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Thread: how does "letdown" work?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Default how does "letdown" work?

    probably a stupid question . . . .

    I can usually feel 3 letdown's during a feeding (LO only takes one breast per feeding). My question is, when does LO get the hindmilk? Is he getting only foremilk until all the letdowns are over? Or is he getting hindmilk just before each new letdown?

    mother of 2 boys!

    Birth: 7lbs 12oz, 1 year: 22lbs 11oz
    until he self-weaned 4 days before his third birthday ... still on occasion ... and happily

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****************
    People need to understand that when they're deciding between breastmilk and formula, they're not deciding between Coke and Pepsi.... They're choosing between a live, pure substance and a dead substance made with the cheapest oils available. ~Chele Marmet

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: how does "letdown" work?

    maybe this will help
    basic milk production info

    and then a link about hindmilk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: how does "letdown" work?

    The breast only makes one type of milk. The difference between hindmilk and foremilk is really in the time that it has been sitting in the breast. The Kellymom links Andrea posted do a really good job of explaining how that works. The following will help answer your question:

    As milk is made, the fat sticks to the sides of the milk-making cells while the watery portion of the milk moves down the ducts toward the nipple, where it mixes with any milk left there from the last feeding. The longer the amount of time between feedings, the more diluted that leftover milk becomes. This "watery" milk has a higher lactose content and less fat than the milk stored in the milk-making cells higher up in the breast.

    As baby begins nursing, the first thing he receives is this lower-fat foremilk, which quenches his thirst. Baby's nursing triggers the mother's milk ejection reflex, which squeezes milk and the sticking fat cells from the milk-making cells into the ducts. This higher-fat hindmilk mixes with the high-lactose foremilk and baby receives the perfect food, with fat calories for growth and lactose for energy and brain development.
    Your between-nursings "seeped"milk is a rather lowfat milk. When your baby nurses, she first drinks this "soup course". But the action of her nursing begins to draw down a higher and higher fat milk. Most of what she gets from that breast is a medium-fat "main course," but near the end, when she isn't swallowing very often, she gets the highest fat milk of all - like the small, high-fat dessert after your own meal. If she nurses again soon after, the fat tends to be mixed all through the milk. As the time between nursings gets longer, the difference between low fat and high fat milk becomes greater and greater.
    Here is another link with helpful visual explanations:


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