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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the structure of the lactating breast
  • Summarize the process of lactation
  • Explain how the composition of breast milk changes during the first days of lactation and in the course of a single feeding

Lactation is the process by which milk is synthesized and secreted from the mammary glands of the postpartum female breast in response to an infant sucking at the nipple. Breast milk provides ideal nutrition and passive immunity for the infant, encourages mild uterine contractions to return the uterus to its pre-pregnancy size (i.e., involution), and induces a substantial metabolic increase in the mother, consuming the fat reserves stored during pregnancy.

Structure of the lactating breast

Mammary glands are modified sweat glands. The non-pregnant and non-lactating female breast is composed primarily of adipose and collagenous tissue, with mammary glands making up a very minor proportion of breast volume. The mammary gland is composed of milk-transporting lactiferous ducts, which expand and branch extensively during pregnancy in response to estrogen, growth hormone, cortisol, and prolactin. Moreover, in response to progesterone, clusters of breast alveoli bud from the ducts and expand outward toward the chest wall. Breast alveoli are balloon-like structures lined with milk-secreting cuboidal cells, or lactocytes, that are surrounded by a net of contractile myoepithelial cells. Milk is secreted from the lactocytes, fills the alveoli, and is squeezed into the ducts. Clusters of alveoli that drain to a common duct are called lobules; the lactating female has 12–20 lobules organized radially around the nipple. Milk drains from lactiferous ducts into lactiferous sinuses that meet at 4 to 18 perforations in the nipple, called nipple pores. The small bumps of the areola (the darkened skin around the nipple) are called Montgomery glands. They secrete oil to cleanse the nipple opening and prevent chapping and cracking of the nipple during breastfeeding.

The process of lactation

The pituitary hormone prolactin    is instrumental in the establishment and maintenance of breast milk supply. It also is important for the mobilization of maternal micronutrients for breast milk.

Near the fifth week of pregnancy, the level of circulating prolactin begins to increase, eventually rising to approximately 10–20 times the pre-pregnancy concentration. We noted earlier that, during pregnancy, prolactin and other hormones prepare the breasts anatomically for the secretion of milk. The level of prolactin plateaus in late pregnancy, at a level high enough to initiate milk production. However, estrogen, progesterone, and other placental hormones inhibit prolactin-mediated milk synthesis during pregnancy. It is not until the placenta is expelled that this inhibition is lifted and milk production commences.

After childbirth, the baseline prolactin level drops sharply, but it is restored for a 1-hour spike during each feeding to stimulate the production of milk for the next feeding. With each prolactin spike, estrogen and progesterone also increase slightly.

Questions & Answers

life circle of RBC and the life circle of WBC.
Yemi Reply
RBC 120days
Zeph
RBC 120days and WBC 10-12days
sai
what is anatomy?
Md Reply
positive feedback mechanism
Sirimala Reply
what is immunology
Riya Reply
immunology is a branch of medicine that study's the body immune system
SAMUEL
Immunology This is the study of specific and non-specific resistance of the body against infection i.e. the study of the immune response of a host to a foreign substance, which includes study of various reactions which are induced in the body by introduction of a substance.
Kaluki
what is role of elimination need like fluid and also stools
Munmun Reply
bone
Vijay
what is joint pain
Vijay
is the physical suffering caused by illness or injury of the joint
malulu
pls can someone describe shock,types ,pathophysiology and treatment
Isaac
this is what I'm thinking "After taking out everything the body needs, the bowel then expels the leftover waste."
isaiah
I think elimination also helps in the continuation of the digestive system because if the unwanted fluids and stools does not come out of the system it can create a problem in the digestive. system resulting in diseases.
Martha
shock is a condition whereby the circulating system is unable to get enough blood and oxygen to vital organs like the brain,heart,eye,kidney and others.
Martha
causing depression of those organs.
Martha
there are 2 classification of shock. primary shock: this occurs immediately after injury due emotional stimulus or pain.example hearing a bad news,sudden obstruction of airway.sudden heart attack. secondary shock :it occurs when primary shock is delayed
Martha
types of shock syncope (faint) oligaemic or hyppvovaemic shock. Anaphylactic shock. neurogenic/ physical shock septic sock catdiogenic shock.
Martha
What is the difference between dna duplication and chromosomes duplication?
to help you identify the human body parts to help you live a healthy life the study of Anatomy helps one to work in any health sector
sophia Reply
okay.
what is the function of the mitochondrial in the cell
Vida Reply
define and explain the synovial membrane
Mahmudu Reply
What is cloning?
Jesam Reply
relationship between anatomy and physiology
Ranjeeta Reply
anatomy is the structure and physiology is the function
Isaac
the branches of physiology
Asiedu Reply
is single DNA arranged into 46 chromosomes
Vaishnavi Reply
don't know about it
Sachin
no it is duble strand or pair of chromosomes
Marta
how does muscle contraction work?
Matthew
no,it is arranged as 23 pairs chromosomes
Ajiola
what are the parts of a cell?
Noel Reply
cell body, nucleus, cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum (rough and smooth), Golgi apparatus, cell membrane and organelles.
Heather
cell membrane, cell wall,cytoplasm, nucleus, etc
Felix
explain how skeletal muscles work
Felix
they work voluntarily
Trina
46 chromosomes present in which part of human body
Anar
when twins born how both of them carry 46 chromosomes
Anar
In the nuclear membrane
wisdom
but thiere r many cells n definetely cells have many nuclear membrane
Anar
cytoplasm plasma membrane nucleus
Ajiola
nucleus cytoplasm epr spr mitochondria
sureshbabu
cell have many parts and it act as different function s
sureshbabu
lysosome, golge body, cytoplasm, smooth endoplasmic reticulum
Vida
what is sex with male and female!
Muhammad Reply
intercourse
Jessie
sexual intercourse
Jessie
for formation of new generation
Sunil
sex is a female and male body courtship, rubbing of penis and vagina which results in release of fluids (sperm) from male in to the vagina of the female know as ejaculation
CHUOL
sex is a body courtship, penis and vagina rubbing which results in release of fluids sperm)
CHUOL
how sure a u?
Pius
it's like copulation
Pius

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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