Lady feeding baby milk
How Breast Milk is Made
Did you know your body gets ready for breastfeeding before you even give birth? While you are pregnant, your breasts change. These changes allow your breasts to make milk and may cause them to feel fuller and more tender.
Once your baby is born, their suckling releases hormones in your body that cause your breasts to make and release milk.
If you are concerned that your milk has not come in or that you are not making enough milk, speak with WIC breastfeeding staff.
Role of Your Breasts
Milk production occurs within the alveoli, which are grape-like clusters of cells within the breast. Once the milk is made, it is squeezed out through the alveoli into the milk ducts, which resemble highways. The ducts carry the milk through the breast.
The size of your breasts does not affect your ability to breastfeed. Women with small breasts make the same quantity and quality of milk as women with larger breasts.
Role of Your Brain
When your baby suckles, it sends a message to your brain. The brain then signals the hormones, prolactin and oxytocin to be released. Prolactin causes the alveoli to begin making milk. Oxytocin causes muscles around the alveoli to squeeze milk out through the milk ducts.
When milk is released, it is called the let-down reflex. Signs of milk release are:
- Tingling, fullness, dull ache, or tightening in the breasts (although some moms do not feel any of these sensations).
- Milk dripping from the breast.
- Uterine cramping after you put baby to the breast during the first few days after birth.
To encourage your milk to release, try these methods:
- Find ways to relax, such as going to a calm place or trying deep breathing.
- Place a warm compress on your breasts before breastfeeding.
- Massage your breasts and hand express a little milk.
After you've been breastfeeding for a while, the let-down reflex can happen for many other reasons, like when you hear your baby cry, or you see or think of your baby. It also can happen at the time of day you usually breastfeed your baby, even if your baby is not around.
Role of Your Baby
Your baby helps you make milk by suckling and removing milk from your breast. The more milk your baby drinks, the more milk your body will make. Frequent breastfeeding or milk removal (8-12 times or more every 24 hours), especially in the first few days and weeks of your baby's life, helps you make a good milk supply.
Your milk will continue to vary according to your baby's needs. Each time your baby feeds, your body knows to make more milk for the next feeding. The amount of milk you make will go up or down depending on how often your baby eats. By nursing for as often and as long as your baby wants, you are helping your body to make more milk. At first, it might feel like you are doing nothing but breastfeeding. Soon, you and your baby will get into a pattern that works for both of you.
Causes & How It Works
OverviewLactation is the process of making human milk. It's driven by hormones and results in milk coming from your nipple.
What is lactation?
Lactation is the process of producing and releasing milk from the mammary glands in your breasts. Lactation begins in pregnancy when hormonal changes signal the mammary glands to make milk in preparation for the birth of your baby. It’s also possible to induce lactation without a pregnancy using the same hormones that your body makes during pregnancy. Lactation ends once your body stops producing milk.
Feeding your baby directly from your breasts is called breastfeeding (or sometimes chestfeeding) or nursing. You can also feed your baby milk that you have expressed or pumped from your breast and saved in a bottle.
Where does human milk come from?
Human milk comes from your mammary glands inside your breasts. These glands have several parts that work together to produce and secrete milk:
- Alveoli: These tiny, grape-like sacs produce and store milk. A cluster of alveoli is called lobules, and each lobule connects to a lobe.
- Milk ducts: Each lobe connects to a milk duct. You can have up to 20 lobes, with one milk duct for every lobe. Milk ducts carry milk from the lobules of alveoli to your nipples.
- Areola: The dark area surrounding your nipple, which has sensitive nerve endings that lets your body know when to release milk. To release milk, the entire areola needs stimulation.
- Nipple: Your nipple contains several tiny pores (up to about 20) that secrete milk. Nerves on your nipple respond to suckling (either by a baby, your hands or a breast pump). This stimulation tells your brain to release milk from the alveoli through the milk ducts and out of your nipple.
It helps to think of the lactation system as a large tree. Your nipple is the trunk of the tree. The milk ducts are the branches. The leaves are the alveoli.
Why do people lactate?
The primary reason people lactate is to feed a baby. Lactation is a biological, hormonal response that occurs during and after pregnancy to feed a newborn baby. Your body triggers specific hormones to initiate milk production and ejection (releasing of milk). All mammals lactate for this purpose and it’s possible to induce lactation in men and in non-pregnant women using the right hormone medications.
What triggers lactation?
A series of hormonal events, which begin when you’re pregnant, trigger the lactation process. That process is called lactogenesis.
Stage one lactogenesis: This begins around the 16th week of pregnancy and lasts until a few days after you give birth.
- Estrogen and progesterone rise and cause your milk ducts to grow in number and size. This causes your breasts to become fuller. Your mammary glands begin to prepare for milk production.
- Your nipples darken and your areolas become larger.
- Your Montgomery glands (small bumps on the areola) secrete oil to lubricate your nipple.
