23 Stages of Breastfeeding

From breastfeeding a newborn to a toddler, there are many phrases of breastfeeding you need to know. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are just downright painful. Here are 23 stages of breastfeeding to help you through your breastfeeding journey!

stages of breastfeeding

When I was still pregnant with my son, I thought breastfeeding would be easy. I took all the necessary classes and even practiced different breastfeeding positions with a doll. I envisioned that my boobs would magically fill up with milk, and my baby would naturally know what to do with my boobs.

Wow, was I dead wrong.

My breastfeeding journey was full of surprises. Here are stages of breastfeeding that you may go through as a new mom!

1. When You Start Producing Colos…trum?

When your baby pops out of you and the nurse hands you the baby, you are in a state of joy and confusion. You have this little tiny human being on your chest who seems to barely be able to stay awake, and somehow the baby is supposed to
latch on to your nipples?

On top of that, the “milk” coming out of your nipples is yellow and sticky, and the baby seems to only take a few gulps before falling asleep. Did the baby eat enough? And what’s with the sticky, black poop?

2. When You are Up Every 2 Hours Nursing Your Newborn.

Ever hear of video on demand? You get to choose and watch movies and TV shows whenever you choose. Well,
when you breastfeed on demand, your baby gets to feed whenever he or she wants.

And your newborn will want to nurse. A LOT. Your newborn should be nursing 8-12 times per day, so with 24 hours in a
day, that means you may be nursing every 2 hours. Yes, that includes nights.

The first few days are the hardest because you are not used to so little sleep. You feel guilty and paranoid when
your newborn decides to sleep longer than 2 hours without a feed, but you miss your precious sleep oh so much.

After you get through the first few days, your body may start to get used to the lack of sleep. Unfortunately, that
doesn’t mean you will look less like a zombie or start functioning as a normal adult. It will start to feel like the last time you slept peacefully was eons ago, and it might as well be.

3. When Your Milk Comes in.

I do not have small boobs, but I was not prepared for how large my boobs got when my milk first came in. I woke up a couple of days after giving birth, looked down, and WHOA. Did I somehow sleepwalk to a plastic surgeon’s office and get
an upgrade? All the sudden all the tops you own fit super tight and your lower cut shirts make you look like you are trying to pull a Jessica Rabbit.

4. When You First Open Up the Breast Pump.

I remember opening up the cardboard box that contained my breast pump and slowly taking out the different parts. Now, I am an engineer, so normally I love putting together puzzles and furniture and all that jazz. However, when I saw tubes, little white round thing with holes, the machine with various knobs, and other accessories, I was so confused.

THIS contraption is supposed to get milk from my boobs? What happens if I do it wrong and it sucks too strongly and I start bleeding? OMG, there is going to be a bloodbath! AHHHHHH!!!

5. When People Tell You that Your Milk is Not Good Enough.

There are always breastfeeding haters. Most of the time, unfortunately, are those who are closest to us. Just keep in mind that they are trying to help you even though they may be misinformed and that your breast milk is the best for your

6. When Your Let-Down is Way Too Strong.

I feel like a baby has a love-hate relationship with let-downs, especially if the let-downs are too strong. When the babies first latch on, they get impatient that the milk is not flowing fast enough and they smack your boobs like they are playing bongo drums to encourage the let-down. Patience, child!

However, when the milk finally gets released, they can’t drink fast enough and need to “come up for air.” More often than not, when they unlatch and turn their face away from your boobs, they get a face full of breast milk.

7. When Your Baby Cluster Feeds.

5-8 PM was what I called my son’s “witching hours.” He would be extremely fussy around that time, and the only way to calm him down was to nurse him.

Every single day, I would nurse him for 3 hours in the evening time, until my husband returned home around 8 PM and helped put him to sleep. I would forget to turn on the light when I sat down to nurse around 5 PM, so by the time my husband got home, I would be sitting in the dark, with my legs and butt numb from not being able to move for so long. Oh, fun times.

8. When Other People Notice Your Breastfeeding Boobs.

Finally get the chance to go out back into society after surviving the first few weeks with a newborn? You may have lost quite a few pounds, or if you are one of the genetically superior moms, you may already be back down to your pre-pregnancy weight. A couple of things, however, have not gone back to their original sizes
– namely, your boobs.

I remember going out for the first time after giving birth. I went to a friend’s birthday party, and I was wearing a tight cocktail dress. One of my friends who I had not seen postpartum hugged me, looked down, and said, “Breastfeeding?”

9. When Antiperspirants Just Don’t Cut it.

Have you noticed that your baby turns into a little heater when he/she is sleeping? On top of postpartum sweats (as your body is trying to get rid of the excess water you retained during pregnancy) and crazy hormones, your baby sometimes  feels like a thermonuclear reactor radiating as much heat as the sun. I am not a sweaty person usually, but I am usually covered in perspiration after nursing my baby to sleep. I know, super sexy.

10. When You Misplace Your Libido.

The crazy hormones that got you sweating like you just ran a marathon are also responsible for your lack of sex drive. This does not mean you are no longer attracted to your partner!

Find other ways to create intimacy in your relationship, like a candlelight dinner or give each other a sensual massage. It’s important to talk to your partner and maintain your relationship during this time. Just keep in mind that this is
only temporary – You can’t breastfeed forever!

