"Mothering" for a Mother too- Part1

"The Milky Way" is also referred to as the Galaxy in English. Originally, "galaxy" is a Greek derivative with "galac" meaning milk and "-xy" meaning flow. Thus, when we put the two words together, we get "the river of milk".

The Greek myth states that when the God of Fire, Jupiter's child, Laclus, was born, he lifted him up toward the mother's breast, breast milk flowed from Juneau and became the Milky Way. This Greek myth is based on the lactation reaction of a mother's breast milk, flowing as the Galaxy of the Milky Way.

The Mechanism for Mother's Milk

The mechanism of the secretion of mother's milk is a combination of complicated biological reactions. When the baby begins to suck on the nipple, s/he begins to move his/her mouth in search of milk. This nipple then is sucked by the baby deep into his/her mouth and becomes like a cherry in his/her baby's mouth. The part that becomes like the cherry is the head of the nipple and the ring of the nipple becomes the stem of the cherry.

The nipple and ring of the nipple receive strong sensory stimulation, by each movement of the baby's mouth, when it is pushed up hard against the upper roof of the mouth by his/her strong tongue. This stimulation runs along the nervous system and travels along the spine to the central nervous system that transmits a message to the nipple to release the muscles around it. Normally, the base of the nipple is pulled tight by the muscle, but when it is loosened, the mammary gland may begin to secrete breast milk at any time.

Collaboration of Mother and Child

The stimulation that reaches the brain from the central nerves stimulates the posterior pituitary gland and causes hormone secretion. These two hormones are called, oxytocin (note 1) and prolactin (note 2). Prolactin works to make the breast milk (note 3). Oxytocin works to contract the muscles around the nipple to facilitate milk secretion (note 3). Thus, when pressure is applied to the mammary gland, the mother's milk is secreted from the nipple. This mechanism is triggered by the secretion reaction of the contractions and the stronger the contraction, the fuller the flow of the milk will be. The secretion of the Greek goddess, Juneau, was so strong that it flowed to the heavens and became the Milky Way. Although Juneau was said to be a stepmother, she must have been a loving and compassionate mother.

When we view the secretion of breast milk in this light, we can say that it is a very convincing and active way the mother cares for the child. It is also a very lovely example of collaboration between mother and child.

(Note 1) Oxytocin is a hormone of the posterior pituitary gland to stimulate the contraction of the smooth muscle around the root of the nipple and also the uterus, facilitating milk secretion in the mammary gland, and also repairing the uterus after delivery.

(Note 2) Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that stimulates milk secretion and makes breast milk. It is thought that it also acts to strengthen maternal love.

(Note 3) The cell that makes breast milk is called the secretion cell, and the cell that contracts in response to oxytocin in the mammary gland is called the contraction cell.

Kobayashi, Noboru (1991). Hahaoya nimo mazaringu wo -1 (written in Japanese). Tokyo: Child Research Net. Retrieved July 5, 2001, from the World Wide Web:
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