The changes that occur in a woman's body during pregnancy are absolutely amazing. Through all three of my pregnancies the changes remained new and exciting until my breasts started leaking. After pregnancy number one I correlated breast leakage with a reality check. I remember thinking, I'm pregnant and baby is on the way.
When should breast milk come in?
First breast milk known as colostrum comes in right before and lasts a few days after birth. This is the rich milk that baby needs to boost immunity and receive all the nutrition she needs while she's still getting used to latching on to the breast. You should start noticing colostrum leaking from your breasts in the ninth month of pregnancy between weeks 37 and 40. Some women notice colostrum earlier.
The milk you see leaking from your breasts before the ninth month is not first milk. This substance results from galactorrhea. When reproductive and pregnancy hormones like progesterone, prolactin and glucocorticoids combine the milky substance is produced.
Why does this milk-like substance leak from my breasts during pregnancy?
Remember those Braxton Hicks contractions your doctor told you about? Think of this early secretion as practice contractions for the breasts. The milk ducts are getting ready for the day when baby's nutrition will come solely from breastfeeding. Even if you've chosen not to breastfeed you breasts will still get ready - just in case.
Breastfeeding is the best means of nutrition for baby. It brings mom and baby closer, allows for close bonding and breast milk gives baby all the antibodies she needs to grow strong and healthy. If you choose not to breastfeed, you can pump colostrum and breast milk and feed baby with a bottle. Even if you feed baby breast milk for the first six weeks while you're in recovery you're making the right choice, and remember - producing breast milk burns more calories.