Last week we talked about the physical changes in our body that supports the nature of breastfeeding. This week we talk about how the process of breastfeeding begins.
Mothers produce colostrum in the beginning stages of baby’s life. Colostrum is a highly nutritional substance that helps prepare baby’s system to digest. It is low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to keep baby healthy. Women begin producing this in the late stages of pregnancy in preparation for the first feeding. It comes in small doses (measurable in teaspoons), yet it is highly nutritional and maintains baby until mother’s breast milk comes down. Colostrum will also help baby pass his/her first stools, which can help prevent jaundice. Breastfeeding is not only beneficial for baby, it helps in mother’s recovery as well. By stimulating your nipples it helps shrink the uterus, and prevents the potential postpartum hemorrhage. It also burns calories and can help in losing your pregnancy weight.
Breast milk will take time to come down. The time can very between 3-7 days; every woman is different. For some women this can seem alarming, or make them feel inadequate, but truly it is completely normal. In the first week, baby will do what is called cluster feeding. Having baby at the breast as often as baby wants will help your body to produce the amount of milk necessary for baby. The first few weeks can seem very agitating, with thoughts that you are not providing for your baby, or that your milk is not enough for baby. The truth is, your body and baby are developing a system for the best possible breast milk ever. By allowing your baby to be at the breast, the stimulation will bring your milk down in the amount your baby needs.
Your body takes cues from your baby and it's demands. Finding a schedule with your baby's feedings will be helpful in reducing the stress of making breastfeeding work for both you and baby. Next week I will fill you in on the many resources in support of breastfeeding, and how you can use them to best benefit your experience.