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    Home ›› When Does Milk Come In: Your Questions Answered

    Home ›› When Does Milk Come In: Your Questions Answered

    When does milk come in? A guide to starting breastfeeding


    Reading time: 11 mins.


    During and after pregnancy, mothers experience many incredible changes, especially in their breasts. For those who choose to breastfeed, it’s common to wonder ‘how long does it take for milk to come in?’ It’s perfectly normal for new mothers to have questions, and to feel a little overwhelmed at times.


    We’re here every step of the way for those who are beginning their breastfeeding journey, after all a little preparation goes a long way when it comes to breastfeeding. Here we’ll discuss all things breastfeeding, with a guide to preparing and understanding ‘how long does it take for milk to come in’ including:


    • A guide to preparing for breastfeeding.
    • Symptoms and changes to look out for during pregnancy.
    • Answers to common questions, such as ‘when does milk come in after birth?’ and ‘when does breast milk come in during pregnancy?’ 


    With this simple guide you’ll be able to rest easy, knowing that you can start your breastfeeding journey prepared for success. So, read on to discover everything you need to know about when milk comes in after birth and more. 


    This article is here to help with basic tips, tricks, and advice including a simple guide to help answer frequently asked questions but does not replace the advice and assistance of medical professionals. As always, seek a second opinion if you have questions or concerns.

    When does milk come in? How to prepare for breastfeeding


    Being prepared can help mothers feel calm and at ease when beginning their breastfeeding journey. Here are a few tips on how you can prepare for when milk comes in after birth:


    • Schedule a breast check with a healthcare professional. This can be especially helpful for mums who have flat or inverted nipples, as it can help them learn what to expect from breastfeeding and any modifications they may need.


    Tip: You should also establish a support team. This is a group of people to encourage you on this new breastfeeding journey. People to include are healthcare professionals, antenatal classes, a lactation consultant, apps, online communities and of course experienced friends and family members nearby. 


    • Establish breastfeeding goals. Research shows breastfeeding goals help mothers stay on track and feel motivated about breastfeeding.

    •  Create a feeding plan. Just like you have a birthing plan, a feeding plan can help parents get their health care professionals and support network ready and prepared. For example, educating family on how pumping and breastfeeding routines work can help them understand how they can help.

    • Educate yourself on more than just the facts about when milk comes in after birth. Learning what to expect when you start breastfeeding will help you prepare for the journey. This includes knowing the answers to questions like, ‘when does breast milk start’ alongside:


    Tip: If you want to start combination feeding, whether you’re hoping to share the feeds with a partner or plan to return to work, invest in the right bottle. The Philips Avent Natural Bottle with Natural Response Teat supports your baby's own drinking rhythm to help them combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding with ease.


    • Plan for skin-to-skin contact. Aim to have skin-to-skin contact in the first hour immediately after birth. This time is known as the ‘Golden Hour’ and it is a moment for you and your baby to bond, as well as to kick-start your newborn’s natural feeding instincts.

    • Anticipate how breastfeeding may evolve as the baby grows. Learn more about how babies develop and how the breastfeeding journey will change to meet an infant’s growing needs.

    • Make sure you have everything you need for a successful breastfeeding journey. One of the best ways to help make breastfeeding successful is to ensure that you are comfortable and relaxed. 

    Ensure you have the right ambiance as well as the correct equipment. Start by positioning yourself on a couch, bed, or armchair with pillows for support; and get creative with your breastfeeding techniques through lighting preferences, soothing music or whatever relaxes you the most.

    • You are learning and so is your baby. The key to success is to not expect too much too soon – you’re both learning. Position your baby with their nose opposite your nipple, and their head tipped back, to encourage them to open their mouth wide, and trust the process.

    When does breast milk come in during pregnancy?


    So, when do mothers start producing milk? Milk production actually begins during a woman’s pregnancy. In the time leading up to giving birth – sometimes weeks, or even months before1 – the breasts are busy preparing to make milk and women often notice changes to their breasts. Some changes that indicate your body is getting ready for when milk comes in after birth include:2


    • Tenderness and hypersensitivity 
    • Increase in breast size
    • Larger and darker nipples
    • Raised bumps around the areola
    • Darkened veins on breasts
    • Leaking of colostrum

    When do mothers start producing milk? A guide to how breast milk is made 


    So, you know the symptoms of your body changing during pregnancy to prepare for breastmilk; but how exactly is breast milk made? Here is your guide to breastmilk production now you know the answer to ‘when does breast milk come in during pregnancy’:


    • While the breasts are preparing to produce milk, there are two important hormones that are hard at work to make the milk: prolactin and oxytocin. 
    • Prolactin is what makes the milk and is activated when the nipple or areola is stimulated. 
    • Oxytocin ejects the milk and is activated by a baby’s sound, smell, or sucking. This is known as the let-down reflex.
    • Throughout pregnancy, breast milk is usually suppressed by progesterone until the mother gives birth, at which time the prolactin kicks in. 

    When does breast milk come in after birth? 


    So, now you know the answer to, ‘when does breast milk come in during pregnancy’ and how breast milk is made, let’s look at what happens after birth. The first 36 to 72 hours play a large role in determining your milk supply, so it’s important to try to build it up during this time. 

    Tip: Try to stimulate your breasts as much as possible after giving birth either by feeding frequently or using a breast pump. Consider these electric breast pumps that reduce expression time and has a soft silicone massage cushion that gently stimulates milk flow. 

    A mother’s first milk will usually come in right after giving birth but will change in the weeks to follow. Below is a breakdown of how and when milk transitions after birth to help answer ‘when does breast milk start’:3

    1. The colostrum.


    The first milk that comes in after birth is called colostrum, a substance that is high in proteins, carbohydrates, and antibodies. For some mothers, colostrum is thick and yellowish while others may produce a more thin and watery substance. 

    When does colostrum come in? During the first 24 hours after giving birth. This is the milk that newborns consume in the first few days of life and has everything that he or she needs to thrive.

    2. The transition milk.


    If colostrum is what comes in right after birth, how long does it take for milk to come in? Great question! Usually, mothers start to notice their transitional milk coming in between days three and five after giving birth. However, if it takes longer than a few days to produce this milk, there is no reason for concern. 

    Tip: If you are worried about the amount of breast milk you are producing, don’t be afraid to speak to your midwife or a doctor just to ensure that the baby gets the nutrients he or she needs. 


    Transition milk is produced between colostrum and mature milk and usually lasts up to two weeks. During this stage, the milk may appear lighter in colour. However, it still contains those important immunologic components that newborns need.  

    3. The mature milk 


    Within about two weeks of birth, the mature milk starts to come in. This type of breast milk is usually produced in larger quantities, especially if your breasts are frequently stimulated. Mature milk varies in fat content from feed to feed and is exactly what babies need for the first six months of life. closely resembles the breast. The wide, breast-shaped teat with flexible spiral design and comfort petals allows natural latch on and makes it easy to combine breast and bottle feeding.

    It typically takes about three to six weeks of exclusive breastfeeding to establish a good milk supply; after which you may choose to combination feed. This natural baby bottle is a great option for bottle feeding because its ultra-soft teat more closely resembles the breast. The wide, breast-shaped teat with flexible spiral design and comfort petals allows natural latch on and makes it easy to combine breast and bottle feeding.


    We know that there are a lot of questions that come with breastfeeding. But a little advanced preparation goes a long way for mothers looking to enjoy a successful breastfeeding journey. .

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