Diseases

Breast milk

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Mother's milk is ideally adapted to the baby by nature. It adapts to the needs of the baby within the first few days after birth and changes during the breastfeeding period. Learn here how it is produced, which ingredients make breastmilk so valuable and why bacteria are even important in milk.

How is mother's milk made?

The production and release (secretion) of breast milk is called lactation. This task is performed by the mammary glands. The hormones estrogen, progesterone, human placental lactogen (HPL) and prolactin prepare the breast for breastfeeding during pregnancy.

However, milk production does not start until after the birth, when estrogen and progesterone levels drop rapidly as a result of the placenta's rejection and the level of prolactin increases. In addition to the right hormones at the right time, it needs a regular stimulus to activate the milk flow. Because only with regular donning and vigorous sucking of the baby does the body continue to release prolactin so that production does not stop. In addition, the "cuddle hormone" stimulates oxytocin cells of the milk-producing glands. The milk-producing cells contract and squeeze the milk into the milk ducts.

The first milk, the so-called Vormilch (colostrum), is available immediately after birth. This first breastmilk is yellow and viscous and feeds the newborn for the first three to five days. With the subsequent milk injection starts the production of a transitional milk, which is replaced about 15 days after the birth of the mature breast milk. It is much lighter and thinner than the foremilk and can supply the child for a long time.

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Breast milk: composition

In addition to water, breast milk contains:

  • lactose
  • carbohydrates
  • proteins
  • fats
  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • carboxylic acid
  • hormones
  • enzymes
  • growth factors
  • maternal immune cells

In the course of breastfeeding, in addition to color and consistency, the composition also changes: breast milk contains less protein and less lactose, but more calories and a higher fat content than the initially formed foremilk. But even within a nursing meal, the concentrations fluctuate: So the baby gets with the first swig mainly proteins, minerals and vitamins and only later a fatty high-energy milk. But above all, the high proportion of immune cells makes breast milk and colostrum especially valuable for the child: they protect it against infections.

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