Anatomy and Physiology

  • The breasts begin making the 1st milk ‘colostrum’ from mid-pregnancy.
  • Milk is stored in small pockets called ‘alveoli’.
  • Alveoli form into grape-like bunches called ‘lobules’.
  • Ducts, which act like straws, run from the milk filled lobules out onto the nipples.
  • Tiny holes allow milk to be released from the breast.
  • These holes are primed when the baby sucks soon after birth.
  • The delivery of your placenta stimulates hormones in your body, telling your breasts to start making milk.
  • Your baby sucking at your breasts will let your body know how much milk to make.
  • It takes around three to five days for proper breastmilk to ‘come in’.
  • Prior to this ‘Colostrum’ is present. Small in quantity, rich in nutritional value. It contains 100s of incredible components and is extremely calorific, fatty and full of antibodies. This is all your baby needs.
  • The day before your milk comes in, baby will feed almost non-stop. Go with it.
  • Thinking about, smelling or having your baby sucking at your breast releases the hormone ‘Oxytocin’. Oxytocin stimulates milk ejection by compressing the milk cells. We call this the ‘let down’.
  • Whilst your baby is breastfeeding another hormone ‘Prolactin’ is present. Prolactin instructs your body to make more milk. Once your baby stops feeding, the Prolactin stimulates your milk cells to produce more milk ready for the next feed.
  • Breastfeeding sends messages to your body to produce more milk. Each feed puts an order in for the next feed. We call this ‘supply and demand’.