If you have a baby between 15-20 days, you may notice that she is more restless and very fussy at the breast, doesn’t let go at all or wants to feed all the time, she may even have a milk reflux from the large amount she is drinking.
It is very likely that you feel that something out of your control is happening and you feel confused or scared by this behavior of your newborn. Maybe you are imagining the worst: she might be hungry, she is refusing your breast or maybe anything else is wrong. But if she has already recovered her birth weight, it is most likely that your baby is in having her second growth spurt, the 15-day grow spurt, also known in other countries around the world as breastfeeding crisis. If your baby has not yet regained his or her birth weight, don’t hesitate to get professional help. We provide personalised, automated information and support, as well as a chat function in our free app, alternatively, don’t hesitate to get help from your local breastfeeding support group or professional.
What’s going on?
In their first days of life, babies usually have a calm breastfeeding rhythm. Some seem to do nothing else than eating and sleeping in nice two or three hour cycles. This is when we start hearing comments like: “What a good baby!” “She is such a good girl, she just eats and sleeps” or “Well done, I am sure your milk is filling”.
And everything seems to go smoothly until we reach the stage of 15-20 days of life, when everything seems to go down the drain and doubts begin to stir up in the new family life. Because all of you can’t understand why:
- The baby wants to breastfeed constantly, which means not letting go of the breast or feeding every 30 minutes.
- She cries desperately if she is not latched onto the breast.
- She brings up milk in considerable quantities, but wants to breastfeed again immediately afterwards.
Even doubts about the quality of the milk can arise, when in fact this increased demand has nothing to do with the quality of your milk.
Maybe I don’t have enough milk?
It is normal to feel as if you are not producing enough milk and not being sure if it is enough for your baby. But what really happens, is that the baby grows at a much faster pace at the moment and in this stage she has to drink a lot of breastmilk. The only way for your baby to increase your milk production is to breastfeed lots and a lot more than before. Only this way, she will get all the milk she needs. But if your baby has regained his or her birth weight, everything is going fine.
What is a grow spurt?
Growth spurts or breastfeeding crises are just normal stages of breastfeeding. Stages in which we can predict that the baby will feed more intensely in order to increase milk production. When a baby feeds much more than usual and demand increases, the mammary gland responds by making more milk. You may feel your breast is “empty” and this is normal, because your baby is feeding a lot and your milk has no time to “build up”. Remember that your breast is not like a warehouse, but more like a factory and the more your baby feeds, the more milk you will make. If your baby is constantly feeding, your milk cannot accumulate and because baby has a belly full of milk, you notice your breast empty.
Throughout your breastfeeding journey you will experience more of these stages: at 6-7 weeks, 4 and 8 months, at 1 year and 2 years growth spurt… and each and every one of them will be another stage that you will experience and overcome.
My baby is 14 days old, can it be this growth spurt?
Although we call it the 15-days grow spurt or breastfeeding crisis, it does not happen necessarily on the exact day that the baby is 15 days old, it can occur earlier or later, even at 12-14 days and for some babies later, as late as at 21 days of age. Just like every baby walks or talks around a range of age, we know that these small differences are normal, so it is also normal for growth spurts to happen within a timeframe.
And how long will this growth spurt last?
Usually, this increase in demand that keeps you breastfeeding literally all day can last for 3 or 4 days, until your milk production increases and your baby resettles again in a calmer pattern. Think of breastfeeding as a journey in stages rather than a constant set routine, because there will always be changes and novelties coming up. It may seem like something negative, but instead you should consider this as a good thing, because it only goes to shows that your baby is growing and you are going thru these stages together, because both of you are growing.
Any tricks to make this stage any easier?
First of all, try to be calm, even if we know this is easy to say, but difficult to do. Especially if you keep getting unhelpful comments from surrounding people. But remember, if your baby gains weight, you are on a normal path and this is actually a good thing to happen to you and your baby. We know these are very stressful days, but now you know what happens to you is normal and that it will soon be over, you will face it more calmly. Try to find your tribe and look out for a group of breastfeeding mothers, who meet in person or virtually, it will be very comforting to hear, that other mothers are just in the same situation.
(Author: Alba Padró IBCLC and Co-founder of LactApp, translated by LactAppUK)