Breast milk: how to increase, take and store? See tips

It is not new that breast milk is the most complete food for the baby. Ministry of Health campaigns constantly reinforce the benefits for mothers and children of exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months.

And it is not for nothing, as it was around 1980 that researchers discovered that breastfeeding is essential for good child development , reducing the risk of disease and mortality.

With these data being confirmed by other studies, in 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) released the Innocenti Declaration, in which it guides exclusive breastfeeding until 2 years of age.

It does not stop there.

In addition to the nutrients necessary to strengthen the small organism, breastfeeding strengthens maternal bonds, comprises a moment of intimacy between mother and baby, and is an exchange of affection.

Although this information is known by a large part of society, there is still a series of misinformation and difficulties in the infant feeding process.

Therefore, the following text clarifies everything about breast milk and reinforces the role of breastfeeding in motherhood!

What is breast milk?

In the nutritional sense , breast milk is the richest and most important food for the baby. It provides nutrients and antibodies necessary for the resistance and development of the organism in the early stages of life.

This means that, for the child, it is very necessary for the continuity of good development, ensuring healthy growth.

In the biological sense , breast milk is the production of the woman’s body in response to the elevated hormonal actions of prolactin (“milk hormone”), resulting from pregnancy, and physiological stimuli – such as breast sucking.

In the personal or psychological sense , it is the opportunity to strengthen the bonds and affection between mother and baby.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, regardless of location, breast milk has a very similar composition of nutrients and cells, except in cases of maternal malnutrition.

Food is produced by the mother’s body and adapts to the newborn’s nutritional and immunological needs. So in the first few days after giving birth, it contains more protein and less fat.

These proteins, called lactoalbumin, differ from those present in other milks, such as cow’s. They are compatible with human digestion and easily degraded.

How is the production?

The production of breast milk starts, in fact, after delivery. But during pregnancy, several hormones act on the body and prepare the breasts to offer the baby food. Even before birth, estrogen and progesterone are responsible for the sensitivity, increase in size and dilation of breast blood vessels.

But it is another hormone, called prolactin, that is directly related to milk production.

It is present in the body of men and women in low quantities, and in pregnancy, production increases up to 20 times. However, milk is not yet produced due to the high rate of estrogen.

With childbirth and the removal of the placenta, the pituitary gland (gland located in the brain region) controls the decrease in estrogen, allowing the prolactin to start acting.

In about 48 hours, her levels rise and milk production becomes intense.

In adult women, there are about 15 to 24 mammary lobes located in the breasts. That is, glands similar to grape clusters . Each has between 20 and 40 lobes that produce and store milk.

But it is mainly while the child sucks the milk that it is produced. In this process, there is still the release of the hormone oxytocin. It is the result of the suction stimulus, which facilitates the outlet of milk.

In the beginning, production is still small. About 50mL.

Although it seems little, the liquid is very strong and concentrated, therefore, very nutritious. In addition, the baby’s stomach is still small, making this amount sufficient.

But it doesn’t take long for production to rise. By the 4th day after delivery, the mother’s body is already producing approximately 600mL of milk.

All of this production is also regulated by the child’s hunger. the more she suckles, the more stimulus there is to the formation of milk.

What are the three stages of breast milk?

The production of breast milk is not the same during all breastfeeding, as it adapts to the needs of the baby’s body. Therefore, production can be divided into 3 phases: colostrum, transition and mature.

Colostrum

The first phase of breast milk is called colostrum, which occurs between the 1st and the 5th day after delivery.

Food is rich in proteins and immunoglobulins, which are antibodies, and less fat. This phase is very important as it helps in the development of the baby’s immunity.

Production is still small, but the concentration of the liquid is sufficient to meet the child’s needs.

In this phase, the food, at each deciliter (dL) has about:

  • Calories: 48 to 58;
  • Lipids: 1.8 to 3.0;
  • Proteins: 1.9 to 2.1;
  • Lactose 5,0 a 5,1.

