When Does Your Milk Come In?

Updated on January 10, 2011
L.U. asks from Kirkland, WA
24 answers

Hi moms. Quick question.
I am a third time mom and can NOT for the life of me remember when your milk comes in?! It wasn't a big deal with my first two boys, they got nursing right away...but my daughter (born Wed. morning...c-section) is JUST NOT GETTING IT! it's awful. She screams, doesn't latfch, or when she does she just sits there...no suckle. I have seen 3 different lactation specialist and am seeing another one tomorrow...but am feeling like an absolute failure. I tried, yet again, to breastfeed her an hour or so ago and it ended with me sobbing while holding her because I just can't seem to get her to eat. I don't know what to do! I have been pumping every 2-3 hours and giving her that...but am only pumping about 1-1/2 ounce. I don't "think" it's milk yet. With my first two I produced an astronomical amount of milk...so if I am only pumping that little out I have to think it's colustrom.
So, after all my rambling...Should my milk be in by today? (Saturday) or do I still have a couple more days before it gets here? If it's already in then I am worried that I am going to have to supplememnt with formula, because there is no WAY 6-8 ounces is enough milk for a whole day and a newborn!

What can I do next?

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answers from Santa Fe on

I just wanted to say I'm so sorry. I went through the same thing with both my kids. With my son I could pump about an ounce but my milk supply never did increase much. With my daughter I could only pump one ml. this was after a month and a half of doing everything the lac consultants said to do. It made me feel awful. I will keep my fingers crossed for you that you get more milk soon.

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answers from Spokane on

The BEST way to get your milk in is to nurse, nurse, nurse! At this point your baby doesn't *need* anything more than what she's getting. Babies are born with something called 'brown fat' and it's what they use up while they're waiting for our milk to come in. Instead of pumping every 2 hours, let your baby nurse. Practice latching and relatching (if you have to). Babies may have the instinct to suck, but they don't always know how to suck efficiently. Be patient and keep trying.

It can take up to a week, even if it's your third. You'll know it's milk and not colostrum because you (hopefully) will feel fuller and will feel a let down when your baby is nursing. Also - RELAX!!! Stress will have only a negative effect on your milk production and supply, so take a warm bath and just breathe.

Good luck and good on you for committing to breastfeeding!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

PLEASE don't give up!! Between the anesthesia still being in her immature blood filtering system (they say it doesn't cross the placenta, but it's a feel good lie they tell you so you'll agree to epidurals and spinal blocks), and the huge rift between Mother and Baby tight after a cesarean - you will have a bit of a bump to overcome - BUT YOU AN DO IT!!

The first 3-4 days is the VERY important colostrum... the thick gold fluid that gives a huge jolt of antibodies, sugar and coats the immature and open GI tract to help keep it sterilized. The first week, newborn's tummy is no larger than a large marble. So don't worry if she's not eating a lot.

Do not supplement with formula - you will sabotage your own milk production and cause inflammation and irritation to your daughter's GI tract.

Do not equate what you are able to pump with a machine to what even your newborn can suckle. It's like comparing a Dyson to a 1950's Hoover. A machine can never take out what a baby can - think of it like this. The machine can pump out only 1/4 of what your baby can suckle.

A newborn for the first WEEK... needs very little food. Stomach is the size of a large marble and they will mostly nurse in very small doses, sleep, want to cuddle with Mommy, eat some more, sleep and cuddle with Mommy, repeat - all day.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Real milk can take up to a week before it comes in. You've already gotten a lot of good advice already. Just want to say to just stay home and snuggle with your little girl. Lots of skin on skin contact is great. Get a sling and carry her around, And even if she's not suckling, but just sitting there latched on, that works too!

Look at kellymom.com. There's awesome advice there. Also LLLI.com, you might consider calling one of thier leaders instead of another LC, often the la Leche leaders have better/more effective tricks then many LCs do - at least in my area - And they do free consults over the phone!

You might want to start looking at things that will help boost milk production even though your not technically having that trouble, but things like eating oatmeal, warm packs, massage (espically when baby is latched) should help your body start producing.

