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Thursday, 19 September 2019 Posted under Breast Feeding

Anatomy of the Lactating Breast

Anatomy of the Lactating Breast

Like all mammals, a human mother's breast's key function is to produce milk and suckle her offspring. It is not visible, but the female body starts the process of preparation to breastfeed from the time that she is born. By the time a female baby is 18 months old, ductile tissue has already started forming in her breast. This ductile tissue becomes lactiferous tissue in adulthood. 

The size of the breast is completely attributed to the amount of fat or adipose tissue that it contains. This differs from individual to individual. This has no connection to the quantity of breastmilk produced.

The breast starts working in full swing immediately post conception in order to facilitate breastfeeding. Let us discuss the various parts of the female lactating breast in further detail:

The Nipple is the portion of the breast which protrudes outwards. It is the tip from where milk is let out. It contains several pores, which let milk down when stimulated by the infant's suck. The nipple contains erectile tissue which causes it to become erect when sexually stimulated and also during the process of lactation, in order to ease latching the infant on. The nipple contains various nerve endings which are directly connected to the pituitary gland. When stimulated, they release hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin.

The Areola is the darkened area which surrounds the nipple. During pregnancy and lactation, this area becomes even darker. During pregnancy this area is characterized by tiny bumps called Montgomery Tubercles. These are sebaceous glands whose function is to produce oils to lubricate and cleanse the nipples. The secretions of these glands smell like amniotic fluid, therefore it helps to guide the newborn to the mother's breast.

Lobules are structures resembling grapes inside the breasts.

These lobules are glandular tissues. Each lobule contains about 10 to 15 alveoli, which are the milk producing glands. The alveoli are surrounded by myoepithelial cells which cause them to release milk into the ductules when oxytocin is released from the mother's brain.

The entire breast is made up of this intricate system of ducts known as the duct system.