A lot of breastfeeding resources (whether in the form of books or information from the internet) concentrate a lot on the ‘getting started’ part of breastfeeding but covers little about what to expect going forward.
The fact is that things change as you continue to breastfeed and a lot of new mothers get panicky and confused by the changes because the information they read about does not provide some kind of time frame for reference.
Different changes happen to different people, so it is quite impossible to give a one-size-fit all kind of reference list. But by and large, you can expect the following changes to happen as you continue to breastfeed your baby. I can’t tell you exactly when these will happen and they may or may not happen to you.
1. Your Baby takes a shorter time to feed
A lot of mothers start getting panicky when this happens and start wondering (again!) if it is because they are not producing enough milk. Don’t worry. Your baby is just getting to be an expert at sucking milk out of you. Hence, a newborn may take 30-45 minutes, but an 4 month old may only need 5 minutes.
Always check output and weight gain to determine if your baby is getting enough.
2. You may not feel the let down as much or at all
After many months of breastfeeding, you may not feel as strong a let down, or even any sensation of a let down.
3. Your breasts may not feel as full
In the initial months, you breasts will start feeling full and heavy nearer the next feed. If you miss a feed, you will feel really uncomfortable. However, as your breasts get used to the level of demand placed on them, they will not be producing so much but will produce according to the demand. Hence, you will not feel as full and heavy as before. This is no indication of the amount you are producing. As long as you feed, you will have milk.
In line with this, your breast size will also stabilise. You may be a B cup during the last months of pregnancy and grow into a C during the first couple of months of breastfeeding. After some time, you will settle back to a B cup again.
4. Your baby may not poo everyday
A lot of old folks will start panicking and make you panic when they know that the baby has not poo’ed for days. This is because they are used to formula fed babies and formula fed babies should be poo-ing everyday or every couple of days.
This is normal for breastfed babies. It can be for as long as a week or longer!! This is not constipation. Constipation is when your baby has difficulty moving his bowel and the output is hard and dry. As long as your baby is poo-ing nice, soft, breastmilk poo, he is fine. No need to panic. His system matures over time and becomes more efficient at absorbing all the nutrients from what he drinks. And since breastmilk is so wonderfully digestible and almost everything can be absorbed, there is little left to poo.
However, this is only true if your baby is totally breastfed. If your baby has started solids, he should be poo-ing more often, e.g. once a day. Having said that, if your baby (who is taking solids) poo every few days and the poo is not dry and hard, then you don’t have to worry too.
5. Your Baby will lose interest to nurse – sort of
By 3 to 4 months, you will start noticing that your baby does not seem very much interested in nursing but more interested in looking around. This is normal. It is part of his normal development at this stage to start noticing his environment. Hence, every little distraction will cause him to unlatch and turn around to look. It may seem like he is no longer interested to nurse. It may even seem like he is going to wean himself soon.
Don’t worry, it is a phase and your baby will get over it. May take months though. A lot of mothers, even though courageous enough to breastfeed anywhere in public, find themselves having to look for quiet spots and nursing room at this stage. Not because they suddenly become shy but because they need to minimise distraction to get their babies to nurse properly!
Another phase is when your baby starts solids. He may be so interested in food he may not want to nurse. It usually happens when solids is first introduced. Your baby will get over this soon enough when the novelty of eating wears off a bit.
6. Your baby prefers a particular breast
Yes, this happens. This could be because one breast has better flow than the other. Both my kids prefer the right breast no matter how hard I get them to like the left one. And because of this, the right breast is a little larger than the left. *sigh* I was told it will get back to normal once I stop nursing. Since I am still nursing, this is something that I will have to find out for myself later on.
7. Your period will return
This is something that varies from person to person. Although some people claim that your period returning is related to how often you feed (especially night feeds), I think there are more factors affecting this. Some mothers get it back at 2-3 months, some 6-7 months, some more than a year and still waiting (the lucky ones!).
Whatever it is, your period will return one day and when that happens, you will notice that your milk supply tend to dip just before you get your period every month. So don’t panic. It’s your hormones.
8. You will feel ‘dry’
Breastfeeding and the related hormones will have an effect on your sex life. If badly affected by this, use KY jelly.
9. Your Baby may nurse less
Natural progression of things especially when your baby starts taking more and more solids. It also varies from baby to baby. Some nurse a lot more than others. But you will notice that you baby nurse less and less over time, until one fine day, he is completely weaned! But take note that this happens after many many months and weaning should not take place within the first 12 months of your baby’s life.