Transition

Between the 6th and 15th day after delivery, the mother’s body begins to produce milk considered to be in transition. At this stage, colostrum begins to undergo changes to mature milk, which is richer in fats and nutrients.

But until then, the food is rich in fat and lactose. There are fewer proteins and prebiotic elements, which are necessary for the constitution of the child’s intestinal flora.

Mature

About 15 days after delivery, the mature milk phase begins. The food already contains all the necessary nutrients for the good physical and cognitive development of the baby.

Vitamins , minerals and macronutrients (such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates ) are properly balanced in this phase.

There is nothing that the baby needs, in nutritional terms, that breast milk cannot offer.

In the mature phase, the concentration of nutrients in milk, per deciliter (dL), is:

  • Calories: 62 to 70;
  • Lipids: 3.0 to 4.1;
  • Proteins: 1.3 to 1.4;
  • Lactose: 6,5.

Benefits: what is the importance for the baby?

Exclusive breastfeeding is a way to ensure a healthier development for the baby. The organism, which is still being formed, needs to deal with changes in the external environment.

Therefore, food is the main way to give immunity and protection to the child’s organism.

And this is not reflected only in the initial months, as several studies indicate that breastfeeding has health effects throughout life. Among the benefits are:

  • Reduces the risk of infant death;
  • Prevents diarrhea;
  • Prevents respiratory infections;
  • Promotes the formation of the oral cavity;
  • Helps the intestinal flora;
  • It is easy to digest;
  • Improves immunity as a whole;
  • Reduces the risk of allergies;
  • Reduces risks of contamination by bacteria present in other foods;
  • Prevents colic or constipation;
  • Participates in the formation of the nervous system;
  • Provides all the necessary nutrients;

In addition, it is important to highlight that breastfeeding acts as an act of affection, making the moment an exchange of affection and closeness between mother and baby. This has positive effects on the child’s emotional and social development.

Composition: what vitamins are contained in breast milk?

In general, mothers know that milk is rich in the nutrients necessary for the baby’s good development. Until the age of 6 months, there is nothing else that most children need. But what’s in that superfood? Breast milk has a unique formulation that cannot even be produced industrially. That’s because it contains:

  • White blood cells : help in the immune system and development of the organism;
  • Proteins : essential for the formation of immunity, tissues and neurons;
  • Oligosaccharides : several types of sugars necessary for the formation of healthy intestinal flora;
  • Enzymes : about 40 types of enzymes that act in the digestion, immunity and maintenance of the body’s systems;
  • MicroRNA : regulate gene expression and are involved in preventing diseases or changes;
  • Hormones : participate in the regulation of appetite and sleep, for example;
  • Water : maintains the body’s hydration;
  • Vitamins : A, B12, C, D and E;
  • Minerals : such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, potassium, sodium and chlorine.

How to increase production?

A number of factors can affect a mother’s milk production. They include anatomical conditions of the breasts, women’s health problems or, above all, lack of stimuli.

As milk production is also done by stimulation, the baby’s grip – that is, the mouth socket for sucking milk – is very important in this process.

Therefore, observing if the entire areola is being enveloped by the baby’s mouth is the first step to check if the production is sufficient.

Other factors can affect the amount of milk produced, such as not breastfeeding frequently, the use of some medications, or the delay in first breastfeeding after delivery.

But there are tips that can help with good milk production:

Breastfeed often

Free demand, that is, breastfeeding at the pace that the child requests, is a way of stimulating milk production. Suction, or catching, stimulates the glands and makes milk more easily produced and released.

Wait for each breast to empty

It is important to alternate the breasts offered to the child, but it is necessary that the natural rhythm of breastfeeding is respected.

The ideal is to let the child suck all the milk before changing sides, otherwise the organism can understand it as a sign that there is too much milk. This can lead to reduced production or complications such as cobbled milk.

Warm massages and compresses

When there is, in fact, a reduction in production, stimuli can be used in the breasts. This includes massages around the areola and the application of warm compresses.

Especially before it is time to breastfeed, these techniques stimulate vasodilation and the action of the glands.

