Milk supply is driven by hormones when your baby is first born. Your hormones shift to milk-making-mode when your placenta is delivered. Why is this important to know? Because your breasts will still make milk even if your baby isn’t at the breast right away. Hopefully this will come as a huge relief to hear! Of course you will be encouraged to express your milk/colostrum. But know this: even if breastfeeding gets off to a rocky start, your hormones cause your milk supply to become plentiful.
Supply and demand
After a few days, the amount of milk you make shifts to supply and demand. Your breasts learn how much milk to make by how much milk your baby needs. The more milk you remove, the more milk your breasts make. This is called supply and demand. Three ways to remove milk are: breastfeeding, hand expressing, and pumping.
It is important to express your milk if your baby uses a bottle for a feeding. This ensures that your breasts know to keep making milk. Not expressing milk can lead to a drop in milk production if this occurs on a regular basis.
Separation and supply
You can maintain your supply during separation by pumping for any missed feedings.
You may notice a dip in your supply at the end of the week if you work or go to school Monday-Friday. Thankfully, breastfeeding during the weekend usually brings the supply right back up. Maintaining and boosting milk supply during separation are explored in Balancing Breast and Bottle.
Balancing Breast and Bottle includes information on storing and using breast milk, and how to balance feedings when formula is part of the equation. We invite you to learn more to find the balance for your family.