The pregnancy confusion turns into new mom confusion right after you have a baby. There are a lot of unknowns, a lot of things you realize you aren’t really prepared for, and that seems a little freaky. Breastfeeding for a lot of people is one of those big unknowns, but knowing a little bit about the process can make a world of a difference.
What milk is my body making?
Well, this comes in stages: first, there’s colostrum, then transitional milk, then mature milk. Here’s a quick synopsis on each.
Colostrum is the first milk (and the stuff that might’ve leaked out during the end of your pregnancy) that your body makes after giving birth. It’s usually yellowish or clear, and it has everything that baby needs in their first few days; colostrum contains protein, vitamins, minerals, stimulates baby’s system to produce antibodies, coats their intestines to protect their new immune system, helps to prevent allergies, digestive upset, and even jaundice. It’s liquid gold.
Transitional milk (aka: “your milk coming in”) is usually produced by your body around the third to fourth day after baby is born, after colostrum but before your milk is considered “mature.”
Mature milk comes in after about 10-15 days post-birth, and it will be a bit thinner and whiter than transitional milk or colostrum. It’s still packed with all of the nutrients that baby needs and will continue to change as your baby grows. How cool is that?
How often do I feed?
8-12 times within every 24 hours seems to do the trick for a lot of mammas. But it can be even simpler: just whenever baby shows that they’re hungry. You can tell that they are if they’re sucking (kind of aggressively) on their hand, or their foot, or your arm, whatever; if they keep opening their mouth wide; if you see that rooting reflex; if they’re sucking on their lip or their tongue; if they’re crying; or any combination of those signs.
How to feed?
Start with your fuller side. Find a position that’s comfortable for both you and baby, and feed about 20-30 minutes per side. Every baby is different, so don’t be worried if it’s a bit longer or shorter. Just feed until they’re finished. If they release the nipple or fall asleep, then you know. Burp between sides, and then try the other side.
Sometimes, breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Sometimes it’s frustrating for you, sometimes it’s frustrating for baby, and that’s okay! If you still want your baby to get all of the breastmilk benefits, consider pumping parttime or even exclusively. Some mommas have even liked it better because it allows them to multitask. This can also give your partner some time feeding the baby too--and give you some extra time to sleep.
Just know that there are options out there for you! Every momma does it differently, and that’s what’s so great about it--it’s versatile.
Best of luck to all of you new mommas out there!