The moment a new life enters the world, a series of remarkable changes begin, not just for the baby but also for you as a mama. Among these changes, the arrival of your breast milk, often referred to as "when the milk comes in," This signifies a significant milestone in your journey of motherhood. I remember feeling like I woke up to two watermelons on day 3! This made it extra tricky to get the baby to latch those days!
When I meet with women prenatally, I tell them to reach out to me when their baby arrives so we can schedule an appointment on days 3-5ish. This is the time where things can change because your milk will likely increase in volume. It’s better to have support early to prevent common problems.
For many of us, the anticipation and excitement of the first few days of life are often accompanied by questions, mixed emotions, and, in some cases, unexpected challenges. The process of breastfeeding when your milk first arrives is a crucial aspect of nurturing and providing for your baby, but it can also be an overwhelming and sometimes perplexing experience.
When I had my first, I remember the first 10 days being a combination of the highest highs and the lowest lows. So many firsts for everyone! Give yourself some grace, because we all have learned how to be a mom at some point. No matter how much you prep, read, talk to friends...nothing can prepare you for these early days as a mom.
Understanding the "When Your Milk Comes In" Phase
Typically occurring around two to five days after giving birth, the arrival of your mature milk, also known as "transitional milk," marks a pivotal shift from the initial colostrum, the nutrient-rich first milk produced by the breasts during the early days post-delivery.
This transition is not merely a physical change but also an emotional and mental adjustment for you and your baby. The sudden increase in milk production brings with it a multitude of sensations, often accompanied by engorgement, fuller breasts, and the challenge of establishing a successful breastfeeding routine. Some mothers find their breasts become uncomfortably engorged, leaking, and painful. Others do not. Much of this is vascular engorgement- your body directs extra blood and fluids to your breasts to boost milk production. This causes congestion and swelling which will decrease as your body adjusts.
The Importance of these Early Days
Although hormones play a role in initiating milk production, the most important thing is the rhythm and effectiveness of milk removal from the breasts. This is important in establishing your milk supply. When a baby is nursing effectively, the baby's feeding rhythm is the main driver of the rate of milk production.
Make sure that your baby is feeding frequently (at least 8-12 times in 24 hours) and is well latched. Don't put any time limits on the baby's time at the breast and allow her to “finish the breast” before moving to the other side.
Proper positioning is everything! To make sure you are getting a good latch follow the steps on this Attachment video from the First Droplets Website:
With frequent and Effective Nursing, by the end of the first week, milk production increases more than 10-fold!! With rapid growth and frequent breastfeeding, baby's stomach grows alongside your milk production.
Breastfeeding during this phase is not only a means of providing essential nutrition but also a way of building a strong bond between you and you babe. Your baby has been inside you for a long time, and they are happiest when they are skin to skin with you or your partner. This is one of the main reasons we developed the Lolo Baby…to encourage frequent skin to skin feeding in those early days.
The rich nutrients in mature milk, tailored to the baby's needs, contribute significantly to the infant's growth, immune system development, and overall well-being.
However, this period can be demanding and overwhelming for the mother. The sudden increase in milk supply, while necessary for the baby's nourishment, can cause discomfort and potential challenges. Engorgement, leaking, and difficulties in establishing a consistent feeding pattern are common experiences that new mothers might encounter.
Here is what to know on days 3-5ish:
~ You will likely start to see more wet + dirty diapers
~Mustard yellow poops by day 5 is a good indication that they are “getting enough” 💩
~Weight gain should also pick up within 24 hours of this increase in milk production.
~You can expect your baby to gain half ounce to an ounce a day.
~Hopefully your baby will seem more satisfied after feedings
If your breasts feel too hard and tight, it can be tough for some babes to latch-on. In this case you want to massage and hand express, so you soften the area where their lips latch on. Here is how to Hand express: