In the first month after birth, your milk cells are turning on to make milk for both now and the future. Over the next 2-4 weeks your body will make the exact amount your baby or babies need to drink each day. From the end of their first month babies drink about the same volume every day until they are six months old, and still manage to double their birth weight! Imagine if you kept eating the same amount of calories each day for six months you would not put on weight, but rather stay the same. But babies keep on growing, just as nature intended! The volumes of milk you are able to make in the first month is therefore really important for good future milk production.
The milk cells start switching on and making more and more milk due to frequent sucking by your baby or babies. Allowing babies to suck frequently at the breast, as often as they want (usually between 8-12 times per day) will enable you to build and maintain a good milk supply.
A mother’s milk supply starts out as colostrum. Colostrum is usually very yellow in colour and is much thicker than the milk you will have a few days after birth. Colostrum is also really tiny in volume. This is totally normal.
On day one your baby may only be drinking about a teaspoon of your milk at each feed! But, between 24-72 hours after birth, your milk will “come in”, or rather increase in volume, usually fairly rapidly! By day four, you will already be making about 400ml in total each day! And by days 7-14 you will have increased to now making about 700-800ml each day. This is the average amount most babies will drink per day and keep drinking up to six months of age.
If a baby is unable to breastfeed well or at all in the first month, it is really important that the mother’s breasts still receive the frequent sucking stimulation to build her milk supply. Using the right expression method will help a mother switch on the milk cells and be able to still achieve a good milk supply for her baby.
Because it can be difficult for many mothers to increase their milk supply after the first month, the volume of milk the breasts are able to make in the first month is what they usually continue to make thereafter.
On average, babies drink 800ml each day from month one to month six. Our breasts need to be able to make around this volume each day from the end of the first month onwards.
Research has shown that the best way to reach these volumes of milk is by using a multi-user hospital grade pump. Symphony PLUS is Medela’s multi user hospital grade breast pump. This pump is recommended to many mums by health care professionals around the world, if their baby is unable to initiate and build their milk supply by breastfeeding.
The Symphony pump has a pumping pattern called INITIATE which has been specifically designed to be used in the first few days when there is very little milk and babies use a different sucking pattern. It was developed specifically to help mums in the first few days after birth whose babies were not yet able to breastfeed. The Symphony INITIATE pumping program now has several scientific studies behind it and is used in hospitals worldwide.
The MAINTAIN Program
Once a mum’s milk increases in volume and shows signs of “coming in” she will then switch to using the other pumping program in the symphony pump, called the MAINTAIN program. This pumping program is based on the sucking patterns of a breastfeeding baby once the milk has “come in.”
Studies have shown that, when mums use the INITIATE program, they can express 67% more milk by day 7 compared to using the MAINTAIN pumping pattern alone.
The Symphony PLUS contains both these pumping programs and is designed for those mums whose baby’s are not yet ready to breastfeed fully or at all.
Babies may not feed well or at all in the first few days or weeks for a variety of reasons. The most important things to remember are:
Medela have their own hire information page where you can type in your postcode and find your nearest pump hire shop.