What is Lactation period

Lactation is a natural physiological process producing a specific nutrient - maternal (breast) milk. The lactation period lasts from the moment of the end of labor and the first application of the baby to the breast until the end of the milk extraction. According to research and recommendations of gynecologists, obstetricians, the baby should be applied to the breast immediately after birth.

Despite this, the mammary gland does not immediately begin to give off milk immediately after birth. However, the mother's body synthesizes colostrum beneficial to the body, playing a huge role in the development of children's immunity.

Lactation, as a physiological process, begins about 2-3 days after the birth. At this time, a woman can begin to experience uncomfortable, and even painful sensations: chest pressure, breast enlargement, small pulling pain. This is the physiological norm. Since the beginning of lactation, the baby needs to be applied to the breast as often as possible. Only so lactation can become quite stable. Neither pumping, nor other methods will help to establish a stable lactation. Otherwise, there is a risk that the milk will "disappear".

After 14 - 21 days, the next phase of the lactation period, the so-called mature lactation. In some cases, this period may drag on and come later. In this phase of lactation, there is no longer any need to feed the baby as often as possible. Lactation is stable, which means that the baby needs to be fed only on demand. The intervals between each following feeding should be about 2 hours (not less). In the future, as the lactation period comes to an end, the intervals should be increased to 4 hours. Only in this single case the lactation period will be as comfortable and useful for the child as for the mother herself.

A little about lactation, as a physiological process

As it was said, lactation is a natural process, during which there is a synthesis, accumulation and further allocation of a specific nutrient - mother's milk. Lactation is a very complicated process. It is caused by the production of a number of hormones. The main active substance affecting the production of milk is the pituitary hormone prolactin. It directly affects the mammary gland, giving a "command" to produce milk. The intensity of production directly depends on the concentration of the hormone in the blood. Milk accumulates in the gland itself and the so-called milky passage, through which the milk goes beyond the gland.

Another important hormone is oxytocin. This active substance is intensively produced in the process of suckling an infant of the mother's breast. With muscle contraction, milk leaves the body faster. The hormone does not directly affect the intensity of milk production, but it helps the substance to be evacuated more quickly, which means it prevents the stagnation of milk and the development of such formidable complications as lactostasis and mastitis. In addition, oxytocin helps to reduce the muscles of the uterus, which means a quick stop of postpartum bleeding. The first two - three days after delivery, milk is not allocated to mothers, but colostrum is allocated. In some cases, the colostrum begins to be synthesized during the gestation period.

Women are important to keep in mind. During stimulation of the mammary glands, oxytocin is released, therefore, in no case should women who have a similar feature of the body express the colostrum. Oxytocin contributes to the reduction of the uterus and the onset of premature birth.

Colostrum is replaced by maternal milk, approximately, for 3-5 days. In the first days of life the baby is quite enough colostrum. Do not feed the child in addition to the mixture, water or whatever else. Many women, for lack of experience or ignorance, make quite serious mistakes:

1. In no case should it be necessary to establish a schedule (mode) for feeding the baby. The child himself knows how much and when he is. To establish the schedule of feeding is expedient only at the onset of the period of so-called mature lactation (approximately after 14-21 days) and closer to its completion (intervals of 2-4 hours). Beginning with this method of feeding a child, the mother risks to "lose" milk very quickly, since lactation at the initial stage is extremely unstable.

2. You can not feed your baby with artificial compounds. This is probably one of the most serious mistakes mothers make. For one reason or another, the woman decides that the baby does not have enough milk and buys an artificial mixture. Such a diet can lead to a number of adverse effects. First, sucking from the nipple is much easier than attaching to the breast, and secondly, the mixture has better taste properties, which means there is a high risk that the baby will at all give up mother's milk. Despite all the properties of artificial mixtures (they are close in composition to human milk), they can not replace breast milk. So they provoke a lot of side effects. The child may develop colic, digestive problems and allergic reactions.

3. Do not dopayivat child with water. Contrary to popular belief, milk is not just food. Almost 90% of it consists of water, which means that the child is enough. If the mother has a suspicion that the child wants to drink - the best solution will be stimulation of lactation and "unplanned" regular feeding. If the baby uses water in addition to milk, this can lead to a failure of food. The fact is that as the stomach becomes full, the brain receives a signal of saturation and a feeling of artificial saturation. You can give water to a baby only in two cases: if it's time to introduce complementary foods (not earlier than 6 months), or if the baby is initially on artificial feeding. Otherwise, problems with the kidneys may start and the development of edema is not far off.

4. Not always the cause of crying is hunger. The child is arranged so that the only way to attract attention is crying. But the reasons for crying can be huge: the child may have colic, stomach pain, his head may be aching, the baby may be simply bored, he may want to be taken in his arms, teeth may be cut, the baby might get scared, Time to change a diaper, etc.

5. For some reason, many mothers are sure that the level of milk directly depends on how tight and firm the chest. This is a huge misconception. If the chest is observed and palpated seals - this is not indicative of the amount of milk, but about the onset of lactostasis and stagnation. Breasts, by contrast, can not just, but should be mild. Moreover, a woman, with the normal development of lactation, should not experience a lot of unpleasant sensations. Therefore, this is not an excuse to avoid feeding.

6. Without sufficient reasons, breast milk should not be expressed. Expressing the milk, the woman loses the most useful part of it, the so-called "back" milk. Instead of pumping, it is better to offer the baby one more time. Pumping is advisable only if there is lactostasis.

7. Do not use obsolete weight gain data. Many pediatricians use old regimens and tables of weight growth ratios, etc. These data were relevant 10-20 years ago and materials were made for children on artificial feeding.

8. If possible, do not give a pacifier. The sucking reflex of the child is satisfied by the maternal breast. If the child cries - you need to find and eliminate the cause of irritation, and do not stop the baby's mouth with a pacifier.

9. The control weighing of the baby is useless. Often mothers weigh a child before and after feeding to find out how much the baby has eaten. The thing is that, firstly, the baby consumes a negligible amount of milk. To reflect such a small result, we need very sensitive scales that cost quite a lot of money. The usual household scales result will not reflect. Secondly, every time a baby consumes a different amount of milk. You should not use this method.

10. It is not too early to introduce complementary foods. The lure should be introduced not earlier and not later than 6 months. If you enter it earlier - there is a risk of allergic reactions and development of problems with the gastrointestinal tract, if later - mental and physical development disorders are possible. (How to introduce a complementary feeding to a child - a table for the feeding of children up to a year by months)