Dear Daughter,

You turned six weeks old on Friday. This means many things, but the most all-consuming thing of the sixth week of life is your six-week growth spurt. I lovingly refer to this as the “growth spurt from hell” as it seems to be the most difficult one of all. In happier news, once this growth spurt has passed we move on to the second stage of breastfeeding that I like to call “SUCCESS!”

First, though, we must get through this growth spurt. It is the one where many moms decide that their milk supply is vanishing, that their baby actually hates them (but not as much as baby hates anyone who attempts to hold them without a breast for them to latch onto). You are divinely unpleasant, fussy, and do not believe at all in the idea of sleep. You switch sides constantly and are vocal about your annoyance when there is not enough milk or when there is too much milk. You flail your little limbs in displeasure, and pummel me with your fists while you tsk at me like an angry squirrel.

I know exactly what this is, and exactly how we will pass through it. I know the best practices. I know the reasons. I know that you are getting enough. I know that the contents of my milk adjust across time to meet your needs, and that your fussiness is not because you’re starving but because your body and mine are communicating and modifying my supply to meet your needs. I know that the way that I make this easier for both you and for me is to listen, to go through the motions, to switch you from side to side, to talk to you, to soothe you in all the ways I can, and to soldier on through trusting both your body and mine to do what needs to be done. I know from the poopy and wet diapers that you are putting out that not only are you getting enough, you’re practically drowning in milk. I know that the frequency of your nursing is making sure that you get the highest fat milk from my body.

I know that how you are acting is not an indicator of my supply, nor is it a judgement of my ability to provide for you. It is how breastfeeding works. It is an indication that things are perfect and as nature designed. You nurse frequently to keep me there with you. You nurse frequently to keep my breasts empty so that my body will produce more milk rather than releasing a protein that decreases lactation. You nurse frequently so that the milk you drink is all high fat, not foremilk.You nurse frequently so that your belly will fill more slowly from a less full breast, so that you will digest more slowly and use every iota of what my milk provides for you, rather than gulping it down only to poop it out as quickly as you can eat.

This is communication, not indictment. Success, not failure. Provision, not starvation. I have been through this with each of your brothers, I have read the studies, the information, talked to lactation consultants and can recite all of this backwards in my sleep while you nurse. I’ve read enough about how lactation works to visualize everything that happens as it happens like a 3D medical animation on youtube complete with monotonous droning narration.

None of this makes it any easier. You and I are deeply loved by people that care a tremendous deal about us. No one likes to hear you whimper while you nurse. Your displeasure is obvious. No one likes to see me exhausted with bags under my eyes. No one likes offering to hold you to give me a break and to have you cry moments later because you need to nurse again. Out of love they ask if maybe my milk supply is low. I refer them to the hundred-some ounces of oversupply that fill the basement freezer. To the stack of diapers that disappears so quickly across the day that your growth spurt means we’re turning to disposables as the 27 cloth newborn diapers no longer last even a day. You are eating so much, pooping and peeing so much. You are getting enough. My supply is fine.

This is not starvation. This is growth. I could give you a bottle but you are not the only thing growing and changing. Your milk supply is, too. A bottle might fill up your belly and ease your fussing for a short time, but it just slows the job that needs to be done.

You don’t need a bottle right now. A change in amount is not what you need. You need for the composition of my milk to change and better meet your needs as you make the move from newborn to infant. That is the purpose of this. Your fussiness and my sleep deprivation are the doing of the job that needs to be done.

I can see why so many women give bottles, convinced that their supply is low. When you hear the question once, you can dismiss the idea. When you hear it twice, three times, four times, every day from everyone that loves you and everyone that loves your baby… You start to question everything that you know.

You may wonder why I’m telling you this. It is simple. One day you will have your first baby. One day your first baby will be doing exactly what you are doing now and exactly what nearly every baby throughout time has always done. I want you to know that questioning yourself is normal. This is the third time I’ve been through this. I know more now than I ever have before.  I still question myself every step of the way.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that questioning is normal. And that often the answer is that everything is fine. The fussiness will pass. The sleep will return. Your baby will grow. This will pass. Trust yourself. I trust you now in your distant past, at six weeks old. Trust yourself now in your present with your own child as you go through the same dance. Listen to me when I tell you exactly the same thing that I tell you now: You’re doing great, beautiful girl.

You’re doing great.

