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Breastfeeding Basics
breastfeeding

The basics of four general areas will be covered in this section to give you a better understanding of the underlying breastfeeding mechanics:

Anatomy of the lactating breast

Anatomy of the infant's mouth

Physiology of milk production

Physiology of infant sucking

 


Anatomy of the lactating breast

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  • Breasts and nipples come in MANY shapes and sizes; thus many different shapes and sizes can be considered normal.
  • Breastfeeding capabilities are not determined by breast size or shape; it is possible for small breasted women to have a greater capacity for milk production than large breasted women.
  • The breast has many nerves which help stimulate milk production and expression.
breast anatomy

 


 

Physiology of milk production

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  • Milk production is controlled by hormones released in response to sucking stimulation.
  • The body may also release these hormones in response to thoughts, sights, touch, sounds and smells.
  • Milk is produced in response to demand; the amount of milk removed by the infant determines the amount of milk produced.
  • Each mother will release milk at a different rate.
  • Each infant will take milk at a different rate and the amount of time spend breastfeeding does not always indicate the amount taken.
physiology milk production hormones

 


 

Anatomy of the infant's mouth

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  • The infant primarily uses three muscles for sucking: the orbicular oris, masster and temporalis.
  • The palate (the top of the infant's mouth) is important for proper sucking technique:
    • The hard palate, at the front of the roof, has rugae (ridges) that help hold the breast in the mouth.
    • The soft palate, at the back of the mouth, is where the nipple is drawn.
  • The lips form a strong seal around the breast; they should be flanged out, rather than tucked in, around the breast.
infant mouth anatomy

 


 

Physiology of infant sucking

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  • The infant will breathe through his nose while sucking.
  • A good portion of breast tissue is drawn deeply into the mouth along with the nipple.
  • The nipple is elongated two to three times its resting length during suckling.
  • The nipple extends all the way to the back of the infant's mouth, almost to his soft palate.
  • The infant will lower his jaw to create a vacuum, which causes the milk to flow into his mouth.
sucking physiology

 

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