Best of luck and congrats!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

L. - I'm just going to reiterate a few points made in previous answers because I think you can use the encouragement right now!
1.)Don't give up!
2.) Babies can live for up to 10 days off the "brown fat" they are born with, without eating anything else, so even if she's just getting trickles from you while trying to nurse that's okay.
3.)Colostrum has hardly any fat/calories in it. But is full of antibodies and bacteria to colonize her digestive tract. It is very important and you should avoid giving formula at all costs during this early stage of her development.
4.) Milk "normally" comes in around days 3 or 4, however, some women get it within 24 hours and some don't get it until day 6 or 7. You'll know when it comes in because of the painful engorgement that accompanies it.
5.) Don't stress out. Skin to skin contact is just as important as productive suckling right now. Even if baby isn't sucking, keep practicing the latch and giving her the opportunity. Because not only is that practice good for her, but it is also getting your hormones in step with hers, which is much harder to do after a C section than a vaginal delivery. (The things they don't tell us, right?!?)

God bless you!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

First of all, I stressed like you did...when I was in the hospital on day 2 because my boy was marathon nursing (nursing every hour to get my milk to come in) and I was getting no rest. So rest has something to do with it. Also, have them check her for being tongue-tied. It creates problems with latching. And c-sections can cause delays as well I've heard. Mine came in on the 4th day which was my first day home with my little one. I had the hospital supplement with a syringe and formula because I was getting no rest but didn't want to create nipple confusion. You said you are pumping already...how are you giving her the milk? Through a bottle? If so...does she latch on to the bottle with no problem? If this is the case, she may have nipple confusion. If you are using a syringe then try using your thumb or finger first to see if she is sucking at all. If she is sucking then is it strong or weak? These are things to keep track of to talk to the Pedi or nurses about. Best thing, relax, get rest and keep trying. Don't give up. Milk is usually yellowish in color when it comes in. And your breasts will usually engorge and you will feel full and a let down when you get it in. Mine came in at the Pedi doctor's office when I was leaving with my boy. I had to go the morning after we got home (so got home in evening of previous day). Pumping should help but it's also not your baby's suckle. So...don't give up nursing. Good luck and let us know how it goes. And Congrats on your baby girl!

E. D.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Your milk will come i about 5 days after birth, but it sounds like your daughter is having latch issues. I went to 3dfferent peds and 3 different lactation consultants before my daughter was diagnosed with a posterior tongue tie. There are many reasons your daughter could be struggling, and not alldoctors and lactation consultants are created equal!! I urge you to continue toseek professional help and not touse a bottle until your daughter figures it out!!! you can use a small cup (like a dixie cup) or a medicine dropper to feed her if you need to, but bottles encourage the baby to just suck, and tht does not work on the breast.

Don't wait, or let anyone tell you that your daughter wllfigure t out on her own - my daugher was not diagnosed until she was 7 weeks old and we had heck of a time starting over that late inthe game.

Good luck!!!!!!! Stick with it mama!!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Has she been checked for tounge tie? That can cause issues with latch and sucking. A newborn's stomach isn't any bigger then their fist so an ounce or two may be all it can take per feeding at this point.
I know it took a few days for my milk to come in with my first. With my second and third my milk started coming in within 24 hours of birth. But every women is different obviously. I have heard it takes longer for milk to come in after a csection sometimes.
Strip her down to her diaper and take your shirt of to get skin to skin, putting a blanket on over the both of you to keep warm. Lean back in a comfy chair. Get a pillow on your lap to rest her on to protect your incision. Keep offering at every opportunity.
You can do it! Best of luck! Congratulations on your new little one!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

