Welcome to our new series, I’ve Had My Baby - Now What? This is a guide with basic information to help you navigate the first days, weeks, and months of breastfeeding your new baby.
Today we’d like to talk about the second week of your baby’s life, and what breastfeeding looks like. What can you expect for normal behavior from your new baby, and when do you know there’s a problem that you should seek professional help for?
Now that my milk has increased in volume, what should feedings look like? How much does a baby need at each feeding and how long should it take?
Most moms will see their milk change from the first low-volume colostrum to the fuller-volume mature milk somewhere between day 3 and day 5. So by week 2, there is often more milk for baby to take per each feeding. However, in the early days of the second week, a baby only needs about 1.5 ounces per feeding. By the end of the second week, the baby will need 2-2.5 ounces per feeding. Feeding length should still be determined by baby and when baby seems satisfied, but most little ones at this age should be able to get a full feeding in 30 - 60 minutes.
How much weight should my baby gain in week 2 of life? When should they regain their birth weight?
It’s normal for all babies to lose some of their birth weight in the first few days of life. Once mom’s milk transitions to the fuller volume milk between day 3 and day 5, baby should gain ½ - 1 oz per day. Most babies who are breastfeeding well will reach their birth weight by 10-14 days. If your baby doesn’t regain their birth weight by 14 days, it might be a good idea to seek the help of a lactation consultant.
My baby seems to prefer one of my breasts over the other, and even has a difficult time latching onto the other one - is this normal and what can I do?
It is common for babies to prefer one side over the other. They have often been lying in one position in utero, which can cause tightness in their necks and jaws. Sometimes a long and difficult labor can affect the baby’s ability to latch onto one side - if the pushing section was long and baby was in birth canal for many hours - the compressions to his head may affect him in this way. Often babies will work it out in the first few weeks, but if your baby continues to struggle, we often recommend body work for the baby, in the form of Craniosacral Therapy or Chiropractic care.
My baby starts choking shortly after starting to breastfeed. What is causing this and what can I do?
Some moms find that their milk “lets down” very quickly. When a baby begins to feed, the stimulation of the nipple releases hormones for mom to signal her body to “eject” the milk from the milk ducts. When this happens quickly and forcefully, sometimes the sudden flow can take the baby by surprise and they may come off the breast coughing and sputtering. If all is going well, the baby should learn to manage this within the first couple of weeks. Feeding in a laid-back position can also be very helpful to slow down your let down. If your baby continues to struggle with a forceful letdown, it could indicate that there is something happening anatomically that is preventing him from being able to adapt. This would be a good time to visit with a lactation consultant.
My 2 week-old baby is suddenly famished! He went from eating every 2-3 hours to wanting to eat *constantly*! He never seems satisifed and is fussy at the breast. Does this mean my milk supply is decreasing?
All babies go through a growth spurt around 2 weeks of age. The behavior above describes what a baby will act like during these growth spurts. It’s a natural occurrence to help build your milk supply to help keep up with the baby’s increasing needs. Growth spurts usually last 48-72 hours. As long as your baby is continuing to have plenty of wet and dirty diapers, there is no reason to think that your milk supply is faltering.
There may be times when things aren’t going the way they should. If you find this, please contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to help you. Some signs that you might need some additional help:
Sore, cracked, bruised, or bleeding nipples.
Baby is still well under birth weight near 14 days of life.
You suspect your baby may be tongue-tied.
Painful, recurrent engorgement.
Baby is having problems stooling.
Overly gassy, fussy, or colicky baby.
Breast infection - mastitis, abscess, or thrush.
For more information about what normal breastfeeding looks like in the first few weeks, check out our article, What Every Mom Should Know About Breastfeeding During the Early Weeks, which highlights our brand new brochure!