They say that breast milk is the golden liquid. Breastfeeding milk keeps the baby healthy and alive. It can keep your baby safe from allergies, sickness, and obesity. Furthermore, breast milk gives protection from diseases like diabetes and cancer; and from infections such as ear infection.
However, the common question stands still: How does breastfeeding works? Let us find out the answer to this in this article!
The Milk Production
The process to make milk is very complex, and it begins midway through pregnancy. Here is a step by step process of how milk is produced:
Breast starts to make colostrum during pregnancy
Do you think that milk is produced only when the baby is already out? If yes, then you are wrong with that. The first step in milk production is the making of the colostrum during pregnancy. The colostrum is also the firs milk that will be produced.
The baby will benefit a lot from the colostrum, as a matter of fact, almost all doctors and scientists in the world encourage mothers to let their baby drink this. The colostrum is yellow in color. It also has a thick consistency, and it is a concentrated source of immune protective factors, proteins, and minerals. It contains antibodies to combat viruses and diseases that is known to the gene of the mother.
The breasts start to make the colostrum normally during the fifth month of pregnancy. It is also during this time that your body has high levels of a milk-making hormone called the “prolactin” in your body. The prolactin levels determine the amount of milk that you can make. however, during pregnancy, the milk production is controlled by the hormone called “progesterone”. This hormone keeps your milk supply low during pregnancy so it won’t go to waste.
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The amount of milk supply increases when the baby is born
The milk that your breasts make increases once your baby is born into the world. The reason behind this is because the level of progesterone that controls the amount of milk your breasts make plummets during this phase, along with the removal of your placenta. This occurrence will then allow the prolactin to act more dominantly thirty to forty hours after giving birth, increasing the milk breast makes.
After 48 to 72 hours of giving birth, a phase called the lactogenesis ii occurs. Lactogenesis ii is the onset of the copious milk production, and if it occurs after 72 hours, it is also considered as delayed, which can be associated with unintended breastfeeding and cessation.
Before you arrive at this point, your breastfeed milk production is driven by hormones. However, afterward, your breasts make milk depending on how much secretes or let go. This is compliant to the so-called “Supply Equals Need”.
The Milk Ejection Reflex
In order for milk secretion to take place, your baby has to suck on the nipples of your breasts to stimulate nerve endings. Once the nerve endings are stimulated, your body will produce another hormone called “oxytocin” into your bloodstream. This hormone makes the muscles that cover the milk-making tissue in your breast contract. When it contracts, it will push the milk into the milk ducts, and it will exit the nipple openings that you can find on your nipple. The process is known as the milk ejection reflex, and this is what actually allows you to do breastfeeding and make milk available to your baby.
Mothers can feel their breast pump milk, but not all can. Some mothers feel that the milk is being secreted when there is a change in their baby’s sucking. But, how do they feel the milk ejection reflex? Here are some ways:
- they feel a tingling sensation in their breasts
- there is a slight pain or pricking feeling
- the other breast where the baby is not sucking leaks
- the mother feels thirsty
- a tightening of the uterus occurs
The Breasts’ Storage Capacity
Breastfeeding is a different experience for different mothers, and so is the storage of their breasts. Some have it big, while some have it small. But, what is important is all mothers can make milk sufficiently to do breastfeeding for their own baby.
But, you must also take note that when the storage capacity of your breast with milk has already reached its limit, you will feel that your breast is harder than usual. It will be painful, but you should let your baby feed from it on a regular basis to prevent this from happening. If your baby doesn’t want to take the milk from the breast, you may opt to use a breast pump and reserve the milk for later.
Moreover, it is also important to learn that in breastfeeding, your breasts are never empty. You don’t have to wait for several hours to fill your breasts up. Your breasts continue to manufacture milk even while you are breastfeeding your baby. Also, your baby can only drink 67% of the milk available from your breasts during each feeding.
The more you think that your breasts are drained, the faster it produces milk. The milk that is produced at this point also has a higher calorie concentration, which is good for your baby.
Breastfeeding is A Must
While breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, it is also a must. It can provide your child with everything that he or she needs to grow up healthy. Breastfeeding is also a healthier choice. Studies, which are all rights reserved, show that babies who drink milk from their mother are more protected from diseases, allergies, and infections. So, if you want your baby to grow up achieving his or her potential, breastfeed your baby!