- Your body begins making colostrum. It’s highly nutritious and filling and serves as your baby’s first milk.
Stage two lactogenesis: This stage starts about two or three days postpartum (after giving birth). It’s when milk production intensifies.
- Once your baby and placenta are delivered, a sudden drop in your estrogen and progesterone causes the hormone prolactin to take over.
- Prolactin is the hormone that produces milk.
- You’ll notice your milk production increases dramatically at this stage. It’s often referred to as milk “coming in.”
- Your breasts are often engorged (or overly full of milk) to the point where they feel sore, painful or tender.
Stage three lactogenesis: This describes the rest of the time you lactate.
- Lactation generally continues as long as milk is removed from your breast.
- The more milk that’s removed, the more milk your body makes to replace it. Frequent feeding or pumping will cause your body to make more milk.
Hormones for lactation
The hormone prolactin controls the amount of milk you produce, and your body begins producing prolactin early in pregnancy. At first, the high levels of estrogen, progesterone and other pregnancy hormones suppress prolactin. Once you deliver the placenta, those pregnancy hormones drop and prolactin takes charge.
When your baby suckles, it stimulates nerves that tell your body to release prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin causes the alveoli to make milk and oxytocin causes muscle contractions that push out of the alveoli and through the milk ducts.
When milk is released, it’s called a “letdown,” and it takes about 30 seconds of suckling before the letdown occurs. Because you can’t control which breast receives the hormones, the letdown can cause milk to drip from both nipples.
Inducing lactation in people who aren’t pregnant requires medication that mimics hormones your body makes during pregnancy. Suckling from the nipple can initiate lactation, either with a breast pump or by a baby. This is a complex process that involves working closely with a healthcare provider who understands the needs of non-pregnant people and has experience initiating lactation.
When do you lactate during pregnancy?
Lactation begins as early as a few weeks into the second trimester of your pregnancy. As estrogen and progesterone levels rise, your body prepares for lactation by increasing the number of milk ducts in your breasts, and those milk ducts will transport milk from the alveoli to your nipples. About midway through pregnancy, your body creates colostrum, which is your baby’s first milk.
Can you lactate when you’re not pregnant?
Yes, it’s possible to lactate if you’re not pregnant. Inducing lactation is a complex process that usually involves using hormone-mimicking drugs for several months to produce milk. The second part of lactation is expressing the milk through your nipple. Stimulation from infant suckling, pumping with a breast pump or hand-expressing signals the brain to release the milk. It’s common for people in this situation to receive assistance from a healthcare provider who understands the needs of non-pregnant people and has experience initiating lactation.
How do you stop lactation?
There are many reasons why you might need to stop producing milk, and you can stop lactating either naturally or with the help of hormonal drugs.
Natural milk suppression
Lactation is a supply-and-demand process. Your milk supply gradually goes down as your baby relies less on breast milk, or as you reduce the number of times you nurse or pump. Generally, if you decrease the volume of milk removed from your breasts, your body will slow milk production.
Suppressing your milk can feel uncomfortable and most people will become engorged (the term for overfilled breasts). You may also leak milk or develop a clogged milk duct. However, you can treat that pain by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, wearing a firm bra or using an ice pack on your breasts.
Medications can also be an option if you need to stop producing milk. Your healthcare provider can explain more about lactation-suppressing drugs, as well as the benefits and possible side effects.
Where are the mammary glands located?
Mammary glands are commonly called breasts and both genders have them. They are located on your chest and are composed of connective tissue, fat and special glandular tissue that makes milk. A woman’s glandular tissue is slightly different because it contains the alveoli and lobules necessary for producing milk. Women also have much more glandular tissue.
Conditions and Disorders
What are common conditions that affect your ability to lactate?
The ability to lactate and the length of time you’re able to produce milk varies. Some can produce milk for years, while others have trouble producing enough milk for their baby.
Some common factors that can impact lactation or breastfeeding are:
- Hormonal levels and conditions.
- Undergoing radiation therapy in the past.
- Trauma to your breast or nipples.
- Breast augmentation, reconstruction or other breast surgeries.
- Other medical conditions like HIV infection.
- Use of drugs and alcohol.
If you’re nursing or pumping your milk to bottle-feed your baby, you should always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new medications or treatments. Many medications can pass to your baby through breast milk, which may have dangerous effects on your baby.
What is lactational amenorrhea?
Lactation amenorrhea (ah-men-oh-re-uh) means you aren’t menstruating (getting a period) due to lactation. When you’re lactating, your body produces prolactin, the hormone that produces milk. Prolactin reduces the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your body, which helps trigger the release of an egg during ovulation. If you aren’t producing enough LH, you can’t ovulate or get your period. The length of time you can be amenorrheic due to lactation varies from a few months or until you’re completely done lactating.
Does lactation reduce my risk of any diseases?
Studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk of ovarian and breast cancers. It can also lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
How do you maintain milk production?
