Maybe you love to cook and therefore have a lots of ustensiles in your kitchen?
Some fine knifes, an apron, pans in different sizes, a crockpot, and so on.

Well, you won't need any of that to feed you new born as the only delicious meal that interest him is his mama's milk. Also called "white gold". Sounds precious, doesn't it?

Why breastfeeding is so important for the baby?

Breastfeeding is vital for babies for so many reasons but let’s stick to three fondamental points: it’s the ideal food for them, it helps them build their immune defenses and it plays a part in setting the circadian rhythm.

some breastfeeding benefits
Illustration of some breastfeeding benefits by Emeline Courcelle

The maternal milk adapt to the needs and digestive capacity of the new borns in a way that really is perfect. It evolves over the months as the same time the baby grows up. The more he grows, the more his intestines also develop and are capable of digesting larger quantity of milk.

But that’s not the only parameter that changes. Over a day, the composition can be quite different according to daylight for example. In the morning, it is rich in cortisol to give a lot of energy to the baby. And in the evening, it is rich in melatonin to induce sleep which is a great way to set the circadian rhythm. And heaven knows how badly new parents want their baby to sleep at night.

Last of those three reasons (but not least!), it is essential to help them build their immune system. See, newborns have an immature immune system which will fall into place within the coming 2 to 3 years. Meanwhile, the maternal milk provides antibodies and nourishes the microbiota of the baby, which is key to a robust immune system.

How mammary glands develop during pregnancy?

The uterus isn’t the only organ to dramatically transform during pregnancy. The breast also do even if it isn’t as much impressive. The fat tissue gradually disappears while the glandular tissue develops. It is called mammogenesis.

Estrogens stimulate the development of the mammary ducts which will be in charge of the milk transportation to the exit. As the same time, the blossom of the secretory tissue is promoted by estrogens and progesterone. What a team!

All this intense cellular activity makes the breast very sensitive from the very beginning of pregnancy. It is one of the first sign that lead me to a pregnancy test…

The size of the breast isn’t link to the quantity of milk that will be produced.
mammary gland
Illustration of mammary gland by Emeline Courcelle

How does the breast produce milk?

The prolactine hormone is crucial during the first weeks of breastfeeding. The more the baby sucks, the more the levels of prolactine is increased and the more milk is produced in the alveoli for the next feed.

alveolar gland producing milk
Illustration of the alveolar gland producing milk by Emeline Courcelle

How the milk is ejected?

Here comes the love hormone again. When a baby is suckling or when the mama knows it’s time for a snack, she produces oxytocin that contracts the myoepithelial cells around the secretory alveoli. And the milk already collected in the alveoli starts flooding in!

myoepithelial cells ejecting milk
Illustration of myoepithelial cells ejecting milk out of the alveolar gland by Emeline Courcelle

Does breastfeeding need preparation during pregnancy?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to prepare your nipples to breastfeeding. So put that toothbrush down, please! The only thing it can do is irritate your skin and makes it even more painful. That is NOT what you want, believe me.

But if you want to be prepared, I would advise you to call an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). Because even if it is a very natural activity, we all need guidance at the beginnings. Moreover, to avoid pain, it is good to know how to position yourself and the baby's head.