Things to Know About Lactation

Dec 31, 2021
 Things to Know About Lactation
Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients.

Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients. Hopefully, you’re taking advantage of the current climate and enjoying our lovely city in autumn. If this is your first visit to The Breast Place blog, we cover a range of topics here. From breast cancer management to anti-aging skin treatments to helpful tips for maximizing your overall health and wellness—The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you! Our offices are open and our staff are prepared to answer any questions you may have about your health, your breast cancer risk, and how to reach your aesthetic goals. 

Before we dive too deeply into today’s topic, we’d like to make you aware of a few promotions available at The Breast Place this upcoming January. We’re running a 40% off special on our Environ products. Be sure to take advantage of this sale before we run out of stock! The Breast Place is also offering buy one, get one free on Laser Genesis with 40 units of Botox or more. As well, to start off the New Year right, we’re offering our facial rejuvenation package for $500 off! Look out for more information on our upcoming VIP Day on our social media channels. If you drop by the office, we recommend taking a look at The Metabolic Approach to Cancer by Dr. Nasha Winters, ND, L.Ac, FABNO, and Jess Higgins Kelley, MNT. This book deals with deep nutrition, nontoxic bio-individualized therapies, and how the ketogenic diet can be utilized to starve cancer cells. We’ll be carrying a limited stock of these books and they’re available for only $25. If you have any questions about our January specials, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! 

Our last article was dedicated to busting Botox myths. Botox, among other neuromodulators, is a highly effective substance. Beyond just its cosmetic usage, Botox is the key to numerous life-sustaining medical treatments. Our last article served to illuminate the many purposes of Botox, demystify the composition of Botox, and clarify any misconceptions about the safety and efficacy of Botox. Even if you’ve been receiving Botox injections for years, there may be a few facts mentioned there you didn’t know! We hope you’ll give our last article a quick read when you’re done here! 

The topic of today’s article is lactation. The lactation process can be one of the most challenging aspects of new motherhood and can be made even more difficult by misinformation. There are common misconceptions about breastfeeding which abound even in the age of information and these inaccuracies can give expectant mothers skewed expectations concerning their own milk production. No two lactation stories will be exactly the same–that’s why it’s important to understand the full scope of possibilities when it comes to breastfeeding. The Breast Place offers lactation consulting because we want every new mother to have a smooth transition into feeding their newborn. Today, we’ll provide a basic overview of what everyone (yes, we mean everyone) should know about lactation! By the end of this article, we hope you feel more confident about the process. If you have any further questions, we encourage you to set up a consultation with us! 

Breast milk develops in three distinct phases. 

The milk we commonly associate with breastfeeding is known as “mature milk,” or the final iteration of what our bodies produce. When you first begin producing, you will not produce mature milk. Instead, you will produce colostrum. Colostrum is a thick, highly-nutritious, yellow substance. The antibodies in colostrum help infants fight off infections and viruses during those first few days. You’ll only produce about a teaspoon or two at a time and this might be disconcerting, initially. Although colostrum is enough to meet your infant’s dietary needs, it isn’t calorically dense enough to sustain their birth weight. For this reason, it’s customary for infants to lose between five to seven percent of their weight during the colostrum stage, which lasts three to five days after birth. You might feel frightened or guilty, watching your baby lose weight, and these emotions are normal. You shouldn’t begin to worry, however, unless your infant loses more than 10% of their body weight during the colostrum stage. 

During the second stage, you’ll begin to produce what’s known as “transitional milk.” This transitional milk is, as the name suggests, a mixture of colostrum and mature milk. It’ll be a lighter yellow than colostrum and high in protein, which will help your baby begin to regain some of the weight lost during the initial phase. Transitional milk will only appear three to five days after giving birth and must be stimulated by regular feedings. Some women, after becoming disheartened by initial problems breastfeeding, want to stop at this point. There is absolutely no shame in discontinuing breastfeeding. You should consult with your doctor and a lactation expert to ensure the problems you’re experiencing cannot be solved first, but if breastfeeding is negatively impacting your emotional or physical health, you should stop. Even a few days of breastfeeding is better than nothing, as your colostrum and transitional milk have helped to prime your baby’s digestive system. 

By the third phase, as we mentioned, you’ll be producing mature milk. This milk is white (although it can appear bluish) and watery. Mature milk has a much thinner consistency than either colostrum or transitional milk, but becomes creamier mid-feeding, when fat is released by the body. You’ll begin producing mature milk 10 to 15 days after giving birth. Mature milk is filled with all of the nutrients and calories your baby needs to survive. During this phase, you’ll see your baby regain all of the weight they lost (and more). 

You may experience “after pains” when breastfeeding.

Many women are shocked to find breastfeeding triggers their uterus to contract and that these contractions can be quite painful. These contractions occur because breastfeeding causes oxytocin to be released by the brain. Oxytocin is the hormone and neurotransmitter commonly associated with love, trust, empathy, desire, and euphoria; it’s also part of the reason breastfeeding is such a bonding activity with your child. The brand name of oxytocin is Pitocin. If you’re unaware, Pitocin is used to strengthen labor contractions. Therefore, oxytocin plays two vital roles within the body, that of inducing strong positive feelings and that of inducing contractions. Relax as much as possible when breastfeeding and wait for these contractions to pass. It’s important to rest after feedings, as fatigue can influence milk supply. As time passes and you move further away from the birth, these contractions should lessen in intensity and frequency. If these contractions prevent you from breastfeeding, you should consult your physician for assistance in handling the pain. 

Latching can take practice.

Although most expectant mothers hope and pray to birth a baby who latches on the first try, this isn’t the case with a majority of newborns. Whether you’ve had children already or not, for each new baby, it’s their first time. It’s important to make sure you’re in a comfortable position with plenty of support for your neck and shoulders. You might want a pillow on your lap. Your baby will be positioned tummy-to-tummy with you. Squeeze a drop or two onto your nipple to help the baby understand. You can begin by running your nipple along the baby’s lips, back and forth, and waiting for a yawn. The tip of your baby’s nose and chin will most likely touch your breast. Just because your baby is sucking doesn’t mean they are feeding. When they are receiving milk, you’ll notice a distinct suck-swallow-breathe pattern. If you’re unable to get a good latch, try again by hooking a finger into the baby’s mouth to break their seal. A good latch will have both your nipple and areola covered by the seal. Once again, if you continue to run into problems, you should reach out to a lactation consultant. By no means should you berate yourself. You’re doing amazing! 

It’s possible to breastfeed without giving birth. 

Inducing lactation without the help of hormones which naturally occur during pregnancy can make the entire process doubly challenging, but it is possible. If you’re looking to adopt a baby and hope to breastfeed, you should consult a lactation expert who has experience inducing non-pregnancy lactation. Understand, this process can take months, requires ample dedication, and may not always be successful. That said, it is possible and something you should look into well in advance of your baby coming home. 

The biggest takeaway from this article is: Breastfeeding is not easy. Lactating can come as second nature to some, but others have to work at doing so successfully. When you encounter problems, it’s important to recognize these as natural parts of the process and to be kind to yourself. We encourage you to come into The Breast Place for lactation consulting if you are experiencing issues or are hoping to prepare for your upcoming birth. We are always here to help! There are plenty more things to know about lactation, so we will certainly be following up this article with a part two. We hope you’ve enjoyed, and thank you for reading!