Hello mommies! I am so “rajin” today doing research on breastfeeding subject. Since my boss is not around, i took around half an hour to write this entry so that i can share with all mommies out there who are still unaware about what is LET DOWN REFLEX actually and why it is so important to know about it. In breastfeeding, Let-Down-Reflex (“LDR”) is one of the important topic that we should understand very well because it is closely related to “milk-supply” issue. Hopefully this entry will be another entry which will benefit all mommies out there. Okay! =)
WHAT IS LET-DOWN-REFLEKS?
There are a few definitions that i found would give us clearer & better understanding of what is actually LDR:
1) Release of milk into the nipple area of breast often felt as tingling sensation.
2) A conditioned reflex of ejecting milk from the alveoli to the ducts to the sinuses of the breast and the nipple.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This is your body’s response to the baby’s suckling and is responsible for squeezing the milk from the alveoli into the ducts and towards the nipple. Sometimes it causes the milk to drip or even squirt from the nipple.
Your baby’s suckling stimulates the nerve endings in the nipple and areola, which tells the pituitary gland in the brain to release two hormones, prolactin and oxytocin :
a) Prolactin causes your alveoli to take nutrients (proteins, sugars) from your blood supply and turn them into breast milk.
b) Oxytocin causes the cells around the alveoli to contract and force the milk down the milk ducts. This is also the hormone responsible for contractions in labour and after the birth. The contractions after birth help your uterus to return to its pre-birth shape and size and tend to get more painful the more children you have. These after pains mostly come on while breastfeeding for the first 24-48 hours after delivery.
There may be many let-downs during a breastfeed although you may not feel them all. Most mothers only notice the first one. The others occur in response to changes in the baby’s sucking rhythm.
The brain plays a large role in the release of hormones that cause the milk to eject so it is very normal for let-downs to occur in other situations as well. You might notice a let-down when you think its feeding time, when you think about your baby, hear your baby or even hear somebody else’s baby cry.
Some mothers may notice a let down when sexually aroused or even during orgasm. This is because oxytocin is also a bonding hormone and is the major hormone involved in orgasm.
HOW TO STIMULATE LDR?
1) Try to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Some mothers find it helpful to unplug the phone, turn on relaxing music, and take a few deep breaths.
2) Sit in a comfortable chair with good support for your arms and back. Many mothers find that rocking chairs work well.
3) Make sure your baby is in a comfortable position on your breast. Correct positioning is one of the most important factors in successful breastfeeding.
4) You can try to listen to soothing music and sip a nutritious drink during feedings.
5) If your household is very busy, set aside a quiet place ahead of time where you will not be disturbed while breastfeeding.
6) Sometimes just thinking about your baby, hearing baby cry or stroking their hair will cause a let down.
7) You can often train your self to have a let down by sitting in the same chair, listening to the same music or following the same routine every time you breastfeed.
8) If you have trouble encouraging the let down, you can try gently massaging the breast before the feed or apply a warm towel or heat pack.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU’RE HAVING A LET DOWN?
1) Your baby will begin to rapidly suck and swallow rhythmically
2) Milk may drip from the opposite breast
3) You may feel a tingling or a full sensation in the breasts
4) You may feel thirsty or sleepy.
WHAT CAN INTERFERE WITH THE LET DOWN REFLEX?
1) Emotions: embarrassment, anger, irritation, fear or resentment
3) Inadequate sucking this can be because of improper positioning or because the baby has not been at the breast for long enough
5) Fear of pain in your breasts or uterus (i.e. sore nipples or afterbirth pains)
6) Engorgement in the first few days
7) Smoking, alcohol or recreational drugs. These all contain substances that can interfere with the let-down and affect the content of breast milk
Enjoy your breastfeeding moments kay! =)
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