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How Does Breastfeeding Work?

3 min read

Have you ever wondered, How Does Breastfeeding Work? From the way breast milk is made down to the process your body experiences to help provide your little one the nutrients he needs, there is a beautiful and interesting process to learn about. So read on to know more about breastfeeding and where milk comes from!


How Breastfeeding Works

Breastfeeding doesn’t start after you give birth! It actually begins when you’re in the middle of your pregnancy already. Here is the process:


1.    During Pregnancy


The first milk the breasts create is colostrum, which is a thick and yellow-colored fluid, a concentrated source made of protein, minerals, and immune-protective factors. Your breasts begin making them halfway through your pregnancy.


That's why during pregnancy, you may experience higher levels of prolactin, a milk-making hormone, in your bloodstream. But don't expect that your breasts create large volumes of breastmilk since you have high levels of progesterone, a hormone which ensures milk volume created stays low.

2.    After Birth


After the birth of the placenta, the third stage of labor, your progesterone levels are reduced, allowing prolactin to begin making even larger volumes of milk about 40 hours after giving birth.


But before this process, the breastmilk created will be driven by hormones. Take note that the amount of milk made will be determined by the amount of milk removed. So even if you create larger volumes of milk around 40 hours after giving birth, it usually takes a bit longer before mothers feel the breasts creating larger volumes of milk, as well as the milk coming in.

3.    The Milk Ejection Reflex


Related: Baby Formula: 5 Things You Need To Know

When your little one suckles at your breasts during feeding, this stimulates the nerve endings. This would cause oxytocin, a hormone, to release in the bloodstream. The hormone will make the muscles around the glandular tissue in the breasts contract, which would then push milk into milk ducts and come out from your nipple openings.


This is a process called the milk ejection reflex, which is how your little one is able to breastfeed from you.

4.    About Breastmilk Production


When feeding your little one when he requires feeding, your breasts will make sure that he receives the milk he needs. And the more milk removed from your breasts, then the more milk they create. The less milk removed from the breasts, less is created.


But this may leave you wondering if your breasts ever get empty or if you’ll have to wait for a certain time period for your breasts to fill with milk before breastfeeding again.


Well, do remember that your breasts will never be empty, and you don’t need to wait for them to fill with milk before feeding again. Breastmilk is made continuously, and your little one drinks about only 2/3 of available breastfeed during every feed.


Furthermore, the more drained your breast is, it may create a higher concentration of higher calories and fat-rich milk. The less drained your breast is, then the higher concentration of lower-fat and lower-calories.


But regardless, it’s crucial to feed your baby whenever your little one needs to be fed.

I hope that this article gave you insight into how breastfeeding works and its process. This will help you know what to expect and provide the necessary advice on how to feed your little one. 


Begin learning more about the wonders of pregnancy and breastfeeding to prepare for your little one in the next few months now! Good luck and stay healthy.

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