So you’d like an answer to the question When does breastfeeding get easier?
Whoa. That’s a loaded question. But when I was nursing my newborn and trying to find a comprehensive response to this question, I found NOTHING.
But really, what breastfeeding mom doesn’t want to know the answer to this question at some point?
So I took it upon myself to give the best possible answer to this question that I possibly can. I spoke with 45 different moms and sifted through over 25 pages of responses.
Why is this such a difficult question to answer?
Because everyone’s experience is different. Every baby is different. And there are many different circumstances that can affect (positively or negatively) a breastfeeding relationship, such as premature birth, a new mother’s support system, knowledge about nursing, whether or not baby successfully latches right away, oversupply, undersupply, dairy sensitivities and more.
I remember being right where you are. I felt alone, and stressed out, in pain after giving birth and like I didn’t have control of my life for the first time ever. (See Why Giving Birth Can Make You Crazy).
But I also remember the moment when breastfeeding became completely natural, incredibly beautiful and more fulfilling than anything I’ve ever done in. my. life.
I want you to have that experience too. I hope you find encouragement through this post, I hope you continue and I hope you get to experience just how amazing and miraculous breastfeeding can be.
Because let’s face it. Breastfeeding can be hard. But motherhood is hard. Just because something’s difficult doesn’t mean that it’s not totally worth it.
Okay, so when does breastfeeding get easier?
According to the moms that I spoke with:
13%- always easy
2-3 weeks- 15%
4 weeks- 20%
6 weeks- 20%
8 weeks- 17%
4 months- 15%
After 4 months- 3%
Of course after the first 2 months, there are other phases that you will be dealing with like teething, distracted nursing and occasional growth spurts, (see 12 Phases of the Breastfed Baby) but after you’ve survived the first few weeks of breastfeeding, you can handle anything. I remember feeling like a real-life superhero whenever I took my daughter for a weight check.
She was thriving from something that ONLY I could provide her.
Breastfeeding in the First Couple Weeks
You can typically expect breastfeeding to get easier and easier as you go. At first, you honestly have no idea what you’re doing. Typically you and baby have to learn how in the world to do this foreign thing.
However, with my first child, she latched perfectly right away and I had an instant love for breastfeeding. It must have been from the oxytocin hormone (AKA the love hormone) that breastfeeding releases.
My second child struggled with latching, even though I “knew” what I was doing already. I used a nipple shield for a few days, which helped to correct her latch. According to the moms that I spoke with, getting a good latch seems to be the most important aspect in making breastfeeding easier.
With my first and fourth child, the first week was hardest because they had trouble getting a good latch. With my first I was worried about her not getting enough milk and we’d both end up crying every time I tried to nurse for the first week. Marsha from I Want Them To Remember.
I was very lucky with both girls in the sense that I didn’t really struggle that much either time. Both girls latched on good from the beginning, my milk supply was always enough, no cracked nipples or anything, so for me it was never really that hard. Sarah from The Designer Mama.
The hardest stage of breastfeeding was the newborn stage. You have this idea in your head about how natural breastfeeding is going to be. I mean your body is literally designed to feed the baby. But it is much harder than that. It’s a completely new skill that you and your baby have to learn. When M was born I had such a struggle getting him to latch and holding him. It was such a struggle. Then when the milk came in (ouch) I was “blessed” with an oversupply so he was being drowned by all the milk. He was also super gassy because the milk was just being poured down his throat. And on top of all that you also have the crazy sore, chapped nipples. The last thing you want to do is give him the boob, even though that is what he wants/needs. Now, however, I love it. It’s such a nice time to connect with him. Overwhelmed Mama
The hardest stage of breastfeeding, for me, was definitely the very beginning. My son gained his weight back a little more slowly and I was always worried whether or not I was making enough milk, especially during cluster feeding! I had gotten some really out-of-date advice that had affected my supply. Once I decided that I knew my body and was going to trust my instincts, things got easier. After the first six weeks of constant growth spurts, there was less worry over my supply and we were able to find more of a routine together. Rachael from Uninvincible Mom.
