Research Article

Spontaneous milk ejection during lactation and its possible relevance to success of breast-feeding.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 12 August 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:466
  1. A S McNeilly,
  2. J R McNeilly


    In a woman suckling twins it became apparent that both suckling-induced and precisely timed, spontaneous bursts of milk ejection were occurring. Observations on days 14, 28, 56, and 112 of lactation disclosed highly significnat increases in intervals between episodes of spontaneous milk ejection. Furthermore, at all stages of lactation the interval between a feed and the next episode of spontaneous ejection was significantly longer than the interval between spontaneous ejections. The decrease in frequency of episodes of spontaneous milk ejection during lactation may be related to the decreasing release of prolactin in response to suckling. Spontaneous milk-ejection episodes are felt only when the breast is full and may signal its readiness for a further suckling episode. Such bursts of milk ejection may stimulate the suckling response in babies, suggesting that rigid three- or four-hour feeding regimens may be unphysiological and pose a threat to the success of breast-feeding in the early postnatal period.