Let-down reflex

Let-down is the process by which milk is released from the milk glands to the milk ducts in preparation for breast-feeding. When a breast-feeding woman's breasts are stimulated by suckling or pumping, the pituitary gland produces the hormone oxytocin, which triggers the let-down reflex.

Signs of let-down include:

  • A tingling sensation in the nipples, sometimes with mild pain.
  • Milk leaking from the breast before nursing or pumping, or leaking from one breast while the baby is nursing at the other breast. Some women may experience let-down when they hear a baby cry.
  • Uterine cramps during nursing.
  • Increased vaginal bleeding during or just after nursing or pumping the breasts.

Last Updated: May 4, 2009

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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