Pregnant women start to produce breast milk at around six months into the pregnancy and some women find that they occasionally ‘leak’. You should advise them that they should not worry as this is quite normal and is a liquid called colostrum. It may be practical for them to keep some breast pads handy.
Colostrum is a thin and watery liquid that is replaced by breast milk a few days after birth. It is rich in protein and antibodies and helps baby pass meconium, a greenish, sticky mixture that precedes proper stools.
Mothers may need to be reassured that initially, babies may only feed a little at a time. Mothers should be advised to feed ‘on demand’ - whenever baby seems to want to suckle. This will help stimulate her breasts to produce milk.
As mum’s milk ‘comes in’ her breasts will become fuller and the milk will become thicker and more ‘milky’ than the initial colostrum. At each feed, mother will first produce ‘foremilk’ which is watery and is designed to satisfy baby’s thirst. This will then change to ‘hindmilk’, which is rich in fat and is designed to satisfy baby’s hunger.
Mothers should be advised to feed their babies for as long as they want in order to make sure baby is satisfying both hunger and thirst.