<3 Mama

 

66 Responses to The Six Week Growth Spurt

  1. ME says:

    ::more tears::

  2. Lindsay says:

    I’m a first time mom. My son was born the day after your daughter. Thank you for writing about everything I’m thinking and wondering and feeling. And writing about it so beautifully.

  3. Zoe says:

    You tug at my heartstrings even more with every post. Your family is blessed.

  4. megan says:

    My daughter is six weeks old today. She is my first child, and these letters you are writing to your daughter are giving me such comfort, answering my questions before I can articulate them. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, while preserving it for your little girl.

    • sarah says:

      :) They are what I wish had been there for me in the early days of motherhood. So I write them for my daughter and I share them for the daughters out there who are currently having their first weeks or months of motherhood.

  5. [...] I really think this Mama puts it perfectly: The Six Week Growth Spurt [...]

  6. Amanda P. says:

    Wow, I have read-what feels like-hundreds of articles this week & this brought me to tears. My daughter is turning 6 weeks old on Thursday and everyday of her life has seemed like someone has swapped out my child and given me a new one! New quirks, new difficulties, and new adventures! During all of this chaos, I have found myself in doubt and fear, more often than not! It’s nice to hear from someone who has been through it three times that this is normal. Thank you for allowing complete strangers to view your thoughts and struggles and bringing comfort to me as I share similar experiences!

    • sarah says:

      First time mamahood is hard! They change it all up so often. The good news is that after 6 weeks it all slows down a little and gets easier. :)

  7. Gamze says:

    I am a first time mom at 46 years of age. I was totally dismissive of anyone who suggested low milk supply thru those endless feedings and fussiness and I am so glad of it as I ebf my boy now 3 mo. if I were younger I might have been more influenced so there is a silver lining with everything :-)

  8. Elisabeth says:

    Love this! I am 32 weeks pregnant with my third and went through this with my other two. They especially loved cluster feeding from 6-10 every night where they were literally attached to my boobs for all four hours. I tell my mommy friends that go through this to just accept it, find a good TV show to get addicted to, and hibernate. I love love love your emphasis on trusting the system that has worked perfectly for our species! We screw up the natural order of things with the “Google-syndrome”, formula and too much negativity from others regarding milk supply. Our breasts are amazingly good at nourishing our babies if we let them be. Thank you for the positive encouragement for all mommies!!

  9. Courtney says:

    Thank you so much for posting this message. I cannot tell you how much comfort it gave my. My daughter turns 6 weeks to,prow, and for the past few days she has been inconsolable at night. I feared it was late-onset colic, but after reading your post, I immediately identified that she was starting her growth spurt a bit early. I started feeding her more often, and voila! She had a much more peaceful, restful night last night. And so did mom and dad! Thank you for your beautiful story :)

  10. Shane Messer says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for this! My son is 6 weeks today and this has eased all the anxiety that I have built up over the last few days.

  11. Miranda says:

    Exactly what I needed to hear. My little boy is 6 weeks and has been crying the last two hours. Just swapping from 1 side to the next and back again.

    Knowing does help. Thank you.

  12. Cat says:

    As someone who has lost her Mum, this page was so amazingly helpful to me. Thank you for sharing your advice. I am now calm in the knowledge that the transformation in my previously calm and content baby into angry squirrel – will pass. Thanks x

    • sarah says:

      *hug* It does pass. The six week spurt is a doozy. Babies have a few. (3w, 6w, 3mo, 6mo, and I’m probably forgetting a few) They also have them at random sometimes as well.

      Count wet diapers for reassurance. If you’re getting 6 wets per 24 hours and baby’s alert and meeting milestones with out any symptoms other than “fussy”, you’re good. (Also make sure baby isn’t gassy or refluxy, but you probably know the signs for those things already). If baby has symptoms other than fussiness it might be something other than a growth spurt. (ie: fever, runny nose, green frothy poop, weight gain issues, etc.)

      Hang in there!

  13. Julie says:

    My daughter turned 7 weeks Tuesday and for three days, beginning at the tail end of her 6th week, I have done nothing but nurse and try to console an uber fussy tiny human. I had no idea what I was doing wrong, or how to make her happy. And then the memories from my 3 older kids flashed back. I remembered where we are and what’s going on.

    Even knowing that, baby and I ended up sobbing in the recliner together yesterday. I think my husband was a little worried when he walked in when he got home from work. But honestly, the release felt good. Today *seems* to be better. Maybe yesterday was the peak. I don’t want to jinx myself though.

