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What exactly is "let-down"?

Posted by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 1:25 AM
  • 10 Replies

Sorry if this seems like a dumb question. My son is 7 weeks tomorrow and we have been having a lot of problems breastfeeding. He was born tongue-tied and that made it incredibly difficult to feed him for the first week until we got it clipped. My milk came in on day 3, but I didn't get very engorged like I hear most women complaining about. I was mildly uncomfortable, that's it. For the first few weeks he was only producing about 5 diapers daily, and only one, maybe two would be poopy. He had a weight check at three weeks and he was only one ounce over his birth weight. I went to two different certified lactation consultants and they gave me some suggestions to increase my milk supply such as pumping while nursing, pumping after I nurse, mothers milk tea and fenugreek. None of them made a difference. I've heard the term "let-down" thrown around a lot and I'm not sure if I exactly understand what it means. Is that when your milk starts flowing into babies mouth when he's eating? I don't feel a thing when he nurses, like tingly feelings or anything that people talk about. I can tell he's getting milk because he's sucking and swallowing and when he pulls away I can see some in his mouth. I still don't produce enough for him though. The doctor had me start supplementing breastfeeding with 4-6oz of formula a day for him because he wasn't gaining weight and didn't have enough wet/dirty diapers. Since we started supplementing him at 4 weeks he has seemed to be in a much better mood and has 7-8 diapers a day. And I'm still nursing on demand until I go back to work (sometime this week, sadly). Sorry if this is kind of scattered. I'm just unsure as to what the whole "let-down" thing is exactly and figured you guys would be able to give me an answer. Thanks :)

by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 1:25 AM
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Replies (1-10):
bunny22008
by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 1:31 AM

the let down is when the milk flows freely after the baby suckles for a while a lot of moms say they feel a tingle or something i never did and a lot of moms dont, or maybe you will feel it later if you continue to breasfeed. but u can see the let down if u ever take you breast out of the babies mouth while feeding and you see ur milk coming out a lot.

gdiamante
by Gina on Apr. 19, 2010 at 1:50 AM

We'll start with the answer to your title question...it's also known as Milk Ejection Reflex. It's the actual milk coming down the ducts and out the nipple.

Quoting triforcechick:

Sorry if this seems like a dumb question. My son is 7 weeks tomorrow and we have been having a lot of problems breastfeeding. He was born tongue-tied and that made it incredibly difficult to feed him for the first week until we got it clipped.

OK, good.

My milk came in on day 3, but I didn't get very engorged like I hear most women complaining about. I was mildly uncomfortable, that's it.

Permit me to envy you!

For the first few weeks he was only producing about 5 diapers daily, and only one, maybe two would be poopy.

OK. That MAY be a problem...a wet is the equivalent of four TB water in a disposable. A heavy wet counts as two. Knowing that, how was he doing?

He had a weight check at three weeks and he was only one ounce over his birth weight.

That's FINE. Many babies haven't even hit birth weight by three weeks, depending on their birth size. I need weights...reading on...

I went to two different certified lactation consultants

IBCLC? It matters.

and they gave me some suggestions to increase my milk supply such as pumping while nursing, pumping after I nurse, mothers milk tea and fenugreek. None of them made a difference.

Based on dipes? I still need the answer to my above question.

I've heard the term "let-down" thrown around a lot and I'm not sure if I exactly understand what it means. Is that when your milk starts flowing into babies mouth when he's eating?

And before.

I don't feel a thing when he nurses, like tingly feelings or anything that people talk about.

Means nothing. Some moms feel it, some momns don't.

I can tell he's getting milk because he's sucking and swallowing and when he pulls away I can see some in his mouth. I still don't produce enough for him though.

I NEED to know about those dipes.

The doctor had me start supplementing breastfeeding with 4-6oz of formula a day for him because he wasn't gaining weight

Weight is a poor marker. I need history, please. Birth, LOWEST if you know it, etc...

and didn't have enough wet/dirty diapers. Since we started supplementing him at 4 weeks he has seemed to be in a much better mood

Infant mood never means anything. REALLY.

and has 7-8 diapers a day.

Sopping? Sopping counts as TWO. I really really need those details.

And I'm still nursing on demand until I go back to work (sometime this week, sadly). Sorry if this is kind of scattered. I'm just unsure as to what the whole "let-down" thing is exactly and figured you guys would be able to give me an answer. Thanks :)

You already did know what letdown was., and yours is dandy. You can forget that part...get me all the answers I asked for above. THAT is what matters. I suspect you've been mislead in a way that will kill your supply.

jeng1980
by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 7:24 AM

If you'll answer these questions, we can better help you.

