Establishing Breastmilk Supply

Posted by Ysabel Li-Lopez on

Congratulations on making the decision to breastfeed your baby!  Having grown up in Peru, I witnessed countless women breastfeed in public and saw the lifelong benefits.  The confidence and ease of these women ensured I would one day breastfeed my own children.  They made it look so effortless, and I truly thought my experience would be easy.  Sadly, I am one of numerous women who experienced a traumatic start.

When my son was born, I immediately put him at my breast and he was latching.  I did not see any milk supply coming in, and asked my midwife for advice.  She indicated “the milk is there, but you don’t see it”.  She further noted the baby’s stomach is so tiny, and he really did not need much milk.  

Establishing Breastmilk Supply – Tips from Birth to Day 3

  • Have your newborn latch-on after birth
  • Capitalize on your baby’s alertness. Recognize he or she will tire quickly. New arrivals prefer to nap over nursing for the first 12 hours.
  • If baby does not nurse postpartum, hand expressing or pumping within 6 hours of birth is essential.
  • During the first few days, your baby will be receiving colostrum (known as first milk). This “liquid gold”, even if only a few drops, contains nutrition essential to your baby. 
  • Hand expressing colostrum onto your baby’s lips can help enhance your hormone receptors. Hormone receptors tell your body how much milk to produce.  The more milk expressed at the start, the better your milk production in the coming weeks and months.

By day three, I had no milk supply, my son developed jaundice, and he cried non-stop.  At the time, I was sure my son was eating, but we discovered he was a “pretender”.  The jaundice is what triggered a visit to the hospital, and after an examination, the nurses asked if they could feed him by bottle.  Sure enough, my little one drank the entire bottle in a few minutes.  For the first six weeks, my son ended up being breast and bottle fed.

Establishing Breastmilk Supply – Tips from Day 3 to Full Production

  • Around Day 3 or Day 4, your milk should “come in”. Women often describe feeling overfull, swollen or engorged.  This is when your body shifts from producing mere drops to ounces. 
  • From Day 3 onwards, nurse your baby as much as possible. Drained breasts produce milk at a much faster rate.
  • If your milk supply is low or your baby is not nursing frequently, a hospital grade pump may prove helpful.
  • Do not go 5 hours or more without nursing or pumping. Keep your supply productive and plentiful.

How did I get my milk supply?  First, I received amazing support from a lactation consultant.  I started pumping, drinking lots of water, and also took Domperidone for the first week.  By week two, I was feeling more relaxed and my anxiety level was reduced.  By week six (yes, magical week SIX) I had finally obtained my full milk supply.  It was my biggest achievement ever!  It made me realize breastfeeding may not be easy, but it is worth all the challenges.      

Did you encounter complications or difficulties with breastfeeding?  Did you receive advice from a nurse, midwife or lactation consultant, and want to share the guidance?  I would love to hear about your experiences, and share with our readers.  Please tell me more by email or comment on our Facebook page.


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