Have you ever wondered how breastfeeding starts? Or what your boobs might feel like when your milk supply begins firing up? Well, wonder no more. Scroll on down for the answers to all your milky questions.
When does milk come in?
Milk usually comes in between days 2 – 4 after giving birth. Your milk may come in during the course of the day or it may be that you wake up on days 3 or 4 with a rack that even Dolly Parton might envy.
How does it feel when milk comes in?
Your boobs may start to feel very full, firm and heavy – maybe even quite warm too.
Your boobs are likely to go up a couple of sizes when your milk comes in. Previous bras probably won’t fit or at least they won’t feel very comfortable. Your boobs may feel quite sore and throbby too.
I want to breastfeed – how does my supply work?
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed from the outset, it’s likely that baby will have been gnawing at your nips soon after you gave birth. This is great because it means that your body will already know that baby wants milk so will help encourage your milk to come in.
Your supply of milk will really depend on your baby’s needs. Each time your baby takes a guzzle, your body will receive a signal to make more milk for the baby’s next feed. The more baby drinks, the more milk that will be supplied.
In order for your milk supply to meet baby’s needs, it’s advised to let baby feed as often as they want and for as long as they want. This is known as ‘on demand’ feeding. In the early days it is especially important to just let baby have milk whenever they want rather than try and get into a strict routine.
It feels like the baby is permanently attached to me
In the first few weeks after birth it may feel like you are constantly feeding and that baby is never off the boob – and that probably is the case. The good news is that regular feeding will help your milk supply regulate itself for the future weeks and months ahead. It will also help you and baby bond as baby becomes more comfortable with being in the outside world.
If you can, try and avoid topping baby up with formula during the early weeks (especially at night) as this might mess with your supply. The night feeds are actually a really good time to increase milk supply as your body produces more milk-making hormones (prolactin) at night.
I’m not sure I’m doing it right!
Breastfeeding is a new skill that you and your baby are both learning together. If you are worried about your supply or how much milk baby is getting, speak to a midwife or health visitor as soon as possible so they can advise next best steps.
It is rare for things to just click straight away when it comes to breastfeeding so don’t feel disheartened if it takes a few weeks until you and baby are both in sync. Some great specialists to follow for more advice include mamas.milk and thebreastfeedingmentor.
Why am I leaking so much milk?
It is totally normal in the first few days and weeks after giving birth for your boobs to leak milk. This is because your supply has only just started and your body is still getting used to regulating how much milk is needed at different times. It can be hella embarrassing if you’re chatting to a friend, sipping a coffee and the next thing you know you’re participating in a solo wet t-shirt competition. But don’t sweat it – it’s actually a bit of a flex because it means you’ve got the goods to keep baby guzzling.
When trying to plan outfits (we see you, white t-shirt crew), remember that leaking is more likely to happen when baby is due a feed as your boobs are fully pumped and just ready to get going. It is also super common for new mamas to wake up soaked in breast milk, especially if baby has slept through a feed (yes, that miraculous event can happen).
birthbabe top tip – stock up on breast pads and always take a fresh set with you when you’re out and about. It’s also helpful to change the pads regularly (at least every feed) as this will also help ease nipple soreness in the early weeks.
These disposable Lansinoh pads are perfect for speedy changes when you’re in a hurry. We also LOVE these reusable pads from Mrytle and Maude. They’re super soft and great for the environment plus they come with a very cute travel bag (triple win!)
I don’t want to breastfeed – will my milk still come in?
Yep, your milk will still come in even if you have chosen not to breastfeed baby.
Your boobs will still feel heavy, full and may be quite sore from around day 3. You boobs are likely to feel pretty uncomfortable for around 4 – 5 days after your milk comes in as they will remain full.
Can I stop my milk supply if I don’t want to breastfeed?
If you are not breastfeeding, your milk supply will stop once your body realises you don’t need the milk to feed baby. Don’t be surprised if this takes a few days though.
I don’t want to breastfeed but my boobs are killing me!
If you don’t wish to breastfeed but your boobs are feeling super sore, you can try using hot or cold packs to help ease some of the soreness. Painkillers might help too.
If your boobs are feeling really full and very heavy, you can relieve some of the tension by gently squeezing the breast and expressing a little bit of milk by hand. The best way to do this is to place a warm compress on your boobs or do it in the shower so it feels less ouchy.
Releasing just a little milk will ease your discomfort but shouldn’t stimulate more milk production. This is because the majority of the milk will stay in your boobs and so there won’t be any signals indicating that more milk is required.
birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. the resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. you should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.