There are a lot of things that can hurt when it comes to breastfeeding. Although cracked and sore nipples aren't the norm once breastfeeding is established, that first week or so can be incredibly daunting and painful for your nipples. I had just gotten over that pain when someone asked me if I could feel my breast milk let-down. At that point, I hadn't, and I was concerned — does breast milk let-down hurt? I could only take so many painful moments at a time.
Like most things concerning breastfeeding, it can vary from person to person. I know — not the hard facts you wanted to hear. The good news is, if your let-down does hurt, it's totally OK. And if your let-down isn't painful (or you can't feel it at all), you're good, too. International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Tania Archbold tells Romper that for women who do feel their let-down, the feelings can vary. "It can range from a mild tingly feeling, an increase in heaviness, or an intense tingly feeling that can border on painful," she says. Archbold also notes that the pain tends to lessen in the first few weeks.
According to La Leche League International (LLLI), the pain from your milk let-down can be attributed it to your body adjusting to breastfeeding your baby. As your milk ducts constrict to force the milk towards your nipple, you may feel some deep twinges of pain — it's totally OK. As your body gets more used to breastfeeding, you may find that you don't feel your let-down at all, let alone any pain.
There's another type of pain associated with a milk let-down, however. Instead of feeling deep twinges or painful tingling, some moms feel an overwhelming sense of dread, fear, or unhappiness. According to IBCLC Michelle Kunschke, this is called dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-MER), and it can be caused by the hormone shifts during breastfeeding. The website D-MER.org noted that the feelings usually go away after a few minutes, but it can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable to feel every time your milk lets down.
So does your breast milk let-down hurt? Maybe. It varies from person to person, so there's no solid answer here. It's important to remember that whether you feel your milk let-down or not, as long as your baby's weight gain is good and they have enough dirty and wet diapers, your milk supply is chugging along just like it should. If your let-down feels incredibly painful, reach out to your IBCLC to make sure there isn't some other issue, like a poor latch or position.