of feeding, women often start to question if they are making enough milk for their baby. If your baby is showing that he is getting enough milk, then your supply is most probably fine but talk to a breastfeeding specialist for more support.

Sleepy baby?

If your babies weight-gain is good then you can feed on demand, rather than waking him up.

Positioning Tips with a newborn baby

*Babies need to feel comfortable to have a good feed, especially in those early days when you are both learning and trying to get feeding established.

*You also need to comfortable – because you could be sitting there for a while and because your discomfort could affect your milk flow.

*The cushion is king – behind your back and a v pillow on your lap for your baby to lie on – that way the cushion can support the weight of your baby and you can relax your shoulders and your arms.

*Sitting upright can help a lot, rather than leaning too far forward or back. This can enable your baby to latch better.

*Your baby has his tummy snuggled in to yours.

*Before you settle down to feed your baby go to the loo and gather everything you might need: water, snacks, phone, TV remote control…

The La Leche League uses CHINS to help with comfortable breastfeeding:

C = Close: Have your baby as close to you as possible

H = Head: Baby’s head is supported but not held so it is free to move

I = In Line: Your baby’s body is in a line from head to shoulders and hips so the neck is not twisted

N= Nose to nipple: touch your baby’s nose to your nipple so your baby has to reach to attach themselves to your breast

S = Your position is Sustainable and you are comfortable

Please remember…

  • breastfeeding can be really tough, a lot tougher than you ever imagined
  • no two days are the same and in the early weeks you may have to take it one feed at a time
  • get support if it is agony, if your nipples are becoming damaged because this is not right – see a breastfeeding specialist for help with your baby’s latch and to see if there is a tongue-tie
  • it can take weeks for breastfeeding to click into place
  • you can find what works for you and many families also introduce a bottle of breastmilk/formula as well as breastfeeding

Seek help and additional support if…

*you are concerned about your baby’s weight-gain
*your baby isn’t having as many wet nappies as you would expect
*you are giving yourself a hardtime, breastfeeding is harder than you expected
*you are sore
*you are not sure if you can/want to continue breastfeeding

opinions, support and advice around breastfeeding can be very conflicting – if your baby has lost weight or you are very sore from feeding, you need to speak to a breastfeeding specialist as soon as possible. Ask if there is a breastfeeding specialist at the hospital and contact the La Leche League for more specialist support.

Breastfeeding often doesn’t come naturally, it is a skill to be learnt and it is ever changing so good support can be crucial. You are not doing anything wrong if it doesn’t feel natural and if it is harder than you ever imagined.

I have just covered the basics here, here are links to more indepth information…
Positive Breastfeeding by Dr Amy Brown is a phenomenal read

Real experiences…

“In the early weeks it is SO easy to think about stopping breastfeeding as it is so difficult being wanted by the baby up to every hour & unable to move much & feeling almost trapped but choosing boxsets on tv, reading a book, playing on phones are all good ways to distract you from the time etc. Get partners to get up for a few minutes in the night in the early weeks to support you as the nights can be long & you can dread them tbh. But once the early weeks are over it becomes second nature, convenient & you become proud that your baby is thriving because of you.”

“It DOES get easier and in time its becomes second nature to you both. It can be tying but it’s only for a few months. I found lying on the bed and feeding on my side was the best relief when she was feeding a lot and my back hurt.
I also loved how quick and easy it was – she stirred and within 5 seconds she was feeding and happy – no tears or distress.”

“Don’t clock watch – once I stopped looking at the clock everything became a bit easier.”

“Eat and drink plenty.”

“Have your phone or books to hand – I spent many a night reading and breastfeeding.”

“I needed to boost my confidence to feed in public – places like Ikea, Fenwicks and the Metrocentre have lovely nursing rooms and this helped me get out the house whilst being able to feed in a safe place.”

“Find a good boxset to watch and enjoy all the cuddles.”

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