The let down reflex triggers the release of milk by a hormone called oxytocin which is vital to milk production. Oxytocin is the love hormone associated with feelings of calm, connection and contentment.
Triggering a let down is essential to get the milk flowing, without it only 0.1 to 10ml of milk located in the ducts near the nipple will be released.
When feeding or expressing nerves in the nipple send a message to the brain to release oxytocin. Oxytocin releases into the bloodstream to the breast, causing the small muscle cells which surround the milk producing cells in the breast to squeeze and contract, which causes milk to be pushed through the milk ducts and then ejected from the nipple.
Some people feel sensations like tingling, pressure or pins and needles during a let down. Other people feel nothing, both responses are normal. You may have several let downs during a feed or expressing session.
Oxytocin is a shy hormone. If you feel stressed or anxious about expressing, the oxytocin release can be inhibited temporarily. Relaxation is key to help release oxytocin and trigger a let down.
Experiment and see what works best for you.
Watch our video for advice and tips here.