Breastfeeding – why is it important?

Breast milk is recommended as the optimal and exclusive source of early nutrition for all infants from birth to at least 6 months of age. Maternal milk is crucial for development.

Milk production is regulated by the maternal hypothalamus and pituitary gland-derived hormones. Oxytocin and prolactin are the main hormones that play the role of milk production and the resulting letting down reflex.

There are distinct stages seen in milk production which start before the birth of the baby. The first milk is colostrum which is available after labor.

Colostrum is high in protein, sodium, and immunoglobulins while being low in lactose, and this is the first milk produced for the baby. After 30 to 40 hours postpartum, the milk composition changes by an increase of lactose and dilution of other constituents as the volume increases.

The maintenance of lactation follows an autonomous pattern wherein the sucking of the baby and emptying of the breast are the main factors regulating the milk flow.


Breastfeeding – why is it important?
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