It was a very different experience with each kid. With my son, the first three weeks were a huge challenge. He was born at 35 weeks and couldn’t latch. I pumped and he ate from a medicine dropper. With the help of a lactation consultant, we got him latching and it was smooth sailing from then on. He fed consistently every 3 hours like clockwork. I pumped at work starting at 6 months and we eventually weaned him at 15 months.
My daughter was an easy feeder from day 1. But she would eat every 2 hours, 1 side at a time. That was harder because it was more time on the couch feeding when I had a 2 year old running around. I pumped at work with her starting at 4 months. The challenge with her was that she was dairy sensitive. Kate from Tear Free Travel.
My daughter Sadie was a champ at breastfeeding from the start. She latched on right away and I’ve never even had to use nipple cream! (; The hardest part of breastfeeding was not knowing if she was getting enough. Sadie was super fussy all of the time, and for awhile I thought it could be that she was still hungry after nursing (even though she was gaining well and had plenty of wet diapers). I spent so much time researching about why a baby could be fussy (and of course it could be 12 different things) and how to know if she was getting enough fatty milk, or if she was spitting up too much. It turned out to be colic and I went dairy-free. After Sadie’s colic was gone at 3.5 months, she became the happiest baby and I was no longer worried and it has been a breeze ever since (she is now 7 months). Cassy from Blissfully Her.
The hardest stage of breastfeeding for me was the first two weeks. The hardest thing was cluster feeding. My baby was nursing all the time. I kept wondering if we were doing something wrong or if he wasn’t getting enough milk. It was scary at times, but I just kept remembering what the nurse had told me, “your baby will probably start cluster feeding right when you get home.” I checked in with Google a few times, looked for signs that he was getting enough milk, and trusted that having a newborn attached to my boob at all hours of the day (and night) was normal. The cluster feeding ended within two weeks (but happened every now and then with growth spurts) and everything got so much easier. The other difficult thing about those early days of breastfeeding was the fact that I was the only one who could do it. I loved the bonding and feeling like a human with a superpower, but looking over at my husband who was sleeping peacefully through the night as I nursed a newborn every few hours was brutal. Alexandra from Coffee and Coos
We got into a rhythm around three weeks. Before that I didn’t know his cues, didn’t know my body or trust the output. I was clumsy and tense and he felt that a bit I think. When he started really gaining weight steadily and I had physically healed a bit from labor, we were good. I felt like… I’m doing this! I felt proud. I felt connected to my child.. Which was something I had feared not having since I had grown up without my mom. I knew my baby and he knew me and I knew my body for the first time like never before. Breastfeeding gave me the confidence that I could be the mother I had always wanted. -JMGrosely
Breastfeeding at Four Weeks
After the first month, you can expect that everything about having a baby is getting a little bit easier, including breastfeeding. You are healing and possibly getting more sleep (or getting accustomed to your new sleep schedule at least, see Rocking Baby-Induced Sleep Deprivation.)
As a mom of 4 who all had different breastfeeding journeys, I absolutely believe that the first couple of weeks at home after you have left the hospital are the most difficult. I mean, why wouldn’t they be? We kind of think we maybe have a handle on things while we are at the hospital, and the staff are meeting our every need. All we have to do is literally breastfeed day and night. Then, we get sent home, and reality hits. The household still has to run because life does not stop. However, baby is really nursing A LOT! It seems like she is always hungry, and by the time we finish feeding, it seems like it is time to start again. Valerie from Overwhelmed Mama
The hardest stage of breastfeeding for me was the first three to four weeks, when my nipples adjusted to my babies latch. I was extremely sore with cracked nipples but I discovered with my second baby that getting the correct latch was key. Amy from Mum of the Tribe
Breastfeeding at Six Weeks
The most helpful change that occurs at six weeks is that your supply starts to regulate. Overproduction can be a real problem, so this is a welcome change for sure. When my milk came in with my second child, I had all the symptoms of mastitis and it took my body a while to figure out that I didn’t give birth to triplets.
