The amazing inner workings of the breast (part 1)

Posted on: August 21st, 2015 by JayHawkPharmacyBlogger

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Now that you’ve embarked on the exciting journey of motherhood, you’re ready to begin nursing your baby. It comes with its ups and downs, but in the background, your breasts are busy at work. Today we’re going to take a look at what’s going on inside your body as it produces nutrition for your baby.

It starts with the glands known as the alveoli. These glands look remarkably like little clusters of grapes. These clusters are called lobules, and a cluster of lobules is called a lobe. The average breast contains around 15 to 20.

When you consume food, your digestive system breaks it down until it is molecule-sized, and then releases it into your bloodstream. These molecules eventually make their way to the capillaries in the breast, and the alveoli captures the fats, sugars and proteins that pass by them and mix them together to form breast milk.

The alveoli lobes are connected to ductures, which are straw-like channels nestled within the breast’s fatty tissue.  These ductures carry the milk to the main milk ducts, which are a network of canals that connect to the nipple and areola.

The milk is then stored within the alveoli until your little one is ready to eat. Once your baby latches on and starts the process of nursing, a chemical called oxytocin is released into your bloodstream. This chemical tells the muscles around the alveoli to contract and squeeze, causing the milk to escape into the ducts.

The milk pools in the ducts just behind the areola, and as your child presses his or her lips against it, the milk is released into their mouths, and you have a happy, feeding baby.

But, if your child has trouble latching, never fear—you can still release oxytocin into your stream by using a breast pump. We carry a number of them here at Jayhawk Pharmacy.


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