How Your Body Makes Milk

Lactogenesis (the creation of breast milk) begins in pregnancy, with the first bits of colostrum and ramps up immediately after birth. When the placenta releases from your body, it triggers the early hormones that help your body continue to make colostrum and begin to make mature breast milk. 

After the first few days, milk-making relies primarily on a supply-and-demand system. Essentially, when milk is removed from your breast, it tells your body to make more. The supply increases to fit the demand—the more you nurse, you more milk you’ll make. 

Your baby’s suckling at the breast will help your body produce the amount of milk she needs. Nursing frequently, especially in the early days, is the best way to ensure a good milk supply. Pumping can also help trigger more milk, but don’t start pumping to increase supply without first talking to your doctor, midwife or lactation professional. 

Your body is always producing milk. Your breasts may seem more full when there has been a longer period of time in between feeds; when the breast feels soft, it is close to “empty.”

Did You Know?

It is possible for women who have not given birth to produce milk, too, such as when an adoptive mother wants to breastfeed. This is usually done through pumping and medication.

See also ...

Newborn feeding habits

Feeding on demand

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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