3. Your milk
Colostrum, the early milk made by your breasts, is usually present until after the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. Once your baby is born, it is present in small amounts for the first 3 days to match the small size of your baby’s stomach. Most babies do not need additional nutrition during this time. Begin breastfeeding as soon as possible after giving birth. Breastfeed every 1 to 3 hours per 24-hour period(8 to 12 times per 24 hours) so your baby receives this valuable milk.
Colostrum and mature milk are designed to meet a newborn’s special needs. Colostrum has a yellow color, is thick in consistency, and is high in protein and low in fat and sugar. The protein content is three times higher than mature milk, because it is rich in the antibodies being passed from the mother. These antibodies protect your baby and act as a natural laxative, helping your baby pass the first stool called meconium.
Your milk will change and increase in quantity about 48 to 72 hours after giving birth. It may take longer depending on when you start breastfeeding and how often you breastfeed. The change in milk occurs a little earlier if you have breastfed before.
When first starting to breastfeed, the first milk the baby receives is called foremilk. It is thin and watery with a light blue tinge. Foremilk is largely water needed to satisfy your baby’s thirst.
Hind-milk is released after several minutes of nursing. It is similar in texture to cream and has the highest concentration of fat. The hind-milk has a relaxing effect on your baby. Hind-milk helps your baby feel satisfied and gain weight. Feed your baby until you see a sleepy, satisfied look on your baby’s face.
There is no such thing as “weak breast milk.” Your body will combine the exact ingredients necessary to meet your baby’s needs.
4. The family's role
The family plays a major role in the breastfeeding relationship between you and your baby. One of the most precious gifts a family can give is to take care of you and encourage and support a healthy breastfeeding relationship.
As the mother, having people help and encourage you are some of the most important things you will need to breastfeed successfully. The first few weeks of breastfeeding are important. It is a time for learning what works best for you and your baby. It is also when your milk supply is being established. It can be a very frustrating time as well. You have just gone through labor and delivery and may be physically tired and emotionally drained. You and your baby may need to try several breastfeeding positions before you find ones that work. With strong support from family, friends, health professionals and volunteer counselors, mothers who may otherwise have given up on breastfeeding during the first weeks are able to succeed.
A good support network can help in many ways, such as providing accurate information about breastfeeding and helping you resolve any problems quickly. By doing other “duties,” your support network enables you to put all your energy into breastfeeding and getting to know your baby. Most important, they can help you feel confident in your ability to breastfeed your baby.