2 key hormones in breastfeeding

2 key hormones in breastfeeding

There are two key hormones which work to promote milk supply- Prolactin and Oxytocin.

Prolactin

Is released from the pituitary gland (located in at the base of your brain right behind the bridge of your nose) in response to skin to skin with your baby and stimulation of the breast- either by your baby feeding or you pumping.

During the first 3 weeks postpartum, prolactin receptors on the alveolar cells of your breast are incredibly responsive to skin to skin and nipple stimulation, which in turn works to increase prolactin and therefore milk supply.

It is incredibly beneficial in those early weeks to ensure regular feeds or pumping sessions alongside lots of skin to skin to promote prolactin production. The levels of prolactin are typically the highest 30 minutes after the last and this increase of prolactin actually works to make the milk for your next feed! The more your baby feeds or you pump, the more signals your body will get to produce more prolactin. Some herbs like the galactagogue fenugreek can also support your body to make the hormone prolactin. Fenugreek is one of the key herbs included in our Lactation Boost formula to support your milk supply. 

Oxytocin

Is another hormone which is produced in response to stimulation of the nipple, either by your baby feeding or pumping. This in turn triggers the milk ejection reflex or “let down”, which contracts the muscle cells around your nipple forcing milk out of your milk ducts!

Research has shown that anxiety and acute stress can impact this release of oxytocin so it important to feed in a calm place, with minimal distraction to help production of oxytocin. If you are pumping, try looking at photos or videos of your little one that make you smile as this will support oxytocin production.

 

 

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