Physiology of Breastfeeding

During pregnancy, the body increases its production of a hormone called prolactin, which stimulates the breast to make milk. Suckling by the infant stimulates the release of prolactin. The size of the breasts is not a factor in milk production. Oxytocin, another hormone, allows the breast tissue to "let down" or release milk from the milk ducts to the nipples.

Colostrum, the first milk produced, has all the nutrients a newborn infant needs. It also contains many substances to protect against infections. The body produces colostrum for several days until the "mature milk" comes in. Mature milk adjusts to the baby's needs for the rest of the time the infant is breastfed.

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