Breastfeeding: How many days until milk comes in?

I am 31 weeks pregnant with my second child. I weaned my first child when I was 12 weeks pregnant. Is my milk supply gone or still there? Will my breast milk come in more quickly this time? It took five full days the first time.

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Breastfeeding mothers who become pregnant might notice that their milk begins to change, typically around the third or fourth month. The quantity often will decrease, and many toddlers comment that it has changed in taste.

Later in your pregnancy, your breasts will begin to produce colostrum for the new baby, whether or not you have an older baby already at your breast.

Mature breast milk actually does not "come in" on a certain day. The milk you produce increases gradually over the first 36 hours following your baby's birth, and then dramatically increases over the next two to five days -- if your baby is put to your breast frequently. Over the next two weeks, it will slowly change to mature breast milk.
Possibly, your milk was a bit slow in increasing in supply due to a cesarean birth, or a difficult start with breastfeeding. The key to increasing your milk supply is to put your baby to breast as soon as possible following the birth, and to encourage very frequent feeds in the early days.

Milk may indeed change more quickly for mothers who have a child at their breast, especially if the baby is still nursing frequently. Your milk won’t come in more quickly than any other mom who has already given birth, since you weaned quite a few months ago.

To help get breastfeeding off to a good start, ask to be seen by the hospital's lactation consultant or one in private practice. Ask her to observe a complete feed and help you and your little one with positioning and attachment, if necessary.

Remember to nurse and often. When a baby is put to the breast for frequent feeds, she is less likely to be jaundiced. When a baby is jaundiced, it is common for her to be very sleepy and difficult to feed. Encourage your new baby to get in lots of practice time at your breast in the early days. Newborns need to nurse at least 10 to 12 times each day, and both of you will enjoy the skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding provides.

But don't worry about your milk supply. Babies do not require large quantities of breast milk in their first days of life. An early feed may be only about two teaspoons of your milk. Receiving a small amount will encourage your baby to feed often, and frequent nursing will help establish your milk supply. Just remember the mantra "breastfeed early and often" and seek help right away if you are having any breastfeeding difficulties.

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