Question: When does your milk come in?
Answer: Your actual breastmilk will usually come in 2-4 days after your baby is born. You'll notice that your breasts will get firm, and tender to the touch.
Today we're talking all about the girls and how to make sure that we're taking care of them during one of their hardest (pun intended) times-- when your milk comes in!
So lets start from the beginning: When does your milk come in?
This will vary between mamas, but most women will produce colostrum when their babe is born, and their milk will come in a few days after birth. Some mamas will notice that they're starting to get some leakage while they're still pregnant; I was leaking through t-shirts with my first pregnancy! This yellow, thick "pre-milk" is colostrum, and is higher in fat and more concentrated than your breastmilk will be. This will help your little one suck up (heh) all the nutrients when he/she is brand new, especially because they won't be taking in much to start. It's probably a good idea to invest in some comfortable, washable nursing pads before your babe shows up. This will help you to avoid a mad dash to get your hands on some. It's never a fun time when you get two cute milk marks on your chest.
Your actual breastmilk will usually come in 2-4 days after your baby is born, and you'll notice that your breasts (which have already increased in size thanks to your pregnancy hormones) will get firm, and tender to the touch. It's common for mamas to experience a little bit of discomfort when their milk is coming in, but you don't want to ignore things when you have serious pain happening.
Once your milk comes in, your babe will be eating about 1-2 ounces per feeding, and this will increase as he/she gets older and the two of you get into a better rhythm. Don't be fooled--there's a learning curve to breastfeeding, and it definitely takes time to get it right. One common complaint from nursing mamas is pain from engorged breasts. Engorgement is the painful reality that you're producing more milk than your babe is drinking, so you're left with over-filled breasts. This sensation means your girls are rock hard, and it makes your life pretty miserable until they're emptied. Most mamas will experience this to some degree throughout their time breastfeeding. Engorged breasts can also make breastfeeding more difficult, because it makes it harder for your babe to latch on to the nipple. If this is the case, you may need to express some milk out on your own before your little one can eat.
At some point, you will probably feel your breasts fill up and you need to feed baby NOW! A lot of mamas will find that having a breast pump on hand when they are breastfeeding makes all the difference in cutting down on engorged breasts. Getting your hands on a great electric pump like the Medela In Style Advanced will let you relieve the pressure of having too much milk, will give you the freedom to give your babe some bottles when you're out running errands, and will actually help to make sure you're producing enough milk for a longer time. BONUS: You can choose between 3 different bag styles Metro Bag, Backpack, or On The Go Tote.
Another thing that will help to make sure your breasts are being emptied correctly, and consistently enough to avoid engorgement, is a nursing cover. The Covered Goods Multi-Use Nursing Cover (look at this adorable one in Classic Black Stripe) is a great option for every mama, because it gives you the versatility to use it how you need it, when you need it! Most mamas will feel a little more comfortable nursing their babe when they have a cover. Having privacy and coverage allows you to nurse anywhere, avoiding the waiting game for both your babe and your girls.
One major concern of continually engorged and painful breasts is mastitis. Mastitis is characterized by inflamed, swollen, and painful breast tissue caused by engorged breasts or clogged milk ducts. These symptoms can sometimes escalate to an infection, fever and even chills or fatigue. This is most likely experienced when you're beginning breastfeeding (within the first month), but can happen at any time. There are several things you can do to make sure that this doesn't happen to you, and a couple things that can help if it does.
Make sure you're nursing often enough. Making nursing comfortable for both of you is half the battle, so get yourself a comfy nursing pillow like the Luna Lullaby. When you're settling in to nurse, make sure to keep track of which breast you last nursed on (there are apps on your phone to do the tracking for you), and try and relax. The more comfortable you are, the easier it'll be for your babe to nurse. A nursing pillow will also make sure you're in the right position to get the best latch for babe, and the optimal emptying for you.
If you're already experiencing some pain or inflammation, you can apply a warm or cold compress to relieve some of the pressure. You can also find a lot of relief with a compress or wrap around your breasts and a warm shower. It will sometimes help your breasts to empty or leak which will basically make you cry tears of milky joy. Pumping is obviously another way to try and clear out any blocked ducts, and keep your breasts empty. You can also meet up with a lactation consultant that will help you with the best way to get your breasts emptied, baby fed, and everyone happy. I recommend this for all new mamas!