When you're preparing for life with a newborn, there's a lot to consider. If you're hoping to breastfeed, you can add a whole additional layer into that preparation. Breastfeeding your baby, whether it's your first or your fourth, always comes with questions and challenges — the first few coming right after your baby is born when you're worried about your supply. While it takes an average of three to four days for most women to produce milk, a lot of moms wonder, "Can I make my milk come in faster?"
As Kids Health noted, for the first few days after your baby's birth, your body will produce what's called colostrum, a nutrient-rich pre-milk. Colostrum serves as your baby's first food, and though you may not make loads of it, your supply should be enough for your babe until your milk comes in.
Deedee Franke, RN, BSN, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) tells Romper, "Small amounts of colostrum, averaging about 37 milliliters to 123 milliliters, become available in the breast after birth within the first 24 hours." If the baby is nursing well, Franke continues, this is all the baby needs nutritionally.
Most women's breasts start to feel fuller and firmer about three to four days after delivery, and that signifies your colostrum changing over to milk. It can take longer or shorter for your body to transition, and your doctor will know best whether or not any supplementation is needed during this time.
The time at which mothers report that their milk comes in is highly variable, continues Franke, and it can range anywhere from 38 to 96 hours after birth, with the average being 50 to 59 hours. "Mothers who had nursed other children before will probably have their milk come in faster, and have more milk volume compared to a first time mom," Franke says.
According to Leigh Anne O'Connor, IBCLC, starting to stimulate your breasts and hand expressing milk starting around 37 weeks pregnant can help to make your milk come in faster. "After delivery," O'Connor says to Romper, "nurse frequently from the get-go, hand express, and/or use a hospital grade pump to jump start milk production."
O'Connor mentions that avoiding medications during birth helps (including epidurals), as the fluids necessary for medications go into the breast tissue and could get in the way of milk coming in.
But the fact is, when your milk comes in could ultimately just depend on your baby and how they breastfeed. "A baby the that nurses frequently often will bring in mom’s milk faster," Franke says.
If the baby is separated from their mother, mothers can either hand express or pump to stimulate their breasts and help milk to come in. In general, Franke says, a mom can only nurse or pump in the early days postpartum to bring in and build her milk supply. There's no magic supplement. "Unfortunately, there is nothing a mom can eat or take to make her milk come in faster," she says.
And though you're already stressing about this, it turns out that stress and worry can actually affect your supply, and possibly, when your milk comes in. As Parents noted, breastfeeding is both a physical and a psychological thing — if you can stay relaxed, take in all the sweetness of your new little baby, and stay positive and refrain from feeling frustrated about breastfeeding, you will increase your chances of breastfeeding success.
Also, as Fit Pregnancy mentioned, your body can't make milk if you're dehydrated. Water is super important for your body in many ways, but especially in breast milk production. So chug that water, relax with your babe, and let your body do what it does. Hopefully soon you'll be wondering what to do with all that leaking milk.
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