When I redesigned my website, I needed some new imagery. Photos of beautiful babies and parents with their infants abound. I was aiming for something to describe another aspect of breastfeeding. Thus, I made that watercolor design.
This is my cartoon version of the alveoli. It describes part of lactogenesis.
To be clear:
Breastfeeding is providing milk directly to the baby via the breast.
Lactogenesis is the body’s process of making milk.
This (Lactogenesis) is influenced by many things. One is consistent, effective, early breastfeeding though that’s one part of the process. A person’s health, (including wholesome nutrition and minimal toxins in the environment), the baby’s health, parent and baby’s postpartum well being along with consistent support all have a role.
Lactogenesis has many steps in an intricate feedback of hormones. It’s worth saying that our bodies are elegantly complex. In early fetal development, mammary buds begin (for both male and female fetuses.) In puberty, as specific hormones rise, these buds develop into mammary ducts. In pregnancy, and especially early postpartum with your newborn on your chest, specific hormones stimulate growth. This develops a network of mammary ducts, ductules and mammary alveoli.
It is in the alveoli, the little bulbs or sacs illustrated in the watercolor design, where breast milk production happens. Alveoli cluster into lobules and that’s where breast milk is stored. All of this leads to building a breast milk supply and providing that to your baby. Alveoli are significant to your experience in breastfeeding. I hope people come to understand the larger, holistic scope of making breast milk and feeding our babies.
Whether you’re familiar with endocrinology or not, the cool thing is, your body already knows this.
If you are having difficulty or have questions, there is sometimes a straightforward answer. Sometimes it’s more involved. It’s worth it to understand more, to be patient with yourself and to have a good team of support.
Nature has provided us with excellent systems for growing beautiful, healthy babies. Every family deserves this… and if you’d like to share photos of you and your beautiful babies, I’d be glad to do that.