Before Breast Milk Comes In
You’ve probably heard a mom say, “it took X amount of time for my milk to come in after baby was born.”
What does that really mean though? Did you wonder if baby just sucking air until milk magically appeared?
The answer is, the infant was eating colostrum.
WHAT IS COLOSTRUM?
Colostrum is a sticky, yellowish milk that you can think of it as a super serum for baby. It’s also the only food your brand new sweetheart needs at the beginning.
WHEN IT SHOWS UP
Some women notice their nipples excreting small amounts of it during pregnancy, which may be a bit disconcerting. It’s common to start seeing colostrum in the second trimester, but for some women it happens in the first trimester.
Some moms don’t leak at all. But, whenever you do see it, don’t worry! It’s perfectly normal.
HOW MUCH BABY NEEDS
When baby is born and she starts to suckle on mama, her stomach is very small. She’ll really only be drinking an average of between 2 and 10 milliliters per feeding in the first 24 hours. That's less than 0.1 to a little more than 0.3 ounces! By the end of her third day of life, she’ll likely be up to just 1 or 2 ounces each feed.
Colostrum contains a mix of protein, carbohydrates, fat and antibodies that help baby fight viruses and infection. These antibodies work by protecting the mucous membranes in the infant’s throat, lungs, and intestines.
This miraculous liquid also acts as a mild laxative, getting baby to pass his first bowel movements, known as meconium. The benefit of that is it helps excrete excess bilirubin to help prevent jaundice.
Colostrum provides baby with healthy advantages in yet another way too: it contains special nutrients, including sodium and potassium, which encourage development of the brain, heart and central nervous system.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
The majority of new moms will have colostrum replaced by breast milk anywhere between 2 and 4 days after delivery of the placenta. Her body will go through more changes as the milk comes in and her true breastfeeding journey will begin.
As with all breastfeeding issues, it’s best to contact a doctor or lactation consultant to discuss your individual concerns. The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.