For some nursing mothers, let-down (which, for newbies, is the release of milk from your breast) occurs immediately once the baby latches on. For other moms, however, let-down can take several minutes causing their baby to become fussy, and generally making it harder for let-down to occur. If you have been struggling with this issue, you might be wondering how to speed up your let-down.
According to Kelly Mom, let-down is a partially conditioned reflex, which means it occurs in conjunction with specific cues letting your body know that it is time to feed the baby. This can be as simple as your baby's cry. If your let-down is taking longer than you would like, Kelly Mom suggested setting up specific "let-down cues" as you prepare to nurse. This can be sitting in a specific chair, drinking a glass of water, or turning on your favorite music or television show. Eventually your body will associate these cues with nursing and your let down should occur more quickly.
Everyday Family suggested having your partner massage you or speak lovingly to you during nursing as this releases oxytocin and can increase your milk flow. Singing or humming to your baby can help with let-down, as well.
Although uncommon, some new moms experience low milk supply or slow let-down due to a retained placenta. According to Belly Belly, this means that fragments of the placenta remained in the uterus which didn't allow the progesterone levels to fall as much as is necessary for prolactin, the milk-making hormone, to take effect. Other signs of retained placenta are postpartum hemorrhage, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, fever, and painful uterine cramping. If you think you may have a retained placenta you should speak to your doctor immediately.
Expressing Mama warned that stress can cause slow let-down. Seeking emotional support can help reduce your stress and speed up your let-down. Talking to other moms who overcame issues with stress-related slow let-down can keep you from giving up breastfeeding altogether.
Some moms use warm packs or compresses on their breasts to help with let-down. The Utah Department of Health recommended soaking a small bath towel in hot water and placing it on your breasts before nursing or pumping. You can also purchase therapy packs specifically made for breasts.
It is possible to overcome slow let-down. Don't be embarrassed to speak to a lactation consultant and get tips from other moms. When your milk starts flowing again, you will be glad you didn't give up.