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What is “let down”?

Let-down is the other component of successful breastfeeding. Some women make the milk, but don’t get let-down and so can’t get the milk out. This is extremely painful and frustrating. There are different hormones involved in milk production (e.g. lactation) and excretion (e.g. let-down), and stress interferes with the let-down hormones. Experienced breastfeeders will tell you that let-down feels like a “tingling” in the breast, followed by a steady stream of milk. If you’re not experiencing let-down, try deep-breathing and relaxation exercises. Try looking at a picture of your baby, of a calming scene, or listening to relaxing music. Using biofeedback techniques, you can train yourself to “get let-down.” Without let-down, your breasts will be engorged, which is very painful and disrupts the lactation cycle. When all else fails, try hand expressing in the shower. You can’t collect the milk, but at least you will relieve your discomfort and, hopefully, keep up your milk production.

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