Lactation is common after a woman has given birth, and it can sometimes occur during pregnancy too. However, it is possible for both women and men to produce a milky discharge from one or both nipples without being pregnant or breastfeeding. This form of lactation is called galactorrhea. Galactorrhea is unrelated to the milk that a woman produces when breastfeeding.
Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor. Sometimes a woman's breasts make milk even though she is not pregnant or breastfeeding. This condition is called galactorrhea say: guh-lack-tuh-ree-ah. The milk may come from one or both breasts.
Milk production begins around the midpoint of pregnancy. Colostrum is being produced from about weeks of pregnancy, although many mothers are not aware that the milk is there since it may not be leaking or easy to express. Colostrum is the early, concentrated milk that is full of nutrients and disease-fighting antibodies — it provides everything that your baby needs in the early days after birth. Milk production normally begins to increase biochemically between 30 and 40 hours after delivery of the placenta, but it may take a little while for the changes to become apparent to the mother. Keep in mind that many women experience their milk coming in as a gradual change, rather than a sudden one.
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