What to Expect During the First Two Weeks of Breastfeeding

Tips, Common Issues, and Building a Healthy Breast Milk Supply

Breastfeeding during the first two weeks.
LWA/Dann Tardif / Getty Images

The first two weeks of breastfeeding may go very smoothly, or they may be completely overwhelming. It's a time when you're learning and adjusting to parenthood. It's also a very important time for breastfeeding. Getting breastfeeding off to a good start and building a healthy supply of breast milk during these early weeks, can determine how successful breastfeeding will be for you and your child.

Once you leave the hospital and begin to settle in at home with your new baby, everything from breastfeeding to sleeping will hopefully start to find a sense of rhythm. Getting out of the house may be a bit of a challenge, but at least, that'll give you time to learn more about your baby from his little signs of hunger to what his different cries mean

What to Expect During the First Two Weeks

Your newborn should be waking up every 2 to 3 hours to breastfeed, with the feedings lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to almost an hour. Sleep patterns will vary, but many babies -- when frequently breastfed throughout the day -- give their parents a good 4 to 5 hours of sleep at night (thank goodness for small favors.)

By the end of the first two weeks, your baby should be back to his birth weight or he may even weigh a little more. 

Common Breastfeeding Issues You May Experience 

You may feel fatigued from sleep deprivation, yet you're beginning to feel that your body is recovering from delivery. At this point, it's very important not to neglect yourself and to take measures to take care of yourself. Rest whenever you can and ask your partner, family members, or friends for help. 

Your nipples may be a little a tender, especially when the baby first latches on, but by the end of two weeks, you should not feel constant pain throughout a feeding. If your nipples are extremely sore, painful, cracked, or bleeding, it's most likely due to an incorrect latch. Ask your doctor, a lactation consultant, or a local breastfeeding group to check your baby's latch and help you correct it. 

Breast engorgement is one of the common breastfeeding problems that you'll likely experience during the first two weeks. As the production of breast milk increases and your milk changes from colostrum to transitional breast milk to mature breast milk, it can cause breast swelling and pain. Be sure not to disregard this discomfort and manage it promptly.

During these first few weeks, your body is building a healthy supply of breast milk. If you feel that your milk is supply is low, it could be that your baby is not latching on well, or you're not breastfeeding your baby often enough or long enough at each feeding. However, some health issues can cause a true low milk supply, so talk to your doctor about your concerns and take your baby to her health care provider to be sure she's getting enough breast milk and gaining weight. 

Common Breastfeeding Issues Your Baby May Experience

One of the most common complaints from new mothers during the first two weeks of breastfeeding is that the baby is breastfeeding too often. But, it's natural, and that's what your baby is supposed to do. He needs to breastfeed frequently during the first few weeks to get enough breast milk and tell your body to make more breast milk to build a healthy supply. But, as the days go on, if your newborn never seems satisfied, breastfeeds for very long periods of time, and has less than six wet diapers a day, call the doctor right away. These are signs that your baby is not getting enough breast milk.

Another common issue that you may experience with your breastfed baby is a poor latch. When a baby latches on to just the nipple, he won't be able to get enough breast milk. He will not be satisfied after feedings and he won't gain enough weight. A poor latch is also a main cause of sore nipples and a low breast milk supply. Learn how to latch your baby on properly either by taking a breastfeeding class or reading up on the subject before you have your baby, or from your nurse, doctor, or lactation consultant while you're in the hospital. Each time you latch your baby on, look for the signs of a good latch. If your baby isn't latched on well, gently remove him from your breast and try again. 

Dealing with a Sleepy Baby

During the first week, your baby may sleep a lot. If she's not waking up every 2 to 3 hours, you should wake her up for feedings. Breastfeeding a sleepy baby isn't always easy, but you can try waking her up by taking her out of her swaddle, tickling her feet, or changing her diaper. Once you get her latched on, try to keep her breastfeeding by stroking her cheek, burping her, or using the switch nursing technique.

By the end of the first two weeks, if your child is gaining weight, wetting at least 6 to 8 diapers a day, having regular bowel movements, and there's no evidence of jaundice, you can let her sleep for one longer stretch of about 5 hours each day. 

Establishing a Healthy Supply of Breast Milk

The first few weeks are the most important for building up a healthy supply of breast milk. It's a time when your breast milk changes and comes in. It's also the time when your baby stimulates your body to continue making breast milk. By putting your baby to the breast very often (at least every 2 to 3 hours), you're telling your body to make more breast milk and setting the foundation for your milk supply. 

By the end of two weeks, your mature breast milk should be in. There may actually be times where you feel you can't hold out until the next feeding because you're so full. This is a very normal feeling and, as time goes on, your milk supply will adjust to your baby's needs. And, although it may seem hard to believe, your breasts and your body will adjust to all of these new fluids. 

Tips for the First Two Weeks of Breastfeeding

  • Making it through the first two weeks is a huge accomplishment, but keep in mind that things change quickly with babies at this age. You may be in a nice groove, then all of a sudden, things change again. Try to go with the flow and keep routines as best you can.
  • Be mindful of your body and your baby's behavior. If something doesn't feel or seem right, get help immediately. Check in with a lactation consultant, your doctor, or your child's pediatrician, depending on the issue. Don't hesitate to ask any questions.

Updated by Donna Murray

View Article Sources
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  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. (2011). Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby.
  • Mohrbacher N, Stock J. La Leche League International.
  • Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. (2014). Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning.