BreastfeedingCommon ProblemsFirst Five Days

What is a growth spurt?

A growth spurt is a day or two, when your baby has an intense need to nurse.

Whether you call them growth spurts, frequency days or wonder weeks, your baby will ask to nurse frequently, and for long periods of time. When you try to set your baby down, they will either wake immediately, or sleep for a short time, before demanding to nurse again.

While they are called growth spurts, research shows that a mother’s daily production of milk stays about the same from month 1 to 6. A growth spurt gives baby a temporary boost of milk (and is comforting) but doesn’t actually increase the “average amount” of milk you are making.

Growth spurts happen several times during the first 6 weeks of life when milk production is starting up. Common times for other growth spurts occur around 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months. They can occur when teeth are developing, and when baby is learning a physical skill like rolling, crawling or walking, and they can be a sign when baby is ready to start eating solid food.

They can also happen unexpectedly.

Growth may be mental or emotional without outward signs at first. They might also happen just before you get your period, when starting daycare, or during busy times in your family’s life.

Growth spurts are different from low milk production and illness.

A growth spurt lasts two or three days, and the baby’s weight gain has been steady in the past.

Low milk production should be considered when a baby is unsatisfied after nearly every feed, and wants to nurse all the time, over a period of days turning into weeks. The treatment for low milk production starts with frequent nursing. It also requires professional evaluation to discover and treat the underlying cause.

Fussiness, and a need to nurse non-stop, might also be the first signs of your baby getting sick. Signs of an illness also might include a diaper rash, fever, runny nose, cough, vomiting, or ear infection.

Suggestions for moving through a growth spurt:

• Nurse frequently, and on demand.
• Clear your schedule for a day or two
• Keep baby close so they can be nursed before they get upset.
• You may need to eat or drink more during a growth spurt, if you feel hungry or thirsty.

When to call my healthcare provider?

If you see no decrease in feeding frequency after 3 days, or your baby is upset while nursing, or your baby is not gaining enough weight, call your pediatrician and/or your lactation consultant to discuss other possibilities for your baby’s behavior, and your milk production.

Additional resources:

Mother of three, including twins; Lactation Consultant; Partner of Michael;

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