Most breastfeeding* parents produce enough breast milk to feed their infants. However, many new parents say that they are unsure about their breast milk supply during the early days, and even months after breastfeeding has begun.
Here you will find information about how breast milk* supply is established and what you can do to maintain supply throughout your breastfeeding journey.
How breast milk supply is established
After the birth of the baby, colostrum is the first breast milk for your baby. It is a thick and sticky substance that is high in protein and minerals. Mature breast milk usually takes about two to five days to come in. To stimulate mature breast milk production, it is important that the colostrum is expressed frequently by hand or baby sucking at the breasts.
Having your baby lay skin-to-skin on the chest right after the birth helps to speed up early breast milk production.
To maintain milk supply, the breasts should be emptied either by the baby breastfeeding or by hand expression/pumping. Babies usually feed every two to three hours. Therefore, the breasts need to be emptied at least eight times per day to maintain healthy milk supply during the first month.
Here are some tips to help maintain breast milk supply as your baby grows
- Breastfeed* your baby frequently, according to their hunger cues
- Make sure your baby has a good latch
- Watch for signs that your baby is breastfeeding effectively and emptying at least one breast per feeding
- Have more skin-to-skin time with your baby
- Take steps to lower your stress and get enough sleep
- Maintain a healthy diet while breastfeeding
You can also compress your breast while breastfeeding or pump or hand express after breastfeeding to ensure your breasts are adequately emptied.
If you have questions or are worried about breastfeeding your baby, you can get help from a Public Health Nurse at 416-338-7600 or by using eChat.
For more information:
- Learn more about Breastfeeding Services in Toronto
- Learning to Breastfeed – City of Toronto
- Breastfeeding: Signs that your baby is swallowing breast milk effectively – Pregnancy to Parenting
- Positioning of baby: A key to successful breastfeeding – Pregnancy to Parenting
- Family and friends can support breastfeeding – Pregnancy to Parenting
- Can I breastfeed if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19? – Pregnancy to Parenting
*The terms breast milk/breastfeed/breastfeeding are also known as chest milk/chestfeed/chestfeeding respectively and can be used interchangeably.