Welcome to our very first Body Talk Tuesday! This week we’re sharing the basics on milk production, or lactation.
Our bodies are amazing. The fact that we create, grow, and nourish another human with them is a thing of wonder! One of the most common early signs of pregnancy is breast tenderness. About halfway through your pregnancy, the hormone prolactin (which has increased in your body by about 10-20 times) tells your body to start creating colostrum, the golden nectar of the newborns. Colostrum is a thick and often yellowish nutrient-rich first food for your newborn. The high level of progesterone in your body keeps the colostrum milk from secreting until you birth your baby’s placenta.
It’s quite intriguing how are bodies are wired to work here: when your baby is born, your care provider will immediately help you bring your baby to your chest. This first interaction with
your brand new little one is often referred to as the golden hour, a time for you bond with and eventually begin to breastfeed your baby. The happy, lovey-dovey oxytocin release that occurs during this golden hour stimulates uterine contractions (sorry, you may have thought you were done with those!) which helps your body to eventually release the placenta that sustained your baby in the womb.
The birth of your baby’s placenta results in a huge drop in progesterone, but prolactin levels stay high. The combination of the drop in progesterone and high levels of prolactin makes your milk “come in,” an event marked by the unmistakable
feeling of fullness in your breasts usually two or three days after you give birth.
Once you’re breastfeeding, milk production is all about supply and demand. Hormones play less of a role once breastfeeding is established; typically, so long as your baby is removing milk from your breast or you are using a breast pump to remove milk, your body will make more. There are sometimes hinderances to the milk production process, including tongue ties and lip ties, poor latch, hormonal issues, lack of proper nutrition, and much more. If you’re experiencing issues with breastfeeding, check out our blog on local breastfeeding resources in El Dorado County or contact us at Placerville Doula so we can get you connected with a trusted professional.