Maintaining lactation is mostly based on supply and demand. The more your baby breastfeeds or the more milk you express with a breast pump, the more your body will make. There are ways to suppress lactation with hormones or oral contraceptives. If you wish to maintain lactation, some things you should do are:
- Continue nursing on-demand or pump milk frequently (approximately every four hours).
- Eat a healthy diet with enough calories. Low-calorie diets can decrease milk supply.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Human milk is primarily water.
- Avoid smoking, drugs or alcohol. These can reduce your supply and transfer to your milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between lactation and colostrum?
Lactation describes the process of making and secreting milk from your breast. Colostrum is the first milk your breasts create during lactation and the first milk your baby drinks. It’s thick, yellow and commonly called “liquid gold.” Colostrum is high in protein, minerals, vitamins and antibodies.
What is hormone therapy for inducing lactation?
Couples or families who wish to induce lactation, maybe because of adoption, surrogacy or other reasons, can try hormone therapy. Induced lactation means you’re creating a milk supply without being pregnant. It’s a process that involves taking estrogen and progesterone for several months to make your body believe it’s pregnant. This helps prepare your breasts for lactation. Some medications and herbs are believed to help establish a milk supply, too.
Several weeks before your baby arrives, begin pumping your breasts with a breast pump. This encourages your body to release prolactin, which produces milk. Ideally, you express your milk several times a day, just like you would if you had a baby. This helps establish a supply. You can also freeze any milk you produce for use once your baby arrives.
If you’re considering this as an option, you should talk to your healthcare provider about your desire to feed your baby with human milk. Induced lactation works for many people, but not all.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you want to feed your baby human milk, it’s helpful to understand the process of lactation so you know what to expect. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to best prepare for nursing or expressing milk. Remember, lactation can look different for everyone depending on your circumstances and health history. If you struggle with lactation at any point, you may feel embarrassed or even ashamed. But struggling with lactation is very common, and lactation specialists and other healthcare providers can help you as you try to overcome these difficulties.
Breastfeeding on demand
You can often hear from a nursing mother: "I feed on demand, my baby requires a breast every 3. 5 hours." Or: “I have always fed on demand. In a year, we already had 1 feeding in the evening, and my child calmly refused to breastfeed. Before talking about the demand of the child, it is necessary to find out what modern women mean when they say - "I breastfeed."
Modern mothers consider breastfeeding necessary for feeding their baby. Just for feeding. Breast milk is food, the mother supplies the baby with the nutrients necessary for growth and development. When a baby suckles at the breast, he eats. Breastfeeding makes sense only as a process of supplying proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and microelements.
During suckling, the baby receives the nutrients it needs with mother's milk. This is the absolute truth. There is another unconditional truth, which is not given any importance in modern society, it is not taken into account and is not considered. Breastfeeding for a child is communication with the mother. We need to figure out how the child understands feeding on demand? Can he understand anything at all? Is there any difference for him how he is fed, for 15-20 minutes after 3. 5 hours or in some other way?
What is on-demand feeding
On-demand feeding of a newborn baby means putting it to the breast for every squeak or search. Squeak and search movements in newborns, even as early as the second or third day of life, begin to appear much more often than after 3.5 or 2.5 hours. The need for attachments increases rapidly, and by the 10-12th day of life, the need to attach to a child may occur 15-16 or more times a day. Applications vary in duration. The baby can fall asleep and sleep while sucking for, for example, 1.5-2 hours. Can release the breast after 1-2 minutes. And then ask her again. Why does a child need such frequent contact with his mother's breast?
That's why. Being in the mother's belly, in a calm, familiar environment, listening to the noises of the mother's body, being in a warm, cramped, confined space, the baby sucked his fist, fingers, loops of the umbilical cord, swallowed amniotic fluid. Learned to suck and swallow. After birth, experiencing discomfort for any, the most insignificant reason, the baby tries to get rid of it. You can get rid of discomfort by getting into the usual conditions of a comfortable stay. The only place where the baby after birth can feel the sensations familiar to him is in the arms of the mother. The only familiar action is sucking. The only familiar taste and smell is the taste and smell of milk and lube in the areola. Milk and lubricant have an odor and taste similar to the taste and smell of amniotic fluid. Therefore, experiencing discomfort, the baby squeaks, or begins to look for an object to suck with his mouth. Ideally, it is immediately applied to the chest. The baby becomes warm, cramped, he hears the beating of his mother's heart, breathing, grumbling in the intestines, he sucks and feels the familiar taste and smell. If such an action happens constantly, the baby gains confidence, no matter what happens, he will solve all his problems with his mother. The place of comfort is now under the breast, and you can suck on the breast.
