Your milk should have come in full force before the end of the first week of your baby's life. You'll be practicing attaining a good latch, experimenting with the most comfortable and convenient ways to hold your baby, and getting used to responding to your baby's cues and needs. You're starting to recover from the birth but still basking in the glow of having a newborn baby.
You may also be feeling quite overwhelmed. You're having to wake often at night to feed your baby. You feel like you're constantly feeding, changing diapers. You feel like you have no time that is your own. And you're still not quite used to this "parenthood" business.
Hang in there! It does get easier.
There are two bits of advice I would offer all new mothers in regard to breastfeeding.
The first is, "Keep nursing!" You have probably gathered by now that the more you nurse, the more milk you make, and the more practice you and your baby get at breastfeeding. Nursing on demand is the main key to a successful breastfeeding relationship.
The second piece of advice is "Give it six weeks." The first six weeks are hard. I won't sugarcoat it. Your hormones are crazy, you're sleep-deprived, you're still recovering from the strain of the birth (and possibly still healing from tears, episiotomy, or c-section), you're nursing constantly, and you feel like you don't even have a moment to pee or eat without the baby needing you. I know. It's hard. It's okay to admit that it's hard. It's okay to be frustrated if the baby starts fussing just as you sit down to eat your dinner. But, there's something about that six-week mark that makes the future seem brighter. Once you've gotten through six weeks, you're feeling better, you and the baby are better at this breastfeeding thing, you've been through two growth spurts, so the baby may be spreading out his feedings a bit, and you're starting to get into your role as a mommy.
Hang in there.
It does get easier.
A few practical points to help you keep going.
Nursing in Public
By the time your baby is a few weeks old, you've undoubtedly needed to be out and about with him, even if it's just to doctor's appointments or the grocery store. And if you were out for more than an hour or two, you probably needed to nurse him while you were out. Some women don't mind nursing in public, while others hate it. It can be uncomfortable, especially if you're still new to nursing and are not keen on the idea of exposing your breasts for any passer-by to notice. Also, you may have gotten used to nursing at home, in a comfortable chair, using pillows to help support the baby.
Here are a few tips to make nursing in public easier on you.
- Wear nursing-friendly clothing - The most comfortable ensemble I've found for nursing in public is a standard nursing bra under any tank top or camisole (or a nursing tank!), with a loose-fitting t-shirt or blouse over that. You unhook the bra, lift the top shirt, and pull down the neckline of the undershirt so that only a few inches of boob are exposed, just long enough for the baby to latch. You can let the top shirt fall over the baby's head or drape over the breast that is in use so that no skin is showing. The undershirt covers your stomach, sides, and back, and the baby's head covers the rest.
- Purchase or make a nursing cover - There are many brands of nursing cover out there, from a hat for the baby to an apron-like contraption for mom. If the first tip doesn't offer you the coverage you want, or you are not able to wear such an ensemble for some reason, a nursing cover can be helpful. In a pinch, you can also drape a blanket or towel across your shoulder to cover the baby.
- Practice at home - If you know you're going to be in nursing-in-public situations often, get some practice at home, first. Try nursing cross-legged on the floor, or sitting in a dining-room chair, or even in your car in the driveway or garage. If you get some practice holding the baby without your comfy chair or pillow fort, nursing in public will come more easily as well. Also, practice in front of a mirror so you can see how little skin is actually exposed while you nurse.
- Find nursing-friendly locations at places you frequent - Many malls now have family-care areas that include comfortable and private nursing stalls. See if yours offers such an amenity, as it can be very helpful. Baby stores such as Babies R Us often have Mother Rooms, with a comfortable chair and a door that closes so you can nurse privately. Most department stores have no problem with your using a fitting room stall to nurse, or they may have a lounge area in or near the restroom that would be more comfortable. You can also ask at many stores if there is a private location you could use, other than a restroom. I have also found it quite comfortable to nurse in my car in a pinch.