Breast Feeding and Lactation

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Lactation is the process by which all mammals provide milk to their feeding young. Lactation occurs with the help of two hormones, prolactin (PRL) and oxytocin. While PRL and oxytocin act independently on different nerve receptors, their combined actions are essential for successful lactation; prolactin for the production of milk and Oxytocin to open the milk ducts. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, permits the mother to bond with her child when still in her wound and when breastfeeding. This special hormone also helps to contract the uterus and expel the placenta after birth, both happen because of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is usually started soon after birth. From the first feed until about 3-4 days after birth pre-milk or colostrums is secreted by the breast when the baby sucks. Colostrum provides the baby with enough nourishment and important anti bodies which their bodies can’t produce yet, while helping to empty digestive system of excess mucus. After the 3 or 4 day period of colostrums release, milk starts to come down and fill the breast. This is usually indicated by swelling of the breast and the breast feeling full. To continue producing milk the nursing mother must consume more liquids than usual, get adequate amounts of rest and let the baby feed on breast very often. No baby is allergic to breast milk. Women who have never been pregnant are usually able to induce enough lactation to breastfeed. This is called "induced lactation". A woman who has breastfed before and re-starts is said to "relactate". If the nipples are consistently stimulated by a breast pump or actual sucking, the breasts will eventually begin to produce enough milk to begin feeding a baby. Once established, lactation adjusts to demand. This is how some adoptive mothers, usually beginning, with a nursing system, or some other form of supplementation, can breastfeed. There is thought to be little or no difference in milk composition whether lactation is induced or a result of...
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