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Why It Hurts When Your Milk Lets Down

You've finally given birth and, surprise, it turns out you're still searching for answers as to why some body part of yours hurts. I thought pregnancy would be the time I was most concerned with my body, but it turns out breastfeeding has its own set of aches, twinges, and pains to panic about, too. Specifically, that feeling of your milk letting down that makes you want to claw your boobs off. I spent a lot of time wondering, why does my milk let-down hurt, but I also spent a lot more time wondering how I was going to make it through the day without smacking myself in the breast.

Turns out, this is another one of those lovely feelings that is best explained by saying it happens. Whether it's because of hormones or your body adjusting to breastfeeding, La Leche League International (LLLI) noted that your milk let-down can be painful, especially in the first few weeks. Some moms may feel deep twinges within their breasts, which LLLI suggested can be attributed to your milk ducts constricting as they push milk towards your nipple.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Tania Archbold tells Romper that many women don't feel their let-down at all, but for those who do, 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," Archbold says. She adds that it tends to lessen in the first few weeks, which follows LLLI's idea that the pain is from your body simply getting used to breastfeeding. (But you know, if your body could get with it a little faster, I don't think anyone would complain.)

The good news is that your let-down doesn't mean a whole lot. IBCLC Rachel O'Brien tells Romper that everyone's let-down is different and that whether you feel it, don't feel it, have incredibly painful tingling, or just have a heaviness, your let-down is in no way a sign of a problem. It's just one of those things you may or may not feel and the pain isn't an issue.

But let's be real. That doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

If your let-down is super painful, LLLI suggested placing yourself in a good breastfeeding position so that you aren't hunched over or putting any stress on your neck, back, or arms. You should also be sure that your baby has a good latch and that they aren't clamping on your nipple, causing pain, and that there isn't anything wrong, like a yeast infection causing the tingling.

The pain shouldn't last for too long and breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, so if you find that your milk let-down hurts for longer than a few moments, reach out to an IBCLC for an assessment. There might be something bigger at play here.