Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, but that doesn't mean it always comes naturally — especially for new moms. Whether you're new to nursing, or a seasoned mama, breastfeeding is sometimes as challenging as it is rewarding.
Fortunately, with a little guidance and practice, many moms find breastfeeding a wonderful bonding experience. Once you conquer the initial trial-and-error days to find the best routine for your little one, nursing will become enjoyable for both you and your bundle of joy!
Here are some basics of breast milk and what you should expect on your nursing journey.
How Will I Know When My Milk Is In?
One question that many new moms have is — when will their milk come in? The answer to this varies between moms; however, there are three stages to break milk production. Nature carefully designed each stage of breastmilk to meet the needs of your baby, so you can be sure they're receiving what they need every step of the way.
Day 1 - 4: Our bodies produce a thick substance called colostrum during the first few days after giving birth. This first milk is a blend of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is vitally important in helping newborns defend against bacteria and viruses — as well as protecting against allergies and digestive issues. Most moms make very little colostrum; however, newborns tend not to need much more than a few teaspoons for each feed.
Days 3 - 10: Transitional milk is the next step on your little one's tasting menu. The body creates transitional milk as it switches between colostrum and mature milk. This milk is a signal that your milk is "coming in" and looks a little like orange juice mixed with milk. Transitional milk contains less protein and immunoglobulins than colostrum; however, it is more calorie-dense and contains more lactose and fat.
Days 10-14: At around two weeks postpartum, your body starts producing mature breast milk. Mature milk looks watery and is white in color. This milk is packed full of fat, and other essential nutrients that developing little ones need.
How often will my baby nurse?
As your body begins producing milk, it's essential to encourage frequent nursing, as this helps to develop a good milk supply and reduces the risk of engorgement. New moms should aim for around 10 - 12 nursing sessions per day — the more you nurse, the greater your milk supply will be.
It's also important to let your baby have as much time as possible while they're actively sucking. Many newborns sleep for long periods, so be sure to wake them up every 2 hours during the day to feed, or every 4 hours during the night.
Is my baby getting enough milk?
Many new moms worry about their milk supply and whether their little one is getting enough milk. Here are some signs that show your baby is feeding well:
Wet diapers: In the first few days, you can expect your baby to have around one wet diaper for each day of life. For example, one wet diaper on day one, two wet diapers on day two, and so on. Once your milk comes in, the number of diapers will increase to around five or above every 24 hours.
Dirty diapers: Just like wet diapers, in the early days, you should expect one dirty diaper for each day of life. Around day 4, your little one should pass around three yellow stools a day. Many babies have a dirty diaper each time they nurse, and this is normal too.
Weight gain: It's not unusual for newborns to lose up to 7% of their birth weight in the first few days. Once you have a steady supply of breastmilk, your baby should gain around 6 oz per week in weight. It's essential to take your newborn for regular weight checks in the first few months to make sure they're gaining a healthy amount of weight.
If you're worried about your milk supply, you should discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. There are many things that new moms can try to improve their milk supply, including expressing milk more often or eating foods and supplements rich in galactagogues.
Galactagogues can help nursing moms increase their breast milk supply and can be found in many natural foods. Milk Drunk protein powder is packed full of galactagogues and is a delicious and straightforward way for busy moms to enjoy a nutritious snack on the go!