Did you know that when you fall pregnant your body starts to get ready for breastfeeding? How do you know this is true? Well one of the first signs of pregnancy is tender breasts. This is your body preparing your breasts for breastfeeding. Your breasts are starting to develop and laydown ducts so that you will be able to make breast milk. As early as the second trimester your breast are already starting to make colostrum. Some moms will start to see some drops of milk after a warm relaxing shower. This is why mother of premature babies can product milk for her baby.
Your body has hormones that are responsible for the control of breast milk production. While you are pregnant your placenta produces high amounts of progesterone which is a breast milk inhibitor (stops the production of breast milk). Your body also starts to make small amounts of prolactin (milk making hormone) which is responsible for the drops of breast milk that can be seen during pregnancy. Oxytocin (let-down hormone) is responsible for squeezing the muscles around your milk duct which “lets down” your milk. It is also responsible for the contracting of your womb after you give birth. This helps to reduce your bleeding and return your womb to it normal size. That is why oxytocin is responsible for the “cramping” you might feel while breast feeding.
Once you give birth and you no longer have a placenta, the amount of progesterone decreases in your body. This allows for an increase in prolactin and oxytocin. As the prolactin and oxytocin increase so will your breast milk production, this can take a few days. The more that your breast are stimulated the faster your body will make milk. Emptying your breast as often as possible increases the amount of prolactin which will then increase you milk production.
Feedback Inhibitor is another hormone that is not often spoken about but also helps to control your breast milk production. When your breasts start to become full, the feedback inhibitor hormone starts to increase and reduces the production of breastmilk. The fuller the breast the slower the production of breastmilk. This is why it is so important to empty your breast often so that more milk can be made.
Your body also has the ability to make more milk while your baby is breast feeding. So you don’t have to worry about how much milk your breasts can hold as that is not an indication to how much milk you can make.
Your body has spent 9 months growing and preparing you for your baby, don’t worry your body has got the breastfeeding sorted. All that is left is for you and your baby to learn how to breast feed. That is a relationship that grows and develops over time.