I’m a lactation counselor with Ardo. How is your breast milk made? Let’s talk about it!
When you breastfeed, you may look down at your sweet baby and think to yourself “how is my breast milk made?” Well, when you pump or your baby breastfeeds, messages from your nipple travel through your nervous system to the pituitary gland in your brain. The pituitary gland then releases the breastfeeding hormones prolactin and oxytocin, which travel back through your bloodstream to your milk making cells in your breasts.
Here at your milk making cells, prolactin binds to the prolactin receptors in your milk making cells to signal the production of milk. When your baby removes your breast milk, more prolactin is released. But if breast milk isn’t removed frequently enough, prolactin levels fall, and your supply will decrease. Many mothers do not breastfeed frequently enough in the first several days. If they fail to breast feed frequently, not enough prolactin will be released and a bountiful milk supply fails to establish.
So we learned how milk is made inside of the milk making cells. Now let’s discussed how milk is ejected out of your nipple. Oxytocin causes the small muscles around your milk making cells to squeeze and contract and move the milk into the milk ducts and out of the nipple pores. This is called a letdown!
In sum, prolactin makes milk and oxytocin eject the milk and it’s all cycle working off of supply and demand. The more often you pump or breastfeed and empty your breasts, the more your hormones will be released, and the more milk you will make for your baby.
When your baby isn’t at your breast, you want to make sure that you have a pump that truly mimics your baby’s suckling so you can have the proper nipple stimulation. This is why the Swiss engineers at Ardo created the Calypso breast pump. The Calypso uses a piston motor to imitate true suckling. To learn more about the technology behind our breast pumps, read here.