When breastfeeding there are many new things you will learn and experience, one being the let-down of your milk. A let-down is the movement of milk into the mammary glands brought on by either massaging or suckling. Now, to be honest, a let-down can also occur when you go too long in between feedings or even hearing a baby cry.
Some women describe the feeling of a let-down as a small tingling feeling. However, if you have an overactive let-down, like me, it can be quite painful. For me, it feels less like a tingle and more like a big huge rush of milk beginning at the top of my breast pushing downward.
Now an overactive let-down is something I was NOT prepared for when I first started my breastfeeding journey. Not only did it make breastfeeding hard for my baby and I when my milk first came in, but it was SO painful!! And when you add engorgement into the mix it makes it even worse.
When my milk first came in my let-down was so powerful. It caused my babies choke and unlatch everytime it happened. It was just too much for them to handle all at once. The unlatching and milk spraying everywhere made me want to just give up on breastfeeding.
Not only did they unlatch each time, but it would take me almost five to ten minutes to get them to calm down and latch again. Plus with milk leaking literally everywhere, it got pretty messy at times if I forgot to grab a burp rag before feeding them.
As time went on I found a few things that have helped me deal with an overactive let-down. These tips may be able to help you out!
Overactive Let-down solutions:
If my baby wasn’t too fussy and hungry I would either hand express or pump until my breast began to let down. By doing this the initial blow of it wouldn’t affect them. When the more powerful part of the let-down was over I allowed them to latch and it actually worked!!
This may seem time-consuming at first. But as time-consuming as it is I would take that over a crying, screaming baby who won’t latch any day!
Another thing I began doing was allowing them to eat until my milk began to let-down and then unlatched them. They may fuss for a little bit, but once the big rush of milk is over you can allow them to relatch and continue eating.
This is the one I did most often due to the fact that when my babies got hungry they wanted to eat as soon as possible. Although it’s very effective, I went through a lot of burp rags due to all of the milk that would come out.
One thing I suggest is to have a baby bottle within arms reach to allow your letdown to be caught in the bottle so none of your liquid gold is wasted! 🙂
Just ride it out
If you would rather not do either of those you can always ride it out. Your let-down isn’t always going to be super powerful. As your milk begins to regulate the let-down becomes less and as your baby grows they begin to adjust to the amount of milk they are able to take in.
If you do decide to go with this just remember that it will take a little bit of time for both you and your baby to adjust, so try not to get frustrated.
Don’t give up!
An overactive let-down can cause problems and frustrations at the beginning. Please don’t let it be the reason you give up breastfeeding! You need to keep trying and figuring out what works best for you and your baby. After a while, you begin to learn what works and what doesn’t.
And always remember to stay calm. If you’re tensed, stressed, frustrated, whatever it may be, your baby can sense that and it makes them uneasy. Relax and take it a day at a time!
Just know that you aren’t alone. There are so many moms out there who deal with many different breastfeeding challenges. A powerful let-down is one of them. If you want a successful breastfeeding journey, DON’T give up! It does get easier. Breastfeeding may not always be easy, but it is ohh so worth it momma!!