Breast milk travels from the cluster of alveoli (the alveolus), also called "milk-producing cells," "glandular tissue," "mammary glands" or "milk glands," then into the milk ducts and then out of the nipple openings.
The breast has typically about 15 to 20 of these structures. There is fat also that surrounds these.
Oxytocin is the hormone released, that is responsible for the ejection of
milk. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk production. The
breast milk is continuously made.
Female Breast Anatomy ~ Latching on
The baby needs to take in the entire nipple and a large part of the
areola for a good latch and good milk transfer. The nipple
should touch the soft palate in a baby’s mouth.
With a good latch like this one, a mother is less likely to have sore or broken nipples; the nipple is protected by the soft palate.
This latch will also ensure that a baby is stimulating the areola
(dark part around the nipple), which triggers the Oxytocin
hormone, therefore, promoting increased milk flow.
A mother's nipple will elongate to about twice its regular length when drawn into a baby’s mouth.
Female Breast Anatomy ~ The Alveoli
The alveoli (milk-producing cells)
These are made up of milk gland cells around the end of a milk duct. The
gland cells produce milk, and with the help of myoepithelial cells, the
milk is ejected into the milk duct, which then travels down to the front of the breast.
Milk is produced during and between feedings. The first amount of milk that comes out is called foremilk, the milk further back
in the alveoli and milk ducts is called hindmilk, which is more abundant in fat
content as most of the fat globules have collected there as the milk
passed through. This is why it is so important that a mother allows her baby to
breastfeed on one breast, until it seems "empty," so that her baby can receive
the substantial hindmilk too.
Nipples have several openings, through which the milk will flow.
Female Breast Anatomy ~ Lactogenesis and Mammogenesis
Breast growth during pregnancy
A mother that might have struggled with low milk supply, with her first
baby, will usually have an increased milk supply with her second child. This is due to breast
tissue increasing and maturing via a process called lactogenesis (
enabling milk secretion ) and mammogenesis (maturation of glands and
ducts). This is especially true if the mother breastfed for at least two months the first time around.
Remember that the size of your breasts has absolutely nothing to
do with the amount of breast milk produced.