A new mom goes through a plethora of emotions during baby’s first year. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re going through some other emotions as well. From nervousness to joy and everything in between, these are the breastfeeding stages that you might experience as a breastfeeding mom of a new baby.
It’s a learning process, but my goodness it’s worth it!
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1. The Phase Of Uncertainty
Before actually breastfeeding, you might have concerns or straight up FEARS.
I remember telling a friend that I was going to do it because “breast is best” but that I thought it was weird and that I was just going to pump, get some breastfeeding bottles, and maybe never actually nurse.
Let me pause while you compose yourself or pick your self up off the floor.
Thankfully my friend informed me that I was ridiculous and that exclusive pumping (those of you who did it are rock star mamas) would be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.
You might also be afraid of so many things. You might think that you won’t be able to make breastfeeding work. Or that you won’t make enough milk. Or that it will hurt. Get educated! This online breastfeeding class is seriously awesome.
2. The I’ve Lost All Sense Of Modesty Stage
You just gave birth, and in less than 24 hours more people than ever before have seen your naked-haven’t worked out in months-can’t see your toes because you’re so huge body.
And if that’s not bad enough, now everyone you know is barging into your hospital room to see the baby just as you’re trying to figure out how to get your baby to latch. Your boobs will be seen by family, friends and complete strangers. And frankly, you won’t care.
3. The Why Is The Shower Pressure So High Phase
The hospital in which you give birth is inevitably going to have a shower with ungodly high shower pressure. You’re tired, and maybe a little unsteady on your feet, but you will protect your nips from that water at all costs. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT let them anywhere near that spray.
4. The Engorgement Phase
Before your breast milk supply regulates at around 6-12 weeks, your body really doesn’t know how much to produce. It’s possible that you will have an oversupply. I literally thought that I had mastitis when my milk came in with my second child. I had all the symptoms.
If you don’t overproduce, there will most definitely still be a time when your body produces too much milk and you feel like a pinup model in Playboy magazine. Baby (finally!) finished her growth spurt? Yay, your reward, new moms, is rock-hard boobs.
Gone back to work and unable to use your breast pump as frequently as you should? Your colleagues (or students in my case!), will wonder what it is that’s so different about you from earlier in the day. They may even think you stuffed some toilet paper in your bra during your potty break.
Find out when will breastfeeding get easier.
5. The Stressed Out Phase
The hardest part of breastfeeding is learning to trust your body. I remember when my pediatrician asked me “is baby getting enough breast milk?”. Umm, I’m sorry, I don’t believe there’s a gauge there. You would think that’s something that a health care provider would know. My baby’s growth was slow and he was mildly concerned. (By the way, a breastfed baby growth chart is different from a formula fed baby growth chart.)
Thankfully, I for some reason trusted my body. I never stopped nursing and now at age 5 she is still super thin with the appetite of a teenage boy.
My stress came in the form of a milk protein intolerance. Every time she was fussy, I blamed myself because in my mind, the fussiness must have been attributed to something I ate.
6. The Please Stop Latching and Unlatching Phase
No matter what you’ve heard, breastfeeding hurts! The initial latch is THE. WORST. You’ll be praying that baby stays latched because your sore nipples can’t handle much more.
If baby latches on and off, get some Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter and apply it after every single nursing session. It’s a lifesaver. Or more aptly, a nipple saver. And if you’re a researcher, check out the four best organic nipple creams first.
7. The Leaky Boob Phase
No matter how prepared you are, it’s very possible that you’re going to experience some leaking at some point. Your baby will go from frequent feeding during a growth spurt to not nursing nearly as often and you’re boobs will be… confused.
And it will likely be at the worst time. You know, when you’re finally out with friends, in an important meeting at work or getting frisky with the man who made all of this possible in the first place.
Your baby’s cry could even trigger your let-down reflex!
Even if you never experience it, you will worry and look down at your shirt when in public every five seconds.
8. The I Don’t Think I’m Ever Going to Leave the House Again Phase
When you read about nursing before giving birth, you probably heard that babies nurse every 2 hours. What you may NOT have learned is that sometimes babies nurse more frequently. During a growth spurt, she might be latched all. day. long. Did I tell you to get the nipple butter?
