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Woman peacefully nursing baby

Nursing and breastfeeding 101 guide: breastfeeding education

Everything you need to know about making milk

Milk production begins after delivery with a drop in hormones. The first breast milk to come out is a nutrient and antibody rich substance called colostrum. Colostrum is vital for newborns and stops after the first couple of feedings. After a couple days, your body will stop making colostrum and begin making regular breast milk.

The amount of milk you produce will be determined by your baby’s demands. The more frequently your baby suckles and drains from your breasts, the faster they will refill with milk.

As your baby grows and drinks more at each feeding, your breasts will grow and store more milk to accommodate baby’s appetite. This means that your newborn will begin with frequent, but smaller feedings (10 times / 24 hours). Your feeding schedule will gradually become less frequent as your baby’s stomach grows and drinks more at each feeding.

Because your body will respond to your baby’s demands (and not according to a schedule), your breasts will always have some milk on hand. Your body is constantly producing milk. When your baby gives feeding signals such as crying or suckling or if you think about breastfeeding, your body will release hormones that prepare you to feed your baby. On the other hand, stress, anxiety, and pain will inhibit these hormones.

These hormones will tell your muscles to contract and push the milk out to your nipples. This is called the let down response. You can have multiple let downs during a single feeding, so don’t worry if your milk flow slows down during a feeding. It’s just a chance for your body to catch up on milk production. As long as your baby continues to suckle, another let down will come.

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