Let-down: Your “let-down” is your milk ejection reflex. Nipple stimulation signals your body to produce oxytocin to signal to your aveoli [milk making cells] to release milk down into your ducts and out your nipple. Many women feel tingly or even pain during this, lasting briefly. You may also feel sudden fullness or leaking. If you don’t feel it, you may just see milk beginning to come out ideally in the first 2 min of pumping.
Some mommas can turn on their breast pump and experience a let down nearly instantly. Other women have to work for it. Why isn’t it always automatic? What factors could inhibit your letdown?
- STRESS and anxiety (Blame it on your hormones cortisol and adrenaline!) This is why you may experience a quick letdown at home but maybe not at work
- CAFFEINE and alcohol can inhibit your milk ejection reflex
- COLD. Yup, being too cold can stress your body out and you might not be able to relax
- PAIN. Pain also causes stress which inhibits your letdown
- WEAK SUCTION- Make sure you replaced your valves/membranes! (Exclusive pumpers should change these monthly, occasional pumpers every 3 months)
- INCORRECT PUMP MODE- Start with quick cycle, low vacuum. (start on letdown/massage/bacon mode- sometimes this looks like a button with wavy bacon lines, or drops)
- NERVE DAMAGE from breast surgery
TIPS FOR LETDOWN:
PHYSICAL suggestions to help your milk to let down:
⭐️ Warm, moist heat before pumping (or a warm shower!) Try warming your flanges or using those boobie heating packs before or during pumping
⭐️ Get comfortable! Support your upper back with a pillow. Add a blanket on your lap.
⭐️ Sip on a warm beverage and getting calm and cozy
⭐️Stand up, lean over and shake your breasts together (seriously!)
⭐️Massage each breast with a circular motion
⭐️ Nipple simulation! Gently roll your nipples between your thumb and forefinger (avoid this if your nipples are sore)
PSYCHOLOGICAL methods to help your milk let down:
👉Look at and touch your baby while pumping
👉Have a picture of your baby to look at while you pump if you are separated
👉Watch and listen to a video clip of your baby crying on your phone
👉 Have a t-shirt or something your baby has worn to have baby’s scent nearby
👉 Be in a warm, quiet, private environment. Have a door that locks and put a sign on the door.
Take some slow, deep, relaxing breaths. Try to separate yourself and thoughts from your work environment, thinking about your baby instead.
👉 Think positive thoughts: visualize milk flowing from your breasts or a dam bursting and a huge amount of water rushing down a narrow canyon
👉Play relaxing music
Watch something on TV or read a book or magazine if being distracted and not concentrating on pumping works better for you
Did you know that you can CONDITION your body to experience a letdown? (Kind of like Pavlov’s dogs salivating every time they heard a bell!)
Say you light the same candle, drink the same tea, look at the same video of your baby, or listen to the same music every single time you begin to pump… your body may become conditioned to experience a letdown next time you drink that tea or smell that candle…. isn’t that cool? That’s why you might experience a letdown when you hear someone else’s baby cry in the grocery store (or something like that!) Bodies are so stinkin fascinating!