6-8 ounces is plenty for a newborn who needs no more than a teaspoon of a colostrum at a feeding. At this time her tummy is so, so tiny (look at her fist that is all the bigger her tummy is) and it takes very little to fill her up. Also colostrum is super rich and there are a not of calories in that tiny bit of milk. This is how our bodies are supposed to work. It can take up to a week for your milk to come in (especially because of the trama of the c-section and it interfering with the hormones created during birth). Try not to stress, I know easier said then done, and just allow that baby to be at breast as much and as often as you can. Try not to do it when she is already crying and upset about being hungry. One of the best times to get a baby to latch is when they are almost asleep or even when they are asleep. Strip her down to only her diaper and put her skin to skin on your chest (if she's chilly just cover her with a receiving blanket. This is a natural place for a newborn to and a very comforting place. She can smell your milk and hear your heartbeat. Once she is relaxed you can try to express a little milk with your hand and rub it onto your nipple and then rub a little on her lips and she if she begins to route then offer your breast and see if she will take it. If you are using a pacifier or a bottle at this time STOP. Do not offer any artificial nipples at this time. She needs to pacify using your breast to help her learn how to latch and suckle properly. It is not at all uncommon for a c-section baby to have a weak suckle and to have a hard time latching. C-sections are very traumatic for babies and it also interferes with the natural hormones produces at birth and their ability to latch on as soon as they are born (it's not even offered most of the time by the hospital staff and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they slipped her a bottle of formula while you were recovering). If you need to supplement with your milk then offer it to her via syringe or cup (www.kellymom.com will give you tip on how to do this properly as well as a ton of other information that you may find helpful) but only offer a little at a time and resist the urge to giver her several ounces at a feeding. She doesn't need it and it will only serve to unnaturally stretch her stomach (just like it does to an adult who routinely over eats) and make feeding at the breast even more frustrating for her. The best thing for you to do at this time is just practice, practice, practice. Keep offering her the breast even when she isn't acting hungry and try to spend as much time skin to skin as possible.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

You are NOT a failure (repeat this to yourself several times a day for the next 18 years). I am sure the lactation specialists have told you what you get from pumping can be radically different from what your baby will get from direct nursing. It sounds like you should talk to your pediatrician to make sure your daughter is OK...I know they have a lot more options for dealing with feeding and colic challenges than they used to.

I had c-births. I believe with my first (13 hrs of labor pre-birth), the milk came in before I left the hospital. So at the latest, 3 days. But as a first time mom, much of this was a blur. = )

The 2nd was a planned c-birth and my milk came in super duper fast. Within 24 hours. I was much more savvy about my post-birth body and BFing specifically...Not to mention that as a professional mama, I was just a lot more confident. Maybe all this contributed to the speed of the milk? I don't think it has anything to do with c-birth vs vaginal birth. I was a champion BFer and had both my children "unnaturally". (I am tweaking noses a bit here. Because of course my children and I are not unnatural just because of the way they entered the world).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

My milk didn't come in until about 5 days after I had my DD... I tried to nurse her in the hospital, but due to some issues (on both sides) I couldn't hold her for more than 30 minutes every 3 hours. So we had to give her bottles of formula to make sure she got enough nutrition during that time period (she wouldn't latch at all...) I tried pumping too, and I got even less than you! From both breasts together, I was barely able to get 1/2 oz. But when it finally came in, boy did it came in! lol. My DD didn't really get the hang of nursing until she was about 3 months old. I mostly fed her expressed milk from a bottle, just randomly put her to breast... one day she hit a growth spurt and was hungrier than I had in bottles, and since she had no other choice she took the breast.

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answers from Las Vegas on

Mine took a good 3 - 4 days. When I began pumping, I only got an ounce out and the doctor told me that was to be expected because nursing works better than the pump. I was worried too, but finally we got there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Keep trying! I'd say...don't try pumping right now, unless your lactation specialist tells you to. You may have another day or so before your milk comes in...I can't remember either! If she's having a hard time sucking...maybe have her tongue checked to make sure that isn't the issue.

I had a hard time on and off with my first and several wise friends reminded me that feeling sacred and frustrated wasn't helping me. You need to relax a little - try having some warmth on your neck and shoulders. Remember that babies and mommies are created to work together here...and she will get it eventually!

Also, have you given her a bottle yet? You mentioned pumping but didn't say if she had eaten that yet. If she does take a bottle, watch how she sucks and maybe that will give you some insight.

Take care!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Hey L., I hope your milk has come in now, but please get in touch with a La Leche League leader. You can find one here: http://www.llli.org/Web/Washington.html.



answers from Portland on

Stick with it, give your body time to catch up. Nurse her, supplement with a bottle of formula, then pump each feeding. Drink as much fluid as you can, rest as much as you can, eat healthy, try not to stress.



answers from Phoenix on

My milk came in much later after a C section, then with vaginal birth. I never asked why, b/c it was my first and I didn't know what to expect. But looking back, there was a big difference between my milk coming after a vaginal birth vs. a C.