This whole process is biologically justified. A newborn child does not feel the feeling of hunger, this feeling is not formed in him. It will begin to form at about two months of age. How to feed a creature that does not experience hunger ?! How to encourage him to take some action to get food? This can be done only at the expense of some other incentives. This stimulus for the newborn is constant bodily discomfort, thanks to which he wants to suckle all the time! The most intense, frequent and prolonged sucking in infants is observed in the first two or three months of life. It is in these first months that the main weight gain of the baby occurs.
Feeding in the first month
Baby falls asleep with breast in mouth, sleeps sucking for a while. Falling asleep deeply, lets go of the chest. After sleeping for a while, he wakes up, and is applied on waking. After sleep, he can stay awake for some time, for example, an hour and a half. During wakefulness, he may feel discomfort 2-3 times, for example, from a completely natural desire to pee, and having called his mother for help, having kissed for a couple of minutes, he will do his deeds. Then he will want to sleep, feel discomfort and, kissing his chest, will again fall asleep sucking. After some time, he will wake up and attach again. Then again a little "walk". And after some time, he will fall asleep at the chest again.
The daytime naps of a one-month-old infant feeding on demand vary in duration and number. There can be 4-6 dreams during the day, and they can last from 5-15 minutes to 2-2.5 sometimes 3 hours. "Around" each dream, the baby is applied to the chest, and applied between dreams several times. At night, the child falls asleep at the breast. Usually in the early morning hours, he begins to fuss and apply. In the morning, he almost never fully wakes up. The baby sleeps, from time to time, sucking on his mother's breast. Waking up in the morning, the baby is again applied to the chest. If you count all the attachments that have happened in a baby of one month of age, then approximately 16-20 attachments are obtained. This is how a newborn human cub behaves if it is given the opportunity to behave in accordance with physiological and psychological needs, which, by the way, are genetically determined. The child of the first months of life does not separate his personality from the personality of the mother and from her breast. Mom and her breasts, and everything connected with them, are the universe of the baby and himself.
In most cases, a modern woman, being afraid to “accustom a child to hands”, strives to limit his requests for sucking. A pacifier and a bottle of tea or water come to her aid in this matter. They, too, can be sucked ... The need for sucking seems to be satisfied. But only the need for communication with the mother during suckling is not satisfied, the peculiar chain of mutual assistance and cooperation between mother and baby is destroyed, the formation of maternal affection and concentration is disrupted. Is the difference in the two actions noticeable to the reader: the baby cried, the mother took him, put him to her chest and started rocking him, or gave him a pacifier and started rocking the stroller, even with the words “Why are you crying, my sun?”
The modern woman who gives a pacifier and pumps a stroller is not a bad person deliberately harming an infant. She is simply in captivity of prejudices regarding the relationship between mother and baby. She does not know how to behave correctly, does not know what to do in accordance with the natural needs of the child. If you tell her what the child really needs, she will exclaim in horror: “What is it, don’t let him get away with?!” Indeed, the child of the first months of life must not be let off the hook. For a woman who does not know how to comfortably carry a baby, and who does not know how to feed him in various positions (sitting, lying, standing and even moving), this can be very difficult. Especially if she is not sure of the correctness of her actions.
An action that should become automatic for the mother of a newborn: when the baby cries or shows other signs of anxiety, put the baby to the breast.
The baby is growing. A fairly stable rhythm of daytime sleep begins to form in him, and a 3-4-month-old baby behaves quite differently from a newborn. Feeding on demand at this age looks something like this...
- At three months, the baby has 10-12 feeds during the day and 2-4 at night. There are frequent applications for a short time, but their number is reduced. There may be a long night break in feedings, about 5 hours, but this is very rare. Much more often the night break is 2.5-3.5 hours. By this age, the baby's body is noticeably rounded.
- At four months, the baby begins to breastfeed noticeably less frequently. The main feedings are associated with sleep: the baby suckles before bedtime, during awakening and during sleep, both daytime and nighttime. In this regard, he has a fairly accurate feeding regimen. And many babies stop breastfeeding when they wake up after daytime sleep, sometimes as early as 2.5-3 months.
- At five months, the baby has 8-10 daytime feedings and 2-3 nighttime, attachments as well as in the fourth month of life, are organized around dreams - the baby eats when going to bed and some babies suck during awakening.
- At six months, the feeding regimen changes. The most active sucking shifts to the last 2-3 hours before waking up from a night's sleep. The period of daytime wakefulness can be divided into two periods: in the morning, when the baby sucked during the night is rarely applied to the breast, and in the evening, when attachments become very frequent. In total, there can be 7-10 day applications and 3-4 night applications. At this age, the baby begins a period of acquaintance with new food - pedagogical complementary foods. Sometimes there are attachments associated with the introduction of complementary foods, the baby “washes down” samples of new food with mother's milk. But many children do not want to drink complementary foods. When complementary foods are introduced to an on-demand baby, it is never meant to replace feedings with complementary foods. This is practically impossible, because the main feedings of the baby are associated with sleep, and mother's breakfasts, lunches and dinners, during which the baby gets acquainted with new food, are located between the baby's dreams, during his wakefulness.
