There are many reasons breastfeeding mothers find expressing milk really helpful: for babies born early, expressing can be a great way to get your milk flowing – by removing milk you are teaching your breasts to produce more; you might have to be away from your baby for periods of time and someone else will feed them; or it may be that your baby is struggling to feed well from your breasts for some reason (like a cleft lip and palate). In all of these cases and more, in order for milk to flow properly, mothers need to achieve a let-down reflex.
Let-down is the physical process of getting the milk to flow from your breasts. Most importantly, let-down is a conditioned reflex. This means that let-down is caused by various triggers, such as nipple stimulation and the hormone oxytocin. Because let-down is a conditioned reflex, you can actually train your body to respond to certain things to start the let-down process.
We asked mums what their tricks were to gain a let-down and here is what they shared…
“Weird one but a vision of a field with a stream of milk. And being super relaxed.”
“I discovered by pure coincidence that drinking a lot of water in one go very easily triggers a strong let-down for me! It works immediately every single time without fail.”
“Just thinking about feeding the baby does it for me and, surprisingly, watching it!”
“I don’t seem to get random let-downs like my baby crying, which is nice, but I’ve noticed I get one soon after starting to pump and there’s always another around the 10-minute mark, then usually at around 15 minutes”
“Being as relaxed as possible. Rushing doesn’t help so deep slow breaths in and out. Smelling my baby’s washing and having baby in the room with me. ”
“Distraction! TV, interacting with baby, reading a book, watching YouTube etc. If I even think about looking to see how much milk I have I stop flowing!”