All You Need to Know About Milk Let-Down

The production of milk happens in small cell clusters called alveoli. It, then, travel down the milk ducts in a nursing mother’s breast. when your baby latches on to your breast, a key reflex, called let down stimulates nerves that cause the milk to keep flowing.  Let’s delve more to understand it.

What is Milk Let Down Reflex?

The milk down reflex is an automatic reaction that happens when your baby starts to suckle. A message is sent to the brain to produce more prolactin (the hormone responsible for the production of milk) and oxytocin (responsible for letting the milk flow). These hormones allow your baby to feed.

What Causes a Letdown?

A letdown response is caused automatically by your brain when your baby starts to suckle. This is your body’s way of ensuring that your baby gets enough nutrition. Sometimes a mother may even feel the let down happening.  

Factors that cause milk letdown include:

  • Touching your nipples
  • Using a breast pump
  • Your babies cry
  • Suckling of your baby
  • Your baby’s scent
  • Thinking about your baby

Improving Your Milk Let Down

New mothers may find it difficult to let down their milk as easily as more seasoned mothers. This is because their brains don’t have a reference point. The letdown response improves as the baby suckles and in subsequent pregnancies. A few steps listed below may help new mothers with their let down.

  • Drinking a warm cup of hot chocolate
  • Breast massage-preferably in a circular manner
  • Using a warm cloth on your breast just before nursing.
  • Expressing milk by using your four fingers to support your breast while gently stroking your breast with your thumb.

Sometimes anxiety and worry can cause low letdown response. Psychological ways that can be used to improve this include:

  • Thinking positive thoughts and imagining milk flowing from your breast
  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Listening to a voice recording of your baby crying
  • Meditation
  • Keeping a cloth with your babies scent near you.

Using these tips will encourage your letdown reflex to be more regular. Additional help may be sought out from a lactation specialist.

How to Handle Unexpected Milk Let Down

Before you get a regular feeding schedule, milk let down can happen at the most unusual times. Incidences of these reduce when your baby fine tunes their schedule. In the meantime, you can take the following steps to keep you comfortable in case of an unexpected letdown.

  • Wearing breast pads
  • Applying firm pressure on your breast when you feel the let down
  • Feeding regularly

Encouraging this natural process will enable your baby to get all their nutritional needs.


Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed March 2019 

Sources: verywellfamily, breastfeeding, omahabreastfeeding, pregnancybirthbaby

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