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  1. #1
    psophia17 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    I grew up on a dairy farm, and applied lots of my dairy knowledge to my own life when DS was born, as far as BF goes. It came up with some friends recently, and they thought it was helpful...so I decided to post the same text here. Maybe it will help someone out...

    Here goes:

    What aspects of cows' udders and womens' breasts are the same?
    leaking before delivery
    engorgement
    colostrum
    leaking at milking time
    having let-downs at the regular time
    achieving let-downs for pumping (assuming you can relax then, some cows can't, more on that later)

    What BF stuff do I think is a load of hooey, based on my knowledge of the dairy industry? There are two big ones:

    1. That breastmilk is different from day to day to ensure that baby is getting exactly what s/he needs from any given BF session. Milk is milk - antibodies come and go, but the nutritional components are the same. Yes, it's the perfect food for a baby, but it's not going to calibrate itself independently - it all relates back to what the producer is eating and drinking. The milk is in the udder/breast before milking time - it takes the time from the last milking session to be produced, and it takes ten minutes or less to completely milk an udder empty. Sure, if you keep the pump on for longer, you'll get more milk out, but a drizzle...nothing to write home about. The same goes for breastmilk. Breasts get full, and then get drained. There is foremilk and hindmilk, but the hindmilk is not created as the baby nurses - it is already in there, waiting to get going. If the baby needs more milk after the breast is emptied out, well - the baby will nurse again sooner, and signal the breast to create more milk next time. But the bulk of the milk is not produced as the baby feeds. This is something I've heard often, and I would like to know who has been milking women and tracking what it. Based on my dairy knowledge, it just doesn't work that way.

    2. That all women can BF. Some cows, regardless of the size of their udders, just don't have any milk production. We breed for this stuff - it is tracked carefully - and sometimes breeding back to get a high producer fails. Why this is, I cannot tell you, but it is. So any pressure on women that they didn't try hard enough is crap. If not all cows, bred for milk production, can do it, why should all women be able to do it?

    As for pumping - I did it often, and it was a huge help to me knowing how the process works with cows. There is the cadence to the pump action, and that is the first thing I would listen to. It got so that I could hear it and I'd let down right away. I have always found milking the cows relaxing, and think that all pregnant women would benefit from the experience of watching cows get milked. It would put a lot of puzzle pieces together. Here is my method for pumping (and getting DS to BF when he was a newbie).

    1. Massage breast/udder sort of roughly, to loosen things up; with cows, this is the washing stage, when warm water is used to clean off any manure stuck to the udder. In women, the same principle works - warmth is relaxing, and the massage is like the rooting reflex (calves have it too!)

    2. Figure out the cadence of the sucking reflex, whether you're BF or pumping, and hum to it. Find music that matches up. Trust me - cows milk more when they listen to music that matches up to the cadence of the milk machines, and I used this tactic when pumping. If you're in a sucky location when you pump, close your eyes and hum. Let the hum relax you - cows do it, and you are smarter than a cow!

    3. If you need to manually express, use your palm tp support the breast and the base of your thumb to squeeze the entire aerola down. This is exactly how you milk a cow, except with a way longer nipple. EXACTLY THE SAME.

    4. Make sure the baby has the whole aerola in his or her mouth - again EXACTLY THE SAME, since the aerola/nipple combo is the same as a teat.

    5. Make sure you empty the breast as best you can, and keep it clean and well lubricated where it gets wet - you will go a long way towards avoiding mastitis (cows get it too, for the same reasons!)

    That said - all the breast ailments out there can happen to udders, and treatment for both breasts and udders is the same. The SAME!

    I know the comparison of women to cows can be offensive, and ask that it not be taken so - at the end of the day, it's all about the mammary glands, right? There are so many similarities between cows and women, IME, and knowing about dairy really did help me.

    Please post questions if you have any...

    Petra
    Mother of Two
    Owner of BaDumBums

  2. #2
    karolyp is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    Interesting reading...thanks for taking the time to post this. What you've written makes a lot of sense. But I'm a little confused about the part where you stated, "But the bulk of the milk is not produced as the baby feeds."

