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Milk coming in

Between 2 and 5 days after birth, your breasts really get going with milk making.

milk

We call this change, milk “coming in”. If you have given birth before, you may find your milk comes in a bit sooner than it did previously.

Gradually, your colostrum is replaced by mature breastmilk, which is thin and bluish-white in appearance. The amount of milk you make increases too. 

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, milk coming in is quite sudden – they wake up with larger breasts. For others the change is more gradual. This change happens as 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, you will have a bigger milk production when your milk does come in. Your baby will lose less weight and be less likely to be jaundiced. 

My breasts are too full!

Some mums find their breasts get so full during this time that they become engorged. Their baby has difficulty attaching to the breast and their nipples can get damaged as a result. But there are things you can do to help engorgement

Why isn't my milk coming in?

Some things might cause your milk to be delayed: 

  • Being a first-time mum  

  • An exhausting or traumatic birth 

  • Pain medications used during birth, including having a caesarean birth

  • Retained placenta or placental fragments (these will need to be removed before your milk will come in at all). 

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

  • Being very overweight. 

What can I do?

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

  • Let your baby feed frequently, waking them if necessary. 

  • Get help with feeding so your baby's attachment is good and they can milk your breast effectively.  

  • If you have any concerns about your milk coming in, seek help from an ABA breastfeeding counsellor, your hospital or private midwife. 

If your milk is late coming in and you are struggling, be reassured that many mums have been able to establish a milk supply even after a few weeks.  

 

© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022