I wonder if it's the stress of major surgery?

I recall having what seemed like nothing for at least a week. Just the colostrum. It was definitely stressful and I worried and cried a lot along with the baby.

Seeing the lactation specialist tomorrow should help ease your mind and boost your confidence. I think 6-8 ozs. of breast milk will get her through as it is the super rich colostrum still.

Please try to relax, take many deep breaths, rock gently, drink chamomile tea, anything to calm you until your appointment tomorrow.

Congratulations on your new baby!


answers from Los Angeles on

Whether it's milk or colustrum, it's good for her.
She should be nursing regardless of what fluid comes out.
Since you've already spoken to lactation consultants,
I hesitate to suggest anything they may have already recommended.
HOWEVER, just in case . . . .
Have you attempted, NOT to put your breast into her mouth,
but to brush her cheek, near her mouth, with your nipple?
Also, have you talked, whether to the lactation consultants
and/or your OB/GYN person, whether your hormonal levels
are out of kilter because you had a C-section
as opposed to a vaginal delivery?
Good luck.



answers from Portland on

Find this book, Mother Food For Breastfeeding Mothers, it has so much information about what to eat/not to eat for milk production. Amazon carries it, but you might have someone around you try to locate a copy, might be a bit faster than waiting for shipping.

Keep trying, my little guy had a heap of trouble with nursing to start because he came so fast that his system didn't get cleansed through the birthing process. He had terrible issues with nursing for a good two weeks and I finally went to a Naturopath. She put him on Bifidus (a probiotic good for little systems). I finger-fed the powdered Bifidus to him (1/4 tsp) daily. Things improved greatly after that.

Keep trying and drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest if possible. Good luck to you!



answers from Seattle on

I'm pretty sure that it is very common for milk to take a few extra days to come in after a C-section. I think it has something to do with the anesthesia they give for the surgery. Try not to worry, I bet everything will be fine very soon. Congratulations on your new arrival :-)



answers from Seattle on

My milk came in on Day 5 after my c-sect. I was starting to worry, too, but it all worked out.

Added: I did have to supplement with formula, which made me cry, but looking back - he needed to eat and formula is not poison. Even though I desperately wanted to take care of all his nutritional needs via my own body, I couldn't - he lost too much weight. However, after supplementing with 1.5 ounces of formula after each nursing attempt, my milk came in.

Also - did you hemmorrage during or after delivery? Significant blood loss during or after delivery can also greatly reduce milk production. My friend learned this the hard way after her first baby was born and the lactation consultant didn't mention it to them. They took their 5 lb 2 oz little girl home and she screamed for three days. Hastily made ped appt for late Fri afternoon (the orig appt was for the following Monday) had her weighing in at 4 lbs even. They rushed her back to the hospital and after two days of monitoring and tube-feeding, she was stable enough to take home again. **Shudder** My friend was never able to produce enough milk due to the hemmorrage.

Anyway - I'm pulling for you! Good thoughts and strength headed your way.



answers from Seattle on

Stress doesn't help any.... your body is probably producing what your little one needs... if she isn't nursing, your body won't produce as much. Maybe try some Mother's Milk tea... is your little one tongue tied? Maybe there is fluid in her tummy from birth (with c-sections, it isn't squeezed out in the birth canal). Good luck!!!


answers from Eugene on

Lactation specialist! My daughter had one and she failed to help. She asked me and in seconds he'd latched on to a gland.
Call LeLeche League and a woman who really knows how to get your baby going will come to your house and when she leaves your baby will be drinking and bringing down your milk.

