How does milk production work?


Every mother has asked herself how to increase her milk supply. Here it is helpful to first know how milk production actually works during breastfeeding. There are three different phases of milk production: lactogenesis I, lactogenesis II and lactogenesis III. We explain to you here exactly what the individual phases are and what they are for.


Lactogenesis I

In the first phase of milk production, your mammary glands differentiate during pregnancy to produce milk and form the yellowish colostrum. Due to this breast development during pregnancy, your breasts increase in size, but the extent of this enlargement says nothing about your later milk quantity. This means that if your breasts have increased only slightly, you can usually still produce enough milk. There are, of course, exceptions where the breasts are actually underdeveloped and do not contain enough glandular tissue to feed the baby without supplements. The first phase begins about halfway through pregnancy and is hormonally controlled.


Lactogenesis II

In the second phase, the formation of mostly white, mature breast milk is initiated. The trigger for the formation of your breast milk is the birth, more precisely the passing of the placenta. Your milk supply will increase around 30 to 40 hours after birth. 2-3 days after the birth, the volume of the breasts increases again drastically, this is the so-called milk supply. Your breasts will then feel heavy, hard, full and swollen. The transition from colostrum to the formation of mature breast milk takes 7 to 14 days and starts with hormonal control, ie regardless of whether you latch your baby or not. From the 3rd to 4th day after birth, however, the production of mature breast milk slows down if the milk is not removed from the breast. The mammary glands then regress to their inactive state, so it is important that the breast is evacuated early, frequently, and effectively in the first few hours and days after birth.


Lactogenesis III

In the third phase, the formation of your breast milk is maintained. Here, milk production is regulated according to the principle of supply and demand and is essentially determined by the child's appetite, provided that it is created without restriction as needed. This means that as much milk is produced as is emptied from your breasts. Since milk production in the first 3 to 6 weeks after birth is tailored to your baby's individual milk needs, the range of milk quantities is enormous. Most babies drink 6 to 700 ml a day in the first 900 months, and this is a constant amount and not increasing as is often assumed. Sometimes the breasts produce more milk than your baby needs at the beginning and the milk production regulates down over the course of the weeks.

These are broadly the most important stages you go through for milk production. We hope we were able to give you an insight and better enlighten you about your milk production. If you have any questions, you can contact us at any time!

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