One needn’t even talk about how strong the connection between a mother and her baby is. Right from housing her baby inside her for nine months, nourishing it all the while. Once the nine months are over, she has to go through the pain of labour and deliver her baby. Of course, all this while, the baby gets nourishment from what the mother eats, the health of the baby depends on the lifestyle of the mother and of course, even during delivery, a lot depends on the baby.
Therefore, even before a baby arrives in this world, there’s a really strong bond between the mother and the child. Post birth. However, one of the biggest bonding time is when the baby gets fed. We all know that, mother’s milk is the best form of nutrition for her baby.
Lactation as such is the term given to describe the secretion of mammary glands and it also indicates the period of time the mother lactates to feed her baby.
Lactation is the same for each and every mammal on this planet. This process usually occurs for every female mammal post their pregnancy. The process of female human beings feeding their young ones is called breast feeding.
The main purpose or function of lactation is to provide nutrition and also provide protection to the baby post its birth.
There are quite a few hormones which are responsible for the process of lactation. Lactation is a process as it has various stages and each stage has a particular set of hormones responsible for the working of all these stages.
There are mainly four stages of Lactation:
Mammogenesis: This is the period of time when the breasts, which were formerly inactive, tend to increase in size during pregnancy. The veins in the breast become more prominent and the nipple area begins to darken. The amount of connective tissue increases and fat is deposited in the breast. The hormones responsible for these changes are oestrogen, growth hormone, insulin and prolactin.
Lactogenesis: The next stage is called lactogenesis which basically has two stages of its own.
1. Lactogenesis I – This indicates the ability of the mammary glands to secrete milk from the mid pregnancy period to the late pregnancy. The process of Lactogenesis I usually starts from mid pregnancy till two days post birth.
2. Lactogenesis II – This stage is where the formation of large amounts of milk takes place in the breast. This stage starts from three days post pregnancy and lasts till eight days post pregnancy. The breast becomes warm and full producing large amounts of milk.
Galactopoiesis: This process usually starts from nine days post pregnancy and lasts till the next stage of lactation begins. In this stage the lactation of the breasts is controlled and maintained by the hormones. The size of the breasts start to decrease between six to nine months post birth. Subsequently, the formation of milk decreases by seven to nine months post pregnancy.
Involution: This is the last stage of lactation. In this stage, there is loss of secretory function of the milk.
Even though breastfeeding is highly recommended by doctors and is the primary and best source of nutrition for young ones, it still has its advantages as well as disadvantages like everything else.
The advantages of breastfeeding are:
The first and foremost advantage of breast milk is that it is readily available and a mother’s body is equipped to provide her baby with her milk.
Another advantage of breast milk is that the baby needs passive immunity and the mother’s milk has antibodies and anti-infectious agents.
Breastfeeding controls and prevents menstruation which may act as a method for birth control.
It is said to reduce risk of breast and also ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of obesity and as well as Type-2 diabetes.
Even though breastfeeding is the ultimate form of nutrition for a baby, it still has a few disadvantages.
Some disadvantages of breastfeeding are:
There is a calculated risk of transmission of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C from the mother to the baby.
Even though, mothers are given maternal leave from work, it is not always the same for all kinds of jobs, mothers often have to go back to work where on demand breastfeeding is not possible.
Continuous breastfeeding results in excessive nipple pain.
These are some of the things which needs to be known to a mother who is due to deliver so she knows what the further plan of action is for her, her baby and her body as well.