The Breast Milk Production Process

Being successful at breastfeeding has absolutely nothing to do with the nipple or breast size.  The size of the breast is a trait that is inherited and it is also determined by the amount of fat cells that you have.  During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the breasts will get bigger.  Breast milk production follows the rules of supply and demand; as a result, the more you breastfeed, the more you will produce milk.  The areola and nipple darken and get bigger during pregnancy.  This could assist your baby in latching on by providing him or her with a clear target.

The Montgomery glands are small bumps that are found on the areolas; they generate natural oil which protects, lubricates, and cleans the nipple during breastfeeding and pregnancy.  It is advised to only use water to clean the breasts. as alcohol, lotions or soaps may take away the protective oil.  The nipples each have 15 to 20 holes or openings through which the milk flows.  Whenever the baby feeds, suction is created by the movement of his or her jaw as well as the pressing down of the tongue on the milk sinuses. This results in the flowing of milk into the mouth of your baby.

The Response of the Body to Your Suckling Baby

The nerve endings in the areola and nipple are stimulated by the suckling of your child and this sends a signal to the pituitary gland that is in your brain, which then releases two hormones, oxytocin and prolactin.

The Response of the Breast to Your Suckling Baby

Oxytocin results in the contracting of the cells that are around the alveoli and this in turn causes the milk to be ejected through the milk ducts.  “Let-down” reflex is the term that is used for the passing of the milk through the ducts.  There are a number of ways in which let-down is experienced and they include the active sucking and swallowing of your baby, dripping of the milk from the unoccupied breast, you will possibly feel thirsty and uterine cramping, a full sensation or tingling feeling in your breast following the first week of breastfeeding.

Prolactin results in the alveoli taking in nutrients such as sugars and proteins from the blood supply and then they are turned into breast milk.

There are a variety of factors which will possibly interfere with breast milk production and how the milk passes through the ducts; these include:

  • Fatigue
  • Emotions like anger, embarrassment, irritation, resentment or fear
  • Improper positioning that result in poor suckling
  • Inadequate amount of time in which the baby is nursing actively
  • Stress
  • Pain in the uterus or breasts, which comes about via afterbirth pains or sore nipples
  • Negative remarks from friends or relatives
  • Engorgement of the breasts in the initial few days

In order to create a supportive nursing environment and increase the flow of the milk, you should try the following:

  • Find an environment that is peaceful and conducive to nursing.  Prior to the start of the feeding session, unplug the phone, do some deep breathing and listen to relaxing music.
  • If you are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, insist on having privacy or cover your shoulder and your baby with a light cover.  There are some state laws which safeguard the right of a mother to breastfeed in public.
  • Limit visitors until you become comfortable.
  • Interact with breastfeeding professionals and friends who support breastfeeding.  Do not allow well-meaning relatives and friends who have different beliefs discourage you.
  • Ensure that your baby is properly positioned and allow enough time for suckling.
  • Be around other mothers who are breastfeeding.

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