Inside: Before you get started on your breastfeeding journey, it’s extremely helpful to know what to expect throughout the stages of breastfeeding. And remember – each stage is a phase that will pass. You got this, mama!
Let’s go ahead and put Breastfeeding on the list of Top 10 Trending Topics of this year. Yep. Right up there with the Brangelina divorce (see? I manage to stay relevant), the 2016 Presidential Election, and Game of Thrones EVERYTHING (JonSnow4Ever).
I know, I’m totally wondering as well how the method by which a woman feeds her baby can be a trending topic? But you know, to each their own. What can I tell you, it’s a weird world we live in (see: Presidential Election).
However, if you are a breastfeeding mom (or plan to be), then you are 100% in the right place.
Today I’m sharing the absolute truth about the 4 Stages of Breastfeeding.
At the risk of sounding like a 14 year old, the struggle is real. So.Unbelievably.Real. If you’re still going strong with your breastfeeding game, keep doing what you’re doing, and power to you, virtual fist bump.
The 4 Stages of Breastfeeding
Stage 1: Feeding a Newborn aka Netflix & Nurse
Feeding a newborn baby can be extremely difficult. Nobody can really, fully prepare you for what it will be like since every baby is so different. But here’s the basic rundown:
Nurse.Sleep.Nurse.Sleep.Change 1,352 diapers.Nurse.Sleep.Nurse.Sleep. Basically: nursing a newborn baby is a 24/7 job.
If you are a first-time mom and don’t currently have another kid to chase around the house, you will often find yourself wondering what to do with this time. Allow me to share a few ideas with you:
- Re-watch the entire Gilmore Girls series on Netflix
- Use your other hand (or big toe) to scroll through Pinterest to pin craft ideas for when they are 4 years old
- Rest a bowl of Crockpot BBQ Chicken on your hip and eat it with one hand (this is oddly specific mostly because I have done this)
- Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while because soon, talking on the phone while breastfeeding will become an Olympic Sport
- Check out this Ultimate Breastfeeding Resource. I recently came across this invaluable breastfeeding resource and while watching the incredibly helpful videos I had one of those laugh-until-I-cried moments, because, honestly – it was just everything. Everything I wish I knew the first time around (and even some things I still didn’t know!) Breastfeeding is easy to give up on if you don’t have the support and the know-how to continue on. Just promise me you’ll check it out!
Essential Breastfeeding Tips
- How to Teach Your Newborn to Latch
- The Truth About the Pain of Breastfeeding
- 10 Things No One Tells You About Breastfeeding
Stage 2: The Awakening (3-6 Months)
It is around this point that your baby will, in essence, realize they are alive. This suddenly makes breastfeeding a challenging task because anything and everything will distract them from nursing.
If you come across any blogs that promise they can get your baby to sleep through the night at 6 weeks, I wouldn’t waste your time. By the time they hit 3-4 months, they’ll be waking up again. Here’s why:
- If and when your husband walks into the room to say “hi” to you, your baby will pop off to look up and will not resume nursing. Because your baby has now become so easily distracted and so aware of everything around them, they may not nurse as much during the day, thus allowing the 4 Month Sleep Regression to rear its ugly head. Do yourself a favor and Google it.
- Your days of powering through seasons of Top Chef are numbered because suddenly, that little sleepy baby realizes there is a TV on behind them and they’d rather watch Padma belittle amateur chefs than breastfeed (somewhat understandable).
- When they get closer to 6 months old, your trendy nursing scarf will become obsolete as your baby will no longer want to be covered when you are trying to nurse them at Starbucks (sorry for the free show, everyone!).
- At this point, you will generally not be able to accomplish anything unless you multitask by nursing and babywearing.
- Once your baby realizes they can do this, it’s all over for you. I’m sorry in advance.
Stage 3: I See the Light (7-12 Months)
At this stage, you and your momfriends will start talking about how your baby has suddenly stopped nursing so much. You feel like they barely nurse at all anymore and you can’t believe it! Before you start stowing away your frumpy nursing bras, read on.
- Generally at this stage most babies start crawling and pulling themselves up. Life is so exciting, mom! I don’t have time to eat right now. This newfound independence will most likely cause them to nurse less during the day, but may also cause them to wake more at night.
- Nursing in public will become the ultimate struggle for your wiggly, independent, easily distractable baby.
- You may think your milk supply has dropped since you’ve stopped feeling let-downs. Trust that this is nature’s way of helping your body adjust to your baby’s new breastfeeding schedule.
- Continue to breastfeed on demand, even after introducing solids.
Stage 4: The Hunger Games (1 Year & Beyond)
Welcome to the WWE arena where breastfeeding your budding toddler is like wrestling a greasy watermelon. Mom, you have become a jungle gym and you may develop bruises and or lose hair from your generally aggressive 15 month old who wants to nurse but apparently also thinks they are climbing Mount Everest.
- At this point you may start to wonder how you still have milk. But if your baby/toddler is still nursing frequently, you apparently do.
- Remember in Stage 3 when you thought your little one had finally slowed down? It’s funny ‘cause now they’re 1 and suddenly nursing like they are 4 days old. HOLD ME, MOMMY.
- Nursing in public…HA. I’m sorry, that was a joke. There is no nursing in public. Unless of course you’re okay with letting it all hang out. In that case, power to you sister.
- You may begin to wonder where in fact your little one is storing all of this food. As in, they just ate 3 scrambled eggs, a piece of avocado toast, and an entire orange and then proceeded to nurse for 30 minutes.
- If you continue to nurse after 1 year, prepare yourself for the questions from inquiring minds (random strangers) who apparently are super SUPER interested in your personal life.
- Oh and be sure to bring snacks, lots of snacks, because you’re not you when you’re hangry.
Easy Recipes to Boost Your Milk Supply
If you’re looking to increase your milk supply quickly, there are definitely certain foods that can help.
In general, though, I don’t think there’s any magical solution. It pretty much always comes down to the basics: lots of water, exercise (when you get the go-ahead), healthy diet, and sleep (I know, I laughed, too).
If you are truly worried, meeting with a lactation consultant (or checking out this incredible resource) is always a good idea.
- Papaya Avocado Salad from Skinnytaste
- Strawberry Papaya Salad from Taste, Love, and Nourish
- Papaya Smoothie from Skinnytaste
Rolled or Steel-Cut Oats
- No-Bake Pumpkin Yogurt Bites with Cranberry-Oat Crust from Because I Said So, Baby
- Apple Peanut Butter Overnight Oats from Hello Nature
- No Bake Granola Bites from The Many Little Joys
- Spinach-Banana Yogurt Melts from Because I Said So, Baby
- Creamy Sweet Potato & Spinach Noodles with Cashew Sauce from Pinch of Yum
- Baked Eggs with Wilted Baby Spinach from Skinnytaste
- Greek Scramble from Because I Said So, Baby
- Egg & Tomato Breakfast Melts from Skinnytaste
- Kale, Egg & Feta Toast from Well Plated By Erin
- Lemon-Herb Salmon Burgers from Pinch of Yum
- Sesame-Ginger Salmon from Damn Delicious
- Pesto Salmon & Veggies in Foil from Cooking Classy
More Breastfeeding Resources
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, lactation consultant, or a nutritionist. Man, these disclaimers make me feel great about myself! But seriously, I’m just sharing my experiences and what I know worked for me. If you have real concerns, always check with your doctor. This post contains affiliate links.