Preg-Life-17

Breastfeeding hormones

Loads of hormones are surging through the mother’s body the day that her breastmilk starts to come in. Some mothers notice this more than others. It’s common that mothers feel weepy and emotional. This is a completely natural reaction. You need to know this so you don’t get afraid when you’re at home with your newborn infant, crying a lot instead of feeling overjoyed. When the placenta detaches, estrogen and progesterone levels in the mother’s body drop, leaving room for two breastfeeding hormones, oxytocin and prolactin.

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a fantastic “peace and calm hormone” that makes mother feel calm, lowers blood pressure and boosts bonding to the baby (when oxytocin peaks). In terms of breastfeeding, it has an effect on milk ejection and is called the let-down reflex or milk ejection reflex. It is normal for it to take up to two minutes before the milk comes in. Another fantastic thing about oxytocin is that it has an effect on the mother’s senses, making her more open to getting to know her baby.

Stress hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol can have an impact or inhibit oxytocin. This means that if you are tired, in pain or worried, you might have difficulty getting your milk to flow. Find a comfortable position. You might want to sit up straight with a little cushion at your back and a footstool under your feet, or nurse while leaning back or lying down so that you can relax. A heat pad over your shoulders could provide relief, or a gentle massage.

Prolactin

The second breastfeeding hormone, prolactin, is the milk-producing hormone and is not impacted by stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. The milk-producing hormone ensures that you cannot run out of milk from one day to the next. We also know that prolactin peaks at night. This means that if your baby nurses frequently at night, the milk-producing hormone is activated, and your milk supply will increase in a couple of days. Some mothers feel blue the first few days after giving birth and do not feel as happy as they would like.