The amount of milk a mother makes depends on how much milk her baby needs. The more milk your baby takes, the more milk you will make. Rest assured that nearly every mother makes just the right amount at just the right time to satisfy her baby’s needs.
Mothers are often surprised to see how quickly their milk supply increases during the first 3–5 days after birth. What may seem like a small amount of milk at first turns out to be exactly what newborn babies need. Frequent feedings (at least eight to twelve feedings in each 24-hour period) ensure that a mother’s milk supply increases to match the needs of her growing baby.
Most newborns are quiet but alert for the first hour or two after birth. This gives moms and babies a chance to practice what will be a most important skill—breastfeeding.
In the days and weeks that follow, don’t wait for your baby to fuss or cry before you offer the breast (crying is actually a late sign of hunger); instead watch for these early signs of hunger:
- stretching or squirming
- sucking sounds or motions
- sucking on fingers or fists
- nuzzling (rooting) against your breast
These first days and weeks will give you an opportunity to learn your baby’s feeding cues and patterns. Don’t delay or skip feedings. When milk stays in the breast, it creates an increase in pressure. This pressure slows the flow of blood to the alveoli and causes a decrease in milk production.
If you limit the amount of breastfeeding by following a rigid feeding schedule or giving your baby formula, water, juice, or a pacifier, your milk supply will decrease.
Should you see signs that your baby may not be getting enough to eat, contact your baby’s health care provider right away.
View our slideshow to learn the signs your baby is getting enough to eat.