How is breast milk made?
During your pregnancy, your breasts start to lay down milk producing cells called alveoli. The alveoli start to produce colostrum, a thick, sticky nutrient-rich milk that has the color of gold. Colostrum is referred to as liquid gold. Once you deliver and the placenta is delivered, the drop in hormones triggers the breasts to start producing your mature milk, which is thinner and whiter in appearance.
Because your body is primed perfectly to produce milk for your baby, less than 1% of post partum women do not produce enough milk.
Breastmilk Production-getting off to a good start
Colostrum and the First 48 Hours-Going For the Gold!
Staying skin to skin with your baby from the time of delivery and offering your breast frequently is the best way to get breastfeeding off to a great start. You want your baby to feed at least 8 times in the first 24 hours. The more your baby breastfeeds at first, the more milk you will make later. The more you keep your baby undressed and on your bare chest, the more milk you will produce. Colostrum is all your baby needs until you start producing more copius amounts of milk around the 3rd day after delivery. If you have a c-section or diabetes, your milk production may be delayed a couple of days.
What happens if your baby doesn't feed frequently? Many babies in the hospital will not latch or breastfeed well ar first, so how do you get all of your wonderful liquid gold from your breast to your baby's belly? Hand expression and spoon feeding! Plastic spoons from home or from the hospital kitchen work great.
This special milk, called colostrum, is exactly what baby needs for the first 3 days of life.
- During this time your baby's entire system is in recovery from birth and in transition to extra-uterine life.
- Baby's stomach capacity is about the size of a shooter marble and was not designed to get too much milk at this time.
- Colostrum cleans out the digestive system.
- Colostrum causes baby to bring up excretions and release meconium-this keeps the baby from getting jaundiced.
- Colostrum calms the nausea that babies seem to have in those first few days.
- Colostrum makes baby feel good, which is why on day 2 (24-48 hours old) she/he will not want to let go of the breast!
- The breast is the only place where baby feels good in these critical days.
How Much Should I Feed My Baby?
Your body has been producing thick, sticky milk from about the 16th week of pregnancy. It is yellow in appearance--it is packed full of beta carotene.
Offer the breast frequently everytime your baby shows a feeding cue. If your baby doesn't show interest in breastfeeding, offer 5 small spoons (not filled to overflowing) from each breast about every 2 hours during the day. If you stick to that, you will find a totally different baby the next day. Oftentimes babies lose too much weight because baby did not breastfeed or mom gave only 2 spoonfuls the whole day and baby has not gotten enough.
Increasing Breast Milk Production