    It was nice to come across this page when I was doubting myself yesterday and googled “6 week growth spurt”

    • sarah says:

      Never be afraid to cry. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a healthy way to let out stress and recover energy. :)

      *hugs* I hope it passes soon for you!

  14. [...] Anyone else on the 6 week growth spurt? Man, this is looooonnnngggg!!! Partly because I had a few supply issues to start with but this baby is crazy on the eating at the moment. Just wondered if anyone else is going through it & if you want to start a little support thread? If you're like me & awake around the clock right now with cluster feeds then make yourself known! Other growth spurts also allowed FYI I've found this page to be really useful http://www.nursingmothers.org/html/faq.html And this page to be good for my sanity http://nurshable.com/2012/05/27/six-week-growth-spurt/ [...]

  15. Maria says:

    How beautiful to read this and how true! I stopped breast feeding my 1st child at 6weeks because I absolutely thought I had no milk. It was horrible and I felt like such a failure.
    Wih my next child I had such a wonderful midwife who supported me in my need to breastfeed and explained growth spurts and how they would affect us. I fed my son till 9months which was amazing!
    I now have a 3week old and I think I will print out what you have written and pin it in places around the house for me & any well-meaning visitors :-)
    THANK YOU :-)

    • sarah says:

      Maria,

      You define your success. :) What is your goal this time around? Seek out the advice and companionship of those who have made it to your goal, and enjoy your little nursling. :)

      You did not fail with your first child, you chose what you felt was best for that child with the information that you had, even if it hurt you emotionally and made you feel “like a failure”. This is parenting. Making the hard choices with the information that we have and that we can find. Now you have better information and can make better choices, like you did with your second child and like you want to do now with your third.

      Enjoy the little one!

  16. Uzo says:

    OMG! I could have written that myself. This lol is not my first but I waited 5years to have another so it actually felt new to me. There is definitely a 4 weeks growth spurt! This write-up defines my 4 weeks old baby. Yesterday was a nightmare…my otherwise calm baby became a terror, my breast became somewhat of a pacifier, I started thinking of a substitute, I was exhausted and close to tears. She was simply inconsolable. I kept wondering why the diapers were always wet if she was not getting enough.I consumed much more than I normally do thinking that will help my supply. This piece Is a lifesaver! Many thanks for coming to the rescue. I had to make my husband read this as well and was he relieved…:)

  17. Rebecca says:

    Ty for posting this!

  18. Z_Kristic says:

    Ah the voice of reason! Thank you so much for writing this I’m so glad and relieved to find it. Just when I was questioning my ability and milk supply to continue to breast feed my suddenly ravenous 5 week and 2 day old baby boy.

    Being a first time mum is truly a huge learning curve to say the least!

    I’ll be looking to see now whether you continue to write more pearls of wisdom.

    Thank you once again your words are truly a lifesaver to me at this moment.

  19. Jo Tidbury says:

    I really needed to read this today! Thank you. x

  20. Hijab says:

    Thanks alot.. This is my third child,even though i knew growth spurts..have somehow passed this with 2 older kids,but today when my cute calm lo turned into cranky,fussy fighting baby, who hates to sleep or smile,i started thinking something was wrong with my diet and supply,and sleep deprived mind wants to leave sanity behind…u saved me..
    Ur way of wrtng is unique and sOOO Interesting..stay blessed

  21. Thank you so much posting your experience. It’s helped me so much with my son.

    SSG xxx

  22. julzyw says:

    Thank you so much for this! My DD is 5 weeks and 3 days and I have been worried that I didn’t have ample supply for her. A few people have suggested bottles, only out of concern for me and my lack of sleep. I have been tempted but also want to keep going with the bf’ing because it was such a disaster with DS two years ago. I’m going to pass on a link to your site to my friends at the breastfeeding support group tomorrow!

  23. Pamplemousse says:

    Thank you for this article. Despite knowing what was happening, I found myself googling “six week growth spurt” – my little boy is five weeks, so is going through this a bit early. I cried reading this as it was just like you were in my head writing exactly what I felt and describing my baby was doing. Thank you for your astute writing, I got a second wind after reading it and trusted it would pass and that my supply would sustain him. I shared the link with friends who don’t have children and my mum (I was bottle fed) to explain how I was feeling. Thank you so much, you made a real difference yesterday!

