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The Anatomy of Breastfeeding
So you want to breastfeed, awesome!!!!!!
Breastfeeding is natural so it should be easy right? It's instinctual for both you and baby... not so much. It is natural, but it's anything but easy. Your body is made for this and your boobs can do this but not without quite a bit of work and a desire to push through the tough times.
Breastfeeding is a relationship. Just like the relationship between you and your significant other, it takes time. It might have been love at first site but it took time to learn each others likes and dislikes, learn their history and what makes them tick and for them to learn the same from you.
Since you have made the amazing commitment to breastfeed let's learn how your body makes milk.
The two key hormones we'll be discussing are prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin is needed for milk production and oxytocin is needed for milk release.
As soon as you give birth your body starts making prolactin. Prolactin is what tells your body to fill the breasts each time you feed your baby. With each breastfeed, the prolactin levels increase, but levels drop if breastfeeding is not frequent enough. It is important to keep high prolactin levels to keep your supply up. This is why cluster feeding is so important. When babies reach growth spurts they cluster feed to increase your supply to meet their needs. It is SO important to start breastfeeding as soon as possible to make sure you initiate your prolactin levels and start to increase them as your baby grows.
Oxytocin, this hormone is what gives you that twitchy, tight, clenching feeling in your boobs. It causes your let down. Oxytocin is triggered by the lengthening of the nipple as baby sucks and pulls the nipple toward the back of the mouth. This is very important to know because a baby with a shallow latch isn't able to truly lengthen the nipple as they suck to trigger let down. They may still be getting some milk but not a full let down and emptying the breasts.
It's important to start the process of triggering prolactin and keeping the levels up as well as establishing a nice deep latch to make sure the oxytocin is released with the lengthening of the nipple from sucking.
To learn more about how to achieve a nice deep latch check out the Facebook live video I did explaining this process and keep an eye out for an up coming blog outlining the steps you need to take.
Congrats on your new baby, your decision to breastfeed and good luck. As always, I'm here to answer any questions you may have. Breastfeed Beautifully!
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