Much like pregnancy, labor, and pretty much all of motherhood, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to breastfeeding. For some moms it comes easily, with no pain or bumps in the road. For others, it's a continual struggle. Whether it's issues with latch, let-down, milk supply, or something else, struggling to nurse your baby is disheartening. If your milk can't seem to flow quick enough, there are several helpful ways to deal with slow let-down that are proven to work in most moms to help speed up that pesky let-down reflex.
According to Very Well, the let-down reflex is triggered by the release of oxytocin in your brain, causing the milk to release from your breasts to your baby. Without this reflex, your baby will only receive what is known foremilk and not get enough hindmilk, which contains the majority of the fats, proteins, carbs and vitamins, the same article states.
It's important to note that you may not always feel your let-down reflex, which many moms describe as a pins and needles tingling according to Parents. This makes it even harder to know how quickly or slowly its happening. Looking for changes in your baby's sucking and swallowing patterns is a good way to note when your let-down happens.
Despite your concerns, most let-down issues can be resolved with a little bit of relaxation and trying a few of these tips to get your milk flowing.
1Find A Let-Down Cue That Works For You
An article from KellyMom written by a certified nursing consultant explained a concept known as "let-down cues" and how you can teach your body to release milk quicker. The term conditioned reflex, which is what let-down is essentially, is a phrase psychologists often use when talking about reflexes that can be trained, the article explains.
There are many different let-down cues that can help speed things up, but the most common are taking a hot shower before nursing, nurse skin to skin, massage your breasts before nursing, breath deeply, and stay relaxed.
2Get Your Partner Involved
Everyday Family suggests having your partner give you a quick massage before or during a breastfeeding session. This helps you relax, relieves tension, and releases oxytocin, which is the hormone responsible for your let-down reflex.
3Keep It Consistent
In order to ensure that your let-down cues are properly triggered each time you nurse, it works well to stick to the same routine before and during your breastfeeding sessions. Baby Center suggests creating a "nursing sanctuary" for yourself, which, despite it's fancy title, can be as simple as a comfortable recliner in a quiet corner of your house, or as fancy as a whole separate room dedicated to nursing your baby. Ensure that this space is calm, comfortable, and relaxing to both you and your baby, because if either of you are distracted it can slow things down even more.
4Eliminate Any Inhibitors
A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics noted that there are certain inhibitors that can affect the mother and not the baby that will have a direct influence on the speed of let-down and even on her milk supply (if milk isn't being removed from the breast). Some of these inhibitors include stress, exhaustion, alcohol consumption, smoking, medication, breast surgery, and pregnancy, according to Everyday Family.
5Don't Wait Too Long To Nurse
If you're struggling with slow let-down, waiting too long to nurse may backfire. The hungrier your baby gets, the more impatient they'll be, causing you to tense up and become stressed, two things that will slow your let-down even more.