This post is part of the Breast-Kept Secrets: Breastfeeding Advice from One Mom to Another series. Go back and read all posts here.
I’ll never forget how I struggled as a first-time breastfeeding mom–especially during the early days! My milk did not arrive until day 5, and I clearly remember taking a bath and looking at my breasts with tears streaming down my face.
“Milk! Come in! Come in!”
It had been my dream to breastfeed, and in my postpartum emotional daze, I thought my milk would never arrive.
A friend of mine from church, Monica, was a former lactation consultant. She volunteered to come over to my house and help me learn the ropes, as it seemed I couldn’t keep my baby awake long enough to bring my milk in.
Monica gave me what I believe to be the very BEST breastfeeding advice. I believe it was this wisdom that gave me the push I needed to persevere through those challenges and other breastfeeding challenges that have come over the course of my now 50-month breastfeeding journey:
Give it two weeks.
That’s it? Yes, that’s it! It’s so simple yet profound.
Instead of feeling like you have to conquer this whole breastfeeding thing from your first days postpartum, just take it one day at a time, and resolve that, no matter what, you will continue to breastfeed for at least two weeks.
Once those two weeks are up, go ahead and add two more. Next, commit to breastfeed for a month. Then make it two.
Before you know it, you will have breastfed for an entire year. That’s how it worked for me!
Those two weeks turned into:
22 months with Baby Girl #1
18 months with Baby Girl #2
10 months and counting with Baby Girl #3
Just give it two weeks. I know you can do it!
What is your best breastfeeding advice?
P.S. Wondering why you should breastfeed in the first place? Read HERE about some of the benefits of breastfeeding and how breastfeeding paves the way for a real food life!
Great advice! Hanging in there at first is definitely the first step towards a successful breastfeeding relationship.
I guess my advice would be to have faith in your body. It made a baby and it can feed it. JUST HAVE FAITH 🙂
I love this series! I’m not a mother…yet. But I do plan to breastfeed and am soaking up all of the information you are sharing. I’m sure that I will reference this series so much when my own little ones arrive.
Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents
Agreed. And I am SO GLAD that someone told me that before Annie was born – or I would have quit. For real. Two weeks. Amen.
I breastfed my son for a year and it was great! However, the 2nd time around, I had twins. We exclusively breastfed for 3mos. Icouldn’t produce enough no matter what to the point we were all in tears. So my best advice, is don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it anymore. It took me from a state of un-happy, screaming, hungry babies – to sweet, giggling, full bundles of joy.
I had a lot of trouble in my baby’s 2nd and 3rd months (yeast infection, mastitis, my baby stopped gaining weight, etc) and the one thing I still remember to this day is what the lactation consultant told me when we realized my milk supply just wasn’t enough (after soooo much pumping!): “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”
I’m happy to say that I breastfed (along with giving him formula) for an entire year. I’ve had a couple of friends with supply issues who give up in the early days, but I’m proof that if you want to breastfeed, you can! Even if you still have to supplement, any little bit of breast milk helps. 🙂
I really wish this advice was given to more mothers as well. So many mamas get discouraged that they don’t produce enough and let themselves believe they have “failed” at breastfeeding. Not true! When I was back to work, I stressed, and stressed, and stressed that I wasn’t pumping enough (and then I would struggle pumping because I was stressed about pumping). Finally I realized that I could just top off his bottles with 1-2 oz of formula. That allowed me to continue breastfeeding for 4 more months!
“Just give it two weeks”
“It’s not all or nothing”
Those should be TOP two things we tell new mothers about everything!
Yes agree my 4th baby lost a lot of weight as my milk took 7 days to come in not because he didn’t feed enough he was on me 24/7 but because I had a c section unlike my other 3 births, what I didn’t know until later and was told was with a normal delivery you hit the pain factor that triggers the milk you don’t with a c section in quite the same way hence the delay. Now very successfully breast feeding and bottle feeding and yes combination feeding can be successful!
Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs
I was given similar advice (3 weeks instead of 2) when my first was born and MAN – that was no joke the best advice I could have ever received. We had lots of ups and downs and between latching and no sleep and being a milk trough – I wanted to throw in the towel nearly every day! But I clung to “3 weeks” and vowed to keep going. By then, my son and I had figured out our rhythm and nursing was a cinch! To this day “give it 3 weeks” is the same advice I give ALL of my pregnant friends!
My best advice would be that it gets better. It can be so overwhelming to be a new mom and exhausted and to think that the round the clock feedings will never end, but it does get better!
Excellent advice! It so helps to remember “this, too, shall pass!” Thanks for sharing!!