For the first few weeks or months, your baby isn’t going to be an efficient nurser.What does that mean? My daughter’s nursing sessions lasted 45 minutes (the average breastfeeding time for a newborn is 20-45 minutes). So that meant a little over an hour between nursing sessions. That’s not my definition of “nursing every 2 hours”.
Don’t worry, breastfeeding frequency will soon shorten and before you know it you’ll be wondering how to breastfeed a distracted baby who refuses to nurse for more than 30 seconds..
After about the first month, you can start to get your baby used to drinking from a bottle so you can leave her with daddy.
9. The I Could Win a Hot Dog Eating Contest Phase
I suppose this isn’t a phase, but you will be so hungry while breastfeeding. Thirsty, too. Move over, reigning champion of competitive eating!
10. The Selfish Phase
Breastfeeding gives us and our mama bear instincts an excuse to hog our babies. It’s the perfect excuse for when you don’t want Uncle Ned (who came over despite having a cold) holding the baby, or when you don’t want your mother-in-law to hold her for fear that your baby will love her more than you.
And good news! You’re breastfeeding and can literally tell anyone at anytime that it’s time for a feeding and go hide in a quiet room by yourself.
(FYI: Motherhood makes you crazy)
11. The Everything is Easy Phase
You have made it through breastfeeding in the first few weeks and now you are realizing just how awesome breastfeeding is.
There are not only many benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mom, but there are also many advantages to breastfeeding.
If you need to go somewhere, simply grab the baby and your pre-stocked diaper bag and you’re out the door.
When the baby is tired, fussy, just vaccinated, you accidentally clipped her skin instead of her fingernail, whatever it might be, YOU have the magic way to calm her. The easiest way to appease your baby is to nurse! Your tatas are like baby whisperers.
You also understand your baby’s early feeding cues, have maybe started the introduction of solid foods and have managed to hand baby over to family members without her completely losing her mind.
12. The What Would I Do Without Netflix Phase
Soon after getting to the easy phase of breastfeeding, your baby will go through a huge growth spurt in order to change the composition of your breast milk and prompt breast milk changes. This may be the last time that you can binge-watch TV for the entire day. Enjoy it. Soak it up. Think it’s possible to binge-watch anything once you have a second child? Think again.
Related: Read about what you can look forward to when raising a toddler.
13. The Supermom Phase
After you’ve gone to a few doctor appointments and baby has consistently been gaining weight, you will feel like a real-life exclusive breastfeeding superhero. There is no better feeling than looking at your growing, thriving baby and knowing that your body is the reason for those adorable baby rolls.
14. The I’m So Tired Of Wearing the Same Clothes Phase
You will quickly realize that you only have so many nursing-friendly tops. At first, you won’t care, because there are much more important things in your life such as showering and eating a hot meal. However, soon you will tire of wearing nursing bras and the same nursing top every single day.
15. The I Want My Boobs Back Phase
There will be times when you will actually feel like your boobs no longer belong to you. Why might you feel this way? Because your baby thinks they belong to her.
16. The Phase of Uncertainty
Everything comes full circle, doesn’t it?
In the early days, everyone praised you for breastfeeding your baby. Now that you’ve made it a few months, everyone’s asking you when you’re going to wean, or when you’re going to give the baby formula.
You might start to question your choices.
The only person that should care about when you stop is you. Whenever you decide to quit, wean, or self-wean is the right time. There are still many benefits of extended breastfeeding.
17. The Bittersweet Phase
When your nursing relationship ends, it might be an emotional time. No matter how much you thought you were ready for your breastfeeding journey to end, or how much you wanted your boobs back, it’s part of your relationship that’s over.
You were the only person that your child had that experience with, and you and your baby will never be quite as physically close again.
No matter what breastfeeding stage you’re in currently, just remember that one day you might miss it. So snuggle your baby close, soak in the moment and thank God for giving you such an amazing way to bond with your child.
If you need additional support, check out my friend’s super helpful and budget-friendly on demand breastfeeding class.
Want to read this post from baby’s perspective? Check out my other post The 12 Phases of the Breastfed BABY.