When you breast-feed, your baby's sucking triggers nerves in your nipples. These nerves carry a message to your brain, and a hormone called oxytocin is released. Oxytocin flows through your bloodstream to your breasts, where it causes tiny muscles to start the flow of milk. When this happens, it’s called the let-down reflex or milk ejection reflex.
Once your let-down is working well (usually by 2 weeks after you give birth), you may feel a pins-and-needles or tingling sensation in your breasts when you nurse or pump. Milk usually will drip from one breast while you are feeding on the other side. Sometimes your let-down will start when you hear your baby cry or when you think about nursing your baby. When your let-down reflex is working well, your baby easily gets milk and your breasts drain well.
Several things may keep your let-down reflex from working well.
To help trigger your let-down reflex and improve milk flow:
Some mothers have a forceful let-down that causes too much milk to flow out of the breast too quickly. You may have sharp, shooting pain, and your baby may gulp, cough, and sputter while feeding. This happens most often within the first month of breast-feeding. To decrease your milk flow:
To help your baby deal with forceful let-down: