When we talk about breastfeeding most moms talk about growth spurts, distracted babies, starting solids, and weaning. We tend to gloss over those early days and even weeks. I’m not sure if that is because it can be such a challenging time for so many moms, or because in the end, the early weeks are such a blur that many women can’t even remember what those early weeks looked like.
A newborn baby has a very tiny stomach, and breastmilk is easily digestible. This means that babies eat often. Really often. The ‘babies eat every 2.5 – 3 hours’ line is really just that. It is important for babies to eat often. They are still learning how to eat, sleep, breathe, and exist outside of your womb. It is not uncommon for babies to eat every 1.5 – 2 hours in the early days. It may feel like you spend the first couple of weeks nursing a baby non-stop. This is typical and it doesn’t last. Eventually your baby will stretch out those feedings, and they will start to sleep in longer chunks.
Sometimes tenderness can happen through the early days, but it shouldn’t last. If it does persist, that is a good sign that it is time to seek help.
To make the early days easier, surrounding yourself with help can make those days easier. Having meals prepared ahead of time, or even better yet, having friends who can bring you meals and help you with household chores can allow you to spend time focused on your baby, and resting in between feedings.
Your baby doesn’t yet know the world s/he is living in, they only know you. You are their source of comfort, food, and security. You are who they need to be with. Your job is amazing, and challenging, and that fact will never change though the challenges will. So yes, the first few weeks will be over before you know it, and you will be on your way to a happy breastfeeding relationship. But they aren’t without their own challenges, and it’s ok to be exhausted and frustrated. Know that it does get easier, you will get through it, and there are people to support you and cheer you on. Find them, surround yourself with them, and you will have a much easier road.
Have you been through the early days? What would you tell a new mom?