Benefits for the mother include less blood loss following delivery, better uterus shrinkage, weight loss, and less postpartum depression.Breastfeeding delays the return of menstruation and fertility, a phenomenon known as lactational amenorrhea.
From the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy (the second and third trimesters), a woman's body produces hormones that stimulate the growth of the breast's milk duct system.Progesterone influences the growth in size of alveoli and lobes; high levels of progesterone, estrogen, prolactin and other hormones inhibit lactation before birth; hormone levels drop after birth, triggering milk production.After birth, the hormone oxytocin contracts the smooth muscle layer of cells surrounding the alveoli to squeeze milk into the duct system.Oxytocin is also necessary for the milk ejection reflex, or let-down to occur.Let-down occurs in response to the baby's suckling, though it also may be a conditioned response, e.g. Lactation can also be induced by a combination of physical and psychological stimulation, by drugs or by a combination of these methods.
Not all of breast milk's properties are understood, but its nutrient content is relatively consistent.
Breast milk is made from nutrients in the mother's bloodstream and bodily stores.
Breast milk has an optimal balance of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development.
Breastfeeding triggers biochemical reactions which allows for the enzymes, hormones, growth factors and immunologic substances to effectively defend against infectious diseases for the infant.
The breastmilk also has long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids which help with normal retinal and neural development.
The first type, produced during the first days after childbirth, is called colostrum.