- At seven months, the frequency of application is about the same.
- At eight months, the feeding regimen changes. Since the baby shows high motor activity and is very busy exploring the surrounding space, in the daytime he forgets to breastfeed. In this regard, the number of daily feedings can be reduced to 6-8 times. The baby compensates for the reduction in daytime feedings by increasing the frequency and duration of nighttime feedings up to 6 times.
- In the second half of the year, babies who stopped breastfeeding when waking up after daytime naps recall this habit again. The baby’s daytime sleep in the second half of life, as well as in the region of a year and older, looks something like this: the baby falls asleep sucking, sleeps quietly for a while, for example 1-1.5 hours, then starts tossing and turning, fiddling, worrying, at this moment the mother lies down next to , gives him a breast and the baby can fill up 10-15-30 minutes sucking. Mom may well use this time for her own rest - lie down, read, while the baby sleeps while sucking. I know my mother, a lover of embroidery, who used this time specifically for embroidery ...
- Breastfeeding becomes more frequent at nine to ten months. In the daytime, this is 4-6 full feedings and about the same number of attachments for various reasons. The baby has new reasons for attachment. If, during active actions to master the world, the baby fills a bump or gets scared, he calms down with his mother's breast. There may be situations when you can comfort the baby by sitting next to him and hugging him. At night, 4-6 feedings remain, the baby begins to suckle more actively in the morning between 3 and 8 hours.
- At eleven months, a baby can already have 2-3 complete complementary foods. Initiation to adult food in the mind of a child is not associated with breastfeeding: attachment to the mother's breast is something other than the desire to get enough of the product they like. As a rule, after the baby has eaten, he feels the need to attach himself to the breast. The number of daily feedings remains the same in the child, but the number of short-term attachments increases. There are active mid-morning feedings between 4 and 8 o'clock in the morning.
- At ten or twelve months, the baby, if he is already walking, can sometimes breastfeed every time he comes to his mother, i.e. about every 15-30 minutes. Attachments around dreams and night sucking persist. Therefore, if a mother says that a child suckles once or twice a day, this means that there is no feeding at the request of the child. There are restrictions imposed by the mother, with which the baby has come to terms. He treats breast sucking like food, sucks on a pacifier or a finger to fall asleep or soothe, or falls asleep just like that, without calming down.
- At twelve months, the baby is applied in about the same way.
- At the age of one and a half years, there may already be one daytime nap, so there are fewer attachments associated with sleep. Preserved for morning sucking. The baby is very free with his mother's breasts. Sometimes it happens that he comes up to suck just for pleasure. For example, like this: he comes up, climbs on his knees, looks into his mother’s face, smiles, starts to swarm in his shirt, gets breasts, smiles at his breasts, sucks for 30 seconds and leaves.
As for the number of feedings per day when feeding a child on demand, their number is almost never less than 12. A newborn has 12 or more attachments, mostly they are all associated with dreams. And a child, say 1.5-2 years old, can also have about 12 attachments, only 3-4 are associated with sleep, and the rest are short-term attachments for various reasons. I suggest to all mothers reading this text - do not count the application, do not notice their duration. Breastfeed your baby as often as he asks, when you feel the need to.
Moms who don't think about breastfeeding without looking at the clock may get the impression that when breastfeeding on demand, the mother can do nothing but feed the baby. This is not true. After the birth of a baby, a mother begins another life, she is called life with a baby. That's all. The child is with the mother, not the mother with the child! Feel the difference! You need to be able to organize your life in a different way, in the first months, of course, the help of loved ones is very necessary. In the tradition of many peoples, it was customary for the first 40 days after childbirth to remove a woman from any housework and household chores, she was engaged only in a child. In some nations, objects that the mother of a newborn touched were considered “unclean”, therefore, they preferred to protect the mother from the rest of the household, allocating her a separate “corner” of the house, where no one bothered her and she did not interfere with anyone. Among the Slavs, such a restrictive custom was called a six-week. By 1.5-2 months, the rhythm of daytime dreams begins to form, and the baby has a kind of “regime”, the mother becomes more free.
For a mother who can't imagine breastfeeding without looking back at the clock, and who is sure that the “right” baby is the baby lying quietly in her crib all the time, feeding on demand will be a complete hassle. It will be much easier for such a mother if she stops looking at the clock and ties the baby to herself with a large scarf or uses a patchwork holder (sling). It will become easier for her if she stops running between the nursery and the kitchen, but takes the baby with her to the kitchen and carries him around the house with her, doing housework, in a box, a cradle, a special chair, if she tries not to put him off often, and pick up as soon as possible, postponing the baby only in case of emergency and not for long.
Breastfeeding is not the same as house arrest. In the conditions of modern society, it is possible to organize the exit of a nursing mother to work from about 6 months of age of the baby. If necessary, you can start working from the age of 4 months, but, of course, it is better not every day of the week and not full time. It is the responsibility of a breastfeeding consultant to help a mother organize her return to work.
