Breastfeeding: Making milk – yes, you can

Breastfeeding offers optimal nutrition for infants as it provides many benefits for society, mothers and babies. Every woman should know what to expect in the first few days.

A mother holding a smiling infant.
Photo: Pexels.

Many women thinking about breastfeeding wonder whether they’ll be able to make enough milk for their baby. The good news is that no matter your breast size, your body and your baby will work as a team to coordinate your milk supply with your baby’s needs. Every baby has different needs and those needs will determine the amount and number of times your baby will need to be fed.

In the first few days of your baby’s life, the more often and the longer you breastfeed or express (remove milk either by hand or with a breast pump), the more milk your body will make. Newborn stomachs are very small, so it doesn’t take much to fill them up. Your milk will change and adjust to meet your baby’s needs as they grow. This first milk is called colostrum. Colostrum is all your baby needs in the first few days of life. It gives your baby superior nutrition and disease protection in their first few days of life. In fact, colostrum is such a good disease fighter that it’s almost like your baby’s first natural immunization against many bacteria and viruses.

The more you breastfeed in the first few days, the more milk you will make. In the early days, you may be feeding your baby eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period. As your baby gets older, they feed less often and take larger amounts at each feeding. By the first or second month, your milk supply will have adapted to your baby’s needs and breasts won’t feel as full as they did right after they were born. This doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk for your baby. It just means your body has adjusted to feed your baby the amount he needs. If you are concerned about the amount of milk you are producing, make sure to reach out to your breastfeeding support resources.

Michigan State University Extension serves as a resource and offers programming to mothers that want to learn more about breastfeeding and feeding your family.

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