Baby's Best Beginning Blog

What does MILK LET-DOWN have to do with BREASTFEEDING & ORGASM?

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As a new mom you have probably heard about “milk let-down”. Let’s dive in to learn about what is it, what it feels like, what you can do to help with let-down, and where in the world orgasm fits into the conversation.  

What is milk let-down: 

  • Milk let-down is actually a reflex (also called the milk ejection reflex) that is caused when the baby comes to the breast, latches, and starts sucking. 
  • Our senses are so powerful! Let-down can happen when you hear your baby, or someone else’s baby, crying or simply by thinking about your baby. 
  • It is also caused when a mom places the breast shields on her breasts, turns the pump on and the pump starts suctioning. 
  • Once the nipple is stimulated a message is sent to the brain (the pituitary gland) to release two special hormones. This cause hormones to be released into your bloodstream.
  • The first hormone is called PROLACTIN. Think PRO because it is proactive in helping to drive and stimulate your milk supply. 
  • The second hormone is called OXYTOCIN. Think OXY like oxycodone. It is the feel good hormone that causes the breast to “let down” the milk.
  • Once the nerves and hormones are stimulated this causes the cells around the milk making glands to contract to push the milk out of those glands down through the ducts, to the nipple, and then to your baby! AMAZING!

What does let-down feel like:

  • First of all, not all moms feel let down. If you do not feel it this does not mean you are not having let downs. Nothing is wrong with you if you don’t feel it! 
  • Many times first time moms do not feel let-down but moms who have already had a baby will feel it. 
  • Moms often comment that let down feels like a “tingly sensation, like a waterfall, a rushing sensation, warmth or fullness, pins and needles or an electric like feeling”. 
  • You will have multiple let downs during a feeding or pumping session. It is not uncommon for moms to only feel the first one. 
  • In the early weeks, moms may feel their uterus cramping when breastfeeding or pumping. The cramping can be a bit ouchy but this will get better with time. 
  • Moms may also feel sleepy and relaxed when nursing. This too, is caused by that feel good hormone, oxytocin, released with let-down.
  • Most importantly, even if you don’t feel any of this, if you hear your baby swallowing or see milk on their sweet little lips…you are having let downs! 

Things that can help with let-down:

  • Interesting fact, oxytocin, the feel good hormone, is the same hormone that plays a role in orgasm. We all know that you have to be in a certain mindset for this to occur, so ask yourself what helps get your mind in the right place? 
  • Relax! Think about what helps you relax the best (i.e. music, certain scents, candles (HERE), reading, listening to your favorite pod cast, TV show, touch, etc.). 
  • Gentle breast massage and hand expression can be really helpful to promote let-down! My go to when helping moms is found HERE
  • Using warmth on the breast (i.e. taking a warm shower or bath, using a heating pad, warm wash cloth, or warmed Thera pearl pack (HERE) all bring blood supply to the breasts which can help the milk flow easier. 
  • Drinking your favorite warm beverage in your favorite mug (HERE) can promote relaxation and therefore, milk let-down.
  • Being sure to play into all of your senses helps a lot! Making sure what you are seeing (your cute little one), what you are hearing (those adorable cooing sounds), what you smelling (ahh, there is nothing like that baby smell), what you are tasting(a good piece of your favorite chocolate HERE), and touching (skin to skin with a soft snuggling baby or baby blanket HERE) these all work wonders! 

I hope you find all of these suggestions helpful! As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you are having any difficulties with breastfeeding or pumping! 

Sending much love and gratitude,

Stacy

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STACY NOTESTINE
RN, BSN, IBCLC

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PH.  740.438.2032 

FX.  614.228.8811

CREDIT

I'd like to give credit to My Hope Photography and Brandi Griffith Photography for their gracious photo contributions to my website.
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