Sometimes, when I advise mothers on breastfeeding, I suggest that they forget for a second that they are already living in the 21st century. I propose to return, for example, to the cave and ask what they will do if the child woke up at night, how to calm him down? If you are walking through the forest and trying not to attract the attention of predators, how to make the baby silent? If the child is thirsty, what will you give him? What is the baby used to, for thousands of years of its existence? To the fact that he sleeps on his mother while she wanders through the forest with a digging stick in search of roots, and wakes up when mother stops. Since mom stopped, then there is time to wake up and suck. Therefore, even now the child sleeps well, tied to the mother with a patchwork holder, wakes up when the mother, having done a few household chores, sits in a chair to take care of the baby.
Some mother, reading about the cave, will be offended, saying that she is a civilized creature. But please think. Man, mother's breast and mother's milk have been created by evolution over millions of years. They are made for each other. Baby food has created progress and more recently. The skills of motherhood and breastfeeding have also been lost by our society quite recently. A person is not physiologically adapted to artificial feeding and a pacifier. The mother's breast will not produce enough milk at 6-7 feedings per day. Nature did not know, when creating man as a mammal, that the time would come when the need for breastfeeding would be satisfied by some kind of pacifiers and nipples.
Changes that occur during the formation of the personality of a child who did not have full contact with the mother during prolonged breastfeeding are noted by modern research by psychologists and sociologists. These are changes with a minus sign. It would be better if they were not, these changes.
Breastfeeding is not only important for the baby, it is also important for the mother. During on-demand feeding, the woman's feelings change, a stronger attachment to the baby is formed, the woman becomes more sensitive to the needs of the baby. Deeper affection and understanding are not only preserved in infancy. They persist for life. For clarity, imagine what happens to a woman’s feelings if she tries to “withstand” a child, endures his crying, anxiety. What happens to a woman if she uses the recommendation from one very popular parenting book: "Go to the child if he cries for more than 15 minutes"? Speaking in abstract terms, humanity is interested in reviving the practice of breastfeeding. The revival of this practice is impossible without mothers realizing the true reasons for the child's need for attachment to the breast.
Lilia Kazakova, pediatrician,
Head of Breastfeeding and Child Care Counselors
Breastfeeding the newborn | What to Expect in the First Week
The first week of a baby's life is a wonderful but hectic time, especially if you haven't breastfed before. Our breastfeeding tips will help you settle in as quickly as possible
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The first time after childbirth, mothers are often confused. The body is still recovering, and you are already starting to get to know your newborn baby. The emotional state during this period can be unstable, especially between the second and fifth day, when many women have milk 1 and at the same time postpartum depression begins 2 . In addition, people around often expect (and demand) that a woman come to her senses as soon as possible and become a “super mom”. But the best thing to do this first week is just to be with your baby and get breastfeeding going.
When should I start breastfeeding my newborn?
Try to breastfeed your baby within the first hour after birth. When the baby latch onto the breast and begins sucking rhythmically, it stimulates the mammary gland cells and starts milk production. 1 No wonder this time is called the "magic hour"!
“Ideally, the baby should be placed on the mother's stomach immediately after birth, so that it can immediately attach to the breast. He won't necessarily eat, but he should be able to,” explains Cathy Garbin, an internationally recognized expert on breastfeeding.
“Hold your baby and let him find the breast on his own and put the nipple in his mouth. This is called the breast-seeking reflex. On the Internet you can watch videos that show what this process looks like. If the baby does not latch onto the nipple on its own, the midwife will help to properly attach it to the breast. But for starters, it’s good to give the baby the opportunity to do it on their own. In this case, the optimal position for the mother is reclining. ”
Don't spend that special first hour of your baby's life weighing and swaddling—or at least wait until he's suckling for the first time. Enjoy hugs and close skin-to-skin contact. This promotes the production of oxytocin, the hormone of love, in you and your baby, and oxytocin plays a key role in the supply of the first breast milk - colostrum. 3
“As soon as the obstetricians were convinced that our son was healthy, the three of us — me, my husband and our baby — were left to give us the opportunity to get to know each other. It was a very special hour - an hour of awkwardness, turbulent emotions and bliss. During this time, I breastfed my son twice, ”recalls Ellie, a mother of two from the UK.
Did you know that breastfeeding helps to recover after childbirth? This is because oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions. In the first hours after childbirth, this contributes to the natural release of the placenta and reduces blood loss. 4
What to do if the birth did not go according to plan?
If you had a caesarean section or other complications during childbirth,
You can still establish skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breastfeed him in the first hours after birth.
“If you can't hold your baby, have your partner do it for you and ensure skin-to-skin contact with the baby. This will give the baby a sense of security, care and warmth so that he can hold on until you recover, ”Katie advises.
