Is My Milk In Yet?
The short answer is YES!
Your milk comes in stages, three to be exact. The first stage is colostrum, next is transitional milk and finally mature milk.
For many women the first sign of pregnancy is sore breasts. The soreness comes when the milk glands start doing their job early in the first trimester. Most woman start producing colostrum in their second trimester, although for some, colostrum may begin to appear just after birth.
Transitional milk is high-protein breast milk. A woman will start producing this about three to six days after the birth of the baby. This will happen by the baby stimulating the breast, regularly, at least every two to three hours. A woman will typically see an increase in the amount of milk she is producing, as well as a heavy-ness and increase in the size of her breast.
The mature milk contains more fat and less protein. You can expect that to start about 10 to 15 days after the birth.
This initial two weeks of breastfeeding can be extremely challenging for both mom and baby.
Flat or inverted nipples can be one of those challenges. A flat or inverted nipple doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to successfully breastfeed! It just means that you may need some extra support from a lactation consultant, or a postpartum doula. Engorgement is also a common challenge during the first two weeks. This is due to extra blood and lymph fluids in the breast tissue. Things to look out for are hard, swollen, painful or even lumpy breasts. This can make it difficult (but not impossible) for you and the baby.
So what actually triggers this milk, you ask? Delivering the placenta causes estrogen and progesterone levels to decline. At that time, the hormone prolactin increases and indicates to the new mom’s body it is time to make milk.
Now, lets get back to colostrum. Don’t worry if your body starts leaking this before you have your baby, your body will make more. Colostrum is your baby’s first food and is loaded with antibodies that will build up your baby’s immune system. Don’t be concerned by the fact that there isn’t a lot of this “liquid gold”. It is very concentrated and includes a mild laxative. This laxative helps the baby pass his/her first stool, better know as meconium.
Your baby is now ready to feed. Your breast is a gland, that’s right, a gland. The milk travels down ducts to the nipples. Each nipple has 15-20 openings for the mother’s milk to flow.
In addition to milk, your breast also secretes a natural oil which protects, cleans and lubricates your nipples during breastfeeding. The oil comes from the Montgomery glands, the small bumps found on your areola.
Lastly, the size of your breasts, nipples and areolas has nothing to do with breastfeeding success. Big breasts can make a small amount of milk and small breasts can make a big amount of milk so try to relax and make this process as natural as possible.