    This is something that I've heard a lot about and thought was true too. Now I'm wondering if it really is...

  3. #3
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    Petra, that was fascinating!!! Really nifty. Thanks for posting!



    -Ry,
    mom to Emma, stillborn 11/04/04
    and Max, edd 01/15/06 - it's a HEALTHY BOY!

    http://lilypie.com/days/060115/3/25/1/-5/.png[/img]

  4. #4
    psophia17 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    >Interesting reading...thanks for taking the time to post
    >this. What you've written makes a lot of sense. But I'm a
    >little confused about the part where you stated, "But the bulk
    >of the milk is not produced as the baby feeds."
    >
    >This is something that I've heard a lot about and thought was
    >true too. Now I'm wondering if it really is...

    Based on what I know about cows, I don't think it's true. It might be, but I don't think it can be. Women produce so much less milk than cows do, but both udders and breasts get firm when full. It just doesn't make sense to me that a woman's mammary glands wouldn't be producing the bulk of the milk until baby was at breast, whilend while a cow's mammary glands did it all before hand. Yes, more milk is produced at all times - but all of the hindmilk cannot be produced while the baby is at the breast. An example, when I pumped (and I could pump and pump and pump), and I often had to use more than one of the little bottles that came with the pump. The first bottle, from the first 3 minutes was noticibly thinner, but after a bit of time in the fridge the cream had risen to the top. The second bottle looked denser, and had fraction more cream, but it was no different from the third, or the fourth (which I only got to once before I bought bigger bottles). This milk was not produced while I was pumping - it was there before I got the pump out. My boobs would go from firm and solid to soft and smushy. It had to have already been there, or that wouldn't have happened.
    Petra
    Mother of Two
    Owner of BaDumBums

  5. #5
    JTsMom is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    LOVE the post! You're going to laugh, but I've NEVER been able to manually express one drop until I read #3. I tried it right away, and sure enough, it worked. :)

    I am psyched to try the music while pumping. I would do anything to be able to pump more at a time. I am the worst pumper in the world, so anything else you want to pass along would be more than welcome. I have to pump about 6 times a day to get enough EBM for DS's cereal, and it's sucking up hours of time and making me nuts.

    Thank you so much!

  6. #6
    o_mom is online now Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    OK, I have sat here a long time thinking about whether to post this or no, but I can't just let this go by..

    >
    >What BF stuff do I think is a load of hooey, based on my
    >knowledge of the dairy industry? There are two big ones:
    >
    >1. That breastmilk is different from day to day to ensure that
    >baby is getting exactly what s/he needs from any given BF
    >session. Milk is milk - antibodies come and go, but the
    >nutritional components are the same. Yes, it's the perfect
    >food for a baby, but it's not going to calibrate itself
    >independently - it all relates back to what the producer is
    >eating and drinking.


    Milk is not the same all the time - even in cows the composition of milk changes over time. (See chart at bottom of page http://www.delaval.com/Dairy_Knowled...mary_Gland.htm) The fat and protein content changes. Anyone who has pumped on a regular basis can show you this - the milk I pump in the at different times has different amounts of fat - it is obvious just looking at the separated milk. Does BM change instantly? No, but it does change throughout the day and over periods of weeks and months. Yes it's based on the needs of the baby. There are many studies showing that BM naturally becomes less fatty as the baby gets older and the milk produced by mothers of preemies is different than that of full-term infants.


    >The milk is in the udder/breast before
    >milking time - it takes the time from the last milking session
    >to be produced, and it takes ten minutes or less to completely
    >milk an udder empty. Sure, if you keep the pump on for longer,
    >you'll get more milk out, but a drizzle...nothing to write
    >home about. The same goes for breastmilk. Breasts get full,
    >and then get drained.

    In cows, yes - they have a milk or teat cistern, which humans don't.

