Letdowns can be a mom's worst enemy or best friend.
A letdown is a reflex when your breast releases milk for your baby. It is caused by a build-up of oxytocin that accumulates when your baby nurses or when you start pumping. Most moms can feel the letdowns when they happen, but you can often see your baby start gulping down the milk more heavily.
Some moms have an overactive letdown where their breasts release more milk than their baby needs, and sometimes the letdown can happen in both breasts, causing milk to leak excessively from the free breast. This can be frustrating for moms who find themselves soaked in breast milk after each feed, but there are ways to manage letdowns and to make the most of them.
How to encourage a letdown
If you are battling to achieve a letdown when pumping for your baby, here are a few ways to help encourage the letdown:
- Apply a warm heat bag to your breasts before expressing
- Relax and sip on some warm tea
- Massage your breasts and do a little shake to get them stimulated
- Roll your nipples between your thumb and forefinger, making your brain think your baby is latching on
- Look at your baby or look at photos of your baby
- Have a piece of your baby’s clothing nearby
- Try and relax
Relaxing and thinking of your baby is one of the best ways to encourage a letdown. Experiencing a letdown during pumping will help you save more milk during each session, and you will know your baby is getting enough precious milk.
How to make the most of your letdowns
It can be really frustrating having wasted milk from a letdown during feeding, or missing a letdown on your free breast when pumping. Having a container nearby to catch the milk can be an effective way to save this milk, instead of having it go to waste.
A silicone breast pump is also a great option. It can be suctioned onto the free breast, and using the suction power it draws the milk out of your breast and catches all the milk released from the letdown. This way, you will be expressing much more than usual and you will be making sure that all your milk is stored instead of soaking your clothes.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Focus on your baby and the rest should happen naturally. Just make sure that you can save the milk that usually goes to waste from your letdowns, and cut down on the stress of counting each and every drop of milk to save for your baby.