Day four after the birth for the milk to come in. Before that it is collestrum.



answers from Eugene on

you are NOT a failure! you are clearly a very good mom who is having a hard time due to circumstances that are not your fault! please see a good craniosacral therapist or cranial osteopath who has experience with babies. if your baby isn't latching well, a gentle manipulation to help align her cranial bones a little better could do wonders for her ability to latch and suck. lactation consultants, although they know a lot about many things, don't know how to correct for cranial restrictions that can interfere with a baby's ability to latch and suck. although a c-section may seem to be easier on a baby's cranium than a vaginal birth, it isn't necessarily - there could be restrictions from the sudden decrease in pressure and/or from the baby's position in utero. there could also be trauma from intubation or suctioning after birth, which could make your baby averse to having anything in her mouth. if this the case, you could try offering your pinky finger or your breast for her to suck on, and if she pulls away and cries, empathize with her, saying something like, yes that was awful having that tube down your throat, i'm so sorry that happened - that's over now and this is different, and you can take your time, i'm here for you (whatever words come to you - babies really do understand these things). you could also try expressing a little milk from your breast into her mouth even if she isn't latching, so that she begins to learn to associate the breast with yummy sweet milk. does she suck on your finger well? you can try that, and use your finger to gently encourage her to get a better suck (you could also put a little breastmilk on her finger for the taste). i agree that you should also check for tongue tie if you haven't - it can be resolved by a quick and easy snip or by gentle methods of pulling on the tongue to stretch the frenulum. finger feeding her your milk through a tube attached to your finger might be better than bottle feeding as a temporary transition to breastfeeding, since the sucking needed with a finger is closer to breastfeeding than a bottle would be (therefore less likelihood of nipple confusion). as far as protecting your milk supply while your baby learns to nurse, do you have a really good pump? if not, it would be well worth the extra expense of renting a really good one, to make sure you don't lose your milk supply. and it's true that with c-sections, milk can take longer to come in, since you and your baby didn't have the benefit of all the hormones, and both of you have been traumatized at least physically if not emotionally. it sounds like your milk may not have "come in" yet, or it may be that the pump isn't doing as good of a job as a baby would. you could even, if you have any friends who are breastfeeding, borrow their baby to nurse on you (obviously it should be someone you know and trust that they don't have any terrible diseases). as far as the volume of milk, a general guideline is to multiply the baby's birth weight by 2.5 to get the # of ounces they should have in 24 hours, and then divide that by 8 feedings if you're pumping or nursing every 3 hours. for example, an 8-pound baby would need 20 ounces in 24 hours or 2.5 ounces every 3 hours; or a 6-pound baby would need 15 oz in 24 h or 1 & 7/8 ounces every 3 hours (or if it's every 2 hours it would obviously be less per feeding). it's good that you have a history of successful breastfeeding and an abundant milk supply, so you will probably do just fine once you get going. having 3 kids can certainly be a handful, especially after major surgery, which could be impacting your ability to relax and let the milk flow. it would be wonderful (and maybe even essential in order to get off to a good start with your baby) for you to have lots of support, people to take care of everything else but the baby (cooking, cleaning, laundry, playing with the other kids etc), so that you and baby can stay in bed all day, skin to skin, and allow yourselves the time to really fall in love (also catch up on sleep, letting yourself sleep whenever baby does). of course your other children will need some attention from you, but if other people can take them on some special outings, that will allow you more time with your baby. sorry this is so long - i've just seen so many mamas have problems that could have been prevented with the right kind of help and support early on. if you do need to supplement for a little while, it would of course be much better to give her donor breastmilk rather than formula, such as from a friend or from a milk bank. so - after saying all this, it does sound like, aside from your milk supply, your baby may actually have some specific issues with latching and sucking, which could be helped by craniosacral therapy or cranial osteopathy, and/or clipping or stretching a tight frenulum, and/or releasing any trauma from suctioning or intubation etc. so, in order of importance - 1) your baby needs to eat! if not directly from your breast, then as close to breastfeeding as possible, so that she can more easily transition to breastfeeding. 2) you need to protect and increase your milk supply, by pumping or nursing another baby, if your baby won't latch yet. 3) baby needs to be checked for and helped with anything that keeps her from latching and sucking well (cranial restrictions, tongue-tie, trauma). i really appreciate you reaching out for help, and i'm glad you've tried several lactation consultants. maybe the next one will be the one who will really help - or maybe your milk will come in and your baby will just suddenly get the hang of it! in any case, hang in there, remember you are a wonderful mother, and keep us posted!



answers from Portland on

You have some great answers here! I can only second and third what many of them have said. The only thing I can recommend that is different from the others is to look for breast crawl on youtube, and if comfortable try to let your baby girl do that.

Good luck and you are not a failure!


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