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Prolactin, a hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, increases during pregnancy and plays a major role in the production of milk. Prolactin is released in response to the baby’s suckling on the nipple and acts on the secretory alveolar cells of the breast to initiate and stimulate the synthesis and secretion of the milk proteins, lactose and lipids. Suckling also causes the release of another hormone oxcytocin from the posterior pituitary gland, which acts through the blood stream to contract the myoepithelial cells surrounding the alveoli and ducts, causing the milk to be squeezed out into the ducts leading to the nipples.

The amount of prolactin in the blood is related to the breastfeeding pattern, that is the frequency and duration of the suckling stimulus. The high level of prolactin often inhibits ovulation, apparently by suppressing the production of the two key hormones Luteinising Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). As suckling is reduced prolactin secretion returns to normal and menstruation and/or ovulation resume

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Lactational Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation after 2 months post partum due to the effects of fully, or nearly fully, breastfeeding. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is a modern, temporary, method of family planning based on this natural infertility resulting from certain patterns of breastfeeding.