15 Questions New Moms Have About Breastmilk Production - Answered

Contrary to what some people think, breastfeeding is far from a walk in the park, and mother and baby can be faced with all sorts of obstacles along the way. Aside from latching problems and low milk supply to bleeding nipples and blocked milk ducts, breastfeeding is a great way to bond with your baby not to mention the obvious huge nutritional value, but breastfeeding can be tough.

For new moms there can be a large fear of the unknown when it comes to breastfeeding. This along with all other aspects of looking after a baby most likely never done seen before never mind done themselves. Confused and full of queries and questions, answers are definitely needed and fast. Here is where you will find the answers to many (if not all) breast milk production questions.

Questions straight from new moms themselves, the most common queries listed here with their well-researched and informative answers. How is breast milk produced? How can you build milk production? How do I know my body is making enough milk? and more.

Hopefully this list will give new moms stressed about the unknown some relief in preparation for baby arriving or for the experienced moms - who knows maybe there are some new facts to learn. Either way this will be a worth while read that is sure to be enjoyed.

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15 Will I Start Producing Milk During Pregnancy?

A very common question asked by many moms-to-be. "Will I start producing milk during my pregnancy?" The answer is, yes you can produce breastmilk before your baby is born. You may produce breast milk in the mid or late stages of pregnancy. The milk however will not be the liquid, white breast milk that is likely to seep through your shirt, at this point. That comes later when breastmilk is fully established. The milk produced during pregnancy is thicker and more yellow in color. You will probably notice it dried up on your breasts or in your bra.

"You may have leaked a few drops of this thick, yellowish substance during the final weeks of your pregnancy. (This happens to some women even earlier, during their second trimester.)" Babycenter.com states.

14 Can I Pump Milk When Pregnant?

This is a question some may never think of but for those moms-to-be who feel that they are producing a lot of colostrum (early breastmilk) during pregnancy and want to be extra prepared for baby's arrival, they may feel that pumping and freezing some of that goodness for baby in advance would be practical. But sorry to say, this is wrong. In fact pumping when pregnant is neither necessary nor safe to do. Potentially inducing your body into labor before full term can endanger the life of your little one.

"Colostrum continues to be produced until at least 72hrs after birth, regardless of breast pumping before delivery. It can be very harmful to begin pumping too soon before labor actually begins because you can stimulate the hormones putting you into early labor". Babycenter.com warns moms-to-be.

13 How Do I Know If My Body Is Making Enough Milk?

Probably a question all breastfeeding mothers have asked themselves one time or another. Using apps to time feeds, double/triple checking baby's latch, asking friends and family, googling the question 1000 times. We all want to make sure our babies are getting what they need to grow and thrive. New moms I have found are especially anxious about this, as it is new to them.

To reduce your worry, their are signs you can look out for to know your baby is getting enough breastmilk. Baby feeding 6 to 8 times a day, no pain during breastfeeding, breasts feel drained/softer after feeds, nipple is the same shape after a feed, baby is a healthy color and much more signs (found on Babycenter.com). Every baby is different so the best bet is to check with your doctor or midwife and if it makes you feel better get baby regularly weighed.

12 How Long Does Breastmilk Last After It Is Pumped?

Another pumping question, "How long does breastmilk last after it is pumped?" Pumping breastmilk is a really good way to give mom a break by letting others feed baby, therefore encouraging bonding and also getting baby used to bottles if for any reason you have to/ choose to wean them onto formula. Breastmilk, like many milk products, have a use by date depending on how you store them. Freezing preserves breastmilk the longest.

Babycenter.com advises "But expressed milk that has little bacteria can last for six to eight hours if room temperature remains on the cooler side. You can refrigerate breast milk for three to five days and freeze it to keep it fresh even longer. Thawed breast milk will keep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours (but don't refreeze it)". 

11 How Does Your Body Know When To Produce More Breastmilk?

A woman's body can do amazing things. Growing a new life, birthing it and then using nutrients that it produces to keep this new life alive. But many ask, how does your body know when to produce more breastmilk? Thanks to scientific research this can be easily explained and understood.

To summarize the process, when your hormones change in pregnancy it triggers the tissues in the breast to produce breastmilk. When feeding the child, the more frequently baby feeds the more breastmilk that it produces. The motion of feeding at the nipple stimulates the hormones which then again encourages tissues in breast to produce more milk. This is the continuous cycle until the day when baby is weaned.

For more information and scientific explanation you can go to "Sutterhealth.org".

10 How Can I Boost Milk Production?

Unfortunately, sometimes breast milk production can be very slow and many mothers want to find some way to boost the production of their milk therefore increasing milk supply to make sure their baby has plenty. No one wants to run out of food for their baby especially breastmilk. You can't just pop into the shop for more unfortunately. There are ways to do this, from adding certain foods to your diet to letting baby latch on for a longer period of time.

Kellymom.com advises these things and more "avoiding pacifiers and bottles, offering both sides at feeding, aim to nurse your baby every 2 hours, well balanced diet and plenty liquids, pumping sessions in between feeds, breastfeeding supplement...". Again if you are struggling with your breastmilk production always contact your doctor.

9 How Can I Slow Down My Milk Flow?

An opposite question to the last entry on this list. How can I slow down milk production? This doesn't necessarily mean to decrease it or slow down the flow of your milk production, as it is possible your flow can be too fast for your baby to keep up with. Breastfeeding is a complicated thing as you can see. There are several ways to slow down milk production. For example pumping on a slow setting and feeding your baby only on one side per feed, these can slow down milk flow but be careful not to breastfeed/pump any less as your milk production could then decrease which is not the aim. Again speak to your doctor if you are really concerned.

Laleche.org has more helpful tips such as "adjust positioning of feeding, empty one breast at a time..." and more.

