This article covers everything about the stages of lactation that new mothers ought to know! Read through the article to know more.
What is Lactation
The process in which the milk starts releasing from the mammary glands of a female individual after childbirth is called lactation. The process begins immediately after the delivery of the child so that the mother can start feeding soon after the birth. The milk produced by a mother is highly nutritious and helps to build immunity in the young one. The stage in which the mother starts maintaining milk production by serving her body with prolactin and oxytocin is called Galactopoiesis.
How Do Women Prepare For Lactation
By the end of the second trimester, the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, the female makes herself ready to produce milk. In the later stages of her pregnancy, she undergoes the initial stages of lactogenesis, which marks the beginning of colostrum production in the mammary glands.
Hormones Involved in the Lactation Process
Many hormones are directly involved in the lactation process. A few of them are estrogen, placental lactogen, progesterone, prolactin, and oxytocin. Every hormone has its significance, which has been discussed in the below points:
- Estrogen is the hormone responsible for increasing breast size during pregnancy. It is responsible for the growth of tissues in the breast as well.
- Placental Lactogenic is one of the hormones which raises during pregnancy to stimulate the growth of nipples and areola. It also helps in the development of breast tissues at a faster pace.
- Progesterone is responsible for faster milk production in females. It also contributes to increasing the breast size during pregnancy. Once the baby comes out, progesterone levels start decreasing and stimulate the milk production accordingly.
- Prolactin, which helps figure out the difference between the self-functioning cells and the activation of alveoli, is responsible for producing milk after the birth of a baby.
- Oxytocin, which helps the alveoli to contract, also helps extract the milk to be poured into the duct system.
More About Breastmilk
There are a few properties that make a mother’s milk different from other animals’. A list containing some of those properties has been elaborated below:
- There is a considerable difference between the milk that reduces initially and the milk that reduces after maturation.
- Colostrum is the milk that females produce in the most initial stages of lactation.
- The colostrum tends to change gradually concerning other properties. But the transition from colostrum to the other form of the milk is pretty fast and takes 4 to 5 days after the child’s birth.
- Once you complete 14 to 15 days of childbirth, you will find your mammary glands produce that measured milk.
Stages of Lactation
Many new mothers have a lot of queries in their heads about the stages of lactation. There are mainly four stages of the lactation period while the milk is constantly produced in the mammary glands.
1. Colostrum Phase
Colostrum is the thickest and highly concentrated breast milk. At the beginning of the second trimester of pregnancy, a mother starts producing colostrum in their mammary glands. We call this stage as lactogenesis I.
The milk is the result of the release of some supportive hormones in the mammary glands. The colostrum releases after about 1 or 2 days of the baby’s birth and serves as the first food for them. Every time you feed your baby within three to five days of birth, you are providing them proteins, vitamins, prebiotics, immunoglobulins, and fatty acids. All these nutritional ingredients contribute to the physical and mental growth of the child.
2. Transitional Milk
This stage begins after four days of the birth of the baby. In this stage, mature milk comes out of the mammary glands. It is often termed lactogenesis II.
After a day or two, the milk starts coming out in huge volumes. The lactating mother feels bulkiness in the breasts. If she is suffering from problems like obesity and diabetes, then there are chances that milk production can be slow and delayed. People usually say that lactation is the healthiest in the expected/standard delivery. Another cause of delays in the milk release is nipples or cesarean section.
The transitional milk released in this stage helps in keeping up with the evolving needs of the baby. It is rich in carbohydrates, fat, and protein to adjust as per the body’s requirement.
3. Mature Milk
The lactating mother enters the third stage of lactation when the baby is around nine days old. This stage continues to stay as long as she feeds her baby. Your midwife can also recommend you to use a breast pump to express the milk regularly from your breast so that you can ensure your daily production of milk.
The mature milk has a higher content of water to hydrate the baby as it’s commonly the only source of food initially. It contains a comparatively low content of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. This is so because the body needs to adapt itself towards other food items as well.
This is the stage when the milk slows down the production and gradually moves towards the stoppage. The tenure of this stage is approximately 40 days after the last session of breastfeeding your baby.
- Week 1 goes with frequent feedings when the baby gets hungry after small intervals and needs his mother’s milk. Since this is the most tender age of the baby, a mother should not keep the baby hungry for a longer duration.
- Week 2 makes you more familiar with the breastfeeding culture as you psychologically understand that this will go for a few months now. You will find yourself more comfortable and used to the activity.
- Week 6 brings your physical health, making you stronger and making your significant recovery noticeable. Also, you will stop feeling bulky in your breast.
- Week 12 is a stage where you become a pro in breastfeeding. You do not need an alarm. But since your baby is growing each day, s/he will demand more milk to overcome the increased appetite.
The Final Takeaway
Breastfeeding, lactation, giving birth to a baby can be frightening for some people in the beginning. But, it always comes out with a new and original experience where you get a chance to know your baby closely. It is essential for you to see the procedure inside out so that you don’t lack as a mother at any point in time. If you want to read more helpful information, you can stay tuned with us and get notified about every new article we publish.