Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to ensure that your infant gets the nutrients that they need. Your body is perfectly designed to provide all of the vitamins, minerals and proteins that your baby needs to grow. In addition to being a traditional way of feeding your child,breastfeeding also happens to be an entirely natural food. When a woman is pregnant, glands in her breasts become active and begin to prepare for the process of creating milk. Depending on the woman, breast milk may come in at different times.
When Will Breast Milk Come In?
In general, new moms can may have to wait for three or four days for breast milk to come in after giving birth. If you have already had a child, your breast milk may come in much earlier than that. You can expect breast milk to be coming in when your breasts begin to become fuller. This happens due to the presence of prolactin. Throughout your pregnancy, prolactin will begin to increase in preparation for your baby. It signals your body to prepare breast milk. While you are pregnant, hormones like progesterone stop breast milk from being expressed. Once you give birth, these hormones cease stopping prolactin from doing its jobs and your body is ready to breastfeed.
There are times when it can take longer than four days for your milk to come in. If this happens, there may be several different causes at work.
Placenta Fragments: After birth, it is possible that some fragments of the placenta have remained within your body. This would cause prolactin production to be interfered with because your body would not be receiving the message that you had already given birth. When this happens, you will have a heavier blood flow than normal, and your doctor would see the retained placenta in an ultrasound. Normally, your doctor would then remove the retained placenta without any issues.
A Stressful Labor: If you had a stressful labor—like the pushing stage was longer than normal or you had an emergency C-section–, then your body may take two to five days for the milk to come in.
Diabetes: When you have diabetes, your body receives conflicting signals about producing milk. Since your breasts need insulin to create breast milk, they are essentially competing with your body’s need for milk as well. Feeding frequently in the beginning will help your body to overcome this impediment.
Dealing With Breast Milk That Arrives Late
When your breast milk has not come in after a day or two, you can try to stimulate production by nursing every two to three hours. To ensure that your body is operating at its peak, you will need to make sure that you are getting plenty of sleeping and drinking lots of water. If your infant is not willing or able to feed every two or three hours, you can use a breast pump to simulate normal feeding.
Some nursing and medical experts believe that you should start using formula if your milk has not come in by the fifth day post-birth. If you want to stick to breastfeeding, you can always talk to a lactation consultant about your options. The consultant will be able to help your baby latch on correctly and check to make sure that you are properly positioned. In addition, they may be able to give you some supplements that will help you to produce milk.
There is no right or wrong way to feed. Breast milk is healthier for your child and the process of breastfeeding will help you to bond with your child. If you cannot breast feed or the milk comes in too late, that does not mean that you will not be able to bond with your child or that their health will suffer. You can use formula until your milk arrives or keep using formula. No one should shame you about your feeding choices because there are many different ways to parent, and most of them will work just fine. You know what works for you and your baby, and it is not anyone else’s place to decide what you should do.