When you get pregnant, you start preparing yourself mentally and physically for the arrival of your precious little bundle of joy. Your body starts going through a lot of changes externally and internally. The bump, of course, may take some time to start showing but the glow on your skin is not easy to miss.
Your bump isn’t the only part that is going to keep growing though. Your hips are going to grow larger to accommodate the baby and to facilitate the birthing process. Your breasts may also get bigger but this doesn’t happen to everyone. They may get sore because of the release of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin - a hormone that kicks off the estrogen and progesterone production).
Right from the very moment you get pregnant, your body initiates the process of producing breast milk. It releases the hormones that are necessary to produce breast milk. Prolactin is a hormone that aids the production of milk in your breasts. Oxytocin aids the movement of milk and the ‘let down’ reflex - you may feel a slight tingling or sting due to this hormone.
Let us understand what exactly happens during each and every stage of breast milk production which starts right from the second trimester of your pregnancy:
The FIRST Stage - Lactogenesis I
During this stage, the hormones responsible for breast milk production are released in your mammary glands. This usually begins in the second trimester itself. A day or two after you have delivered your baby, your breasts will start to produce the first milk or colostrum which is a thick liquid and will act as the first food for your baby.
The SECOND Stage - Lactogenesis II
Four days after the delivery is when you will start to produce mature milk which won’t be as thick as colostrum and will be produced in large volumes. You will start to notice a fullness in your breasts due to the increased milk production. The milk may come in after 10 days but might be delayed due to various factors like obesity or flat nipples. The process of the milk flowing to your breasts is referred to as milk let-down and it happens when you latch your baby on to your breast. It could even happen when you are thinking about your baby or watching them. You will feel a tingling sensation when this happens.
The THIRD Stage - Lactogenesis III
This third stage starts right from the 9th day postpartum and goes on till you finally stop breastfeeding. Use a pump to express milk on a regular basis so that your breasts will continue to produce breast milk.
The FOURTH Stage
This goes on for about 40 days after you have stopped feeding. Your milk production will start receding during this stage till it goes away completely.
Delay In Breast Milk Supply
This is how the breast milk is produced for the majority of mothers. Sometimes, there may be a delay in the milk production. This may be because the mother has diabetes and is being treated with insulin. The delay may also be caused due to a stressed labour. Another possible cause is remnants of placenta interfering with the prolactin.
If your breast milk supply is taking time to come in, don’t worry about it. Drink plenty of fluids and take enough rest. Make use of a breast pump to stimulate the milk flow and ask your doctor for supplements to increase milk production. Meanwhile, you can resort to formula milk and follow your doctor’s advice.
Tips On Breastfeeding
The best way to breastfeed is to always do it in a calm and peaceful environment. Make yourself comfortable and position your baby correctly. Before the feeding sessions, you can prepare your breasts by placing some warm towels on them and gently massaging the to stimulate the milk flow. After the feeding, wipe around your nipples with a wet wipe, put on some nipple cream and make sure you wear a soft, comfortable nursing bra.