Breastfeeding Timeline

Breastfeeding Timeline

Freastfeeding provides health benefits both to the parent and child, and can begin just moments after delivery for many. While it can offer a connection early on, can serve as the sole source of nourishment for an infant for the first months of its life, and fundamentally is natural, it is anything but easy for the vast majority of people. If you choose to breastfeed (83% of people in the United States do!), being prepared, knowing what to anticipate, and understanding what’s within the parameters of normal can make all the difference. Knowing when there's an indication that you should seek help from a lactation consultant or healthcare professional ahead of time is critical. With information on breastfeeding backed by research and validated by experts, we’re here to prepare you and help you every step of the way. 

The First Weeks

The First Moments After Birth: Prepare to witness human instinct at its most awesome — when held skin-to-skin at your chest, your newborn can actually make his or her own way to latch onto your nipple to feed, essentially by themselves. Research shows that early skin-to-skin contact after delivery benefits breastfeeding outcomes, cardio-respiratory stability, as well as decreases infant crying (by 10 times!). Hospitals designated as "baby-friendly" (indicating that they also serve as centers of breastfeeding support) and birthing centers routinely facilitate early skin-to-skin contact. This important step may be requested, or offered, regardless of your hospital's designation depending on its policies. It is a great idea to ask. The First Days & Weeks After Birth: The body actually begins making breast milk during the second trimester of pregnancy. The earliest milk that comes in is called colostrum, which is a thick, yellow-hued fluid that’s earned the nickname “liquid gold” for its superfood composition of nutrients, protein and antibodies designed specifically for your newborn. If you’re concerned you’re not producing enough in your first days postpartum, don’t worry: Typical colostrum production is just 1-4 teaspoons per day, which is all it takes to prepare your baby’s tiny stomach (think marble-sized) for the next stage of breast milk.  

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Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress - Heather Grey
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress - Lilac
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress - Heather Grey
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress - Lilac
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress
Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress

Breastfeeding Lace Nursing Nightdress

Stage 1: 1-3 Months

The transitional milk you’ve been producing, which increases overnight as prolactin levels rise, turns to mature milk after about a month of breastfeeding. Mature milk has a higher fat content — think heavy cream vs. whole milk — which means the baby will fill up more quickly, ideally lessening the amount of time you have to nurse in each session. But even with shorter sessions, it may still feel during this period like you’re constantly breastfeeding. Don’t worry, it’s normal — and it’s finite. What’s important to understand at this stage is that the baby is hydrating with foremilk — or the initial milk your breasts produce each session — but satiated from the hindmilk, which contains a higher fat content. 

To keep energy high, try to nourish your body with foods that are healthy and high in fiber — think leafy greens, nuts, oatmeal. There’s nothing you should stay away from when it comes to food(although high amounts of alcohol have been proven to inhibit your milk ejection reflex, leading to a dip in production). In fact, studies have linked eating a range of foods while breastfeeding with kids who are less picky when they transition to solid foods. If you’re struggling to produce milk, now is a great time to try foods and herbs considered to be good for production, like high-fiber foods and fenugreek (though check with your healthcare provider first if you have a thyroid condition — fenugreek can be a contraindication paired with thyroid medications). 

Soft, stretchy bras that are designed for breast health (think: no underwires, no sports bras) reduce constriction that can increase the risk of clogged ducts and mastitis (painful breast ailments that are common reasons for ending breastfeeding sooner than intended), and are comfortable on your healing and potentially sensitive body in the first months after birth. During these first few months of breastfeeding, soft and non-constrictive bras should be almost exclusively worn. This is why Bodily's bra selection is exclusively soft, stretchy, and designed with a lactation consultant. Avoid underwire in the early weeks and months of nursing.

Lace Plunge Maternity Bralette
Our #1 Bar —— Lace Plunge Nursing Bralette

Stage 2: 3-6 Months

Many babies are introduced to solid foods around now, which may result in you nursing less, though their nutrition will still come from breast milk. If there’s a dip in production and you are concerned about not having enough milk — which can be a surprise during a stage that otherwise feels really comfortable — consider leading meals with a nursing session to ensure your baby empties your breast before eating solids.

Another dip may happen in this stage — this time tied to the return of your period. Not only do you have the chance of getting pregnant as your cycle returns (and that can happen even before your first postpartum period: on average, the first postpartum ovulation happens 45 days after birth), but your production can wane as well as your hormones fluctuate. Don’t panic: The drop in supply is temporary.

A lot of things about breastfeeding get exponentially easier over time, but one thing makes it harder: the size of your baby. Parents can develop shoulder and back pain in general when breastfeeding, but especially as the weight they’re supporting gets heavier — so now’s a good time to revisit positioning. 

Anything goes when it comes to nursing bras at this stage. If you want to wear an underwire, a molded cup — whatever you preferred before childbirth — consider yourself in the clear.

Hands free Pumping Bra
The Do Anything Bra

Stage 3: 6 Months and Beyond

Many babies are introduced to solid foods around now, which may result in you nursing less, though their nutrition will still come from breast milk. If there’s a dip in production and you are concerned about not having enough milk — which can be a surprise during a stage that otherwise feels really comfortable — consider leading meals with a nursing session to ensure your baby empties your breast before eating solids. 

Another dip may happen in this stage — this time tied to the return of your period. Not only do you have the chance of getting pregnant as your cycle returns (and that can happen even before your first postpartum period: on average, the first postpartum ovulation happens 45 days after birth), but your production can wane as well as your hormones fluctuate. Don’t panic: The drop in supply is temporary.

A lot of things about breastfeeding get exponentially easier over time, but one thing makes it harder: the size of your baby. Parents can develop shoulder and back pain in general when breastfeeding, but especially as the weight they’re supporting gets heavier — so now’s a good time to revisit positioning.  

Anything goes when it comes to nursing bras at this stage. If you want to wear an underwire, a molded cup — whatever you preferred before childbirth — consider yourself in the clear.

Hands free Pumping Bra
Double-Strap Nursing Bralette

Weaning

Whether you’re weaning at three months (or earlier) or two years (or later), a slower process is always ideal. Dropping a single feed every week or two is a recommended pace, both physically and emotionally — for you and baby. If you wean too suddenly, there’s physical discomfort that can develop due to engorgement. 

Emotionally, there are hormonal fluctuations — like a drop in prolactin and oxytocin, which are higher in lactating women, along with shifting estrogen levels — that can feel overwhelming on top of the emotions you may already be feeling from ending the journey. While there isn’t a lot of research on the topic, post-weaning depression is a real thing, and it deserves the same care and attention that postpartum depression does.

While it’s commonly thought that breastfeeding can affect breast size and shape, , those changes are more likely attributed to factors like weight gain and number of pregnancies. Breastfeeding doesn’t have an adverse effect on breast shape or size — your breasts should return to pre-pregnancy size around six months after you’ve stopped, once the fatty tissue has replaced milk-producing tissue.

Take it slow. However long you chose to breastfeed (if you chose to breastfeed), feel proud you made it as long as you did.

Lace Plunge Nursing Bralette
📸Joyfulmama in our Lace Plunge Nursing Bralette@tellitto_lala

Smith Angelia - Oct 26 2021