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How breasts work to produce milk.

Knowing how the breast works to produce milk can help you understand the breastfeeding process.

The skin covering the nipple contains many nerves that are triggered by the baby’s sucking. This causes hormones to be released into the mother’s bloodstream. One of these hormones (prolactin) acts on the milk-making tissue, building up the milk supply.

The other hormone (oxytocin) causes the breast to push out or release the milk already there. This release of milk is known as the let-down reflex (milk ejection reflex). The more often your baby’s sucking causes a let-down and the more milk that is removed from your breasts the more the milk will be made.

That’s why it’s important to respond to your baby’s feeding cues and ensure that you are breastfeeding your baby often. Don’t limit time at the breast or delay the time between feeds. A well-drained breast ensures more milk is made quickly. Remember the breasts are never completely empty.

Babies stop feeding when they have had enough, while at the same time, your breasts are already at work making more milk.

Whatever your baby drinks is automatically replaced, producing a constant supply, perfectly matched to her need, whenever she needs it.