During pregnancy your breasts become larger and heavier. The areola, that is the area around the nipple becomes darker and larger. Hormones released during pregnancy stimulate the development of the milk ducts and milk glands or alveoli. In the second half of pregnancy the hormone, prolactin, is released which starts the production of milk.
Once your baby is born, the supply of milk will be determined by his/her suckling at the breast so it is recommended that the baby be put to the breast as soon as possible after birth. Your midwife is there to help and she will advise on finding the most comfortable position for you whilst positioning your baby correctly at the breast.
During the first few days your breasts will produce colostrum, a thick yellowish liquid, which is full of antibodies to protect your baby against infections. This is rich in proteins and vitamins and although it may not seem a very large amount, it is very good for your baby. The more frequently you put him/her to the breast, the more quickly you will begin to produce breast milk. Generally this happens in the first three days.
Once your milk has “come in”, you will probably feel a tingling feeling or sensation in your breasts each time you are ready to feed and your breast may begin to leak. This is known as the “let down reflex”, when the cells contract around the milk glands, forcing the milk through the ducts and into the milk reservoirs. You may also feel mild tummy pain, which is a sign of your womb contracting as you feed your baby.