    >There is foremilk and hindmilk, but the
    >hindmilk is not created as the baby nurses - it is already in
    >there, waiting to get going. If the baby needs more milk after
    >the breast is emptied out, well - the baby will nurse again
    >sooner, and signal the breast to create more milk next time.
    >But the bulk of the milk is not produced as the baby feeds.
    >This is something I've heard often, and I would like to know
    >who has been milking women and tracking what it. Based on my
    >dairy knowledge, it just doesn't work that way.
    >

    Do a search in pubmed to find out who has been milking women - there are plenty of research articles out there.

    Here is an overview article:

    http://www.pennhealth.com/health_inf...ncy/000115.htm

    If I have time next week I'll try to track down some references.


    >2. That all women can BF. Some cows, regardless of the size of
    >their udders, just don't have any milk production. We breed
    >for this stuff - it is tracked carefully - and sometimes
    >breeding back to get a high producer fails. Why this is, I
    >cannot tell you, but it is. So any pressure on women that they
    >didn't try hard enough is crap. If not all cows, bred for milk
    >production, can do it, why should all women be able to do it?
    >

    You are confusing producing for a pump with feeding the offspring. I would bet that a good portion of those cows that "can't produce" for the pump could feed their calves.

    I'm not going to say every single woman can BF, but I see far too often where the normal newborn evening fussies is taken as a sign of "not enough milk". And there are plenty of women who cannot pump a single ounce but breastfeed their babies just fine.


    >I know the comparison of women to cows can be offensive, and
    >ask that it not be taken so - at the end of the day, it's all
    >about the mammary glands, right?

    Ummm, yeah, and we should all spit up and rechew our food, since it's all about stomachs, right?

    I hope this isn't taken the wrong way, but species comparisions are difficult. I think that Veterinarians have a much harder job than MDs - they have to learn everything for 5-6 species and their patients can't tell them where it hurts.


  7. #7
    mamicka is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    Thanks for posting this, Petra. I think much of it is really helpful but I don't agree with everything. I second what o_mom said for the most part.

    One other thing that I'd like to disagree with:
    >4. Make sure the baby has the whole aerola in his or her mouth - again >EXACTLY THE SAME, since the aerola/nipple combo is the same as a teat.

    I heard this a lot in my BF class & in a lot of books as well & it has become a real pet peeve of mine. I'm not going to name names ;) but some women have very large aerolas & there is no possible way that a baby could fit it all in their mouths. These women can also have no problem breastfeeding. It would be more helpful, I think, to give some kind of rough measurement instead of saying the entire aerola, since they aren't all the same size.

    Thanks for your post - I've never tried expressing how you described - I'll give it a try.

    Thanks!
    Allison

  8. #8
    psophia17 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    I'm not going to
    >name names ;) but some women have very large aerolas & there
    >is no possible way that a baby could fit it all in their
    >mouths. These women can also have no problem breastfeeding.

    I am one of those women - aerolas the size of saucers, I've got, there was no way DS could have latched on to the whole thing...however, when I was trying to get him latched in the early days, and even today when he's been weaned for over a year, I can feel a difference in the tissue underneath...there's a ledge kind of feel, and that was what I was shooting for when DS latched on. If he latched up to that ledge, he was a-ok. If not, we tried again. That's where I'm coming from with the comparison with nipple/aereola to teat - from udder to teat it's an obvious ledge, making it easy to figure out. With the breast it's not as easy, and the visible cue is the aereola - whether or not the whole thing gets into the baby's mouth, shooting for that goal will get you closer to the ledge.
    Petra
    Mother of Two
    Owner of BaDumBums

  9. #9
    psophia17 is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    I'm glad it worked :)

    If I think of anything else that might help with pumping, I'll pass it on. Pumping is very much a mental thing, I think...if you can get yourself into the zone (I've seen cows virutally pass out while they are being milked, I think this is where the idea of cow-tipping came from), you're pretty much set. What better thing to focus on than the sound you can't avoid, right?
    Petra
    Mother of Two
    Owner of BaDumBums

  10. #10
    mamicka is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Milk production from a dairy farm perspective

    Agreed. You're totally right, I always *tried* to get the whole thing in there & the more that got in, the better the latch.

    Allison

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