Understanding How the Body Produces Breast Milk
When pregnant, an expectant mother's body gets ready to provide milk for her child. This process is known as lactation. Lactation process is supported by various hormones that increase due to the development of the placenta. These hormones include estrogens, progesterone, Prolactin, ATCH, glucocorticoids, Oxytocin and Human placental lactogen (HPL). All women are born with mammary glands but they lay dormant until a pregnancy takes place and activates through the pregnancy hormones. During the preparation for lactation, As a result of increased Prolactine the glands will expand and develop along with the ductal structure. The alveoli, which are a small cluster of grape like sacs, with the help of a hormone called prolactin will derive essential sugars, proteins and fat from the system and produce the breast milk. High levels of Ostrogen and progesterone inhibits the release of milk but with the birth of the child, both these hormone levels drop, resulting in the release of the milk for the new born.
The First Dose of MilkWhen the baby is born, the mother will produce colostrum which is a clear fluid which resembles water than milk. Colostrum is a yellowish substance which is very high in protein which the baby needs to grow and be energized. Colostrum is also rich in disease fighting anti bodies which will strengthen the baby's immune system. After two to four days of the birth, the colostrum will dwindle and more “mature” milk will form. This breast milk will ensure all of an infant's energy and nutritional requirements for the first few months of life. Mature breast milk contains water, fat, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, enzymes and white cells. The mother's body will continue to produce these important nutrients till the baby is ready to begin a solid diet and be weaned from breast milk gradually.
The Benefits of Breast MilkBreast milk has many benefits. Out of these the most important benefit is the fact that essential nutrients are given to the baby in order to ensure his health as well as growth. Breast milk also aids in the baby's digestion process as well as protect the baby from intestinal inflammation. As breast milk is also a good source of iron, it is the best source to ensure that the baby receives the adequate amount of iron which is easily absorbed than any other type of food. It is believed that babies who are fed breast milk are healthier than babies who are fed with formula milk. Apart from the benefits breast milk provides for babies, mothers who feed their babies with breast milk lose weight faster, ensure that the placenta returns to its normal size faster, and enjoy reduced risks of developing osteoporosis and breast cancer.
Lack of Breast MilkAlthough many doctors will attest to the fact that a mother will never run short of breast milk, there are mothers who find that their breast milk supply is insufficient and their babies are hungry as a result. There are many ways in which mothers can ensure that their milk does not run out. The main factor being that a nursing mother should ensure that the frequency of nursing is maintained high. When a nursing mother returns to work after her maternity leave, she will find that the supply of milk will reduce. This is the body's way of adjusting to the demands of the baby. The less the mother nurses, the less the production of breast milk will be. Stress too can reduce milk supply and nursing mothers are advised to relax and remain stress free. Lack of water and fluids as well as nutritious balanced meals can also reduce the supply of breast milk.
Medication to Increase Breast Milk ProductionIf nursing mothers feel that they are not producing adequate milk for their babies, they should discuss their concerns with their physicians. These physicians will be able to provide them with the proper medication to ensure that their milk supply increases.
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