I don’t have milk…or do you?

Did you know that you have milk for your baby starting at 10-14 weeks….of pregnancy? That’s right, you did! Milk production begins at 10-14 weeks of pregnancy and by the time your baby is born, you’re well-equipped with the milk your baby needs at birth. Noticed I didn’t call it just colostrum? That’s because colostrum is a milk. It’s not non-milk — it’s the milk. Yes, it’s called colostrum (that first milk the first few days of baby’s life) but it is milk. You have milk. Your milk has been there for weeks already. After baby is born, your milk increases with demand so that by around day 3-4, your milk volume increases. This is what we typically call milk coming in, but in reality, your milk has been there already for weeks and weeks, so it’s not “coming in”. It’s simply increasing in volume. You have milk mama. Trust your body, gather a support system around you, nurse your baby when she wants to nurse, especially those first few days and trust your baby too as she nurses often to help your body increase the milk she needs. But, above all know that you have milk.

But, if I have milk, why is my newborn baby so hungry all the time?

Sucking does not equal hunger. All newborns are born with a high need to suck. It’s a natural reflex. It’s also a survival reflex. They suck in order to be able to poop out the meconium they are born with. The breastmilk they receive those early days (and they receive it because of all that sucking) allows the meconium to move from their bodies.

It’ll help to understand that a newborn baby will suck all the time, will want to breastfeed all the time, and has the need to be at the breast at least 8 -12 times a day and often times more during those early weeks. At the basic level for why they need to breastfeed so much, one can say it’s because their tummies are about the size of a marble and breastmilk is very easily digested. But, more fascinating reasons is that they need the breastmilk to develop their stomach for nutrition, they also are trying to increase your prolactin hormone, which produces more milk, and they need to breastfeed from the breast directly to be able to tell your brain exactly what type of immunities his little body needs. So, this is why your baby sucks all the time and needs to be at the breast so very often.

In those early weeks, it’s important to –

  • Put baby at the breast at least 8 -12 times a day.
  • Watch for active nursing – sucks/pause/swallow
  • Keep a track of how many times your baby pees and poops each day.
  • Nurse in a comfortable position – recommended position is baby on you vertically and you leaning back on a chair or bed (with pillows propping you for comfort).
  • Keep your baby close to you – skin to skin or babywearing (in the upright position).
  • Keep yourself hydrated and well fed.
  • Rest

And above all things, remember — you have milk.

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