As a breastfeeding mom, you have a lot on your plate. Along with all of the other tasks of motherhood, you’re learning how to feed a child with your body, a challenge in and of itself at times. While nursing is the most natural and rewarding thing in the world, it doesn’t always come easily. In fact, sometimes it’s downright stressful and difficult. Among the other challenges you may face, you may wonder why you have a slow let down reflex, or at least assume that you do. Although this is something that many mothers wonder (read: obsess) about, luckily, there is generally not any reason to worry and it can usually be sped up with a few easy tricks.
But first, before we get into the reasons behind why it may be slow, what is a let down reflex? Parents defines the reflex as “the release of milk from the breast.” Many women describe the feeling as a pins and needles tingling or warmth, and while it generally isn’t painful, it can take some getting used to at first. Triggered by the hormone oxytocin, let down ensures that your baby not only receives enough milk, but that they’re getting the best milk. According to La Leche League, one of the leading authorities on breastfeeding, there is a difference in the milk your baby gets before and after letdown. Foremilk is the thinner milk that your baby gets before let down. Hindmilk is the thicker, more nutrient-rich milk that comes in after let down, and is important for your baby’s growth and to keep them feeling full.
Many women, however, claim they either don’t feel the pins and needles feeling or it takes longer than they expect to happen, causing them to worry that something is wrong. According to Breastmilk Counts, while it can be scary if you don’t feel your let down reflex, if you notice a change in your baby’s sucking and frequency of swallowing, your milk has indeed let down. The reflex generally takes at least a few minutes, but in some cases it may take longer. Since the reflex is so important, whether you feel it strongly or not, it’s important to make sure your milk isn’t taking too long to let down. If you suspect that your letdown is taking too long, there are a few things you can do to help trigger the reflex.