If the baby is unable to breastfeed, it is advisable to start expressing milk as early as possible and do so as often as possible until the baby is able to feed on its own. “While breastfeeding in the first hours after birth lays an excellent foundation for the future, it is not so important,” Cathy reassures. “It is much more important to start lactation so that in the future, if necessary, you can start breastfeeding.”
To start milk production, you can express milk manually or use a breast pump, which can be given to you at the hospital. 5 And the precious colostrum can be fed to the baby. This is especially important if the baby was born premature or weak, since breast milk is extremely healthy.
If a baby is born prematurely or has a medical condition and cannot be breastfed immediately, this is no reason not to continue breastfeeding. “I have worked with many new mothers who were unable to breastfeed their baby for the first six weeks due to preterm labor or other reasons. Nevertheless, all of them later successfully switched to breastfeeding,” says Kathy.
Does the baby latch on correctly?
Correct breastfeeding is essential for successful breastfeeding 6 , because it determines how effectively the baby will suckle milk, and therefore grow and develop. Latching on the breast incorrectly can cause sore or damaged nipples, so don't hesitate to ask your doctor to check that your baby is properly attached to the breast, even if you are told that everything is fine and you do not see obvious problems - especially while you are in the hospital.
“While I was in the hospital, I called the doctor at every feed and asked me to check if I was breastfeeding correctly,” says Emma, mother of two from Australia. - There were several cases when it seemed to me that everything seemed to be right, but it was painful to feed, and the doctor helped me take the baby off the breast and attach it correctly. By the time I was discharged, I had already learned to do it confidently.”
When applying to the breast, point the nipple towards the palate. This will allow the baby to take the nipple and part of the areola under it into their mouth. It will be easier for him to suck if he has both the nipple and part of the areola around in his mouth. 6
“When a baby latch on properly, it doesn't cause discomfort and it causes a pulling sensation, not pain,” Cathy explains. - The baby's mouth is wide open, the lower lip may be slightly turned outward, and the upper one lies comfortably on the chest. The body language of the child indicates that he is comfortable. There isn't much milk at this early stage, so you probably won't notice your baby swallowing, but he will suckle a lot and nurse frequently."
How often should a newborn be fed?
The frequency and duration of breastfeeding in the first week can vary greatly. “The first 24 hours of life are completely different for different children. Someone sleeps a lot (after all, childbirth is tiring!), And someone often eats, says Katie. - Such a variety greatly confuses young mothers. Everyone gives different advice, so it's important to remember that every mother and child is different."
“Colostrum is thicker than mature breast milk and produced in smaller quantities, but it provides many benefits. When the baby eats colostrum, he learns to suck, swallow and breathe until milk begins to flow in more volume, ”explains Cathy.
Milk usually arrives on the second or fourth day after delivery. Until this time, the baby is applied to the breast 8-12 times a day (and sometimes more often!), including at night. 7 Feeding may last 10-15 minutes at this stage, or 45 minutes or even an hour, as the baby is just beginning to develop the muscles and coordination needed to suckle effectively.
“At first, the intensity of feeding is very high, often higher than many people realize, and this is shocking to most new mothers,” says Cathy. - Sometimes mom has no time to go to the toilet, take a shower and have a snack. It usually comes as a surprise."
Camille, a mother from Australia, experienced this. “The first week, Frankie ate every two hours, day and night, and each time it took half an hour to an hour to feed,” she recalls. “My husband and I were completely exhausted!”
Do I need to feed my newborn on a schedule?
The good news is that frequent feeding promotes lactation and stimulates milk production. 7 The more your baby eats, the more milk you will have. Therefore, forget about feeding your newborn on a schedule - this way he will have less chance of feeding. Try to feed your baby when he signals that he is hungry 8 :
- tossing and turning in his sleep;
- opens eyes;
- turns his head if he feels a touch on his cheek;
- sticks out tongue;
- licks lips;
- sucks fingers;
- is naughty;
- is crying.
Crying is the last sign of hunger, so if in doubt, just offer your baby the breast. If he bursts into tears, it will be more difficult to feed him, especially at first, when both of you are just learning how to do it. As your baby grows, he will likely eat less frequently and take less time to feed, so breastfeeding will seem more predictable.
Does breastfeeding hurt?
You may have heard that breastfeeding is not painful at all, but in fact, in the first days, many new mothers experience discomfort. And this is not at all surprising, given that the nipples are not used to such frequent and strong sucking.
“Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for the first couple of days – your body and your baby are just getting used to it. If a baby eats for too long and does not latch well, the sensations are almost the same as from unworn new shoes, Cathy compares. Just as tight shoes can rub your feet, improper suckling can damage your nipples. Prevention is always better than cure, so if the pain persists after a few days of feeding, contact a lactation consultant or healthcare professional.”
