Breastfeeding is an essential practice for at least the first few months of a baby’s life. While many women opt not to breastfeed either due to career obligations or for cosmetic reasons, some women are unable to breastfeed despite the willingness to do so. A number of problems with breastfeeding may either discourage a women or make breastfeeding impractical and this is more likely to arise in first time mothers. However many of these breastfeeding problems can be treated or resolved with proper advice and guidance as well as patience.
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The shape and size of the female breast vary so widely that it is often difficult to say exactly what is normal and what should be considered as a small-sized breast. Breasts that seem small in a teen girl may grow in size within a few years as she develops into a more mature woman. Sometimes, one breast may appear slightly smaller than the breast on the other side. This is quite a common phenomenon and absolutely normal.
The first outward sign of breast development (thelarche) in a girl starts at puberty, which is the period when certain biological as well as emotional changes take place as she approaches womanhood. Appearance of breast buds is taken to be the first sign of puberty. This usually occurs between the ages of 8 to 13 (average being 10 to 12 years of age).
Identifying the cause of a single breast lump or multiple growths depends on a number of factors. A thorough assessment of a person’s medical history, including family history and use of prescription medication, and evaluation of the type of breast lump will assist with identifying likely causes. The presence of additional features like nipple discharge, breast pain, breast swelling and deformed nipples will further help with narrowing down the most likely causes.
continue reading Causes of a Breast Lump, Mass or Growth
Discovering a breast lump during self-examination can be a cause of great concern for most women. With the awareness about breast cancer, most women are now cautious about any breast lump in the event that it is a malignant tumor (cancer). However, cancer is not the only cause of an abnormal breast mass and understanding the different types of breast lumps and the character of these masses may help to ease unnecessary concern. However, any and every breast lump should be investigated by a medical doctor, preferably a gynecologist.
Refer to Breast Anatomy for a further explanation of the female breast structure.
Breast milk offers complete nutrition for the newborn baby and young infant. In addition, the maternal antibodies, chemical mediators, vitamins, enzymes and some types of white blood cells in breast milk (particularly in colostrum) augment the action of the baby’s immune system. At the height of lactation, the human breasts can produce up to 1.5 liters of milk (about 50 fluid ounces).
Milk is constantly being produced in the lactating breast. Initially when the baby suckles, little or no milk may be ejected from the nipple. This delay is a result of the suckling stimulating the secretion of oxytocin and prolactin. Oxytocin causes the myoepithelial layer of the lactiferous duct (explained under breast anatomy) to contract so that breast milk is pushed towards the nipple. Prolactin stimulates milk production. This is explained further under Breast Milk Production.
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