They say preparation is key, and when it comes to breastfeeding, we couldn’t agree more. If you’re worried about what it will be like, what you’ll be doing, and what to expect, calm down and take a deep breath, because we’ve detailed everything for you. From Day 1 until Year 1 and more, we’ve put down what you can expect, some ideas for what you can focus on and do, and a little bit of trivia (just because breastfeeding is so amazing!). Don’t be so worried mommas, you’ve got this!
P.S. – Remember that every mom’s breastfeeding journey is different. While the information below may be a general guide and not something you need to take word for word, it’s always best to consult with a professional if you have any concerns.
What you can expect: It may take some time for your milk to come in, and at first it might not even look like milk! If you see a clear or almost yellowish liquid, that’s totally normal. It’s called colostrum (also known as ‘liquid gold’) and is filled with more than enough nutrients to keep your baby healthy and kicking.
After giving birth, the hospital staff will give you some one on one skin to skin time with your baby. This is also known as the “Unang Yakap”, and is a campaign in the Philippines by the DOH implemented in the delivery or operating room during child birth. This is crucial in developing a latch your baby will be accustomed to in the months to come. But don’t worry if your baby doesn’t latch on right away, you can always ask for some help and advice from the professionals around you.
Did you know: A healthy newborn’s instinct to breastfeed peaks at about 20-30 minutes after birth (if s/he is not drowsy from drugs or anaesthesia given to the mother during labor and delivery.)
What you can expect: For most moms, your milk will start to come in at around this time. Your breasts will feel full and firm, your baby will start swallowing deeply during feeding, and you might even see drops of white around your nipples or on baby’s mouth.
If everything goes smoothly, focus on the feel of your breasts. Due to your milk, there may be some engorgement, and feelings of fullness, heaviness, and tenderness. If your baby can’t empty your breasts fast enough, try expressing to relieve some of the engorgement. The last thing you want is to develop blocked milk ducts or mastitis.
Did you know: 92% of new mothers say that they are having problems breastfeeding usually three days after giving birth. 44% cite latching as their main difficulty, while 40% report that they aren’t producing enough milk.
What you can expect: Most moms at this point may have full and soft breasts, and might experience frequent leaking. You can wear breast pads to help with the leaking, but know that there is no correlation between leaking and how much milk you’re making. It is also around this time that your transitional milk will have turned into mature milk, which is thinner and contains more water.
There are several schools of thought that say to feed by the clock, meaning that your feeding schedule is every 30 minutes or 1 hour. But the better way to ensure a healthy baby is to be more aware of his/her demand.
Did you know: Even if you nurse your baby constantly, most breastfed babies typically lose weight in the days after birth. This is usually because it takes a while for your milk to come in, and baby’s adjustment to latching.
What you can expect: Majority of moms and babies will have probably mastered a decent latch by this time. Baby also has more neck control, which makes it a good time for you to try other breastfeeding positions such as the more basic side lying position. Your nipples should already have gotten used to baby’s treatment, and if you experience any pain or discomfort, seek professional help as soon as possible.
Now that you’ve got a grip on things and aren’t as new to breastfeeding, you can focus on making your life a bit easier. Which breastfeeding positions are easier on you? Do you need a pillow for support? Are you getting enough food and water? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially from your hubby who is probably eager to do something as well!
Did you know: Growth spurts cause an infant to breastfeed more frequently. While the same can be said for formula-fed babies, most breastfeeding moms incorrectly think that their babies feed more because they aren’t getting enough milk.
What you can expect: To lose some weight (hopefully)! Studies have shown that a majority of breastfeeding moms shed the most weight during this period. At six months, your baby can already be slowly introduced to solid foods, and can start teething. Drooling, sucking, and chewing can be misread to mean that your baby is still hungry, but it is usually because s/he is a tad bit uncomfortable, and needs to relieve the pressure.
Now that you’ve gotten used to the daily breastfeeding routine, it’s time to start thinking about going back out and establishing the rest of your life. Whether it’s work, going out with friends, doing errands, and more, this is a good time to get your pumping routine down. Figure out the best time, ways, and pump to help you, and it’ll make your life a lot easier.
Did you know: Babies who have breastfed for more than two months will usually have a reduced risk of food allergies at three years of age. Breast milk at this stage can help prevent digestive issues, food and respiratory allergies later in life, and chest infections until up to seven years of age.
What you can expect: It’s totally normal to experience a decrease in the number of times you breastfeed your child at this stage. Usually by now, your baby has probably been introduced to solid foods, and has other meals besides your milk. Don’t automatically take it as a sign that your baby is weaning. Most of the time, your baby just wants to explore other foods, but will go back to breastfeeding after a certain amount of time.
A number of different things can happen at this stage. Due to the decrease of breastfeeding times, your milk ducts may become clogged. The best way to treat this is to pump often, apply warm compress, drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, or consult your doctor. Your baby can also start biting at this stage, so finding a strategy to avoid those sharp teeth can also be something you can focus on.
Did you know: As your baby experiences growth spurts, teething, and the occasional bump or bruise, breastfeeding is one way that can comfort them throughout all these changes.
What you can expect: As your child starts to drink less and your milk production goes down, your milk will gradually get more concentrated (almost like colostrum again!). But don’t worry, your milk still contains all the nutrients it did over the course of the year.
Typically at this age, your child should be getting anywhere from 16-20 ounces of breast milk a day (this can equate to three to four feeding sessions). You might also want to find new breastfeeding positions for your (much) bigger child now.
Did you know: Babies that are breastfed for one year are less likely to become overweight later in life, usually have lower risks of heart diseases as adults, and are also less likely to need orthodontia or speech therapy.
So there you have it, mommas! While it may look like a long and tedious list, the important thing to remember is that every mom is different, and to take it a day at a time. Enjoy the precious bonding moments you’ll have with your little one, and appreciate the many learning lessons the journey of breastfeeding has to offer you.
- AlphaParent Staff. “Timeline of a Breastfed Baby.” The AlphaParent. Last updated January 14, 2018.
- Ashland Staff. “The Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Timeline for the Ages.” Ashland Women’s Health. Last updated March 15, 2017.
- Dutton, Judy. “Breastfeeding Timeline: What to Expect from Birth to 1 Year.” Cafe Mom. Last updated July 7, 2015.
- Flora, Becky. “Breastfeeding as Baby Grows: Stages and Needs.” Mother & Child Health. Date accessed February 13, 2019.
- Sullivan, Dana. “Breastfeeding Guide for the Whole First Year.” Parents. Date accessed February 13, 2019.
- Unantenne, Nalika. “Breastfeeding Your Newborn 101: One Hour, One Week, Three Months.” Date accessed February 13, 2019.