When my daughter was just a few weeks old, I remember standing in the kitchen and feeling a tingling in my breast. It didn't hurt, but it felt like your foot does after it "falls asleep" — a pins and needles sensation. About a second later? My shirt was wet with breast milk. Not everybody can feel their breast milk let-down, but some do, and others may even experience pain when it happens. Breastfeeding in general shouldn't hurt, but there are actually a few reasons for painful let-down.
According to Baby Center, if you're feeling a tingling, prickly sensation when your breast milk lets down, that's typical. But some may experience actual pain, pressure, or deep twinges in the breast instead. Beyond using any breathing techniques you learned in labor to overcome the feeling, La Leche League International noted that the best way to solve a painful let-down issue is to figure out what's causing it, especially since you can feel your breast milk let-down several times during a feeding according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
It's always beneficial to reach out to a lactation consultant if you have questions or issues, but one of these seven reasons could be the cause of your painful let-down. By determining what could possibly be the issue, your solution won't seem quite as overwhelming.
1. Your Body Is Adjusting To Breastfeeding
The most common cause of a painful let-down? Your body is just adjusting. La Leche League International noted that the pain could be from your milk ducts constricting to force the breast milk towards your nipple, but as your body continues to get used to breastfeeding and adjust, the pain will go away.
2. You Have An Oversupply
According to The Bump, if your breasts produce a lot of milk, you may experience a more intense pain during your breast milk let-down. Because the typical tingling sensation is from the milk squeezing into the ducts, an oversupply can cause a forceful let-down, making it even more uncomfortable.
3. You Have A Clogged Milk Duct
Some causes for a painful let-down are simple, but a clogged duct could lead to bigger problems if it's not remedied. La Leche League International noted that a clogged milk duct could be the reason your let-down is so painful, especially as the ducts constrict to push the milk out.
4. You're Dealing With Thrush
Care.com noted that any type of infection can cause a painful let-down, including thrush. According to Mayo Clinic, one symptom of thrush is a stabbing, deep pain within the breast, which could also cause a painful let-down.
5. You Suiffer From Mastitis
If a clogged milk duct was the original culprit of your painful let-down, it could morph into mastitis, an infection of the breast, which will continue to cause pain during your breast milk let-down according to La Leche League International.
6. You Have Muscle Strain
For a less severe reason for pain during your breast milk let-down, there's a muscle strain. The Bump noted that a muscle strain or injury, particularly in your chest, could twinge during your let-down, causing pain.
7. You Have Engorgement
Engorged breasts are never comfortable, but they can also be the reason why your let-down hurts. According to KellyMom, engorgement makes your breasts feel full and heavy, which can make the natural let-down reflex more painful as your ducts constrict.