Breast Milk Production During Pregnancy
- Breast milk production is inhibited while you are pregnant
- Prior to the birth of your child, your body starts to produce colostrum
- Colostrum is a thin, yellowish fluid full of anti-bodies for your newborn. It contains more protein, with less fat and milk sugars than mature breast milk
- Some women may experience a leakage of colostrum towards the end of pregnancy. If you experience this, it may be a good idea to keep some breast pads handy.
Breast Milk Production After Birth
- Once the placenta is detached, your progesterone levels will start to fall and your milk production will increase
- Mature breast milk will not usually be produced until three or four days post-delivery. In the meantime, your newborn will feed on colostrum as it is easier for them to digest
- The anti-bodies from the colostrum provide protection for your newborn’s digestive tract, respiratory tract and urinary tract fight off infection. Colostrum also assists with their gut and bowel function
- Don’t worry if your baby only feeds a little at a time. They may be just as exhausted as you from labour. Light eaters aren’t a concern at this stage because newborns require little nourishment in the first few days.
Breast Milk ‘Comes In’
After three or four days, your breasts become fuller as your milk comes in. When this occurs your breasts may become engorged i.e. they may start to feel swollen, painful and hard
- ‘Foremilk’, which comes is the first part of the feed, is there to satisfy your baby’s thirst
- ‘Hindmilk’, the second part of the feed, is not only there to satisfy their hunger, but also helps your newborn gain weight.
It’s important to let your baby feed for as long as they want so they get enough to satisfy both their hunger and their thirst.
Feeding as frequently as 8-12 times a day, can help stimulate your breasts to start producing milk and meet their growing demand. It’s best to begin each feed on the alternate breast.