Whether you are a first-time mother or not, you will have a whole lot of questions regarding baby care. This is because each baby is different. And the way you take care of the baby may also differ.
One of the biggest concerns most of the mothers have is about breastfeeding. Whether you are worried if you may breastfeed after food poisoning or on how to increase your milk supply, breastfeeding is a very rich topic and one that demands a lot of research especially for new moms.
One particular topic that is very popular between busy moms is pumping. If you are a working mother or spend a considerable amount of time away from the baby, then you resort to breast milk pumping for feeding the baby.
Most of the mothers are concerned about whether pumping can interfere with milk production. The answer is ‘NO.’ As long as there is stimulation, the breast keeps on producing the milk.
How is Breast Milk Produced?
The breast contains small clusters of cells called the Alveoli. Milk is produced in these clusters of cells which then travels down the duct to the nipples.
When the baby latches your breast and starts suckling, the nerve ending at the nipple send signals to the pituitary gland which then releases two hormones – Prolactin, and oxytocin. The prolactin plays a significant role in producing breast milk, whereas oxytocin ejects the liquid through the milk duct.
The milk starts flowing through the openings in the nipple when the baby sucks and swallows it. As long as the baby sucks the nipple, milk continues to flow from it.
What Happens During Pumping?
The breast pump has a shield which is placed over the breast for pumping. This creates a vacuum around the nipple. When the vacuum is created, the air is pulled into the breast shield. When you press and release the lever of the pump, the milk flows out of the breast because of the suction mechanism.
Thus, pumping creates the same effect on the breast as the suckling by a baby. Because of this, pumping the breast will not interfere in milk production. In fact, pumping can be used as an effective method to maintain a continuous supply of milk.
What Are the Factors That Affect the Supply of Breast Milk?
As mentioned earlier, the supply of breast milk depends on its demand. But certain other factors can affect its supply. Let us have a look at these factors
- Hormonal and other health problems: Hormonal imbalance, as well as certain health conditions like diabetes, PCOD, and thyroid, will affect your fertility. These same factors will affect your body’s capacity to produce breast milk. The only solution to this is to identify the problem and treat it. But it is advisable to provide supplements to your baby as your breast milk may not be enough.
- Problem with breast tissues: In some women, the breast may not grow normally. Hence, it may not have enough milk making ducts to meet the baby’s requirements. The solution for this is to pump the milk. The medication also helps in improving the milk supply.
- Breast surgery: If cosmetic breast surgeries like breast enhancement or reduction have been done, then it can affect the capacity of the breast to produce milk. Similarly, nipple piercing can damage the milk ducts in the nipple, thus affecting the normal flow of milk. How much these surgeries impact the milk production depends on the time that has elapsed between the operation and the birth of the baby.
- Using the birth control pill: For some mothers, consuming birth control pills can affect their milk production. If you think this could be the reason, then you should stop the medicines immediately. Even after stopping some mothers need supplements to boost milk production.
- Medication: Certain types of decongestants like Sudafed, Allegra-D, and Zyrtec- D as well as Antihistamines like Benadryl and Cetirizine can affect the supply of milk. If you are under any of these medications and notice a fall in milk supply, then you should immediately ask your doctor to change the medication.
- Sucking difficulty: If your baby has difficulty in sucking, then he will take only less milk. This can naturally affect your milk supply. When the baby has conditions like cleft lip or cleft palate, then he will have difficulty sucking the milk properly.
- Absence of night feed: Some mothers do not feed the baby at night as they do not want to disturb the baby. Prolactin, the hormone that signals milk production, is usually high during the night. When you do not feed the baby during the night, the level of prolactin drops, which eventually results in less milk production.
- Providing supplements: If you give supplements to the baby, the baby will naturally feel less hungry. Hence, the amount of milk sucked out from the breast will be less. This results in less milk production.
Breast milk production is based on the demand-supply principle. As long as there is demand for breast milk, the breast will continue producing the same. Pumping will in no way interfere with the milk supply as pumping is similar to the suckling action of the baby.