Milk let down is a normal process, but sometimes it can cause a few breastfeeding problems when it becomes too forceful or too slow.
Most Moms feel a weird pins and needles feeling in their breasts when let down occurs and other Moms say that it is quite painful! What you need to remember is that your body is still getting accustomed to the needs of baby and things should start improving within a few weeks, then baby should also start drinking more aggressively, which will help normalize milk flow.
Here on top is a picture illustration of let down reflex and what actually happens.
Overactive Letdown Breastfeeding
Is your milk flow too fast?
What is a forceful let down?
It is when Mom’s milk is spraying out of the nipple too quickly, usually causing baby to become fussy or to choke at the breast.
A forceful letdown will usually lessen before baby turns 6 months or by six weeks when Mom's body has adjusted to the volume of milk needed.
What causes a forceful let down?
* Usually occurs when mom has an oversupply of breast milk.
* Can be caused through a growth spurt period which causes baby to drink more often therefore increasing your milk supply.
Signs of a Forceful Let Down
* Gagging, coughing and/or choking while breastfeeding.
* Baby makes funny clicking sounds while breastfeeding.
* Baby is constantly trying to pull off the breast while breastfeeding.
* Baby spits up often and is very gassy (explosive frothy stools) Caused through baby drinking too much foremilk (read more here on foremilk hindmilk imbalance )
* Refusal to breastfeed at times.
How to Handle an Overactive Ejection Reflex
* If an oversupply of milk is causing your forceful let down, you can start by giving baby only one breast at a time (change breasts only every four hours) If you start to feel discomfort in the full breast, you can express a little milk for comfort. This will also prevent hindmilk foremilk imbalance and decrease fussiness and colic symptoms.
* If you start to feel a letdown, you can gently remove baby from your breast and allow some of the milk to flow out into a cup or cloth until the flow becomes less; then put baby back on the breast. You might need to do this a few times during a feed. Pumping milk before feeds is not a good idea as this will just increase milk supply even more.
* Make sure baby is calm before breastfeeding; read tips on how to calm a baby for breastfeeding.
* Try not to press on your breast with your fingers while breastfeeding as any pressure or massage can increase the flow of milk and cause a let down. Do not try to stop the flow with pressure as this could cause a blockage.
* Make sure your nipple is facing the roof of baby’s mouth instead of the back of his throat…this will help so that he does not choke.
* Lie down while breastfeeding for the first few minutes; this will help because it allows any extra milk to flow out of baby’s mouth.
* Keep yourself reclined at an angle with baby lying on his tummy as shown in the illustration. This keeps gravity at your advantage so that milk is not forced down baby’s throat.
* Another helpful breastfeeding position is when Mom lets baby straddle her leg and sits upright whilst breastfeeding, holding his back and neck for support.
* Remember to burp baby often because baby might be swallowing air which will make baby even more uncomfortable.
* Do not introduce a bottle unless you decide to pump exclusively; baby might prefer the flow of the bottle and then refuse to breastfeed afterward.
Under Active Let Down Breastfeeding
Is your milk flow too slow? Do you feel like you have no let down reflex?
Slow Let Down Reflex
Sometimes baby might become frustrated became the milk is not being pushed out fast enough! This will cause baby to fuss and Mom to stress, and stressing actually slows down milk flow even further.
What causes a Slow Milk Letdown?
* Stress and PPD.
* Excessive alcohol intake during breastfeeding.
How to Increase Milk Ejection Reflex (get milk flowing faster)
* Certain herbs like fennel help increase milk flow.
* Look at a picture of baby (if pumping) or at baby, touch baby’s hair and sing a song to baby. The hormone Oxytocin is released during affectionate feelings will help with milk flow.
* Pump for a few minutes before breastfeeding to get your milk flowing.
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Wow....I mean Wow. I wish every OB Gyn, and Pediatrician had your website, and La Leche Leage...I have been asking questions about my let down, and everyone …
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Thank you so much. I now realise that my overactive let down is likely a huge part for my 6 week old being so fussy. The tips I have learned on these pages …
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when I bottle feed her shes crying and when I make her sleep on her stomach she cries n shocking, nose blocking n itchy eyes