Preparing to Breastfeed

Your breasts have been preparing to feed your baby since you conceived, growing larger as milk-making structures develop within them. Since the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, your breasts have been able to produce milk for your baby.

You may have already noticed beads of deep yellow fluid on your nipples. This “liquid gold” is colostrum, your baby’s first food, and it usually appears sometime in the third trimester. This special, early milk is full of elements that protect your baby from bacteria and viruses. It is high in nutrition and easy to digest.

If you nurse your baby early and often in the first days after birth, the colostrum will soon turn to mature milk, tailor-made to provide your baby with all the nutrients he needs until he is 5–6 months old and beyond.

The only breastfeeding preparation you need to do during pregnancy (other than learning as much as you can about it) is to check that your nipples can extend outward. To do so, squeeze gently just behind the nipple with your thumb and forefinger. This imitates the motion your baby will make while nursing.

Do your nipples extend, or do they fold inward? If they don’t point out when squeezed, let your doctor, midwife or a lactation consultant at the hospital know. They can show you a few ways to encourage them to extend.

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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