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Breast Milk Production

Did you know that your breast milk changes to meet the needs of your baby? During the first few days after birth you will produce colostrum, a nutrient-rich milk, in small amounts, perfect for your baby’s tiny tummy. By the second week your breast milk will change to mature milk to meet your baby’s growing needs.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Feel like your baby isn’t getting enough to eat in the first days of breastfeeding?

You aren’t alone, many new moms feel like they aren’t producing enough milk for their little ones during the first few days. The good news is, you are! So long as your baby has a proper latch and is assessed to be growing well, colostrum, the milk that you produce in the first days of breastfeeding, is made in very small amounts and meets the needs of your newborn and their walnut-sized tummy.

Size doesn’t matter for breast milk production

We’ve all heard the saying before and it applies here too. Whether your breasts are big or small they will produce milk to meet the nutritional needs of your baby. After you give birth, hormones tell your body to ramp up breast milk production. You continue to make breast milk as your baby breastfeeds, and the more he breastfeeds the more you will produce.

Latch and suck

With a proper latch your baby’s mouth will be opened wide and the lips will be turned out with most of your areola in your baby’s mouth. You should hear swallowing sounds as your baby sucks. At first these will be rapid and as the milk is let down the sucks will become longer and deeper. Your milk production comes in waves and the sounds of your baby will tell you how your milk flows.

Breast fullness and emptiness

3-4 days after birth, once your milk is in, your breasts may feel full before feeding. Let your baby feed as long as required before switching to the other breast, if needed. This ensures your baby gets both the thirst-quenching foremilk, and the nutrient-rich hind milk which follows. After feeding, your breasts should feel softer and less full. If this isn’t happening, watch your baby while nursing to make sure she’s not just sucking, but is swallowing milk as well.

Wet nappies

At the end of the first week your baby’s number of wet nappies will have increased. By now your baby should have 2-3 substantial yellow to green-coloured bowel movements daily and soak at least 6 nappies in a 24-hour period.


Feed your baby on demand. During the early weeks, most babies nurse 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period. Feeding on demand will help ensure sufficient breast milk production.

Weight gain

Weight gain is the best indication that your baby is getting enough milk. In the first week of life, your baby will actually lose weight. But once your baby’s birth weight is regained, usually by the end of the second week, you should start to notice a steady, healthy weight increase.

Overall health

An active, alert, and content baby is another top indicator that your baby is getting enough breastmilk. Regular visits to your doctor will also help you monitor your baby’s weight and general well-being. If you need reassurance or advice at any time, talk to your baby’s doctor, a public health nurse or a lactation consultant in your area.

Find breastfeeding help when you need it most

Most difficulties can be easily managed. You may simply need a few answers or a little guidance along the way. If you get support quickly, you’ll be more likely to persevere with breastfeeding and be happy that you did. Some hospitals, well baby clinics or public health facilities also offer breastfeeding clinics to assist you.

  • Ask your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant
  • If your baby was born in a hospital, most offer breastfeeding clinics

guidelines for nursing mothers

Click to Download the Nestlé Breastfeeding Guide

Healthy advice for breastfeeding mothers

Just as it was important to eat right while you were pregnant, it’s also vital that you continue to do so while breastfeeding. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you adapt to life as a nursing mom.

Breastfeeding a baby requires you to take in about 500 additional calories each day. Aim to include an extra 2-3 servings, daily as you were during your second and third trimesters. Your body will usually tell you how often and how much you should eat. Eating whenever you start to feel hungry will help you preserve your energy and overall resistance. And if you go out, take nutritious snacks (like fruit, a nutrition bar or nuts) with you.

Plan ahead

Your time is seldom your own after your baby arrives, which can make eating well a challenge. But you need to eat regularly, so plan ahead. Stock the kitchen, refrigerator, your glove compartment in the car and your purse with healthy, easy-to-prepare snacks.

Keep it simple, fast and good

Focus on simple and nutritious foods that you can find and prepare easily; it doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal! Microwavable pre-packaged meals, as long as they’re nutritionally balanced, can be a real help. A stir-fry or pasta dish is often ideal because you can make it quickly with fresh ingredients.

Smart snacks

Use snacks as another opportunity to add more nutritious foods to your diet. What’s the key? Keep a stash of smart snacks on hand, like nuts, crackers, fresh or dried fruit, or yogurt, so when the urge hits, you’ll be better prepared with a nutritious alternative. Eating healthy snacks between meals will also help you to avoid over-eating when lunch or dinner rolls around.

Quench your thirst

Try to drink about eight glasses (2 litres) a day. It will help you produce the milk your baby needs and keep you healthy, too. Reach for water and milk first; fruit and vegetables juices are okay but also contain lots of sugar. Limit your intake of soft drinks, coffee and tea. They are low in nutrients, may be high in caffeine, and have diuretic effects. All you have to remember is to drink whenever you feel thirsty, enough to stay comfortable, and you and baby will be fine.

Supplement support

Just as taking a multivitamin supplement is important during pregnancy due to a greater need for key nutrients, the same is true for when you are breastfeeding. If you choose to breastfeed, your body’s needs for nutrients remain greater than they were pre-pregnancy. Healthcare experts recommend that you keep taking your pre-natal vitamin for as long as you breastfeed to ensure that you are meeting you’re your nutrient requirements.

Don’t diet

If you start a diet now and cut your calories while you’re breastfeeding, you could be compromising your own nutritional well-being because your body will be drawing nutrients from you to produce breast milk. You’ll feel tired and, what’s more, you may not produce enough milk for your baby. Instead of trying to lose weight, concentrate on creating a routine of healthy eating and living. By focusing on doing small positive things every day, you’ll feel a whole lot better and you might very well start to lose weight anyway. Remember: this is no time to drastically cut calories or skip meals!

Breastfeeding and exercising

Mild to moderate exercise will not affect breast milk quality or composition. You may find that breastfeeding before your exercise session will help you to avoid engorged breasts. When exercising, wear a supportive bra such as a regular support bra or a postnatal sports bra. Lastly, make sure that you are staying hydrated and eating enough to support both exercise and breastfeeding.

Alcohol and Drugs While Breastfeeding

Alcohol and drugs can pass through your system into your breast milk and potentially harm your baby. For more information about alcohol and drug use during breastfeeding, speak with your healthcare provider.

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