Breastfeeding Mom's Survival Guide for the First Two Weeks

 

First of all I want to say CONGRATULATIONS on the birth of your baby.  I'm glad you're here.  Hopefully you're not having issues but if you are...please know that many new moms struggle with breastfeeding especially the first two weeks.  I see it all the time and it's key to get help ASAP!  

(If you're pregnant... get that lactation consultant's number so you can call immediately once the baby arrives.  If you have your baby at home, please see my resources down below.

 

You need to remember that you and your baby are "LEARNING" the art of breastfeeding.  You don't learn how to ride a bike overnight.  And most first time moms compare their breastfeeding experience to all those images of moms sitting peacefully nursing their baby.  

Believe me... their baby cried and pulled away from their breast too!  It wasn't all roses in the beginning.

Keep going and don't be afraid to ask for SUPPORT!!!  It's super important! 

 

First thing first 

 

Breastfeed every 1 -3 hours

It sounds like a lot, but your baby needs your milk and your breasts need the stimulation to bring an abundant milk supply.  Newborns need to be fed around the clock so they get 8 - 12 feedings each 24 hour period.

How much can a newborn really drink? 

How to Know If Your Baby is Getting Enough To Eat

When a baby is getting milk (he is not getting milk just because he has the breast in his mouth and is making sucking movements), you will see a pause at the point of his chin after he opens to the maximum and before he closes his mouth, so that one suck is (open mouth wide > pause > close mouth type of sucking). - Jack Newman

 

Wake your baby up well before feedings

A drowsy baby will not feed for long.  Undress him to his diaper, rub his tummy and back, talk to him and rock him back and forth if necessary until his eyes open.  A good strategy is to put the baby naked (except for a diaper ) on your chest skin to skin for 1/2 hour prior to feeds.

 How to wake a sleepy baby by Dr William Sears.  

Waking A Sleepy Baby by Breastfeeding Basics

 

Keep your baby sucking through the feeding

If she drifts off to sleep, "bug her" to keep her awake.  Massage, cool wash cloths, blowing on her face, and talking to her will keep her going.  Look for about 15-20 minutes of vigorous sucking on each breast.

Try some breast compressions (a type of breast massage) during a breastfeed if necessary. 

 

Try baby led latching or laid back feeding

For baby led latch: Get in a reclining position and place the baby on top of you in any position that is comfortable for you.  Allow the baby to locate the breast and latch-on.  His head will bob around until he locates the breast.  When his chin feels the breast first, he will open wide and latch-on. Try again if you feel any nipple pain.

Read this for more details.

 
 

 

Laid Back Feeding: Checkout this video 

 
 

 

If your breasts get full, have your baby empty them for you by frequent feeding

If that is not enough, you may use a breast pump prior to feedings to get the milk flowing and shape the nipple, then feed the baby.  After feedings, if you are still over-filled, use the breast pump again.  Ice is also a good way to slow down breastmilk production at this time.  And it will feel good!

Are you engorged

 

Look for one wet diaper for each day the baby is old until day 6

Continue with 6 wet diapers and 2-3 stools daily. For example, 3 wet diapers on day three, four on day four and so on. More is fine, but if you are not getting these minimums, call your lactation consultant and/or your pediatrician for evaluation of your situation and advice.

Is my baby getting enough to eat? 

Here's a great cheat sheet for you. 

 

If your nipples get sore

Some moms don't experience any pain in the beginning. But others do. Try the sandwich hold.  Gently squeeze the breast into a “sandwich”. Create an oval with your thumb lined up with your baby’s nose, your fingers under the breast.

Breastfeeding with Normal, Flat or Inverted Nipples

Breastfeeding Videos by Dr. Jack Newman

Sore Nipples or Breasts

Craniosacral Therapy is helpful to many infants who are having difficulty latching.  

Some babies who are having difficulty latching deeply and transferring milk are tongue-tied.

 

When do I get to sleep?

Sleep when your baby sleeps. SERIOUSLY, do this!!  Let others do the household chores.  Newborns tend to feed a lot at night and sleep more during the day. They don't know the difference between night and day yet.

Around the clock feeds are grueling and you can maximize your sleep by napping when your baby does.  Accustom yourself to these quick "cat- naps" to help you feel refreshed.  You can also encourage the baby to spend more time awake during the day by feeding and playing with him.

Did You Know That A Postpartum Doula Can Help You Get More Sleep?

 

Do as little as possible at night

ISP

Once the baby has gained his birth weight back, feed your baby when he/she tells you he/she is hungry.  You don't necessarily have to wake him/her up to feed.  Unless your pediatrician says otherwise.   Don’t turn on any lights.  Use red light bulbs if you have a night light.  Red light does not interfere with melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone found naturally in the body. It's responsible for your wake and sleep cycles, circadian rhythms.  

Changing diapers -  You do want to change him/her every 2 to 3 hours, but it is not necessary to wake a baby to change a wet diaper. However, the acid content of a bowel movement may irritate your little one's skin and should be changed as soon as possible once your baby is awake.

TIP: The first two weeks I recommend that you clean your baby with warm water and an extremely soft paper towel that has been cut into squares. Have a thermos of warm water and bowl next to your changing table.  Poor warm water onto soft cloth-paper towel and wipe. After two weeks, switch to regular wipes. FYI - Water wipes are the best wipes to use. 

If your baby “really wakes” up you will be ready to go back to sleep and he will be ready to play.  Oh no!

 

Find your groove

It will take several weeks for you and your baby to get into a pattern of feedings and nap times. Go with the flow and allow your baby to show you what his natural rhythms are. He will develop a pattern that works for him/her.  Schedules don’t tend to work until the baby is a bit older and bigger. You can encourage a more predictable pattern later.

 

If you are struggling or in a lot of pain.  

See a lactation specialist ASAP or get some sort of breastfeeding support.

 

Breastfeeding Links

Dr. Jack Newman — Breastfeeding Inc.   

Handouts by Dr Jack Newman

Kelly Mom   

Medela    

Birth and Breastfeeding   

Breastfeeding and Working   

Breastfeeding After Breast and Nipple Surgery

Milk Banks — Donate Milk

 

Lactation Consultants

International Lactation Consultants Association

 

Breastfeeding Education & Support

La Leche League — USA

La Leche League — International  


Resource:

Lactation Education Resources / Worksite Perinatal Consultants. This handout may be freely duplicated. Please be aware that the information provided is intended solely for general educational and informational purposes only. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician for any questions you may have regarding your or your infant’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have received in this information.