Lactation refers to the period when a woman synthesises and secretes milk from her breasts to feed her newborn. This occurs due to the activation of her mammary glands under the effects of the two major hormones prolactin and oxytocin.
A woman’s body prepares for lactation in the later stage of pregnancy while milk secretion usually starts after childbirth.
What is Breast Milk?
The human breast milk is rich in nutrients, antibodies and enzymes. It is a complete food consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, providing all the necessary nourishment to your baby. The antibodies provide immunity to your baby, while other immunologic properties strengthen the baby’s gut with the accumulation of useful bacteria. The enzymes present in breast milk aid the baby in digestion.
Colostrum, the first milk produced immediately after birth is thick in texture, loaded with fats, nutrients and immune factors, and is highly recommended for your baby. Colostrum soon gets converted into mature milk.
Breastfeeding and Lactation
Apart from the stimulation from the hormones, lactation is initiated with continued breastfeeding. As the demand for breast milk increases by your baby, the supply also increases. Your breasts continue to synthesise milk as long as your baby requires it. On an average, your baby feeds 8 to 12 times in a day. Around 800 mL of milk is synthesised per day.
Latching is how your baby fastens onto your breasts while breastfeeding. This is an important stage in lactation. The perfect latch helps your baby feed efficiently and also keeps you to feed your baby comfortably. Teaching your baby how to latch on prevents sore nipples which can be very painful.
It is to be noted that a woman’s health also plays an important role in milk production. Thus, when she is tired or stressed out, the quantity of milk production would reduce. Alcohol intake is also restricted while breastfeeding as it appears in the breast milk.
At NMC Royal Women’s Hospital, you will be provided personalised assistance to take care of yourself and your baby. You will be given assistance for various aspects including:
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months after birth. At NMC Royal Women’s Hospital, our lactation experts are dedicated to assist you in achieving this goal by offering counselling and training to help new mothers who haven’t breastfed before or have trouble breastfeeding.
Our specialists and nurses have rich experience in assisting numerous families during all stages of the breastfeeding process starting from birth till the six-months and beyond.