Back to Breast Basics

To fully understand breastfeeding, you have to understand the breast. Its more complicated then it looks.

The inner workings of the breast

Breasts are not just two fatty lumps placed upon a woman’s body. Hidden inside the fat cells and glandular tissue are the milk ducts which carry the milk to the baby when he feeds. Pregnancy hormones cause the milk ducts to multiply in number and size.The ducts branch off into smaller channels called ductules. At the end of each ductule is a cluster of small, sacs called alveoli. A cluster of alveoli is called a lobule; a cluster of lobules is called a lobe. Each breast contains between 15 and 20 lobes, with one milk duct for every lobe.

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Prompted by the hormone prolactin, the alveoli take proteins, sugars, and fat from the blood supply and make breast milk. A network of cells surrounding the alveoli squeeze the glands and push the milk out into the ductules, which lead to a bigger duct.

The milk duct system becomes fully developed sometime during the second trimester, so a woman can make milk for her baby even if he arrives prematurely.

After baby arrives

48-97 hours after your baby has been born, the body begins to release Oxytocin and prolactin. These two natural chemicals help the body make and release the milk for your baby. Breastfeeding soon after giving birth increases the mother’s oxytocin levels, making her uterus contract more quickly and reducing bleeding.

What your body is making

Colostrum (early breast milk) This yellowish, creamy substance is found in the breasts during pregnancy and for a few days after delivery. Your colostrum provides all the nutrition your baby will need right after birth. It also provides important protection against bacteria and viruses. Colostrum also acts as natural laxative (something that makes it easier to have bowel movements) to help clear the meconium (the dark sticky stool that is made while the baby is in the uterus) from your baby’s intestines.

‘First Milk’ is produced after colostrum. This milk is made of fats, sugars, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes and is designed to promote brain and body growth. Antibodies are also present in your breast milk, which help boost your baby’s immune system.

Fun Fact!

Did you know, sometimes your milk can change from the yellow, creamy color to a white color after a few weeks!

The color of your milk also can depend on if your emptying your breast or not. Fore-milk has a white color while hind-milk has a creamy color.

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