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When will my milk come in?

During the first few days after the birth of your baby, your body will produce colostrum, a sort of "pre-milk" or "practice milk." For some women, colostrum is thick and yellowish. For others it is thin and watery.

Colostrum contains many protective properties, including antibacterial and immune-system-boosting substances that are so important to your baby and aren't found in infant formula. The flow of colostrum is very slow, which allows your baby to learn how to nurse and also how to coordinate sucking, breathing, and swallowing.

After about 3 to 4 days of nursing, your breasts will start to feel less soft and more firm as your milk changes from colostrum to milk that looks kind of like skim milk. Your milk will be transitional for the first 10 to 14 days, after which it's considered to be mature milk.

During this time, the amount of milk your body produces will increase, responding to your baby's nursing. Your milk supply is determined by the stimulation your body receives. In other words, the more you breastfeed, the more milk your body produces.

Mothers who deliver by Caesarean section (C-section) may find it takes longer for their milk supply to increase. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, a mother's milk may take longer than a few days to come in. This is perfectly normal and is usually no cause for concern, but make sure to let your doctor know. While babies don't need much more than some colostrum for the first couple days, the doctor may need to make sure the baby is getting enough to eat. It can help to breastfeed more frequently, putting the baby to the breast every 2 to 3 hours.

If your milk still hasn't come in within 72 hours after the birth of your baby, you should talk to your doctor.

Don't be alarmed if your baby drops a little weight at first. Babies should not lose more than 7% of their birth weight, stop losing by the fourth day, begin gaining by the fifth day, and be back to birth weight by no later than the fourteenth day.

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