One of the concerns a new mother often has is whether or not she will be able to produce milk for her baby. It’s a natural thing to feel anxious about, especially when you don’t feel anything happening. However, you shouldn’t worry. Milk production is different for everyone, but there are ways to help even moms who are struggling with their supply. Here are some pointers about how to help breast milk production start to come in and when its precursor, colostrum will start to form.
When Does Breast Milk Start to Come in?
You may start producing before you are halfway through pregnancy. Your body begins producing colostrum sometime between 16 and 22 weeks of gestation. Just because you are producing milk, does not necessarily indicate that you should feel it in your breasts or begin to leak. You may not exhibit signs to indicate you are producing colostrum early on. Part of that is because colostrum is so concentrated. You only need to produce small amounts.
How Will I Know I’m Producing Milk?
One sign that you’re making colostrum is that your breasts become firm. This begins after a few days of production. However, Don’t worry if this takes longer. Milk production naturally occurs at different times for everybody. 3-4 days just happens to be average. The firmness in your breasts indicates a change in colostrum. Your supply is increasing and becoming mature milk. Colostrum starts thick and yellow. with a growing supply, you may notice a transition to whiter, creamier milk.
How Much Breast Milk Does Baby Need?
Since a baby has such a tiny stomach, it doesn’t need much volume, but a tiny bit of colostrum gives the baby the antibodies and nutrients it needs to remain healthy. There is an acceptable range for colostrum intake in the baby’s first few days. Day one can range from 2-10 ml and by day three the baby should be taking between 1 and 2 ounces.
If your milk isn’t coming out, you just need to coax it along. This is normal, so you should not worry about it. Your hospital may have lactation consultants standing by to provide support and assistance in expressing milk. Here are some things you can do to encourage your milk production to increase.
First, massage your breast area before using a pump or hand expressing milk. A hospital-grade pump is best for getting the job done. I’ve tried a variety of pumps and only the hospital-grade model does the trick. You also want to express milk frequently to encourage constant milk production. It helps to relax your muscles and make yourself less tense, so anything from heating pads to soothing music can encourage more milk. Finally, stay hydrated and well-rested, so your body performs at optimal levels.
How to Express Breast Milk
You can express milk by hand simply by cupping your breast and using your thumb and forefinger to gently squeeze the area just outside the areola. Don’t pinch your nipple or it may become sore. Give about an inch of space between your thumb and finger and the areola. Doing this should stimulate your reflex to eject milk. continue doing this regularly to condition your breasts to continually increase production.