This article explains the functional anatomy of breasts, the development of breasts under hormonal control, and anatomical factors affecting lactation.
- Milk is secreted and stored in alveoli.
- Myoepithelial cells surround the alveoli and contract in response to oxytocin hormone ejecting the stored milk from alveoli to lactiferous ducts.
- Lactiferous ducts transport this milk to nipples.
- Estrogen and growth hormone stimulates growth of milk carrying ducts during pregnancy.
- Progesterone, prolactin, and human placental lactogen stimulate alveolar growth during pregnancy.
- Because of these changes during pregnancy: Breast increases twice in volume, visible superficial veins over breasts, areola enlarges and darkens, Montgomery tubercles protrude from areola, and some milk may start leaking during the second half of pregnancy.
- A mother with hypoplastic breasts need intensive lactation support: Frequent breastfeeding and pumping; close watch on baby’s attachment, breastfeeding, and weight; and tube assisted supplementation if required.
Related article: Breast Anatomy: Can it Affect Breastfeeding?
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