Teas

Water is very important for the good production of breast milk. Ideally, the mother ingests more than 2 liters per day.

However, it is not always easy to increase your intake. Therefore, one option may be to include teas and juices in the diet.

There are some women who look for plants naturally capable of increasing or stimulating milk production. Among them, mint, fennel and fennel.

However, there is no evidence that they can, in fact, stimulate the glands. Therefore, consumption should be focused on drinking tea as a liquid.

Choose moisturizing foods

It is important to know that there are no foods that stimulate or affect milk production. Therefore, mothers should be calm about the diet, making use of that old tip of healthy eating.

Therefore, it is necessary that the menu is composed of natural foods, rich in vitamins and minerals.

But there is another tip that can help with milk production: water-rich foods. Fruits like watermelon , melon and apple are very water-rich and therefore help in milk production.

Rest

A calm environment, regulated breathing and techniques that remove stress before and during breastfeeding are important.

The emotional has a great weight at this moment, it is important to be calm and focused on the act of breastfeeding.

How to express breast milk?

Some conditions may make it necessary to express milk for the child to breastfeed – a condition called milking.

It may be because the mother is returning to work, will be absent for a few hours, whether the partner or father participates in the process or to donate the milk .

In addition, when the baby is premature and has difficulties in getting the handle or if the breasts are too full, milking is a way to alleviate or deal with these cases.

For this, there are two ways to do the milking, which are manual and by pump. It does not have a more suitable form, as it depends on the adaptation of each woman. But there are tips that can make the process easier:

Manual

It is important to wash your hands well and find a quiet place to pick up.

First, the thumb should be positioned about 4 cm above the nipple and the other fingers below it, forming forceps with the hand.

The fingers should pinch the nipple while pressing the breast towards the body. The movement should be repeated rhythmically until the milk starts to flow.

The first jets must be discarded and the milk must be deposited in a sterile container.

Doing a massage, with circular movements across the breast before starting milking, facilitates milking, as this will cause the glands to be stimulated.

It is important to know that milking takes about 20 to 30 minutes, which is the natural time for a feed.

Bomb

There are 2 types of firecrackers, manual and electric. Both work simulating the baby’s suction, but the difference is that the manual needs to be activated by the mother while the electric is electrically activated.

Especially at the beginning, there may be pain or discomfort in the withdrawal, but the process tends to be simple as well.

The ideal is for the mother to thoroughly clean her hands and find a quiet place for milking. The massage can be done, aiming to stimulate the glands and facilitate the process.

The inhaler should be placed on the nipple and activated. The milk removed will be deposited directly in the container of the pump, whether manual or electric.

How to store?

The Brazilian Society of Pediatrics recommends that milk be preferably stored in a glass container, with a plastic lid and well sterilized – it is possible to buy own containers in pharmacies.

The ideal is to fill the container until there is about 2cm between the liquid and the lid. But it doesn’t have to be done all at once. That is, it is possible to fill gradually, in different milkings.

The milk must be stored in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours or for up to 15 days in the freezer or freezer. At room temperature, milk should be stored for a maximum of 2 to 4 hours.

In the case of frozen milks, before giving the baby, the Ministry of Health recommends letting it thaw in the refrigerator. It should never be allowed to thaw at room temperature .

Then, you should take it to the water bath to warm up. It is important to heat the water and remove the pan from the heat before placing the container inside.

Thawed milk cannot be returned to the freezer or freezer and must be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Before giving the child, it is necessary to gently mix the milk so that the nutrients are distributed properly.

How long can breast milk be out of the refrigerator?

It doesn’t matter if it is fresh or if it has been defrosted, breast milk can stay between 4 and 6 hours out of the refrigerator. Depending on the location (very hot locations), this time can be less, about 2 hours.

Medicines

There are several remedies that are marketed to stimulate or stop milk production. The use of medications, when necessary, can bring relief to mothers who do not produce or continue to produce a lot of milk.

But it is important to note that they are often indicated unnecessarily, which can bring health risks.

Doctors generally recommend that all manual or non-drug techniques be tested before using medication.

