When Does A Woman Start Lactating? When And How To Stop It?

Although lactation starts following the delivery of your baby, the preparation for effective lactation starts during pregnancy, in three phases:

  • Mamogenesis: This phase is the preparation phase in which there is remarkable growth of alveolar ducts in breast. This starts right from the first trimester.
  • Lactogenesis: This phase signifies synthesis and secretions from breast alveoli. Around this time during pregnancy breast becomes engorged, tense, tender and feel warm. This time breast also shows some secretions called as colostrums (early milk secretion which is yellowish serous fluid).
  • Galactokinesis: In this phase ejection of milk take place after delivery.

The most important phenomenon is the sucking reflux exerted by the baby. This reflex sends impulses to the brain releasing hormones (oxytocin) resulting in contraction of breast tissue cells and expulsion of milk.

This sucking reflux being a conditioned reflex is the only thing which is responsible for maintenance of effective and continuous lactation.

When Does A Woman Stop Lactating?

A woman may want to stop lactating if:

  • The baby is born dead.
  • The baby dies in neonatal period.
  • When she does not like to breast feed her baby.
  • Her breast has infection (e.g. breast abscess).

How To Stop Lactating If Not Breastfeeding?

  1. Using hormonal pills.
  2. Mechanical means: This is an effective procedure to stop lactating in cases where lactation is to be suppressed after establishment of milk secretion.
  • You should stop breast feeding.
  • You should not express or pump out milk from breast (because this will again act like sucking).
  • A tight compression bandage is applied for about 2 to 3 days.
  • If you have pains due to engorgement consult your doctor for some analgesic tablets.

Side Effects Of Lactation

There are no noted side-effects of lactation rather it is good for the baby. Breast milk provides your baby with antibodies (IgA, IgG, and IgM) and other hormonal factors (lacto-ferrin) which gives immunological defense to the newborn. According to me breast milk is the only feed your baby should get during first 6 months of life; even drinking water is not necessary if the baby is purely breast fed.

Lastly, breast feeding helps develop an affectionate bond between mother and child.