Best Gynecology Doctors in Indiranagar | Dr. Bhargavi Reddy
Kavya, a new mother, was anxious if she was producing enough milk for her newborn. Since I have received several requests from new mothers to provide more information on breastfeeding, I am dedicating this session to make my audience aware of how breast milk is formed.
Human breast milk is an amazing nectar produced naturally to protect infants. It’s nutritious, comforting, and helps protect newborns from infection and disease. the most amazing part is it changes over time to adjust to a child’s needs and also when the child is sick. Breast milk is the ideal food for a human child.
Over the years, scientists all over the world have tried to replicate it in a laboratory. But even though they have been able to achieve amazing innovations, they have not been able to create the nectar of life-breast milk in the laboratory. Only a mother can produce and provide it for her child. Best Gynecology Doctors in Indiranagar | Dr. Bhargavi Reddy shares some information on how your body makes breast milk.
The structures that make up the female breast provide protection and also produce breast milk.
If you are thinking about breastfeeding for the first time, you will be wondering how it works. It will be easier to understand when you are aware of all the parts that work together to make it happen.
Skin: First of all, on the outside, skin surrounds the breast.
Areola: Darker circular or oval area on the breast, and the
Nipple: Structure that protrudes from the middle of the areola.
When the baby latches onto the breast to get the milk, it takes the entire nipple and part of the areola into the mouth.This is a crucial aspect that you should know.
There are also small bumps on the areola called Montgomery glands. The Montgomery glands produce an oil that cleans and lubricates the nipple and areola.
A woman’s body is a marvel. The body can bring new life and grow another human being. It can also provide all the nourishment that the child needs for growth and development. Do you know another fantastic fact? The preparation for breast milk production begins even before a woman is born. The preparation goes on through puberty and pregnancy. The full production happens after the birth of a child and can go on for months and even years.
It is better to be aware of the changes your breasts undergo at various stages to be prepared for it.
Stage 1: From Birth
At birth, a baby girl has all the breast parts that she will need to make breast milk, but they are not developed.
Stage 2: Puberty
When the girl reaches puberty, hormonal changes cause the breasts to grow. The milk-making tissue begins to develop.
If you have been tracking your cycles, you would have observed that there is an increase in the size and tenderness of your breasts after ovulation. This is because your breasts start to prepare for pregnancy and breastfeeding during this time. But if there’s no pregnancy during this cycle, the fullness and tenderness subside, and the cycle repeats. If you were to get pregnant, the breasts continue to grow and develop to prepare for lactation.
Stage 3: During Pregnancy
At the beginning of your pregnancy, your breasts begin to change. Sometimes, this is one of the first few signs that women notice, leading them to take a pregnancy test. During pregnancy, the breasts are preparing for lactation and getting fully mature. By the time a woman confirms she is pregnant, the body is entirely ready for breast milk production.
Estrogen and progesterone cause the milk ducts and tissues to grow. They also increase in number. The breasts also grow in size. You may notice that the veins may become more visible, and the areola become more significant along with the Montgomery glands.
The colostrum, the first breast milk, which is highly beneficial for the baby, is produced during the second trimester. During this period, you may also see drops of clear or white liquid on your nipple.
Hence if the baby were to arrive early, your body would still be able to make breast milk.
Stage 4: Postpartum
But the full production of breast milk occurs only after the baby is born. The estrogen and progesterone levels drop, and the hormone prolactin increases. This sudden change in hormones signals an increase in the production of breast milk.
The baby can receive the small amount of colostrum you started making during pregnancy. Soon as the days pass by, you will begin to notice an increase in the amount of breast milk that’s filling up your breasts. This stage is called lactogenesis II.
Stage 5: Milk Production
We have seen that the production of milk happens in the body involuntarily. But remember that after the first week, the milk production depends on supply and demand. If you intend to breastfeed your child exclusively atleast for six months, you must breastfeed frequently. This is because it stimulates the breast nerves that send the message to the pituitary gland to make milk.
If you are looking at increasing breast milk production, certain medications or herbs can be ingested. Even after trying to increase breast milk and still are unable to do so, your baby must be given formula milk.