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     Breast feeding






Why Breastfeeding?

Breast milk remains the best, naturally available, perfect food for your baby. It provides your baby with complete food, water, protection against infections and a caring environment.
Breastfeeding is instinctive and most mothers adopt to it naturally. Though breastfeeding comes naturally to most mothers, it needs to be nurtured in some.
Breastfeeding improves the bonding between you and your baby.
If you have never breastfed before or even if you have, it is obvious to have some doubts about successful breastfeeding.
The practice of breastfeeding is beneficial not only for your baby but also to you and your family.

Breast Milk  formation

During your pregnancy your body starts preparing you for breastfeeding. Milk is produced by small special glands in your breast. The number of glands in the breast is same in all women irrespective of the size of breast. Larger breasts contains only fat and fibrous tissue
Two hormones play an important role in Breast milk secretion, namely,

  • Prolactin.
  • Oxytocin.


Prolactin stimulates the cells in the breast to produce milk. There is gradual increase in the production of prolactin during pregnancy and lactation The secretion of Prolactin depends upon the time spent by baby at the breast, while sucking and the frequency of nursing during the day and night, as well.


Oxytocin causes the tiny muscle cells within your breast to contract, thus helping in milk ejection. This is known as " Let down reflex ".  


This occurs every time you breastfeed. The signs of let down are different from woman to woman. It can be a brief prickle or tingle or slight pain in your breast or even dripping of milk from the breast. You may feel strong cramps in your lower abdomen. This is because oxytocin, which stimulates the milk flow, also causes contraction of the uterine muscles and thus helps to revert the uterus to its pre-pregnant size. This would go away by a week.  

Tips to make Breastfeeding comfortable:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with good support for your arms and back.

  • Make sure your baby is in the proper position     on your breast.

  • Listen to soothing music and sip a nutritious drink during feedings.

  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol. All these contain substances that can interfere with milk let down and affect the contents of your breast milk..  

  • Wear nursing bras and clothes that are easy to undo. Nursing bras have front closing flaps that come down to expose your nipple and part of your breast.

  • Sometimes just thinking about your baby helps let down take place.


Phases Of Milk Secretion:

When you become pregnant, the hormonal environment created in your body starts preparing for breast milk secretion. By the 4th and 5th month of pregnancy, your breast is capable of secreting the first milk called colostrum. It contains essential nutrients for your baby and is usually secreted for the first 3-4 days post delivery till your mature milk "comes in".

Mature milk consists of:

  • Fore milk: contains mainly water, other nutrients but no fat, satisfies baby’s thirst.

  • Hind milk: contains more fat, which supplies energy.


Types Of Breast Milk:

Human breast milk has a unique feature of changing its quality as time progresses after delivery.


This first milk which is thick, yellowish in color is called colostrum. In India, there is myth of discarding the colostrum, thinking it is stale milk or witch’s milk. But this is not true. Infact, this provides the new born with complete food, adequate protection against infections in early age and also helps in bonding.



Mature Milk














Colostrum has:

  • Higher protein content which includes immunoglobulins (Ig).

  • The immunoglobulins (fighter cells) and white blood cells provide immunity (protection) to the baby, which last up to 6 – 9 months.

  • High concentration of Vit. A, Vit. D, Vit. E, Vit. K.

  • Low carbohydrate and fat content, that makes it easy to digest.

  • High mineral content.

  • Enzymes like lipase and lactase, which help in digestion.

  • Colostrum secretion lasts for 4-5 days; thereafter the mother’s mature milk "comes in".

    Mature Milk:

Mature milk though thinner and watery contains all the nutrients required. It has a special quality of changing its composition during the length of a single feed.

Fore milk:

Watery, low fat but high in proteins, minerals, vitamins and water. It is secreted in the first part of the feed. It satisfies your baby’s thirst.

Hind milk:

Richer in fat. Satisfies baby’s hunger and supplies more energy required for growth. It is secreted in the last part of the feed.

Protective Factors:

  • Immunoglobulin (Ig A), white blood cells and antibodies help in building defense mechanism of baby.

  • Bifidus factor prevents growth of harmful bacteria in baby’s intestine.

  • Lactoferrin binds iron thus preventing anemia.


Recommended:  book
"The new parent"
by author Martha
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