That's true for just about every breastfeeding problem, except one.
When my daughter was born last month I assumed that my milk would come in on day 2, or maybe day 3. It came in on day 3 with my son, and he was born by c-section (which often causes a delay). Milk usually comes in earlier for second babies, and I had a vaginal birth, so I figured I'd see a change on day 2.
But day 2 came and went, and so did day 3, day 4, and most of day 5, with no change.
I started getting distressed about this. I was nursing around the clock, and hand expressing after some feedings. The latch was good, and I could hear plenty of swallowing. By day 4 my daughter's bilirubin started to climb, and so did my anxiety level. Milk is officially "late" in coming in if it hasn't appeared by 72 hours (3 days). I wished I didn't know that.
I ran through the list of birth factors that can cause a delay in "lactogenesis II," as it's known. Nearly all of them didn't apply, such as cesarean birth, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, postpartum hemorrhage, thyroid problems (more are discussed here). But a few did: Labor analgesia. Check. Long pushing stage. Check. Stress. Duh. Retained placental fragments. Maybe check? (The OB was able to confirm that there were no retained fragments).
So apart from nursing, skin to skin, and expressing after feedings, there was nothing to do but wait. And wait. And finally, on the evening of the fifth day, the milk in the little medicine cups I'd been expressing into started to get a little lighter in color. I lined them up as if I were doing a junior high school science experiment. The different shades of yellow were so reassuring. Soon we were going like gangbusters.
But isn't it fitting that the one thing I couldn't control was the one thing that went wrong?