The first two weeks of breastfeeding are often the hardest. Whether it's your first baby or your third, getting to know your little one and working with them to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship isn't always easy. Knowing what to expect those first few weeks can be a huge help though, especially if you keep the most common breastfeeding milestones for the fist two weeks in the back of your mind for a reference.
I remember when I had my first daughter; I had no idea what to expect. I had been to the birthing classes and read all of the breastfeeding information I could find. And still, I felt clueless the first time I held her to latch. It was a strange feeling, not knowing what I was doing, but as time went on, my little one and I figured it out together.
It's the same for most moms — the first weeks are a bit of a learning curve as you and your newborn learn the basics of latching on, letdown, and nursing together. Don't worry if you feel like you don't know what to expect. With these important milestones as your guide, you and your baby will be breastfeeding like pros before you know it. (And if not, then perhaps breastfeeding isn't for you — there's no shame in that. )
1. Your Baby Masters Latch
Although Breastfeeding USA noted that babies instinctually root and latch on to the breast, it is rarely as simple as it sounds. If you're struggling to get a good latch, reach out to a lactation consultant or practice these three steps to a perfect latch from Fit Pregnancy at home. By the time your baby has hit two weeks old, you'll both have probably mastered latching.
2. Your Milk Comes In
Although every mom is different, Baby Center noted that most mothers' milk comes in by about three or four days postpartum. Up until that point, your baby will drink the colostrum you've been producing since late pregnancy. When your milk comes in, you'll notice that they feel full, warm to the touch, and most likely a bit painful until the pressure is relieved.
3. Your Letdown Reflex Begins To Sync With Baby
Your letdown reflex (the release of hormones that causes your milk to "drop" and flow quicker as your baby sucks,) may seem erratic and random in the beginning. According Baby-led Breastfeeding, however, your letdown reflex should synch with your baby's sucking patterns over the first few weeks. You may also notice cramping of your uterus when your milk lets down, but this should subside after two or three weeks, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
4. Your Baby Begins To Nurse On A More Predictable Schedule
During the first few weeks, your baby will seem to eat sporadically and for differing lengths of time. This is totally normal newborn behavior, but for most babies, by the time they're a few weeks to a month old, they'll have established a more predictable "routine" of nursing every two or three hours, according to Healthy Children.
5. Your Baby Regains Their Birth Weight
Whether your baby had a high or low birthweight, all babies loose a bit of weight over the first few days. However, if breastfeeding is going well, by their two week check up, they should have regained their birth weight, according to the American Pregnancy Association.