  24. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much! Today has been our hardest day yet, with both baby girl and I both crying! I’ve been trying so hard, and was so discouraged and reading this made me feel so much better. This growth spurt is awful, and who knew breastfeeding was so darn hard!? I came this close to going to pumping and bottles, but you convinced me to keep on ebf. I’m going to keep soldiering on like you said.. Thank you for letting me know it’s going to be okay, and that we will get through it! God bless you!

    • sarah says:

      Stephanie,

      *HUG* It gets so much easier after this blasted growth spurt passes. There’s other ones, but once you get through the six week spurt the others tend to feel so much smaller and you know for sure you can do it. It’s six weeks that has me questioning myself EVERY time.

      Count the wets so you can remember you’re doing okay. Six for 24 hours and you’re good. :) (a soaked one counts as two wets) If you need moral support or have specific questions feel free to come pester me here or on Facebook’s Nurshable page and I can hook you up with some good supportive groups.

      <3 Sarah

      • Stephanie says:

        Thank you so much, both for the hug, man I needed that, haha and the offer of further advice. I can’t wait to check out the rest of your blog! ;))

  25. Nicole says:

    Like many other readers, I have come across this website at 3am with a 5 week old who is fussing as she feeds at this very moment. She seems addicted to nursing and has forgotten what sleep means for both of us. Your words are comforting confirmation that we will make it through this growth spurt and be better for it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  26. Emma says:

    I love this letter so. i am going to make sure every new mama i meet gets the link to this page.

  27. [...] ran into this blog entry via the BabyCenter Birth Board I’m on, I’m copying and pasting this strictly [...]

  28. [...] know was that she was just about to start her first growth spurt. If I hadn’t found this post I don’t think I would have got through it without resenting Miss E just a little. It helped [...]

  29. Melissa says:

    Wow, I really needed this ! Thank you !

  30. Cory Ellen says:

    Oh, I remember the growth spurts so well. And now, as a doula, one of the most common calls I get postpartum is the low-supply panic as milk supply regulates itself and growth spurts begin. Thanks so much for this piece!

  31. Someone shared your article with me on a day I REALLY needed it and it made me feel amazing. I have already shared with at least 10 other new moms and it has had an impact on them all too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us.

    • sarah says:

      <3 I'm glad it helped, Kat. Being a first time mum is HARD! Babies are scary little creatures and so many of the things that we hear undermine our confidence in ourselves. I'm glad that my letter helped you. Knowing this makes my heart happy. :)

  32. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks so much for posting this letter. I’m a first-time mom who often feels like she has no idea what she’s doing, and the last couple days with my 6-week-old son have been rough. It’s incredibly reassuring to know that there is an explanation for what’s going on and that I’m not alone! :)

  33. [...] gelacht Jukah ;-) Hier was interessantes zum Wachstumsschub. Auch gut geschrieben find ich. The Six Week Growth Spurt | Nurshable Spaeter mehr … Schlaaaaaaaaaf!!! PROUD MOM TO LITTLE ANNA KLARA born 08/06/2013 [...]

  34. sarah efrog says:

    I’m sitting here, baby in my arms, tears pouring. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s helped me realise it’s normal and I can do this. Might have to show the in laws so they know it’s normal too and so they keep their thoughts to themselves! x x

  35. [...] The Six Week Growth Spurt – [...]

  36. Mari says:

    With my 6 week 2 day old daughter latched to my breast and tears streaming down my face, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • sarah says:

      Mari,

      It gets easier from here on out. *hug* After this growth spurt passes you’re in the free and clear with this breastfeeding thing and you’re mostly freed up to face any other challenges that come with parenthood. <3

      Hang in there, mama! And congratulations on your little girl. My little one is rapidly approaching sixteen months now, and oh how I miss her little six week self. :)

      <3 – Sarah

  37. Valerie says:

    Thank you so much for writing this :) I was actually giving her a bottle and looking up some more of the formula online because I was totally feeling like a failure. My husband is not very supportive because his mom bottle fed and he’s familiar with feeding schedules and tummies that stay full for a while, not crying babies who are constantly attached. Plus, i’m feeling pressure from just getting back to work and housework, along with getting nagged about losing my baby fat. Basically my self esteem has been in the toilet and my little screamer wasn’t making me feel better. Your post is very reassuring and I am very grateful you posted it. I’ll be sharing it with my new mom friends :)

    • sarah says:

      Oh dear, Valerie! It doesn’t sound like you have much help or support.

      Baby fat? That stuff takes 9 months to put on and at least 9 months for it to start coming off. Breathe! Find some space for happy thoughts in that life of yours. This time is going to pass quickly and things get easier as baby gets older. :) Are you able to baby wear at all?

