How Milk Production Works?
Many mothers commonly hear that milk comes in 3 to 4 days after baby is born and that moms do not have enough milk right after birth and baby needs formula. Well, that is wrong.
Milk production in the breasts actually starts during pregnancy, sometime in the 10th to 14th week. The alveoli in the breast distend and are filled with colostrum, the first milk. Colostrum is present in your breasts when the baby is born. Colostrum is produced in small volumes, and rightly so, because guess what? Babies are born full. That’s right, babies are not hungry when they are born.
Why do newborns suck so much?
Babies have a high suck need at birth for two reasons.
Prolactin receptors are laid down in the mother’s breasts, in the first 2 weeks after birth. These receptors are important because they tell mom’s breasts how much milk to make.
What is Prolactin and how it works?
Prolactin is the main hormone responsible for milk production and is present in high levels just after birth. Prolactin levels rise when baby sucks.
Almost all the newborns suck continuously which helps in maintaining levels high and increase milk volumes. Prolactin levels slowly taper off as baby grows. So, all that sucking in the early days helps lay down prolactin receptor sites in mom’s breasts and is the foundation of a good milk supply.
After the first 3 to 4 days, mother’s milk does not “come in” but rather increases in volume, just as the baby begins to need more milk.
Colostrum is a laxative and it helps babies poop so they can clear out the meconium.If a mother has received IV fluids during birth, then the increase in milk volume may happen a day or two later. IV fluids are always given with cesarean deliveries and mostly always with vaginal deliveries. However IV fluids are not required during labour, provided mom is eating light food and drinking fluids.
IVs causes a fluid overload in the mother’s body and this extra fluid goes and settles in her breasts, feet and hands. This extra fluid in the breasts causes hormonal dilution and hence milk takes longer to increase in volume. In these cases, it is very necessary to get the latch checked and work with an LC (Lactation Consultant) to minimize supplementation.
Extra IV fluids may also cause an artificial inflation of baby’s birth weight and it may appear that baby is losing more weight. But what is happening is that baby is peeing out excess fluids from labour.
If supplementation is required-
Then mom should hand express colostrums and feed it to baby with a spoon. Colostrum is produced in low volume, so pumping is not useful.
A newborn baby has only 3 demands
1.They want warmth in the arms of their mother
2.Food from her breasts
3.Security in the knowledge of her presence
Breastfeeding satisfies all three mentioned above