Breastmilk Production

How does Breastmilk Production work?

If Moms understand the process of breastfeeding, they will be able to recognize and implement measures that can help them with many breastfeeding problems such as oversupply and low milk supply.

How does it all start?

In the beginning the hormones that are produced by pregnancy, start to change and grow your milk ducts; they start getting ready for breastmilk production by increasing in number and branch out with clusters of alveoli on the end.

During your pregnancy, just half way through, your endocrine control system will start to trigger the making of colostrum and your milk supply will start to come in 30-40 hours after giving birth to baby. Your baby’s tummy is so small at this stage that he/she only needs a few drops of colostrum with every feed to be satisfied.

Your body does not produce milk before baby is born, as your levels of progesterone are too high, but once you deliver the placenta your levels of progesterone will drop. The high level of prolactin now triggers copious milk production “lactogenesis 2”

Moms should start to breastfeed baby as soon as possible as this will start to release prolactin and therefore trigger increased breastmilk production.

Moms only start to feel the increased breast fullness 2 – 3 days after birth.

When your body is signaled to start producing milk, the hormone Oxytocin, is released and this causes the milk to be pushed out of the breast.

Read more about breastfeeding hormones here.

After lactogenesis 2, there is a switch to your autocrine system. This process of milk production is called lactogenesis 3. This is the maintenance stage of milk production, in which breastmilk production is controlled through supply and demand. The more baby drinks, the more milk mom will produce.

Read more on the anatomy of the lactating breast.

Milk Synthesis is Controlled in the following way:

* When your breasts are full, milk production slows down.

* When your breasts are empty, milk production is sped up.

Your breasts will usually be very full the first few days after let down as your body does not know yet how much baby actually needs, but as time goes by your breast adapt to baby’s needs.

Breast Milk Supply Throughout the Day

Milk volume is larger in the mornings and gradually decreases throughout the day, and also becomes more fatty throughout the day.

Increasing my Breastmilk Production

Moms that want to increase their milk supply will need to make sure that their breasts are empty after every feeding so that their milk synthesis is faster.

How to Increase Breast Milk Production:

* Empty your breast after each nursing session and even between nursing sessions.

* Fenugreek can be used - Read more on Fenugreek here.

* Breastfeeding on demand.

* Using galactagogues (herbal and drug).

* Using breast massage and compression will also help increase milk production.

* Make sure that baby has a good latch so that he/she can stimulate your nipple effectively and also drain the breasts well.

* Offer both breasts to baby, but wait for baby to empty one side before offering the other one.

* Do not skip night feeds.

* Keep stress to the minimum.

* More tips here on the initiation of lactation.

Decreasing my Breastmilk Production

“block nursing” – Discussed on the oversupply page.

The Composition of Breast Milk

Your breast milk changes as baby grows. The fat volume also increases as baby becomes older as baby needs the extra fat. Mom passes all her immune benefits over to baby too. Many Moms think that they should stop breastfeeding when they become sick, but Moms should not as they are actually helping baby receive their fighting properties to enable them to handle the flu better when they get sick.

What is Foremilk and Hind milk?

Foremilk is the milk that has collected in the front of your breast's milk producing cells and is the milk baby receives in the beginning of a feed. Hind milk is the fattier milk that has collected at the back of the milk producing cells and is the milk baby receives gradually as the breastfeeding session continues. This is also one of the reasons why baby should finish one breast before given the other one as baby becomes more satisfied by the more substantial hind milk. Read more on foremilk and hind milk imbalance.

Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with breastmilk production

- First time breastfeeding moms

- Breastfeeding after a c section

- Low milk supply

- Breast massage

- Relax during breastfeeding

- Latching on

- The importance of colostrum

- Pumping exclusively

- Breastfeeding after breast surgery

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