Nutrition in early life

Infants, toddlers and children have other nutrient requirements than adults. Ideal nutrition for preterm and term infants is breastfeeding. It offers short-and long-term benefits for both mother and child. Yet some mothers encounter difficulties and benefit from some tips or develop painful mastitis. Alternatives to breastfeeding are available when needed. Maternal diet plays a large role in breastfeeding because some nutrients transfer from her diet whereas others are genetically regulated (check here Human milk composition and Human milk oligosaccharides). Many mothers are concerned about their milk volume and mothers of preterm infants may experience a delay of milk initiation. Coaching and support are helpful yet milk inducers so called "galactogogues" some of which are plant-derived are discussed in this section as are other nutraceuticals.

Baby being breastfed

How lactation works

Breast milk is produced from the mammary glands of the mother’s breasts. It is a miraculous source of nutrition: by nature always adapting its composition to the baby’s changing needs and providing a range of benefits for both the mother and her baby. Lactation is mainly controlled by two hormones: prolactin and oxytocin. Once the baby suckles on the mother’s breast, a signal is sent to the brain, which triggers the production of the two hormones. While the secretion of prolactin leads to the production of milk in the alveoli, oxytocin causes the milk flow from the alveoli to the ducts (WHO, 2009).

Read more about lactation
Baby being breastfed

Solving breast milk insufficiency

Mothers sometimes perceive their amount of breast milk produced to be insufficient. Indeed, hormones such as cortisol (a stress related hormone), are antagonists to prolactin, the hormone mainly responsible for breast milk production. As a consequence, these hormones are capable of reducing lactation when existent in sufficient quantities (Chatterton et al, 2000). However, a lot of natural substances exist that have galactogenic power, i.e. the power to increase breast milk production. 

Explore galactogogues