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Breastfeeding and Delayed Milk Production

For the first 2 to 5 days after your baby is born, you will make a small amount of colostrum, which is all a healthy term baby needs. Colostrum is a thick, rich milk that is high in nutrients. Around day 3 through 5, your milk will come in. Here are some things that may cause a delay of your milk coming in:

  • Severe stress

  • Cesarean (surgical) delivery

  • Bleeding after birth

  • Obesity

  • Infection or illness with fever

  • Diabetes

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Strict or prolonged bed rest during pregnancy

Milk supply depends on demand (milk removal.) Feeding frequently, when your baby shows hunger cues, is the best way to have a good supply. If you are having trouble with delayed milk production or a decrease in the amount of milk, then first take a look at the number and length of your feedings. And make sure that your baby is able to put his or her mouth around your nipple to nurse (latch on) and can transfer milk from your breast.

If you have a delay in your milk coming in, don’t feel discouraged. Continue to express milk. That means removing milk from your breasts with a breast pump or by hand. And continue to breastfeed often, even if you are supplementing with formula for a few days. Babies who are premature or jaundiced are especially likely to need formula temporarily.

Sometimes a mother has a health condition that may temporarily delay the large increase in milk production usually seen between 3 to 5 days following birth. These mothers may not begin to produce large amounts of milk until 7 to 14 days after giving birth. If this happens to you, don’t feel discouraged. Continue to breastfeed frequently, even if you also must give your baby infant formula for a few days. Babies who are premature or jaundiced are especially likely to need formula temporarily.

Don’t wait to get help if milk supply is ever a concern. The sooner you do, the better. Many communities have breastfeeding support groups that can be a good resource. Contact your healthcare provider if you are having problems breastfeeding. He or she may recommend a lactation consultant, a specialist in breastfeeding.