One of the most incredible aspects of breastfeeding is the 'letdown', which is a reflex that occurs when your milk begins to flow. In this blog, we'll explore what letdown is, how it works, and how mothers know instinctively when their baby is hungry from the letdown.
What is Letdown?
Letdown, also known as the milk ejection reflex, is a physiological response that occurs when your baby begins to suckle at your breast. When your baby suckles, nerve endings in your nipple send a signal to your brain to release the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin then triggers the muscles in your breast to contract, which causes your milk to flow from the milk ducts into the nipple and into your baby's mouth.
How Does Letdown Work?
Letdown is an automatic response that occurs when your baby begins to suckle, but it can also be triggered by other stimuli, such as the sound of your baby crying or thinking about your baby. The release of oxytocin also has a calming effect on your body, which can help you feel more relaxed and connected to your baby.
How Do Mothers Know When Their Baby is Hungry from the Letdown?
Mothers often know instinctively when their baby is hungry from the letdown because they feel a sensation of tingling or warmth in their breasts. Some women also experience a sensation of fullness or pressure in their breasts, which can be a sign that their milk is ready to flow. These sensations are usually a sign that your baby is getting enough milk and that your body is responding appropriately to their feeding cues.
It's important to note that not all women experience the letdown sensation, and some may experience it more intensely than others. However, even if you don't feel the letdown sensation, you can still trust that your body is producing milk and that your baby is getting the nourishment they need.
How can lie-down breastfeeding help with your letdown?
Lie down breastfeeding is a breastfeeding position where the mother lies down on her side, and the baby feeds while lying down next to her. This position can be very helpful in promoting letdown because it allows the mother to relax and release tension in her body.
Here are some ways that lie down breastfeeding can help with your letdown:
Increased Relaxation: When you lie down to breastfeed, you can relax your body and reduce tension, which can help to promote letdown. Tension and stress can inhibit the release of oxytocin, the hormone that triggers letdown, so it's important to find ways to relax and create a calm environment while breastfeeding.
Improved Milk Flow: Lying down to breastfeed can also help to improve the flow of milk. When you lie on your side, gravity can help to promote milk flow, and your baby can use their own suction to help draw the milk out. This can be particularly helpful if you have a fast letdown or a forceful milk flow.
Increased Skin-to-Skin Contact: Lie down breastfeeding can also provide an opportunity for increased skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby, which can help to promote bonding and increase the release of hormones like oxytocin. This can help to facilitate letdown and make breastfeeding more enjoyable for both you and your baby.
Reduced Fatigue: Breastfeeding can be tiring, particularly if you are trying to sit upright or hold your baby in a certain position for an extended period. Lying down to breastfeed can help to reduce fatigue and allow you to rest while feeding your baby.
Our patented BellaMoon Nursing Nest and Nursing Cocoon are designed around the lie-down nursing position. BellaMoon is designed to help you achieve the best breastfeeding journey possible for as long as possible. Rather than feeling fatigued, you look forward to lying down together - making your breastfeeding journey enjoyable, and therefore gives it the best chance of breastfeeding for an extended period of time - the benefits of which are immense for both you and baby.
BellaMoon's unique lie down nursing products are designed with additional Anti-Roll Features to help stop baby from rolling and to protect baby's space. It has a raised mattress pad to raise baby towards your nipple for hand-free nursing and a deep latch. It is open on one side to allow Mum and baby to have easy access for feeding.
In conclusion, letdown is a natural and essential part of breastfeeding that allows your body to respond to your baby's feeding cues and provide them with the nourishment they need. By understanding how letdown works and trusting your instincts, you can feel confident in your ability to breastfeed and nourish your baby. Remember to stay relaxed, take breaks when you need them, and enjoy this special time with your little one.
Check out our Lie-Down Nursing Nest and Lie-Down Nursing Cocoon to support you on your journey.
(Founder of BellaMoon and Mama of 3)