Breast Milk Excretion Before Birth
| Breast milk is produced from an exclusive type of glands located in a woman’s body called as mammary glands. These mammary glands are a rich network of capillaries connecting connective and fatty tissues located inside the breast. Milk is produced in small clusters of fat cells or sac-like glands called alveoli.
These cells are connected to milk ducts through which the produced milk passes and gets stored in milk sinuses or reservoirs. These reservoirs are located just behind the pigmented area around the nipple called areola.
However, milk supply is not a supply and demand process. The production of milk in mammary glands starts well before the mother gives birth to a child. During pregnancy, the production of milk is primarily under the control of endocrine system. Alveoli are developed inside the breast once they are stimulated by hormones. The hormones that stimulate the development of alveoli include estrogen, progesterone, pituitary prolactin, and placental lactogen. All these hormones are produced during the second trimester of pregnancy.
While estrogen stimulates the growth and formation of alveoli cells and milk ducts, progesterone regulates the production of the milk during pregnancy. Increased levels of progesterone help in keeping the milk volume low at the time of pregnancy. Alveolar cells respond to making milk following stimulation from prolactin secreted from pituitary gland located inside the brain. Oxytocin is another hormone that is produced at the time of birth and is necessary for milk-ejection reflex to occur.
Colostrum production in mothers usually occurs in two stages, a process called as Lactogenesis. While Lactogenesis-I starts at the end of second trimester, Lactogenesis-II starts after 48 hrs of child birth.
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