Maria, a mother from Canada, agrees: “Although my son seemed to latch onto the breast well, he damaged his nipples while feeding, and I was in pain. As it turned out, the reason was a shortened frenulum of the tongue. The breastfeeding specialists at our city clinic have been of great help in diagnosis and treatment.”
In addition, you may experience period cramps during the first few days after breastfeeding, especially if this is not your first baby. This is the so-called postpartum pain. The fact is that oxytocin, which is released during breastfeeding, contributes to further contraction of the uterus to restore its normal size. 4
When milk arrives, the breasts usually become fuller, firmer and larger than before delivery. In some women, the breasts swell, harden and become very sensitive - swelling of the mammary glands occurs. 10 Frequent breastfeeding relieves these symptoms. For more breast care tips, read our article What is Breast Swelling?
How often does the newborn urinate and defecate?
What goes into the body must go back out. Colostrum
has a laxative effect, helping to eliminate meconium - the original feces. It looks a little scary - black and sticky, like tar. 11 But don't worry, it won't always be like this. Breastfed babies usually have a slightly sweet smell of stool.
How many times a day you will need to change diapers and what the contents should look like, see below.
- Frequency: once or more.
- Colour: greenish black.
- Texture: sticky like tar.
- Frequency: twice or more.
- Colour: dark greenish brown.
- Texture: less sticky.
- Frequency: twice or more.
- Colour: greenish brown to brownish yellow.
- Texture: non-sticky.
Fourth day and then the entire first month
- Frequency: twice or more.
- Color: yellow (feces should turn yellow no later than the end of the fourth day).
- Texture: grainy (like mustard with grains interspersed). Leaky and watery.
The baby's urine should be light yellow. On average, babies urinate once a day for the first two days. Starting around the third day, the number of wet diapers increases to three, and from the fifth day onwards, diapers have to be changed five times a day or more often. In addition, during the first few days, the weight of wet diapers increases. 11
Is the baby getting enough breast milk?
Since very little milk is produced at first,
You may feel that your baby is not getting enough milk. But if you feed your baby on demand, you will produce exactly as much milk as he needs. If you want to keep the process under control, be guided by the frequency of diaper changes above. If your baby soils less diapers, check with your doctor.
“For the first three or four weeks, most babies just eat and sleep. If the child is worried and constantly asks for a breast, you should consult with your doctor, ”Katie recommends.
Sometimes the baby may vomit after feeding. If the vomit is the color of milk, this is not a cause for concern. But if there are orange, red, green, brown or black blotches in it, or the child vomits with a "fountain", consult a doctor. You should also consult a doctor if the baby has a high temperature, the fontanel (soft spot on the head) has sunk, blood is found in the stool, and also if the weight recorded at birth has not recovered within two weeks. 11
But if there are no frightening symptoms and the baby is growing at a normal pace, then he has enough milk. Soon you will both get used to breastfeeding and establish a more stable routine.
For the next step in breastfeeding, see Breastfeeding in the First Month: What to Expect.
1 Pang WW, Hartmann PE. Initiation of human lactation: secretory differentiation and secretory activation. J9 Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia . 2007;12(4):211-221. - Pang, W.W., Hartmann, P.I., "Lactation initiation in the lactating mother: secretory differentiation and secretory activation." G Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2007;12(4):211-221.
2 Shashi R et al. Postpartum psychiatric disorders: Early diagnosis and management. Indian J Psychiatry . 2015; 57( Suppl 2): S 216– S 221. - Shashi R. et al., Postnatal mental disorders: early diagnosis and treatment. Indian J Saikiatri. 2015; 57(App 2):S216-S221.
3 Moberg KU, Prime DK. Oxytocin effects in mothers and infants during breastfeeding. Infant . 2013;9(6):201-206. - Moberg K, Prime DK, "The effects of oxytocin on mother and child during breastfeeding." Infant. 2013;9(6):201-206.
4 Sobhy SI, Mohame NA. The effect of early initiation of breast feeding on the amount of vaginal blood loss during the fourth stage of labor. J Egypt Public Health Assoc . 2004;79(1-2):1-12. - Sobhi SI, Moham NA, "Early initiation of breastfeeding and its effect on vaginal bleeding in the fourth stage of labor." G Egyptian Public Health Assoc. 2004;79(1-2):1-2.
5 Meier PP et al. Which breast pump for which mother: an evidence-based approach to individualizing breast pump technology. J Perinatol . 2016;36(7):493. - Meyer P.P. et al., Breastpump Selection: A Scientific Approach to Customizing Pumping Technology. J Perinatol (Journal of Perinatology). 2016;36(7):493-499.
6 Cadwell K. Latching - On and Suckling of the Healthy Term Neonate: Breastfeeding Assessment. J Midwifery & Women s 2007;52(6):638-642. — Cadwell, K., "Latching and sucking in healthy newborns: evaluation of breastfeeding." F Midwifery Women Health. 2007;52(6):638-642.
7 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". J Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121.
8 Australian Breastfeeding Association [ Internet ].