Wanting to fall pregnant or the first baby is on its way? Here’s what to know about the different stages of breastfeeding, what to expect and tips for successful breastfeeding.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, In the first two weeks after a baby is born, breast milk progresses through three main stages: colostrum, transitional breast milk, and mature breast milk.
Breastfeeding stage 1: Colostrum
The Colostrum stage is the first type of breast milk and this is already present towards the end of your pregnancy and during the first few days after the baby is born. The low volume of colostrum can range between white and milky to sticky and yellowish. It contains all the nutrients your newborn needs: high in protein, white blood cells and antibodies. It’s also a natural laxative for your baby and helps to prevent jaundice.
Breastfeeding stage 2: Transitional Milk
Transitional Milk is the next type of milk produced by your body and this stage lasts up to two weeks. This milk is a combination of Colostrum and Mature Milk and is higher in calories than Colostrum. This milk includes high levels of fat, lactose and water-soluble vitamins. Your breasts may become fuller and warmer and your milk slowly changes to a bluish-white color.
Breastfeeding stage 3: Mature Milk
This stage can start as early as 10 days after giving birth, but usually begins around two weeks post birth. About 90% of this milk is water, which is important for keeping your infant appropriately hydrated. The remaining 10% is carbs, protein and fats – all the macronutrients needed for growth and energy.
A 2018 study published in the journal “Nutrients” revealed that: in the milk of mothers breastfeeding for longer than 18 months, fat and protein increased and carbohydrates decreased significantly, compared with milk expressed by women breastfeeding up to 12 months. This shows again how the breast milk nutrient levels change – this time to accommodate what a toddler may need.
Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
– Cuddle your baby on your chest .Holding your baby skin-to-skin will help your body to start making milk and will wake up your baby’s feeding reflexes.
– Look out for movements such as: your baby turning its head “looking for food”, licking lips or putting their hands or mouth. Crying is a late cue and your baby may need to be calmed down first in order for successful breastfeeding to happen.
– It’s important for mom to sit or lie down comfortably and to relax shoulders.
– Express milk by hand: a few drops of milk on your nipple will help to get your baby’s attention to start feeding.
– When holding your baby, place their nose to your nipple until your baby’s mouth opens as big as a yawn to take a mouthful of your breast. You will feel your baby suckling gently at first, and then stronger with a rhythm of one or two sucks per swallow, and little pauses to rest.
Contact your doctor for further information and any medical advice you may need for your own breastfeeding plan.