Growth spurts and the longer stretch at night that can come after them can be brutal, so making it to six weeks is a big milestone, and will definitely bring a little relief if you suffer from oversupply.
Every time, it got easier at about six weeks. I think the kids got used to it and my breasts got used to it. My milk started to even out by then too so I wasn’t massively overproducing or underproducing. Veronica at Andersonhomestead.com
We had a lot of support from multiple LC’s, but the first child I breastfed was tongue tied, and he was not diagnosed until 8 weeks. The second child I breastfed, had latching trouble and after 6 weeks of working with multiple LC’s, I ended up pumping for him. The last child I breastfed, did better than the first two. But it still took time for her to learn how to latch properly. Lanolin or nipple butter will become your best friend! Samantha from No Time To Nap
At 2 weeks I was crying because my nipples were cracked and sore. At 6 weeks I felt bad for the moms who woke up to make bottles. Now at 13 months, the hard part is ignoring anyone else’s call to wean. -LisaMariexd
Breastfeeding at Eight Weeks
If cluster feeding is what’s getting you down (and frustrated and emotionally drained), then the eight week mark is coming! In the meantime (if you’re a first time mom), find a new book or a new series to binge. Let’s call it Netflix and Nurse. And don’t forget the purpose of all that evening cluster feeding. Your baby could be tanking up for a long stretch of sleep at night.
That’s absolutely what both of my babies did. They were both sleeping 10 hours plus at 8 weeks old.
The hardest stage of breastfeeding started in those initial days at the hospital. Although I had taken classes on breastfeeding, I felt like nothing prepared me for what it would really be like to feed my child. He and I were both learning together. I called upon the lactation consultants as much as I could during my hospital stay, yet still struggled with soreness, bleeding, and difficulties with latching. Your body is going through so many changes, breastfeeding, lack of sleep, giving birth, taking care of a newborn– none of which is easy. Nancy from Real Time Mom
Breastfeeding at Twelve Weeks and Beyond
While there are definitely difficulties that can persist past the three month mark, you are likely at 12 weeks to feel like the worst is over. Your baby is now feeding less frequently (and is more efficient so feedings don’t take so long), your milk supply is steady, and you are getting to know your baby. Breastfeeding just might be like second nature at this point. Easy and enjoyable.
You got this, mama! 12 weeks is nothing. How long was the dreaded first trimester? 12 weeks. And the last trimester. If you can deal with 12 weeks of debilitating nausea and 12 weeks of sleepless discomfort (AKA the I-feel-like-a-whale stage). you can totally make it 12 weeks breastfeeding. And beyond.
Breastfeeding got easier when he was a few months old and we started side laying latching and co-sleeping. Once I gave myself permission for him to sleep in the bed with me everything was so much better. He would fall asleep while eating and as long as we were in a safe position, I could fall asleep better too. We all know better sleep equals a happier mom! I just had to find a way for me to feel comfortable with the thought of cosleeping and not being afraid of him getting hurt. Meghan from M-Perfect Me
After the first 12 weeks, breastfeeding was easy. My c-section stitches healed and baby was latching beautifully. MamaBear from Mommy Republic
Breastfeeding was hard until about 3 months. There was a lot of cluster feeding during week 3, 6, 9 and 12. I had one day when my baby was about 6 weeks where he nursed for 11 hours straight. If I pulled him off my breast he screamed. That day will stick in my head because it was mentally and physically draining. However, now breastfeeding is almost second nature after 3 months! -Mackenzie
The first 6 months were the hardest because I felt like I was constantly breastfeeding (almost every 2 hours). I also had to use a nipple shield for him to latch – super annoying because I constantly had to have one available and a clean one at that! Breastfeeding became an AMAZING gift when I could stop using a nipple shield and my son had the ability to latch naturally. Bridget from This Mom Life
The first few weeks are more difficult than formula, but once you and baby get breastfeeding figured out, it becomes so much easier than formula. No getting out of bed at night to make a bottle, no sterilizing bottles, no packing a diaper bag when you need to leave the house with bottles and formula and water. So. Easy.
