One of the first signs that you are pregnant are the changes in your breasts. They usually get bigger, feel more tender, and darken around the areolas. You might even notice darkened veins and raised bumps around your nipples. This is all in preparation for the time when your breasts will start to produce milk. Many first time moms are surprised when they notice their breasts leaking during pregnancy. This is because your breasts start producing colostrum as early as 16 weeks, according to Kelly Mom.
Colostrum is the nutrient rich first milk that loads your newborn up with antibodies for the first few meals. It's so powerful that Baby Center compared colostrum to a vaccination, noting that if it could be commercially manufactured colostrum would cost $80 an ounce. It can appear thick and yellow at first, but according to the American Pregnancy Association, colostrum becomes pale and almost colorless as birth approaches.
Each pregnancy is different, and some women don't notice any breast leakage prior to delivery, while others must rely on nursing pads to keep from leaking through their blouses. According to Pregnancy Corner, colostrum leakage can be caused by certain stimuli such as being sexually aroused, massaging of the breasts, or hearing a baby cry.
Kelly Mom noted that once your baby is born, it can take two to three days for your breast milk to come in, but for about 25 percent of new mothers it can take a little longer, especially if you had a stressful or traumatic birth such as a C-section. According to Belly Belly, early skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery and regularly thereafter can help your milk come in on time.
Moms typically imagine their milk "coming in" as a sudden occurrence, and it can be. Some mothers wake up one morning with engorged breasts and drenched in breast milk. But for other women, the change from colostrum to breast milk can be gradual. It's important to contact with your lactation consultant or pediatrician to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat if more than three days has gone by since delivery and your milk still hasn't come in.