How is mother’s milk formed?
  • Mother’s milk is formed in the breast. During pregnancy, milk secreting cells- alveoli are developed in the breast. Till the time of delivery they become stronger for making milk.
  • Milk sacs:
Milk sacs can also be called bags or sacs that make milk. Milk secreting cells, Lactiferous ducts or tubes and Lactiferous sinuses together make milk sacs.  
  • Milk secreting cells- alveoli:
In the formation of breast milk, the main contribution is of milk secreting cells- alveoli. Here milk is formed and also stored. In the breasts, there are thousands of milk secreting cells that perform the action of storing the milk and taking out the milk. They develop during pregnancy.  
  • Lactiferous ducts or tubes:
Many milk secreting cells- alveoli get together and open in lactiferous ducts or tubes. Milk secreting cells- alveoli and lactiferous ducts or tubes is situated in the fats of breasts or jelly-like substance of the breasts. Many milk secreting cells- alveoli either alone or together get widened. This widened part opens in areola. Areola is the dark brownish part around nipple. Here many lactiferous ducts or tubes open up.    
  • Lactiferous sinuses:
Lactiferous sinuses are situated behind areola. The milk formed in milk secreting cells reaches to lactiferous ducts or tubes through lactiferous sinuses and accumulates there.  
  • Nipple:
Areola is situated in the middle part of nipple. Here, there are many sensitive nerves. When the child does breast feeding and sucks the nipple, not only the nipple but the black part of areola should also get into the mouth. If the areola gets into the child’s mouth and is pressed, then only lactiferous sinuses will get pressed and because of the pressure the accumulated milk will come out.  
  • Prolactin reflex:
When the child starts sucking the nipples, the nerves in the nipples gets sensation. These nerves send the message to brain to release the prolactin secretion. This prolactin is produced in the brain and then gets mixed in the blood and reaches the breasts. The numerous milk secreting cells- alveoli present in the breasts make milk and this milk is collected in the lactiferous sinuses. The entire process of getting   Sensation in the nipple till the formation of the milk in the breasts is called ‘Prolactin reflex’.  
  • If the child sucks more, more milk is formed.
We saw that if the child sucks more, then the prolactin secretion which helps in formation of milk is also more. If more prolactin is formed, then more milk is formed. So if the child stops sucking or after delivery does not sucks at all, then milk won’t be formed. In case of twins, if both the children will suck the breasts, then that much milk will be formed in the breasts. This is called the law of demand and supply.  
  • In the night more milk will be formed.
In the night the speed of prolactin secretion is more. If feeding is done at night then the quantity of milk will be more.  
  • Oxytocin reflex:
Oxytocin secretion is responsible for the entire process that starts from pressing of the lactiferous sinuses, then secretion of the milk from the nipple and till the milk reaches in the child’s mouth. Like the prolactin secretion, the oxytocin secretion takes place when the child sucks the nipples and the nerves in the nipple gets pressed. The oxytocin secretion’s work is to contract muscles. Here in the breasts also all the muscles get compressed. The milk formed by the prolactin gets secreted in the Alveoli and lactiferous sinuses and then it flows towards the nipple. Thus, the process of secretion and flow of breast milk is called Oxytocin Reflex.  
  • The phenomenal work of carrying the breast milk formed in mother’s breast till baby’s mouth is done by oxytocin.
  As soon as the child starts sucking the nipple oxytocin is formed. Oxytocin is highly important as it is responsible for the flow of milk that is formed in the breast. But this work gets accomplished only if the child sucks well. But many a times it is believed that breasts are unable to form milk. But actually the fact is that, that there is milk inside the breasts. But because of any reason if the child does not suck or sucks less, then the child gets less milk.  
  • When will more Oxytocin be formed?
The process of Oxytocin formation depends on the mental well-being of mother. Good thoughts, love for the child, the feeling that I want to give my milk to my child or my milk is best for my child, loving thoughts of the baby, to listen and immediately react when the baby cries: all these things increase the level of Oxytocin in mother’s brain. For mother to remain happy and positive, the support of family members plays a vital role and boosts the morale of mother.  
  • When will Oxytocin formation be less?
Sadness, tension, stress, unacceptability of the sex of the child, stress of job, responsibility of household chores, any type of doubts in the mind, sometimes negative comments given by the relatives etc. can lead to reduced level of Oxytocin.  
  • How will the mother know about the Oxytocin reflex?
  1. Just sometime before the feeding, mother feels that the breast is getting contracted or feels itchiness on the breast.
  1. At times, the milk starts coming out by itself on listening the cries of the baby or just by thinking about the baby.
  1. When the child is sucking one of the breasts, the milk starts flowing from the second breast.
  1. For some reason if baby stops sucking then also milk keeps on flowing.
  2. When the child sucks mother feels sudden pain in the uterus as if it is contracting.
  1. Mother can feel even if the child sucks the milk slowly or if he or she swallows the milk.
  • Does it happen that in one breast more milk is formed than other?
Yes, it can happen. If the child sucks more from one breast than the other, then more milk will be formed in the breast from which the child sucks more and appears larger. On the other hand, less milk will be formed in the breast from which the child sucks less.  
  • Does it happen that sometimes the breast stops forming milk?
Yes, it can happen. For the formation of milk in the breasts, it is necessary that it gets emptied in certain time period. In the milk, there is a substance which reduces the production of milk called the inhibitor and that gets active. Once the inhibitor gets active the milk secreting cells stop accumulating the milk. Because of this reason, the breasts stop holding the milk by itself and the breasts are saved from the side effects of excessive milk production and accumulation. Because of any reason, the child stops sucking the milk, then milk should be taken out by pressing the breast. Once the accumulated milk is taken out, the production reducing agent called the inhibitor also comes out.  
  • Traits seen in the child
  • Skill- The way mother learns to hold the baby, similarly the baby also learns to find the breast and also properly taken in the mouth.
  • Routing reflex- When anything touches a child’s lips, immediately he or she opens the mouth. Tongue lowers down and comes forward to suck.
  • Sucking reflex- Once anything touches the palate of the mouth, the child starts sucking.
  • Swallowing reflex- Once the mouth is full of milk, child swallows it.
  • Experience of a working woman-
  Today at five o’clock, I was coming from my office on the scooter. On the way back, I was thinking that I will breastfeed my baby. With this thought, I was driving and in sometime I felt my breasts have got heavy because of milk. Before I pressed the doorbell of my house, I saw that my dress had become completely wet with milk. Isn’t this nature’s blessing, that milk starts forming in the breasts of the mother, just with the thought of the child.   A breast feeding mother is the combination of love, dedication, strength and compassion.    

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