What is lactation?
The milk flow refers to the physiological process of intensification of lactation that allows the woman to breastfeed her baby. It is therefore the beginning of breastfeeding, where colostrum (we will see this notion later) gives way to transition milk, then to mature milk.
It is notably the fall in placental hormones after expulsion of the placenta that triggers this phenomenon. Moreover, prolactin, one of the lactation hormones, will be produced in greater quantities and released progressively to activate milk secretion.
Moreover, almost all women experience a milk surge, whether they gave birth by vaginal delivery or by caesarean section. Only a few rare cases of specific pathologies do not allow women to have this milk flow and to be able to breastfeed.
What is colostrum?
Colostrum is a thick yellow liquid produced by the mother at the end of pregnancy and the first few days after giving birth. Its role is mainly to transmit antibodies from the mother to the baby, so it plays an anti-infectious role so that the baby can defend itself while it is no longer protected in the womb. Moreover, the colostrum is rich in mineral salts, proteins and micronutrients and it allows a good growth of the baby's organs, in particular those of the digestive tract, and allows a good evacuation of the first stools of the baby.
Then the colostrum gives way to a more fluid and white transition milk before giving way to the breast milk, which is whiter and rich in lactose. These are very rich in calories, sugar and fat and therefore allow the baby to grow in size and weight.
When does the milk come in and what are the signs?
The onset of breastfeeding is usually on the second or third day after giving birth.
However, if the mother has not been able to have her baby at the breast often in the hours following the birth, milk production may be somewhat delayed.
A caesarean section, premature or long and difficult delivery, or hormonal abnormalities can also cause a delay in milk production, which will then occur five to six days after the delivery.
In addition, a pacifier or bottle supplement given to the newborn after birth can also delay a milk supply.
During a milk surge, the breasts will become hot, heavy, hard, tense and sensitive and can take on a lot of volume at the same time as they gorge themselves with milk. Note that the accompanying swelling is usually due to an increase in interstitial fluid. Some women may also experience a slight fever. This period of milk flow can be more or less painful from one woman to another, depending on the way their breastfeeding is conducted at that time. Nevertheless, some women will not realize that they are lactating.
Fighting the pain of lactation
One way to combat the pain of lactation is to take a hot shower while gently massaging your breasts. This will allow the excess milk to come out and relieve some of the pain.
As we mentioned earlier, breastfeeding your baby as often as possible or expressing your excess milk with a breast pump very frequently will help you get your breasts supple again and avoid complications such as difficulty in establishing a good milk flow or mastitis (inflammation of the breast).
To learn more about breastfeeding, you can watch Carole Hervé's videos here: https: //questiondallaitement.com/modules-video-allaitement/
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