DISCLAIMER: It’s important to note that the posts in this page are NOT intended to be a medical reference or to replace professional care during pregnancy, labor, or birth.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Anatomy of the Breast & How Breastmilk is Produced

Dear Mummies,
Knowing  our breast anatomy will definitely help us along the way in understanding breastfeeding.

  • The normal, pendulous form of the lactating breast facilitates comfortable positioning of the baby in the arms of the mother and easy latching for the infant cradled beneath the breast.
  • The secretions of the Montgomery's follicles on the areola guide the baby to the breast and stimulate suckling behavior.
  • The skin colour of the areola and nipple darken during pregnancy, which may act as a visual guide for the baby.
  • Using a wide gape and deep latch the infant will form a teat from the nipple and a large portion of the areola, which will reach to the back of his mouth.
  •  The flexible and elastic breast tissue facilitates optimal, comfortable lengthening of the breast and nipple to achieve this.
  • Inside the breast the thinner layer of subcutaneous fat found around the areola permits the suckling of the infant to more easily stimulate the highly receptive 4th intercostal nerve initiating milk ejection, while the easily compressible ducts can respond readily to the positive and negative pressures exerted during suckling.
  • Milk ducts begin branching close to the base of the nipple and temporarily increase in diameter to accommodate the increase in milk volume at milk ejection.

 Two hormones related closely to breastfeeding are PROLACTIN & OXYTOCIN. Both hormones are originated from the pituitary gland. Prolactin is secreted from the anterior pituitary, where as oxytocin from the posterior pituitary. These hormones are at the most optimal level during labour and soon after birthing process.

How are Prolactin & Oxytocin stimulated?

How does Oxytocin & Prolactin play their roles in Breastmilk Production?

In simple words,
-When nipples are stimulated (either from suckling or pumping), it sends a sensory message to the hypothalamus (a structure in the brain) which then sends a sensory message to the pituitary. 
-The posterior part of the pituitary then produces prolactin which works on Gland Cells in the breasts to produce milk. 
-The anterior part of the pituitary produces oxytocin which works on the surrounding muscle cells to contract (hence causing milk flow).

So, how do you get more milk??? :-)
More stimulation --> More hormones --> MORE MILK!
Hope this was informative :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment