- In This Feature
- Optimizing Breastfeeding
- What Are the Signs that My Body Is Making Milk?
- What Is Normal Engorgement?
- What if Normal Primary Engorgement Goes Untreated?
- What Is Abnormal Engorgement?
- How Do I Treat Engorgement?
- How Do I Build a Strong Milk Supply?
- Is There Anything That Will Interfere with My Milk Supply?
- The ABCs of Building a Milk Supply
What Are the Signs that My Body Is Making Milk?
Colostrum is available to satisfy your newborn's thirst and hunger immediately after birth. Small amounts of thick yellow colostrum are high in protein, minerals, and some vitamins. Interestingly, colostrum contains cholesterol. Learning to metabolize cholesterol as a newborn may help your baby's body develop healthy cholesterol levels later in life. Although small in volume, these early feedings are rich in immunities that work to protect your newborn from illness. With each successive feeding, your early milk prepares your baby's stomach and intestines for the arrival of your high-volume mature milk.
"When Will My Milk Come In?" Timing varies, but new mothers can expect their mature milk to "come in" three to five days after giving birth. You will know that your mature milk has arrived because your breasts will feel different, your milk will look different, and your baby will feed differently. As your early milk changes, so will your breasts. Your breasts will become bigger, heavier, and warm. Many mothers describe feeling hot or developing a transient low-grade fever when their mature milk arrives. This entire process is called primary engorgement.
Your newly full breasts will begin to leak, and your mature milk will have a different look from your colostrum. The color of your early milk will gradually shift from yellow to white. Compared to your early breast milk, your mature milk will be copious in volume and look watery. Even though the breast fullness of primary engorgement happens overnight, it is normal to take several days for the color of your milk to shift from bright yellow to creamy white.
Finally, you will know that your mature milk has arrived by the way your baby feeds. Compared to early breast milk, your mature breast milk is higher in volume and sweeter tasting. Like your colostrum, mature breast milk is full of living cells that work to protect your baby from illness. As your baby feeds from your newly full breast, you will hear frequent swallowing and gulping as your baby takes in larger volumes of breast milk. In response to this greater intake, your baby should have a greater output of wet diapers and bowel movements. Your baby's increasing diaper count is a sure sign of a healthy milk supply.