All You Need to Know About the Stages of Breastmilk
Written by: Neelu Prajapat.
A woman’s body goes through many changes while breastfeeding her baby. The production of breast milk is a complex process that involves the interaction of hormones, the nervous system, and the breasts. Breast milk is produced in different stages, which are determined by the amount of prolactin in the blood.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and that breastfeeding continues for at least 12 months.
Stages of Breastmilk Production
The first stage of breast milk production is called lactogenesis I. It begins when the baby sucks on the mother’s breast, which stimulates the production of prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone that signals the body to start making milk.
The second stage is lactogenesis II which begins when the milk ducts are full of milk. The milk is then released from the breasts and sucked by the baby.
The final stage is called lactation. It occurs after the baby has been breastfeeding for a few weeks. The amount of milk produced during lactation depends on how often the baby breastfeeds.
Mothers who’ve had breast surgery, such as breast reduction surgery, may have difficulty with their milk supply if their milk ducts have been severed. In this situation, a woman should talk to her doctor about her concerns and work with a lactation specialist.
Phases of Breastmilk
Colostrum is the first milk. It’s a thick, yellowish fluid that is produced in small amounts in the early stages of pregnancy and during the first few days (2-5 days) after giving birth.
It is rich in nutrients and antibodies, and it helps to protect infants from infection. Colostrum is also high in calories, so it helps newborns to gain weight quickly.
Transitional milk is produced in larger amounts than colostrum and has a thinner consistency. You’ll produce it from the 5th day until up to 2 weeks after delivery. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients and antibodies that babies need in the first six months of life. Nursing daily and efficiently removing milk will increase milk production and relieve engorgement.
You produce mature milk around 10-15 days after delivery. It’s produced in the greatest quantities and has a creamy consistency.
Some women choose to breastfeed their infants for more than six months. In these cases, the composition of breast milk changes to meet the needs of older infants. Breast milk still has all of the nutrients needed to fulfill the demands of a developing baby.
Types of Breastmilk in One Course of Feeding
There are different types of breastmilk that a baby can drink during one feeding.
Foremilk is the milk that is released from the breasts when the baby first starts to breastfeed. It is high in water and low in fat which helps the baby to digest the milk
Hindmilk is the milk that is released from the breasts after the baby has been breastfeeding for a while. It is high in fat and low in water to provide the baby with energy and nutrients. It also contains more proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals than foremilk. This makes it helpful for infants to gain weight.
Benefits of Breastmilk
The quality of breast milk depends on the mother’s diet. Your breast milk will be rich in nutrients and antibodies that your baby needs to grow and develop if you consume a well-balanced diet.
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mothers and babies.
- It feeds the baby and protects it from illnesses
- It eases your baby’s stomach, digestive system, or bowels development and growth
- It contains vitamin D, which helps to prevent rickets in the infant
- It helps mothers to lose weight after giving birth
- It’s a kind of natural contraception
- Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers
- Breastfeeding also helps to strengthen the bond between mother and baby.
Human milk is the perfect food for newborns, and it provides many health benefits that cannot be found in any other type of food.
Noreen Stronol Drexel Birthing Center / Lifespan
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
U.S Department of Agriculture / WIC Breastfeeding Support