8 What Do I Do If I Have A Blocked Milk Duct?

This can be a very uncomfortable, stressful and painful time for a breastfeeding mother - no wonder breastfeeding moms and moms-to-be are searching for the answer. No one needs this on top of having to try and deal with becoming a new parent. This of course is a medical problem so I would advise you to go to the doctor to sort the problem out (I know this keeps being mentioned but it is the best course of action). While waiting for your appointment, however their are some things you can do to ease the pain and potentially solve the problem, eventually.

Llli.org gives a few examples of what you could do to help a blocked milk duct for example "apply heat, gently massage the area, hand express to try and undo the blockage..." and more.

7 Can Pumping Affect My Milk Production Negatively?

As I said in a previous entry, when answering another question on pumping breastmilk; pumping is a great way to let others feed baby, therefore giving mom a much needed break. But many have asked "Can pumping affect my milk supply negatively?" The answer to this, many will be happy to know, is no. No it will not affect your milk supply in a bad way, it will only do good. Pumping increases milk supply so unless your aim is to stop milk production or slow it down, pumping breast milk is not negative in any way. Studies clearly show this.

"Actually, no — it's the opposite. Waiting too long to nurse or pump can slowly reduce your milk supply. The more you delay nursing or pumping, the less milk your body will produce because the overfilled breast sends the signal that you must need less milk". States kidhealth.org.

6 How Do I Make Sure My Milk Comes In On Time?

This is a major anxiety to many moms-to-be, I know it was one for me personally and my milk ended up not coming in properly. "How do I make sure my milk comes in on time?" many women have asked. The answer is, you can't. It is just a process your body goes through. Of course you can do all the "right" things such as taking your pregnancy vitamins and eating a balanced diet, but this does not guarantee your milk will automatically come in. For first time moms especially, milk tends to properly come in a day AFTER baby is born. Not to fret however as you still have a lot of colostrum which is what your baby really needs to start with.

The doctors and midwives will be there to support you so don't worry about making sure your milk comes in on time. Let your body take care of things.

5 Will What I Drink Go Into My Breastmilk?

A big question! As after 9 months of sobriety, cutting out any and all toxins, I know many women are craving a glass of wine or a sip of a red bull once baby is born, but unfortunately if breastfeeding, this is likely to go straight to the baby. Timing and pumping may allow you some leeway for you to let yourself go a bit, but you have to be very careful. You don't want your baby getting something that would harm them in the future. Many studies show the specific guidelines you should follow; also your doctor would be able to advise you.

"If a mom is going to drink alcohol, she should wait at least three to four hours until breastfeeding the baby," Dr. Herway says. (The American Academy of Pediatrics says to wait a minimum of two hours.) An informative quote found on Health.com.

4 How To Stop Milk Production After Baby Is Weaned?

There are many questions surrounding weaning your baby. From what foods to wean them onto first to what age to wean them at. Whatever stage, weaning from breastfeeding can be highly difficult as engorgement of breasts (as breastfeeding helps reduce engorgement) can be a major problem. So many women ask "How to stop milk production after baby is weaned?" Difficult for sure but obviously possible. And here is how.

"Wear a firm bra both day and night to support your breasts and keep you comfortable. Use breast pads to soak up any leaking milk.Relieve pain and swelling by putting cold/gel packs in your bra, or use cold compresses after a shower or bath. Cold cabbage leaves worn inside the bra can also be soothing...". Are just some of the ways to reduce milk supply when weaning your baby as well as relieving pain. Find more information on Breastfeeding.asn.

3 Does Cluster Feeding Affect Milk Production Negatively?

Many babies cluster feed. On, off, on, off. It can be very stressful and time consuming for mom, but we do it for our beautiful little ones so we don't mind. But, "can cluster feeding affect milk production negatively?" The answer is, no. Cluster feeding will only boost milk supply. The only way milk supply can be affected or reduced is if you interfere with this cycle. Lanish.co.uk explains more.

"Cluster feeding happens when babies want to feed more often and in a more condensed period of time. ... Not offering the breast or offering an alternative to breastfeeding like a bottle will not help in this situation and is not recommended as it can affect baby's nutrition and your bonding as well as your milk supply". The full article can be read on their website, if you want more information.

2 How To Make Sure Baby Is Latched On Properly?

This question, by far, is asked the most. When speaking with new moms, everyone asks this question. No wonder, it is a hard one to figure out if you have never breastfed before. It is not every day we have a small human latched onto our nipples trying to feed. We all want to make sure, as moms, that babies are getting what they need and the perfect latch is key to that. So what is the perfect latch? This information should explain it perfectly.

"Ideally, your baby's bottom lip will be near or on the base of your areola with her nose opposite your nipple. When she smells the colostrum, she'll bury her chin into your breast, open her mouth, and latch on". Explains Parent.com. If still unsure contacting your doctor, midwife or lactation specialist is the best way to get firsthand information, they should also be able to help you position your baby and check that the latch is right. No need to worry there is plenty of support out there.

1 How Long Will My Body Produce Milk For My Baby?

The answer to this question is quite simple. Your body will keep producing breastmilk for your baby as long as s/he needs it. As long as babies are getting regular feeds and latching on properly, the tissue is being stimulated, and the hormones that trigger your body to produce milk will keep on going. Pumping also helps maintain the production of breastmilk. So really, unless you have another medical condition that causes your breastmilk to dry up, you can decide when your breastmilk will be decreased and, as a result eventually stop making it.

"The breasts will begin to shut down milk production within several days if milk is not regularly and effectively removed". Kellymom.com states on their website. So as you can see you are very much in control of the answer to this question. Mothers do know best after all so that seems about right, don't you think?

Sources: Babycenter.com, Kellymom.com, Lanish.co.uk

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