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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Because of the long gestation and lactation periods, the interval between calving is usually at least two or three years.
▪ Females are often limited further by the necessity to rear offspring by brooding or lactation.
▪ Tetany may be triggered by hyperventilation or precipitated by vomiting or by pregnancy and lactation.
▪ The suckling pup may also be infected by ingestion of L3 in the milk during the first three weeks of lactation.
▪ There is one reported instance of hypomagnesemia sue to excessive lactation.
▪ Thus the beta-lactoglobulin gene is expressed only in the mammary gland, and only during lactation.
▪ Yields are best after the second lactation and the smallness of the fat globules makes the milk very digestible.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Lactation \Lac*ta"tion\, n. The secretion and yielding of milk by the mammary gland; giving suck.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1660s, "process of suckling an infant," from French lactation, from Late Latin lactationem (nominative lactatio) "a suckling," noun of action from past participle stem of lactare "suckle," from lac (genitive lactis) "milk," from PIE root *glakt- (cognates: Greek gala, genitive galaktos, "milk"), which, along with *melg- (see milk (n.)), accounts for words for "milk" in most Indo-European languages (the absence of a common word for it is considered a mystery). Meaning "process of secreting milk from the breasts" first recorded 1857. Middle Irish lacht, Welsh llaeth "milk" are loan words from Latin.


n. 1 The secretion of milk from the mammary gland of a female mammal. 2 The process of providing the milk to the young; breastfeeding. 3 The period of time that a mother lactates to feed her young; '''lactation''' period.

  1. n. the period following birth during which milk is secreted; "lactation normally continues until weaning"

  2. the production and secretion of milk by the mammary glands

  3. feeding an infant by giving suck at the breast [syn: suckling]


Lactation describes the secretion of milk from the mammary glands and the period of time that a mother lactates to feed her young. The process can occur with all post- pregnancy female mammals, although it predates mammals. In humans the process of feeding milk is also called breastfeeding or nursing.

In most species, milk comes out of the mother's nipples; however, the monotremes, egg-laying mammals, lack nipples and releases milk through ducts in its abdomen. In only one species of mammal, the Dayak fruit bat, is milk production a normal male function.

Galactopoiesis is the maintenance of milk production. This stage requires prolactin. Oxytocin is critical for the milk let-down reflex in response to suckling.

Newborn infants often produce some witch's milk.

Galactorrhea is milk production unrelated to nursing, it can occur in males and females of many mammal species as result of hormonal imbalances or unusual physiological stimuli.

Usage examples of "lactation".

Although de Sinety, as shown above, had practised the ablation of the mammary glands during lactation, it would seem that mutilation rather than complete ablation preceded his experiments on the innervation of the mammary nerve.

Ford has collected several cases in which lactation was artificially induced by women who, though for some time not having been pregnant themselves, nursed for others.

They herd us, drive us, milk us, fattening on the currents generated by our emotions in precisely the same way that we fatten on juice involuntarily surrendered by cattle to whom we have given fodder containing stimulants for lactation.

This process triggered lactation in the male, and it was the male who settled down for the requisite number of years to raise the young while the female, after giving birth, was the breadwinner of the family.

Having cleaned her offspring, bitten through the umbilicals, and eaten the afterbirths, consumption of which stimulated her lactation, the brownish tabby now was in a third bout of labor.

Recent experience of physicians and nurse lactation specialists now suggest that most adoptive mothers can begin producing some milk within three or four weeks.

No mammal has re-evolved external fertilization or discarded lactation.

That big initial commitment by a female mammal makes it impossible for her to bluff her way out of further commitment and has led to the evolution of female lactation.

In 1994, spontaneous male lactation was at last reported in males of a wild animal species, the Dyak fruit bat of Malaysia and adjacent islands.

Though I gave them no manure, and did not hoe them all once, I hoed them unusual well as far as I went, and was paid for it in the end, there being in truth," as Evelyn says, "no compost or lactation whatsoever comparable to this continual motion, repastination, and turning of the mould with the spade.

Male lactation beautifully illustrates all the main themes in the evolution of sexuality: evolutionary conflicts between males and females, the importance of confidence in paternity or maternity, differences in reproductive investment between the sexes, and a species' commitment to its biological inheritance.

But even if there are mammal species for which male lactation would be advantageous, its realization runs up against problems posed by the phenomenon termed evolutionary commitment.