Breastfeeding: What Mothers Should Expect & How to Prepare
When it comes to breastfeeding, there’s often a lot that new mothers bring to the table: expectations, anxieties, and pressures from without and within. Often times, more voices end up becoming part of the conversation around a new mom’s desires and efforts to breastfeed than she likely wants or needs. Beyond all that baggage, what are some of the things to expect when it comes to breastfeeding?
First of all, that stress and anxiety isn’t likely to abate for a little while. There is a learning curve to breastfeeding, for both mom and baby. It requires trial and error on both ends to master getting the proper latch, sucking, swallowing, positioning, and learning to recognize hunger cues. At each road block, any doubts in your head tend to make themselves known loudly. Breastfeeding and lactation education is an excellent resource to available during this time.
Be ready for some strong, unpredictable emotions while breastfeeding. For one thing, your body is coming down off all the hormones it produced during pregnancy. On the flip side, new hormones are being produced. Additionally, breastfeeding often triggers powerful feelings of bonding in both mom and baby.
While a mother’s body does a good amount of preparation beforehand, there’s still plenty left to get in order once the baby arrives. First and foremost, the traditional breastmilk—light and watery—won’t be available right away. For the first few days, your body will produce a thick, yellowish, concentrated substance called colostrum. After a few days, you’ll feel your milk come in as your breasts engorge.
This engorgement tends to leave your breasts feeling full, hard, and warm, and you may be uncomfortable. At the beginning, your body doesn’t know quite how much milk to make. But take comfort: once you and your baby get into a breastfeeding rhythm, your body will learn how much milk it needs to produce. Until then, however, discomfort and leaking are common.
Here’s some good news: while discomfort and sore or sensitive nipples are likely to occur during the first few weeks of breastfeeding, pain isn’t a regular part of the process. If you’re feeling pain, that’s a good indication to get some help from a lactation consultant.
Lastly, be ready for more contractions. While your uterus is a good deal smaller than it was before your baby arrived, it’s still a lot larger than it was when you first got pregnant. Breastfeeding triggers contractions that help your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size.
Your baby’s weight fluctuates a lot early on. In the first week, it’s common for your baby to lose up to 10% of their birth weight. But within about 10 – 14 days, your baby will return to the weight they were when they were born, and then increase from there.
Wet and dirty diapers will start making themselves known as well. And your baby’s poop will undergo some noticeable color changes. For the first few days, a thick, greenish-black poop called meconium is produced by your baby. After a few days of breastfeeding, that will lighten to a dark yellowish color and the consistency will change from tar-like to pasty.
Take a Breastfeeding Class
While this information may be in your head now, it’s common for it to go right out the window amid the stress and fatigue of caring for a newborn. Here in Auburn, IN, the Family Birthplace at DeKalb Health has you covered when it comes to lactation support, as well as prenatal and postnatal care. Our breastfeeding classes and breastfeeding support group are led by skilled obstetrics nurses. Even better? They are free!
Call us today at 260.920.2510 to learn more about our state-of-the-art facilities and the comprehensive services we provide.
Nothing contained in this blog is intended to establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician or health care professional, or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.