When Your Milk Comes In

Your mature breast milk will come in 2-4 days after you give birth, depending on how much your baby nurses in the first days. (Newborns need to nurse at least 10-12 times each day.)

You will know that your milk has come in when:

  • Your breasts increase in size.

  • You can hear your baby swallowing after seeing 2-3 nursing motions of her jaw; her little swallows will sound like “gah… gah.”

  • Your breasts slightly decrease in size as the baby feeds.

  • You feel some cramping in your uterus and you feel your milk releasing as your baby latches on. This is called a letdown reflex, though not all moms feel these sensations.

  • You see white or pale yellowish milk, rather than golden yellow colostrum, leak (or even spray) from your nipples or the corners of your baby’s mouth.

Your milk is changing from colostrum to mature milk. Nurse your baby frequently—every 1-3 hours—to establish your milk supply and provide the nourishment your newborn needs.

Wake your baby to nurse if she sleeps more than 4 hours in a row. A newborn’s stomach is about the size of a walnut; it empties quickly and needs to be refilled frequently.

Breast milk is more easily digested than formula, and so breastfed babies feed more often than formula-fed babies. Frequent feeding will establish your milk supply: the more your baby feeds, the more milk you will produce.

Call your pediatrician or lactation consultant if:

  • Your milk doesn’t seem to have come in by the third day postpartum.

  • Your baby is producing less than 6-8 wet diapers and several soft, mustard-colored stools each day.

  • Your nipples become sore.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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