Thirty-six weeks pregnant with her second baby, a mom of a two year old wrote in asking whether she should already be seeing signs of breastmilk production. I just had to answer her question because I had never heard it before!
Mama, your question sent me off into the research department because I myself was unsure as to when breastmilk production begins. I consulted one of my my favorite sites, KellyMom.com, for some answers. I learned that the production of colostrum, the thick, yellowy substance that our breasts excrete in the days after birth, begins from 16-22 weeks of pregnancy. For this reason, some pregnant women will notice their breasts leaking. However, this leaking of breastmilk is not common — I, for example, never experienced this and luckily, I did successfully breastfeed all five of my babies.
More commonly, women see their breasts leaking milk a few days after birth when actual breastmilk starts to come in. Other signs of breastmilk production at this stage are breast fullness and heaviness, tingling, and engorgement. In order to avoid mastitis, which I had numerous times, make sure to feed baby often from the breast, and to empty one breast before moving onto the second one. To stimulate production, keep baby close; the more that baby is on your breast, the more milk you are going to produce.
If you are pregnant and worried about breastfeeding, consult with a lactation consultant early so that you feel more prepared when your baby arrives. I also have a slew of videos on breastfeeding in the early days. Hang in there! Breastfeeding is a difficult thing to do, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro.
For more information concerning the production of colostrum and breastmilk during pregnancy and after birth, watch my video. And weigh in with questions below.