And I don’t care what anyone else says, the bond between a breastfeeding mom and her baby can’t be matched.
Remember the why. The reason that you wanted to breastfeed in the first place. Believe in yourself, believe in your body and trust in your ability to make it.
Once I decided to feed her on demand, that’s when it became easier. In the beginning I listened to the nurses and only fed 2-3 hours. I don’t think there should be a set schedule in the newborn stage. Once I started to trust my mom gut, it was so easy. Jessica from What’s Happening With Jessica
Breastfeeding got easier with my second child when I started learning to read my body signs more. Being more in touch with how I was feeling and what was going on has made breastfeeding much easier. Rachel from Mommy’s Real Life
Many times I think that one reason new moms struggle in the beginning is because we have set unrealistic expectations of ourselves. The push from healthcare providers to encourage breastfeeding often causes some to paint a picture of what breastfeeding “should” be like. “It’s natural and should never be painful.” Well, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean that it comes naturally to everyone. Breastfeeding most often has to be learned. Mom and baby both have to figure things out, and it doesn’t come easy for everyone. Valerie from Overwhelmed Mama
Despite any difficulties, I loved having this experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. I learned so much about myself, my body, and the bond between a mother and child through this amazing breastfeeding journey! Rachael from Uninvincible Mom
When does breastfeeding get easier? It got easier probably after 3 months. I‘m so glad I stuck it out! The bonding, convenience and money savings are the best! (See How to Save 2,000 Dollars in Baby’s First Year) Christine from Christine DeSouza
After we got the correct latch, it became super easy to breastfeed and very convenient. We went on an on-foot trek in an elephant sanctuary in Thailand and travelled around with the baby. All I had to do was take myself and not worry about formulas and sterilising bottles and so on. Amy from Mum of the Tribe
I think most breastfeeding moms can agree that those first few months, when you’re establishing your breastfeeding relationship and your body is regulating its milk, tend to be the toughest. It’s also difficult because you’re draped in postpartum hormones and tend to question your ability as a parent, especially if you’re a first-time mom. With my first child, this was the hardest stage. Those first 8 weeks were hardest but it was more because I just wasn’t sure of myself. When I had my second child, I was confident in my ability to breastfeed. Wine Wellness No Sleep
After about 2 months, my boobs and my children synched. In Serbia where I live, when children turn one year there is a social pressure for women to stop breastfeeding. I felt that pressure and although I didn’t give in, I hated that I had to defend and explain myself to people.
Both of my kids were very emotionally attached to breastfeeding in that period. Me too. I knew I would traumatize both of us (with both children) if I stopped. In contrast, when I did stop, a year later, it was pain-free for both sides, with both of my kids. Maya from Sharp Shine Copy
I’ll never forget my first attempt at breastfeeding. There I was high on love and emotions I’ve never felt before, and then I was told it was time to feed. I had this delicate little bundle of perfection and it was now time to act out the scene I had played in my head over and over. All of a sudden, it was the most foreign thing I ever tried to do. I don’t know what I expected but it did not go how I thought it would. She wouldn’t latch and I just felt awkward trying to put my boob in her teeny tiny little mouth. The first few days were the hardest but once we got the latch down it was a breeze. The truth is, breastfeeding is a journey full of ups and downs. But in the end? It is SO worth it! The Unpretentious Mommy
Overall, breastfeeding has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It’s not for everyone, but if you think it’s for you and you’re having a difficult time, don’t give up. You’re just around the corner from it getting so much easier. Good luck. Alexandra from Coffee and Coos