      • Valerie says:

        Hello Sarah! Yes I am able to. I have a moby wrap, a peanut shell sling and an infantino carrier. I switch them out depending on what mood she’s in and what I am doing. :)

  38. Begum says:

    I just cannot thank you enough for writing this. I’ve been at the end of my wits for the last few days, this has lifted my spirits and helps me soldier on. Thank you so very much.

  39. Begum says:

    I can’t stop crying, thank you so much again. I think I’ve been bottling it up so much and wondering if I’m not good enough.

  40. Natalie says:

    I was just about to go make a bottle because I was convinced my baby boy wasnt getting enough… but decided to google it. Thank you for this post. It not only gave me the confidence that my baby is doing well, but also made me cry :) So sweet.

    Thank you love.

  41. Jasmine K says:

    All I wanted to say is THANK YOU! I was in tears reading this while nursing my baby boy who is just about 6 weeks old. I would never give up BF’ing but his fussiness had me questioning my ability until I read this. Thank you thank you thank you : )

  42. MaryAnn says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my empty feeling breasts. My daughter is 6 weeks today and has always nursed every 1-2 hours since birth but now she’s nursing for longer periods of time as well. These past few days I’ve thought my milk was drying up as my breasts don’t get as engorged as they used to and she doesn’t seem satisfied. I’ve been googling everything from supply issues to sleeping schedules at 6 weeks wondering if she’ll ever sleep again. And frightened by the experiences of others I’ve found. Yours gives me hope. I’m exhausted and in tears several times throughout the day and have no help. Thanks for writing so wonderfully about your experiences.

  43. mj says:

    my sleep deprived new mom self thanks you so much for writing and sharing this! my six week and one day old son and i have all the frustrations you mentioned, so apparently everything is going great! :)

  44. adele says:

    Genius! This is EXACTLY it! I was going to give up as I have been asking myself all of these questions. You shoild write and book, nursing bible! Why my health visitor doesn’t know this I don’t know?! A thousand thabk yous. I can’t twll you how much you have reduced my stress. A brilliant Christmas present x

    • sarah says:

      Adele,

      There’s so much information out there that I think people who deal with these things day in and day out all get their particular “takes” on how things go, and while I’m very mindful of the different growth spurts and stages some others are not able to remember those because they’re focused on other information and are trying to be as helpful as they can be. I’m glad that you continued to look for the information that made sense to you. You’re a strong and determined mama.

      I’m so glad that you found some peace.

      Have a lovely Christmas. <3

      -Sarah

  45. Sandra says:

    Thank you for writing such a perfect description of this stage. I’m nursing my third baby and you absolutely nailed it! It’s exactly what happens and I think it’s fantastic how you articulate it. Even now, on my third, as he turns six weeks I already see the frequency of the feedings augmenting and it’s so exhausting. However, to your point, it passes and becomes so much easier after. I wish I would have read this when I had my first!!

    Thank you again.

  46. Jen says:

    So glad to read this and know this is normal..my daighter is six weeks..mu hubby has flu and is staying w his mom so we dont catch it..feeling less alone now at least..

  47. Megan says:

    From overactive let down to over supply, green diapers for the last week, and now the beginning stages of a plugged duct; this growth spurt comes at not the most convenient time. I’ve never wanted to give up but this is definitely an overwhelming time. I didn’t expect breastfeeding to be easy, but I feel like I’m starting to doubt myself. As many other mothers have stated, this letter brought me to tears. The way you write it out puts a brand new perspective on this trying stage. As he lays across my stomach, finally sleeping after a two hour spell of crying and pulling and fighting and eating, I am reminded of how important this is to me. I’m so glad I found this letter. Thank you.

  48. Kate says:

    Sarah, thank you for sharing this letter to your daughter. I am another first time mom who has been so comforted and reassured by your sweet words. Your daughter is a very blessed girl to have you. And I am blessed to have found your article. I keep re-reading it as me and my 6 week old daughter nurse through this growth spurt. All my best to you and your family.

  49. […] Which also happens to coincide with her six week growth spurt, so yesterday felt very much like this, from the blog Nurshable: […]

  50. Gammy says:

    Your comments are the most encouraging remarks. I as a grandmother appreciate so much your personal experiences and answers to questions I didn’t know how to answer myself. You are so positive and informative which is such a blessing to nursing mothers and their family.

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