To dry breast milk

As is the case with stimulating production, when drying milk, it is recommended to use alternative techniques first, such as:

  • Do not breastfeed;
  • Make cold compresses;
  • Support the breasts with bands.

If it is still necessary to cease production by medication, the doctor may indicate remedies such as:

  • Dostinex;
  • Cabergolina.

To increase breast milk

There are a number of tactics and resources to increase breast milk production that women can resort to before using any medication. They, in general, are safer because they do not allow side effects and there are no major restrictions for the adoption of these practices.

Some features that can be used by the mother include:

  • Improve the child’s position during breastfeeding;
  • Increase the frequency of feedings;
  • Change the breast several times during breastfeeding, stimulating sucking;
  • Avoid the use of pacifiers;
  • Massage the breasts before breastfeeding;
  • Improve nutrition, rest and hydration.

If there is still not enough response from milk production, the drugs that can be indicated are:

  • Domperidona ;
  • Metoclopramide .

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Common questions

Is there weak breast milk?

No . Milk is the baby’s necessary food, containing all the vitamins, nutrients and cells necessary for the child’s proper development. Often, low weight gain is due to the baby’s poor positioning or other factors that prevent, hinder or interfere with breastfeeding.

However, when it occurs properly, breastfeeding is sufficient to meet dietary needs.

Also remembering that the quality of milk is not affected by the mother’s diet. In the beginning, colostrum production is lower and many mothers feel that it is not enough for the child’s nutrition.

But colostrum is very concentrated and adequately supplies the quantity and quality of nutrients that the baby needs.

My milk is yellow. Is there an ideal color?

There is no ideal color. It is necessary for the mother to know that her milk can – and possibly will – change during breastfeeding.

In fact, the color of the milk when the baby starts to breastfeed and when it finishes can also change. That’s because at the beginning of sucking, milk has more protein and less fat.

In the end, it is richer in fats, which helps to satiate the baby.

In addition, the color of the milk is very involved with the mother’s diet. For this reason, more pink, yellow or greenish milk may be due to the high intake of food with the respective colors.

Does breast milk have lactose?

-Yeah . Breast milk has lactose, but it is easy for the healthy body to digest. It is worth noting that cases of children who develop lactose intolerance are still more difficult while breastfeeding. In general, it tends to appear after 2 years.

The interruption of breastfeeding should only occur with the express guidance of the pediatrician, after confirmation of intolerance through examinations.

How to defrost breast milk?

Breast milk should be defrosted, preferably being placed in the refrigerator overnight. It is important not to leave it at room temperature and also not to heat it directly in a fire or microwave. Afterwards, the milk must not be frozen again and must be used within a maximum of 2 to 4 hours.

In which container can I store breast milk?

The milk can be stored in its own containers, bought in a pharmacy, or in glass containers, with a plastic lid and that are well sealed. These utensils must withstand high temperatures, as they need to be thoroughly cleaned in hot water before use.

Is breast milk blood?

No . Although breast milk is a living tissue, produced from the mother’s blood, it is not, in the literal sense, the same thing. It is a product of blood filtration, full of cells, such as antibodies, and nutrients that will strengthen the child.

It can even be called “mother’s blood” or “filtered blood”, but they are distinct organic productions, with specific purposes.

When does breast milk production begin?

Although the breasts are preparing during the whole pregnancy for the production of milk, it only starts even from the birth of the child. The first feedings will still supply colostrum, a kind of pre-milk. It takes time for the milk to come down, as the baby must suck.

After that, the mother is already producing the mature milk.

What to eat to increase breast milk?

There is no food capable of stimulating the production of breast milk. Despite this, investing in water-rich foods, such as melon and watermelon, can help. This is because they are very moisturizing and help to offer more fluid to the body.


Breastfeeding is a fundamental phase for good child development. In addition to being part of organic development, milk is part of an affective process.

Therefore, knowing the importance and correct practices to preserve this maternal moment is important.

Talk to your doctor and follow more information about motherhood and pregnancy in Hickey solution!

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