The Three-Month Breastfeeding Crisis - Guest Post by Lara Cecilia Garau

This isn’t sleep related directly, but it kinda is as it may provide explanation for many problems many moms could be experiencing. I’ve posted this in another group and then in a Reddit post, but this group is full of like-minded moms who could use the information.

Because I know the information I'm about to share might be of use to some moms and it might be old news to some other moms and for some others it might be an explanation. I'm not here to judge or to say "you should/should have done this or that". I just wanted to point out the cultural differences I've seen and the difference in information I've found.

First, you ladies should understand that where I come from there's no such thing as shaming a mother for breastfeeding public, that nobody hides while doing so although people frown upon mothers who do it while walking on the street because "it's a special moment and it should be done at least sitting down to let mom and baby bond". So, I'm guessing that really shows how different our societies are.

The main topic of this post are the breastfeeding crisis. As a translator I tend to look for information in both languages because that way I make sure I've exhausted all the sources I can.

When I google it in English, I see posts in pages where women say "my supply is low, my baby is not full, I have to supplement with formula". However, when you look for the same thing in Spanish, you find specialized websites explaining how there are a few crisis a baby and a mother will go through in their breastfeeding journey and how to overcome them. I'm not saying this information is not available in English, don't get me wrong. What I'm saying is that it's more easily obtained in Spanish because it's the first thing it pops when doing a simple google search. As I said before, it's not that this info doesn't exist in the Anglo-Saxon world, I’m sure lactation consultants and many of you already know about this, but for those who don't, I just wanted to share it. This is my adaptation of the contents of a website in Spanish which talks about the crisis of breastfeeding. If you, ladies, want the link to the site, I'll share it.

Here it goes.

Milk production is regulated by the baby's demand. the more the baby demands, the more milk is produced. Despite this, there are certain situations in which babies seem to not be full or when babies may look like they are in discomfort while feeding.

This behavior usually causes a lot of stress on mothers and if they don't know about these stages of demand modification and baby behavior, they might start supplementing with formula or even stop breastfeeding altogether.

We will call crisis or growth spurs to situations when the baby seems not to be happy with his mother's production.

These crisis usually occur at the same ages and that's why we can understand them.

Between 17-20 days of life

Baby's behavior changes and wants to nurse continuously, I.e. never let go of the breast or eat every 30 mins. Baby may cry nonstop if they don't have your boob in his mouth. They vomit milk but still want to nurse afterwards.

What's going on? The baby needs to increase his mother's production and the only way to do it is to nurse nonstop for a couple of days (or maybe 3). That way he will get an optimal amount of milk and the baby will go back to normal. It will be a very intense period so moms will need all the support from their partners and family they can get.

Between 6 and 7 weeks of age

The same thing happens as before. The baby wants to nurse more often and his behavior may change. Baby will be very nervous, he will tug from your nipple, he will arch his back with the nipple in his mouth and tense his legs. This happens because there's a change in milk's composition making its taste more salty for a few days and some babies don't like the change. The situation resolves after a week or so.

The three month crisis

This is the most complex and the hardest to go through. This is where most breastfeeding moms quit or start supplementing because this crisis lasts for about a month. -Baby is not that hungry anymore.

  • The baby no longer feeds for long periods of time.

  • The mother's breasts are soft and don't feel full anymore.

  • The baby gets distracted for virtually everything around him.

  • Baby only seems to nurse properly when he's either drowsy or sleeping.

  • Baby puts on less weight, which is normal.

  • Oftentimes there's a decrease of poops

So what's wrong? At three months of age babies are expert suckers, so they no longer need to be 20 mins on your boob, they can do it in 3, 4 or 5 mins.

The baby's neuronal connections are starting to work, so he gets distracted because he's experiencing new sensations (this is why it's best to nurse in an environment with little distractions at this point) He will only nurse like he used to at night.

Babies at this stage also cry when nursing and the reason is because the mother's body no longer needs to produce milk to store it. She will produce the milk when the baby starts sucking, which may lead to a bit of frustration for the baby and that's why they cry. This is why breasts will be soft and not hard like before. It will take 2.2 mins for the body to have milk ready for the baby after he begins nursing. The baby will take a month or so to get used to the change.

One year old

At this age babies slow down their growth rate and they show less interest in solid foods, they will increase their breastmilk demand,

Two years old

Baby will want to nurse all the time, just like a newborn. They will be nervous and if mothers delay or deny the breast they will be upset.

What's going on? Babies at this age go through a stage similar to the adolescence. They become more independent but this new independence makes them more insecure. Nursing comforts them and in a couple of months the baby feels self assured and the demand decreases.

There are two false crisis at four and eight months but this post is already too long!