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How breast milk changes as your baby grows

Breast milk is amazing for many reasons, one of which is that it changes over time to provide your little one with exactly what they need as they grow. Trust us when we say, it’s super cool.

How will your breast milk change?

The nutritional composition of your milk will change as your baby grows. Why exactly? Incredibly, it changes to keep up with Baby‘s nutritional needs as they grow.

What should you expect immediately after birth?

The first few days after they are born, instead of producing what you might usually think of as milk, you’ll actually produce a fluid called colostrum that’s rich in protein and antibodies to help nourish and protect your baby. It’s often called “liquid gold” because of its golden color and just how good it is for infants. Rich in vitamins and minerals, colostrum will help your baby’s new digestive system function properly, pass along immunity, and help them gain weight. You’ll only produce a little since your new baby’s tummy is so small at this point — quality, not quantity, is important here.  

When can you expect to be producing milk?

In just a few days, this colostrum will transition to milk. And since you’ll be producing a lot more milk than you were producing colostrum, when your milk first comes in, it’s normal for your breasts to swell and be engorged. At first, you’ll produce transitional milk — because your body is transitioning over to producing mature milk. The transitional milk will seem very creamy in texture and color. It will be high in fat, calories, and lactose, and it will also still have plenty of protective agents like antibodies. By the time your little one is about a month old, you will be producing mature milk. Mature milk is still full of the good stuff your baby needs — including vitamins and minerals, protein, sugar, hormones, enzymes, and even protective antibodies if you or your baby get sick — and this will continue to be the case as your little one gets older. Soon enough, you’ll feel less engorged as your body adjusts to your little ones needs. And as you continue to breastfeed your baby over the coming months, the composition of this milk will continue to change, providing the nutrients that Baby needs at that particular time. 

What if you want to learn more about how all of this works?

If you’re preparing to breastfeed, it’s always helpful to take a breastfeeding class to learn all the ins and outs, how to work through challenges, how to best take care of yourself and your baby, and to get more comfortable with what to expect. If you’re having trouble of any sort, wondering what’s normal, or just have questions about how to best take care of yourself and your baby, you can reach out to your child’s healthcare provider or a certified lactation consultant. Just like your milk changes as your baby grows, it’s not uncommon for your breastfeeding experience to change over time too, and you deserve all the support you need on your breastfeeding journey. 

Read more
  • Kelly Bonyata. “Frequently Asked Questions about Milk Production.” KellyMom. KellyMom.com, January 1 2018. Retrieved July 22. https://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/basics/milkproduction-faq/.
  • “Transitional Milk and Mature Milk.” healthychildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 2 2009. Retrieved July 22. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Transitional-Milk-and-Mature-Milk.aspx.
  • “How will my milk change when I am breastfeeding through pregnancy?” KellyMom. KellyMom.com, January 2 2018. Retrieved July 22. https://kellymom.com/tandem-faq/16milkchanges/.

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