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Making milk in the early days

Given birth in recent days? Your breastmilk supply will soon increase rapidly!


Most new mums notice a sudden increase in the amount of milk they make between 2 and 5 days after giving birth. If you've given birth before, this may happen sooner than last time.

As the volume increases, your colostrum is replaced by mature breastmilk, which is thin and bluish-white in appearance. Others may describe these changes as your milk 'coming in'.

What happens to breasts?

You may notice that your breasts swell and become fuller and heavier. This is a sign that the tissue in your breasts is filling with milk, blood and other fluids to kick-start your milk production.   

For some women, this change is quite sudden – they wake up with larger breasts and may leak milk. For others it is more gradual. This change happens as a result of hormones in your body. It happens whether your baby is feeding from your breasts or not.  

However, if you breastfeed early and often, your breasts will quickly begin to make more milk and you will build a strong supply. Your baby will lose less weight and be less likely to be jaundiced. It will also help you to meet your baby's needs as they begin to drink larger amounts.

My breasts are too full!

Some mums find their breasts are more than just full during this time - they are hard, swollen and tender. Their baby has difficulty attaching to the breast and their nipples can get damaged as a result. The milk does not flow well. This is known as engorgement, and there are things you can do to help.

Why isn't my milk supply increasing yet?

Some things might cause this change to be delayed, including: 

  • being a first-time mum

  • an exhausting or traumatic birth

  • being separated from your baby after birth

  • pain medications used during birth, or having a caesarean birth

  • retained pieces of placenta (these will need to be removed)

  • your health (if you have a condition affecting your hormone levels) 

  • being very overweight.

What can I do to help my supply?

  • Keep baby close. Hold your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible. 

  • Let your baby feed often and for as long as they like.

  • Avoid long gaps between feeds. You may need to wake your baby if they are very sleepy. 

  • Ensure your baby's attachment is good and they are removing milk from your breast well.

  • Get help early if you have any concerns about breastfeeding. Seek help from an ABA breastfeeding counsellor, your midwife or a lactation consultant. 


Try not to worry if your breasts seem slow to get going. Many mums have been able to establish a milk supply even after a few weeks.  


© Australian Breastfeeding Association March 2024