Are you worried that you may not producing enough breast milk or concerned because you feel like your breast milk does not look normal? These are very common fears for moms after their little ones arrive. This is because while breastfeeding is natural, it is different for every woman.
When I was breastfeeding, I was worried because sometimes I had watery breast milk. I did not understand why the milk did not look like milk, and I was worried it did not provide my baby with enough nutrition. As I found out, and hopefully, you will too, this is normal and expected.
Why Breastfeeding is Important
Breastfeeding is natural and wonderful. Women were specially created with breasts to provide nourishment to their babies. A mother’s breast milk is full of vitamins and nutrients that are important for a growing baby.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends “that babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months of life and to continue to breastfeed after other foods are introduced.” This is for a number of reasons. WebMD explains that breast milk “provides natural antibodies that help your baby resist illnesses.” In addition, breast milk may lower the risks of SIDS as well as possibly raise your baby’s IQ.
However, no mother should feel any shame if you are unable to breastfeed. We are fortunate to live in a time when doctors and scientists have been able to manufacture formula that makes it easy to safely feed our babies and provide them with the nutrition they need.
Developing Breast Milk During Pregnancy
Were you aware that you begin to develop breast milk early in your pregnancy? It is amazing, isn’t it? Your body begins to produce small amounts of breast milk around week 16 of pregnancy. But, it is only small amounts since full milk production requires hormones from the baby’s delivery to fully begin.
The Power of Colostrum
Upon delivery, your milk is known as colostrum. Colostrum is special and unique in many ways. This milk will be yellowish and possibly even an orange color, as well as thick. It will also feel sticky. But, colostrum is the best first food for your baby because it is low in fat, but it is high in carbohydrates, and it has protein and antibodies that help keep your baby healthy.
The Transitional Breastfeeding Stage
Several days after you deliver your baby, your breast milk will come in (following the colostrum). As your milk comes in, it will increase in quantity and its appearance will change. It will also now be composed with more fat and sugar content and less immunoglobulin and protein content.
It is also during this stage that you may notice your breast milk looks watery. At the beginning of the feeding, your breast milk may look more watery. This first milk is also known as foremilk. This watery like breast milk is full of lactose and gives your baby the energy necessary for feeding. Do not be alarmed! During the feeding, the content does become thicker.
Now You Have Mature Breast Milk
You may be expecting your mature breast milk to look like the milk you drink. But, breast milk does not look like creamy cow’s milk. Many mothers think the look and consistency is more similar to skim milk.
As I mentioned above, it is normal for breastmilk to look watery at times. This is because even mature breast milk changes during the length of a feed, as well as throughout your breastfeeding relationship.
In the beginning of the feeding, the milk that comes is low in fat, but it is high in lactose, sugar, vitamins, protein, minerals, and water. However, as the feeding continues, the milk will change and will contain less sugar and more fat.
But What About Watery Breast Milk?
If you are still worried about the watery look and consistency of your breast milk, Intermountain Moms explain that foremilk is very watery, but it is necessary to keep your baby hydrated. But, it might not just be the watery look that has you concerned.
Some women notice that their breast milk is odd colored. It is common for breast milk to have a bluish tint or a pinkish tint (for those with cracked nipples). It might sound strange, but your breast milk may even change hue based on the foods you eat. For instance, it may have a greenish hue if the mother has been eating many foods that are green or it may change color if the mother has been eating foods with dyes.
To Wrap Up
Breastfeeding your baby is a wonderful gift, but it can cause you some questions. For many first-time mothers, breastfeeding is full of concerns. Do not hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals for help.
However, if you are losing sleep worrying about watery breast milk, do not be alarmed. Watery breastmilk is typical in the foremilk and has its own value. Breast milk will change during your feedings and over time.
What breastfeeding concerns or questions would you like to share? Let us know in the comments.