Breastfeeding & Milk Production: The First Few Weeks

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Breastfeeding & Milk Production: the first few weeks

A woman’s breastfeeding journey often begins in the hospital, immediately after delivery. While the first nursing experience may feel rushed, it’s been found that a woman experiences a higher rate of breastfeeding success when she nurses within an hour of delivery. With this in mind it’s important to understand why this occurs and how her body is striving to meet her little one’s needs.

Within that first hour, a mother and child often enjoy their first intimate moments together. The skin-to-skin contact is soothing for both and the newborn is comforted by his/her mother’s scent. Not only do these initial cuddles stabilize an infant’s body temperature but it also stabilizes heart rate, oxygenation, and lowers any stress that may have resulted from delivery.[1]

With mother and child at ease, it creates an ideal moment to initiate breastfeeding. In fact, when a newborn’s lower lip is stroked, the baby will instinctively open his/her mouth with a desire to suck and feed. And since most babies have perfected the sucking motion in the womb, it’s another reason why they’re ready to nurse upon delivery.

When most mothers attempt to nurse for the first time, they often wonder if they’ve produced any milk at all. Long story short, there’s no need to worry because a mother’s breasts create colostrum toward the end of their pregnancy.  Colostrum is a mother’s first milk; it’s thicker than regular milk, yellowish in color, and contains a high level of antibodies, proteins, and fat that helps the baby transition through the first few hours outside the womb.

Once a mother’s placenta has detached, it signals her body to begin milk production and she may begin to produce a ½ ounce (or more) per feeding during the first few days of motherhood[2]. While it may not seem like very much, it’s sufficient to nourish a newborn because a little one’s stomach is very small and fills quickly. At the time of birth an infant’s stomach is only about the size of a small marble!

By the 3rd or 4th day, it’s common for mother’s to experience breast fullness because their milk is “coming in”.  At this stage, a mom will begin to produce transitional milk, this stage of milk production follows colostrum and last for about 7-10 days[3]. Transitional milk is much creamier than mature milk and sustains a newborn as their stomach grows. During this stage, moms will find that milk production often increases in response to their newborns desire to nurse more frequently.

At the end of the second week, a mother’s breasts will begin to create mature milk and while the volume of milk production remains constant, the consistency of the milk will change (again)[4]. Mature milk consists of two phases; the first milk expressed resembles skim milk and this is followed by hind milk during the latter part of a mother’s feeding session. Hind milk is more rich, creamy, and satiating for baby.

While the consistency of your milk may not change after this point, it will continue to evolve and meet the nutritional and immunity needs of your baby. As a new mother, it’s extremely empowering to realize that you alone can sustain your child, exclusively with breast milk for the first year of their life! Wow! It’s been said that a woman’s breastfeeding journey may not always be easy, but it’s worth it; as a new mother…I can assure you that’s true!

Sources: [1] AACN Clinical Issues report, [2-4] Caring for Infants and Newborn


small-photoWritten by Melissa LaHann, Founder and CEO of Happy Fig, LLC

Like many moms before her, Melissa cradled her hungry, crying baby as she clumsily adjusted her bra and sat uncomfortably holding up her shirt. Before she knew it, her baby was squirming, her shirt was falling, and the nursing session was interrupted. She needed a better solution, so she created LatchPal, the first nursing clip of its kind.

LatchPal is a breastfeeding shirt clip that holds up a mother’s shirt during breastfeeding. It eliminates shirt re-positioning and feeding disruptions, and helps a mom nurse hands-free in comfort to maximize milk flow. LatchPal was designed with moms in mind. The multi-use solution only requires one hand to latch. It’s a must-have breastfeeding accessory and essential for post-partum moms, pumping moms, and nursing in public.

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