Let’s face it, during the first several weeks of breastfeeding, nursing your baby around-the-clock can be anything but “easy.” A lot of moms find the newborn period very trying and are often anxious to space out feedings and begin getting back to their “normal” routines. Thankfully, once you leave the newborn period, breastfeeding does in fact become second nature for most nursing couples. In fact, many people refer to the period immediately following the newborn phase as the “reward period of breastfeeding!” Once your baby is around six weeks old, she will have more neck and head control and be a more active participant in nursing sessions. Around this time, babies also become more efficient nursers and can sometimes finish feedings in as little as 10 minutes! If you experienced any pain in the first few weeks of breastfeeding, you and your baby will likely have nursing down pat now, and pain will no longer be something you are concerned about. Many moms who were concerned about milk supply initially, also begin to have more faith in their body’s ability to provide all the nutrition their growing baby needs!
During the reward period of breastfeeding, breastfeeding is not only enjoyable and relaxing, it is also easier than the alternative! There is no need for special water, bottles, or warmers; all a nursing mother needs is her baby and her breasts. Milk is available on-demand, when and wherever your baby needs it! It is always the perfect temperature and magnificently formulated to contain the precise nutrition your baby needs in that moment.
Many mothers who initially planned to nurse just a few months now find breastfeeding so enjoyable and easy that they set new goals for themselves. After all, the “hard” part is over! Nursing in public is easily managed and mothers no longer feel the need to have special pillows or nipple shields – their babies can now nurse “on-the-go” without any special preparation or planning. Night nursing is also easier. Mother and baby become a skilled nursing couple, able to breastfeed side-lying or in practically any position, sometimes without even waking (if bed-sharing).
It is during the reward period of breastfeeding that mothers really begin to reap the benefits of all their hard work in the early stages of breastfeeding. Milk production is beginning to regulate and mothers often find that they no longer have issues with leaking or engorgement. Some mothers also find that they are now able to enjoy a 4-5 hour stretch of sleep at night without effecting their milk supply. If that wasn’t enough to make a new mom smile, babies are also becoming increasingly social around this time. You may notice your baby begin gazing into your eyes lovingly and even smile at you for the first time, milk dripping out of the corner of her mouth, as she nurses happily at your breast. This truly is a magical time in a nursing mother’s breastfeeding journey and one you will never forget!