I’m finally putting fingers to keys and letting you all know the links between growth spurts and the end of breastfeeding. Here are the hardest growth spurts supported by the data of breastfeeding surveys:
2-3 weeks, why? This is when things seem to take a turn. You just felt like you had it all under control and then BAM! Baby is attached to you even more than before. Hang in there!
6 weeks you are probably doubting it since this same thing just happened a few weeks ago, but this time you are throwing in the 6 week checkup with your OB. You want to know what you are going to talk about? Birth control! Birth control can have an affect on your supply, and many women notice it very quickly. Skip the hormonal birth control for an option that will keep your milk supply abundant, condoms. I do not advise the pull out method or using the lack of your period as birth control. Oh, and there is a chance that you will be returning to work at the 6 week mark. Returning to work can mean added stress, and less time at the breast; however, time can be made up by the use of the pump.
3 months if you are a working breastfeeding parent in the United States you are almost guaranteed to be going back to work after 12 weeks of family leave. Have a pumping plan ready and be ready to ask for what you need at your workplace. You will likely encounter a boss who doesn’t want to hear about it and gives you whatever you need or someone who doesn’t understand and be very dismissive to your needs. Stand up for yourself.
6 months the introduction of solid foods is going on between 4 and 6 months; however, some babies may not be interested and you will find they are more content at the breast. This is a good time to introduce a cup for milk rather than a bottle as well (if you are not exclusively breastfeeding). During the 6 month mark people will be asking you “when are you going to stop breastfeeding?” The added pressure from others and the perceived lack of support can cause moms to throw in the towel and grabbing a container of formula.
You baby will be spending more time at the breast during ALL of these growth spurts, so don’t take this as a sign that you aren’t producing enough. Your baby is using that time at the breast to increase your supply, DEMAND EQUALS SUPPLY. The best way to determine if your baby is getting enough is to track the wet and dirty diapers and weight gain in your baby. If you feel like something is wrong with your supply, contact a lactation specialist. Your regular OB or your child’s pediatrician are not likely to be the most equipped or educated to handle this situation.
During these times you may also feel “touched out” where if you have to spend one more second nursing you may actually scream…out loud. This is normal and it is okay if you need to hand the baby off to someone else for a bit to regain a sense of yourself. You can also give your baby a pacifier to ease their sucking reflex if they aren’t actually nursing. You can also consider giving a bottle of pumped milk during these growth spurts to help give your nipples a break. Remember, you have got this. Your body is phenomenal, and once this stage is over it will seem like a distant dream. Kind of like birth *wink.*
If at anytime you are having breastfeeding problems and feel like something isn't right, I recommend seeking out an IBCLC that is not in a hospital, find someone operating privately (there are less politics involved). Growth spurts aren't the only reason breastfeeding relationships end, a lack of support, inability to pump when at work, really crappy family leave policies in the U.S. and the list goes on.