I had such a hard time getting baby to latch on with a wide enough mouth so she didn’t hurt me. It took me several weeks to get it right, and by then, the damage was done and I was in pain every time I breastfed. I finally found a website (Dr. Sears, I think) that showed me exact steps for how to get baby’s mouth to open wide. It was critical in my survival of breastfeeding. After a little while of proper latching, the pain went away, and I was able to breastfeed a full year. I’m so glad I pushed through!!
Way to persevere!! I love Dr. Sears!
Anne @Authentic Simplicity
I’m expecting my first child, due in late July, and I plan on breastfeeding. I tried explaining to my husband that my milk could take up to 5 days to come in and he keeps trying to tell me that I will need to feed the baby formula in that time. I told him no the baby will get enough of what it needs. It’s starting to cause some friction between us and I’m starting to worry. Are there any resources out that that he can read to show him how breastfeeding works? I really don’t want to go to formula unless it becomes medically necessary for the baby. Please help. Thank you.
That’s tough. My mil and my mom both breastfed so my hubby was super supportive. If you followup with your child’s pediatrician they will help reassure him I am sure. Mine came in on day 5 in the doctors office where they had just given us formula samples (just in case) lol I was so relieved that it came in!!!!! Breastfeeding mama of 5 kids:)
First of all–congrats on your pregnancy! I would have him read The Breastfeeding Mother’s Companion. It is an excellent, excellent book! The most important thing is to put your baby to breast very, very often those first few days! I would see a lactation consultant as soon as possible after the birth as well. Most hospitals have them on staff!
It may help if your ob/gyn or midwife explains it to him. My husband and both our moms were not convinced on the whole “my body knows what it’s doing”, but once the baby got here, they saw why I insisted so much on breastfeeding. I’ve been at it for over 6 months now and I have their full support!
Support is SO vital!
I totally agree! It took 5 days for my milk to come in with my first. Over 65 months of breastfeeding my 5 kids and still going strong with my 12 month-old:)
Yay, Tawna!! It sounds like we had a very similar experience!
I have a few points:
1. Breastfeed on demand. I am not certain how many weeks I tried going on a schedule. I’m not even sure how I got it into my mind that my baby SHOULD be on a schedule for eating (probably some website I read, in fact I believe it was called the EASY method — and you should 100% avoid it!). When I started simply feeding my baby when I knew she wanted to eat and/or to comfort suck my life and stress level did a complete 180.
2. Don’t give up, even if you have to supplement in the beginning, or if you have to pump and give baby pumped milk out of a bottle. I couldn’t breastfeed right away because my daughter had to spend a night and a full day in the NICU. However, I took myself down to the NICU every two hours to feed her and hold her, but I was having latch issues, but I still tried. Then we got her home and my milk took longer than normal to come in, and she still was having latch issues/I was stressing out. So I pumped milk and she drank it from a bottle… about 4 weeks later I had almost decided not to breastfeed, but tried once more, and hallelujah it all just happened.
3. Learn to lay on your side and breastfeed your baby. This is a life saver and I really wish someone had told me to do it long before I actually started doing it.
4. Don’t listen to people who will try to dissuade you. Even now, my daughter is 6 months old and my mom STILL insists I get her to drink out of a bottle (she began refusing a bottle at about 2.5 months). My mom says I need her to have a bottle so I know how much milk she is actually getting – ridiculous! If she nurses and falls asleep or comes of my breast happy, she has had enough to eat, I don’t need to see it in ounces on a bottle!
My mom feels the same way, I just assure her that as long as she has plenty urine and stool diapers then I know she’s getting plenty…and she isn’t screaming at the top of her lungs. I was forced to quit with baby #1 after 2 months of latch issues and stress [now wish I had preserved the negative] and her weight was all off but so far with this bundle of joy she’s doing great.
Ashley I have to disagree with point 1. That might have worked for you but that’s not blanket advice for all mothers. Or maybe your statement should say ‘be willing to feed on demand if needed’. I never ‘breastfed on demand’ (other than just trying often the first week or two) and we got into a great routine early that lasted for a long time. My son was a bit tired all the time so he didn’t ask to be fed all the time, but was perfectly healthy weight wise and he got plenty to eat. The main thing was just making sure he got a full feeding every time and didn’t just fall asleep right away. I think that’s the key and I feel bad for people who think they they have to feed on demand. A schedule ends up being so much better and healthier for baby and parents. I realize some babies are more difficult, but many can make it into a routine easily and thrive. The thing to remember is, if a baby is getting a full feeding each time, then when they cry you know they need something else and not food. You get a lot more done when you are not feeding your baby every hour because you just assume that’s what they want. But I also understand some mothers may prefer that and just want to always be near their baby and that’s fine too. That just wasn’t something I wanted or enjoyed.