The first 2 weeks as a parent in general is challenging, but if you have chosen to breast/chestfeed your baby let's talk about realistic expectations. While biologically this is one of the most natural things it doesn't mean that it is always one of the easiest things.
What to expect:
The first 24 hours baby is very sleepy
The second 48 hours baby is VERY AWAKE. You will feel like nothing is working expect baby being at the nipple. That's ok. That is normal. They have just realized they are in a new environment and are looking for comfort. It won't be like this all of the time, but night 2, 48 hours after their birth time, it is a sleepless night.
Your mature milk starts flowing around 3-5 days postpartum; however if you experienced a lot of blood loss or a c-section it can take up to 7 days to flow. Have a backup plan in place, you can express colostrum prenatally and save it in syringes to give to your baby. Do you have. a friend who is due around the same time as you? Ask if they can pump some milk for your baby. You can find informal donors like friends and family or you can ask your hospital to purchase some donor milk, it costs about $5/oz but it will likely only be temporary.
We always hear that it shouldn't be painful, and ideally it won't be, but very commonly lactating people experience pain the first week BUT this should subside by week 2 at the very latest.
Baby will wake approximately every 2 hours to eat, even if you are formula feeding. BECAUSE despite popular belief, formula is not necessarily higher in calories than human milk, babies digest human milk in about half the time it takes to digest formula.
Prep your non lactating partner for what they can do to support you and bond with baby without feeding the baby.
Even if you are feeling good and like you can do all of your normal things, please be sure to rest, read our post about the 5/5/5 rule here.
Have meals and snacks on hand and in the freezer for easy reheating and ask your friends and family to drop by with meals not onesies! You will not have much time to cook, but you definitely need to eat!
Your pre-pregancy clothes WILL NOT FIT! Purchase clothes that are at least 2x your regular size so you can feel comfortable in them.
Finally, set up your squad! Get your friends and relatives that you can count on to help you and support your breast/chestfeeding journey on alert, devise a plan, have people you can talk to. Who can cook, clean, and help out while you focus on your new breast/chestfeeding journey? Have a professional squad too, think about including a postpartum doula and lactation professional BUT don't stop there. We recommend you include a chiropractor for all those breast/chestfeeding aches and pains, and while not part of breast/chestfeeding be sure to add a pelvic floor PT to your lineup.