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  1. Char’s STEAM project provided a good visual aid of the breast anatomy and her inclusion of the hand puppet to mimic a baby breastfeeding was beneficial in providing a visual representation of the mechanical stimulus created by a baby suckling. The physiological mechanisms of lactation are explained well. The mammary glands begin preparation for breast feeding during pregnancy as estrogen levels increase, including the production of growth hormone and cortisol. Prolactin is produced in response to the placental hormones and is key in the production of milk. After birth, oxytocin is responsible for the let-down response of the mother and is crucial for lactation. The mechanical stimulation of the baby suckling or latching onto the areola transmits signals allowing dopamine to be inhibited so oxytocin and prolactin levels can further rise, creating a positive feedback loop.

    Breast milk is important for newborn babies as it provides them with passive immunity against viruses and also provides nutrients needed for proper growth and development. Some issues that can occur during lactation include clogged milk or lactiferous ducts and mastitis. Issues with the baby being able to latch onto the areola can cause one or both of these conditions and treatment involves massage of the clogged breast, more frequent breast feedings and in severe situations, antibiotics are needed should an infection occur. Lactation consultants can be beneficial in helping mothers learn how to get their newborn babies to latch correctly, which can help to avoid clogged ducts or mastitis.

    Naomi Calle

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