As an expectant mother, you may have already thought about how you will feed your baby, even before he/she arrives. If you have a goal to breastfeed your baby, it can be helpful for you to know when you can anticipate your milk to “come in”.
Making breastmilk is a natural process that follows the delivery of a baby. Your milk will come in regardless if you chose to breast or bottle feed your baby, as it is hormonally controlled. The hormonal shift that occurs when the placenta is separated from the uterus and delivered signals your milk to come in. So whether you have a caesarean or vaginal birth, your body will get the same signal.
During pregnancy your body and your baby are already preparing to breastfeed. Most women will notice that:
breasts will enlarge and may feel heavier or tingly as they get ready to produce milk nipples and areolas will get darker and larger.
Your breasts will already be making colostrum during the last few weeks of your pregnancy! Colostrum is that first milk. It is usually yellow-ish in colour and thick and has many benefits for your baby.
- Full of nutrients and antibodies to help protect your baby from infections.
- Easy to digest.
- Helps baby pass the first sticky black stool called meconium.
- Ideal for baby’s small stomach in the first few days.
The flow of colostrum is slow and comes in small amounts, about 1 to 2 teaspoons each feeding. Don’t worry if you don’t see huge volumes! It may not seem like much, but this is all the milk your baby needs until your mature milk comes in after the first few days.
After 3–4 days of making colostrum, you will begin to notice some signs that your colostrum is transitioning into mature milk. This is a gradual change rather than a sudden one.
Some of the signs that your milk is coming in include:
- breast fullness, swelling, heaviness, warmth, engorgement, tingling
- leaking milk
- change in baby’s feeding patterns and behavior at the breast
- gradual change in appearance from the thicker golden colostrum to the thinner, whiter mature milk
There are some factors that can cause a “delay” in your milk coming in. Some of these can include:
- Caesarean Section
- Premature Birth
- Traumatic Vaginal Birth
- Significant blood loss, retained placenta
- Maternal Health (e.g. Type 1 Diabetes, hypothyroidism, obesity)
If your milk takes longer to come in, don’t worry. This is not usually a cause for concern. While babies don’t need more than colostrum for the first few days there are some things you should do if you notice a delay:
- Breast feed often and do frequent skin-to-skin. This has been shown to help with milk production.
- Let your doctor know. Baby’s weight will be monitored closely to ensure he/she is getting enough milk. If baby is losing too much weight or not getting enough milk, supplementation may be warranted.
- Get help. You can contact your local Mama Coach and we can help you make a plan to increase your milk production and monitor baby’s progress.
Learning about breastfeeding during pregnancy is a great way to be prepared for feeding your baby after delivery. We at the Mama Coach have a Prenatal Classes and a Prenatal Feeding Workshops that can help you do just that! Contact us to set up a date/time that suits you best! We would love to support you on your motherhood journey! You got this mama!