The Biggest Let Down

Let down. The phrase sounds like something that happens slowly and gently so as not to upset you too much, right?

But if you’re a breastfeeding or pumping mama, you know that you don’t actually get let down in a calm way. In fact, your milk can let down in a matter of seconds and disturb you terribly!


Ever heard a baby cry (it might not even be your baby) and your milk lets down? You’re certainly not the only one. Even if you're wearing a nursing top, you may not be fast enough to catch it. Your body is actually programed to do that!! Isn’t it crazy to think that nature may have wanted you to be able to nourish any hungry little one around you?


This great video from The Kahn Academy and Stanford University Medicine explains the scientific reasoning behind the let down, if you’re curious. Or you could just look at the well labeled diagram and get a sense of the process. 

As a new mom, how would you describe what the let down feels like?

A tingling ache? A swelling discomfort? Complete agony if you’re not around your baby?!?!

You’ll likely then feel really full of milk and possibly a tenderness in your breasts as your body has just gotten you ready to nurse, even without your baby present. The good news: there’s nothing quite like that sweet release when baby begins to suckle or your pump begins to suck. You could compare it to the feeling of finally getting to the bathroom on a road trip when the sign you just passed reads "next rest stop 50 miles" and you've just guzzled a large drink.


Over time, as with anything, the uncomfortable feeling associated with the let down will likely lessen. But during those first few months, let down can really be, well…a let down.

So at a time when your world has turned upside down, you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed (both by the situation and with love for your little one), rest assured that your body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do biologically.

This may be little comfort when you’re at a restaurant on your first official night out since baby and you hear someone else's little one begin to cry across the room…but this too shall pass. 

The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.