11. When Your Breastfeeding Cravings Kick in.

I know you thought you were done with cravings after pregnancy. Well, no one warned you about breastfeeding cravings huh? While breastfeeding cravings are most likely due to sleep deprivation and lack of calories, they are strong
cravings nonetheless.

Just the other day, I randomly wanted pound cake. Who craves POUND CAKE of all things? I can’t explain it, but I wanted it, I needed it, and if I didn’t have it in my mouth that day, I would have stayed up after the kids had gone to bed to bake myself one.

12. When You Realize You Left the House with Your Boobs Hanging Out.

Running on just a few hours of sleep and breastfeeding 24/7, it’s bound to happen. One day, you will realize that
you have forgotten to button up your shirt and walked out the door. I have walked down the length of my entire street to get mail with my bra showing the entire way and didn’t realize it until I was almost home. Oops.

13. When Your Baby Gets Distracted Easily.

Around 2-6 months of age, babies start to get distracted by everything around them. All the sudden they turn into Daredevil and seem to be able to hear a car beeping its horns 10 streets down, and they have to see what’s going on. The
bad news? They tend to forget to let go with their mouths, and now your nipple looks like the Stretch Armstrong action figure (remember those?). OUCH.

14. When Your Baby Bites You.

Teething… The stuff nightmares are made of. Do you think you know fear? Try nursing a baby who does not seem to know there are pearly whites in his/her mouth and likes to use your nipple as a teething toy. Double… no triple… no CENTUPLE

15. When Your Baby Bites You … in Public.

Silent ouch…

16. When You Get Mastitis.

Imagine getting run over by a truck, and before you can raise your hand to signal for help, the truck backs up and runs you over again.

Now, combine the excruciating pain you would feel from getting flattened under the truck tires with the discomfort you would feel with the worst flu of your life.

That’s about what mastitis feels like.

Your inflamed boob(s) feels so bruised that you can barely wear a shirt over it, and you are extremely weak and achy all over. Bad news – to get the lumps out of your breast(s), you need to feed the baby as much as possible with your painful nipple(s), and massage the lumps while feeding to “unclog the drains.”

17. When You Realize How Much Money You are Saving Breastfeeding.

While you are recovering from the shock and pain of getting bitten or trying to survive mastitis, remember this – You save $1,000 to $3,000 per year breastfeeding. Victory dance!

18. When Someone Tells You to Stop Breastfeeding in Public.

People are dumb. I don’t care how much people may be bothered by the fact that my boobs are out of my shirt – I am feeding my baby. That said, I usually use a cover or the two-shirt method so you really can’t see anything, so when people
still can’t mind their own business, I get pretty pissed.

19. When Someone Tells You that They are Afraid to Nurse in Public.

You are sustaining another human being’s life. You are providing your baby with the best nutrients that he/she can get. It’s not like you are flashing everyone your boobs for no reason, and just use a cover if you are paranoid of someone seeing your nipples. Be proud that you are a nursing mom and both figuratively and literally, stick your chest out.

20. When You Meet Another Breastfeeding Mom.

Yes, breastfeeding moms are strangely proud. I know I am. It’s not an easy journey and there is a lot of pain and blood throughout. Therefore, when you meet another breastfeeding mom, you know you share a special bond that no others can understand, and you secretly applaud each other for toughing it out for the sake of your babies.

21. When You Breastfeed Past 1 Year (or Longer!).

It is recommended that you exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of the baby’s life. Beyond 6 months, a lot more factors come into whether or not you will continue, such as the baby eating solids, teething a lot more and getting too distracted to nurse.

According to the CDC, only 26.7% of women are breastfeeding their babies at 12 months in 2014. So go ahead, be proud that you have made it one whole year breastfeeding your baby… You deserve it!

22. When You Can Finally Wear a Shirt That’s Not Easily Boob-Accessible

When your baby is starting to wean, you will be nursing less and less. Toward the end, you may be only nursing once
during nap time and to put your baby to bed at night.

That means you can finally wear normal clothes again! No more shopping for clothes by pulling down the front to
make sure you can pull your boob out. No more wearing only button-down shirts or two layers during the hot summer months.

You can wear … dare I say it … WHATEVER YOU WANT!

23. When Your Baby Completely Weans Off Breast milk

Sadly, all good things come to an end. As much as you may hate the breastfeeding journey, I promise you, some part of you will miss it at the end. You will never again cuddle with the baby as close as you did while breastfeeding, and
you will miss the serene look on their faces when they fall asleep nursing, drunk on your breast milk. I am currently nursing my 7 months old daughter and I cannot imagine the end, and I don’t want to.

Feeling a little low? Check out this post to learn ways to boost your milk supply!

At what stage are you on in the breastfeeding journey?

23 Stages of Breastfeeding

About The Author

2 thoughts on “23 Stages of Breastfeeding”

  1. Haleigh Gaskins

    I loved this! I could relate to every singe one up until number 21. I am a first time mom to a beautiful baby boy and have been breastfeeding him for 7 months (ongoing). It’s been the hardest but most beautiful and reward thing that I have ever experienced. Love hearing of other women’s breastfeeding journeys, it encourages me and makes me feel good to know other woman out there are on the same journey as me. Thank you so much for sharing! ❤️

    1. Aw congrats on the baby and your beautiful breastfeeding journey! Thank you for reading mine. I nursed for 2 years with my first and 4 years with my second and went through all of these phases with both. Even thinking back at the difficult parts, I still would not ever trade it for the world.

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