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Thread: Trying to understand let down

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    38

    Default Trying to understand let down

    I have read all about let down online and still don't quite understand what it is. My baby is 3 weeks old and I'm wondering when this first started to happen. I did start having this feeling, maybe just less than a week ago, where I get a flash of pain in each breast just before feeding him. Sometimes I get it in one breast as he is nursing on the other. Is this let down? What is going on and why is it happening? How does it effect nursing? This flash of electric pain only lasts a few moments.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Minnesota
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    Default Re: Trying to understand let down

    Let down is your boobs releasing milk. It happens to every nursing mom but we don't always feel it. You my notice you leak when it happens. It usually happens when baby is nursing but can happen in between too.

    I never feel mine while she nurses but I have felt it at work when it is close to being time to pump.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,952

    Default Re: Trying to understand let down

    When the baby nurses, the nerves in the mom's nipple/areola send a message to her brain and her pituitary gland, prompting the secretion of 2 hormones, oxytocin and prolactin, into her bloodstream. These hormonal cues stimulate certain cells in the breast (the myoepithelial cells) to contract, squeezing milk from all parts of the breast towards the nipple, where it can be accessed by the baby. This is the letdown, which some moms describe as feeling like an electrical tingling, but which not all women experience, and most women do not experience every single time.

    Some moms will even letdown their milk without the baby being at the breast, in response to the breast being full, hearing their baby cry, or some other random stimulus.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Trying to understand let down

    Let down is just a term used to describe the moment your milk begins to flow. Sometimes you feel a sensation when it happens, sometimes you don't. But whether you feel it or not, if there's milk coming out, you've let down.

    You can have several letdowns during a single nursing sensation, as your milk flow slows, stops, then restarts again. Your baby can stimulate let down with a different sucking pattern (they start to suck more rapidly and with more suction). Or your body can stimulate it on its own- like if you're engorged to the point of leaking or if you hear a baby crying or something.

    A lot of moms feel it more in the early weeks and months of nursing, then stop noticing it after a while.
    Last edited by @llli*still.here; March 27th, 2014 at 01:33 PM.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Minnesota
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    Default Re: Trying to understand let down

    I have had it happen at work just talking about my baby.

    I described it to my husband and he said "so it's like an orgasm in your boobs?" Sounds about right

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    5,417

    Default Re: Trying to understand let down

    the medical term for let down is milk ejection reflex. If you want to get into the technicalities, I believe www.kellymom.com has an article on this. But all a nursing mother typically needs to know about it is that it means milk is releasing through the milk ducts to become available to the nursing baby (and yes it can happen whether baby is nursing or mom is pumping, and at other times, whether there is some external stimuli or not.) Mom may or may not leak at this point, she may or may not feel any sensation, the sensation, if felt, can be mild to intense and can be felt anywhere from the nipples to under the arms. Some moms feel a wave of emotion at this time as well. In other words the feelings of letdown normally vary quite a bit mom to mom. But no matter how it feels, if your baby is getting milk out of your breasts, your milk is letting down.

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