Bringing a newborn into the world is a beautiful experience, but a massive change for everyone — Mom most of all. In the few days after delivery, her body has to adapt; and then the questions begin. One of the most common concerns for women is breastfeeding. How do you know when your breastmilk will come in? Will there be signs that milk is coming in during the pregnancy, or does it magically happen after delivery? And how do you keep milk production up to feed your baby?
Let’s take a closer look at breastfeeding.
Types Of Milk You’ll Produce
Your body will produce three types of milk, changing as your baby needs it.
Colostrum is your early milk and is like liquid gold for your baby. Packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and antibodies, colostrum will carry your baby for the first couple of days after birth until your regular milk comes in.
Colostrum should be fed to your baby immediately after birth. However, baby’s stomach is only the size of a marble at birth (1 to 2 teaspoons), so it really doesn’t take much to fill her up. Baby will stay full on that much milk while he tries to get his bearings in this new world he just entered. So don’t worry if your milk doesn’t drop within the first two days after birth. Within ten days of birth, baby’s stomach will grow to the size of a ping pong ball (about 2 oz)!
A Quick Specification About ‘Milk Coming In’
Once your baby drinks up all your colostrum, your milk will change to a lighter consistency and color. If you pump, you’ll notice your milk separates into a more watery solution on the bottom and a thicker solution on the top. The watery solution is foremilk, and the thicker solution is hindmilk. In order to make sure baby is hydrated and nourished, these two types of milk mix together as baby suckles.
The term, “milk coming in” is a bit of a misnomer since many people assume breastmilk may or may not develop after delivery. During pregnancy, the body starts producing breastmilk as early as 16 weeks for some mamas.
Therefore, milk “coming in” really refers to the transition from colostrum to your regular breast milk, even though milk may had actually “come in” months prior.
Signs Milk Is Coming In During Pregnancy
When your breastmilk will drop after birth differs from mama to mama, but there are some telltale signs it is coming.
- Breast engorgement may occur, which is the breasts feeling super full, heavy, and/or firm.
- Breasts may swell.
- Leaking may occur, either overnight or during the day.
- The skin around your nipples may tighten, or your nipples may flatten.
It’s important to note that engorgement and slight discomfort is normal, but any pain is not. You can use warm compresses, take a hot shower, or pump after feedings to ensure you are fully emptying your breasts so milk ducts don’t get clogged. If you are worried that you are not producing enough milk, consider working with a Lactation Consultant to trouble shoot your specific struggles. Sometimes, baby is not latching correctly to get enough milk. Other times, it can be related to mama’s hydration, nourishment, or stress/anxiety.
Regardless of personal situation, always know that breastfeeding is a journey, and everyone’s path looks different.