Quoting gdiamante:

We'll start with the answer to your title question...it's also known as Milk Ejection Reflex. It's the actual milk coming down the ducts and out the nipple.

Quoting triforcechick:

Sorry if this seems like a dumb question. My son is 7 weeks tomorrow and we have been having a lot of problems breastfeeding. He was born tongue-tied and that made it incredibly difficult to feed him for the first week until we got it clipped.

OK, good.

My milk came in on day 3, but I didn't get very engorged like I hear most women complaining about. I was mildly uncomfortable, that's it.

Permit me to envy you!

For the first few weeks he was only producing about 5 diapers daily, and only one, maybe two would be poopy.

OK. That MAY be a problem...a wet is the equivalent of four TB water in a disposable. A heavy wet counts as two. Knowing that, how was he doing?

He had a weight check at three weeks and he was only one ounce over his birth weight.

That's FINE. Many babies haven't even hit birth weight by three weeks, depending on their birth size. I need weights...reading on...

I went to two different certified lactation consultants

IBCLC? It matters.

and they gave me some suggestions to increase my milk supply such as pumping while nursing, pumping after I nurse, mothers milk tea and fenugreek. None of them made a difference.

Based on dipes? I still need the answer to my above question.

I've heard the term "let-down" thrown around a lot and I'm not sure if I exactly understand what it means. Is that when your milk starts flowing into babies mouth when he's eating?

And before.

I don't feel a thing when he nurses, like tingly feelings or anything that people talk about.

Means nothing. Some moms feel it, some momns don't.

I can tell he's getting milk because he's sucking and swallowing and when he pulls away I can see some in his mouth. I still don't produce enough for him though.

I NEED to know about those dipes.

The doctor had me start supplementing breastfeeding with 4-6oz of formula a day for him because he wasn't gaining weight

Weight is a poor marker. I need history, please. Birth, LOWEST if you know it, etc...

and didn't have enough wet/dirty diapers. Since we started supplementing him at 4 weeks he has seemed to be in a much better mood

Infant mood never means anything. REALLY.

and has 7-8 diapers a day.

Sopping? Sopping counts as TWO. I really really need those details.

And I'm still nursing on demand until I go back to work (sometime this week, sadly). Sorry if this is kind of scattered. I'm just unsure as to what the whole "let-down" thing is exactly and figured you guys would be able to give me an answer. Thanks :)

You already did know what letdown was., and yours is dandy. You can forget that part...get me all the answers I asked for above. THAT is what matters. I suspect you've been mislead in a way that will kill your supply.


Jennifer Gooden-Mom to 3 beautiful children




MarriedJess
by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 7:37 AM

wow this is interesting

I don't feel anything when the boy is at the breast but about a half hour before he needs to feed agian I sometimes get this burnig sensation in my breasts...when I explain it to hubby I tell him its a tingly warmth like when you can feel liquor in your chest. I always thought that was the let down

jmercado823
by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 7:46 AM

Hi. The letdown is when the milk begins to flow down after baby latches and begins to suckles. You may feel a pins and needles sensation as it happens, you may not. My son was also tongue-tied when he was born and it took us a while to get the breastfeeding thing. We didn't get good at it til I almost quit nearly 2 months later. I had a hard time too as my little man who is now 3 was never at average weight. People were always saying things like "you're starving him", OMG! I tried the formula thing but it only made him colic. So he became an exclusively breast-fed baby and he loved it. At 3 years old he is still a skinny guy and I don't worry anymore because he is healthy and eats well. I would say that breast-fed babies don't always gain like the formula fed baby.  It is also ok if you choose to switch to formula. Your munchkin will be alright. Just make sure he isn't anemic or lacking in his nutrition and it will be alright. My son's doc was also very supportive and used to tell me that as long as the baby was healthy don't go crazy with the weight gaining. Thats what's wrong with the 'One weight fits all" mentality. Even with baby clothes my son always had a hard time. Why can't they make sizes to fit petite to large? They do it with us adults right?. All will be well you'll see

triforcechick
by on Apr. 19, 2010 at 7:20 PM

Sorry this took so long to reply to, it's been a hectic day

Quoting gdiamante:

We'll start with the answer to your title question...it's also known as Milk Ejection Reflex. It's the actual milk coming down the ducts and out the nipple.

Quoting triforcechick:

Sorry if this seems like a dumb question. My son is 7 weeks tomorrow and we have been having a lot of problems breastfeeding. He was born tongue-tied and that made it incredibly difficult to feed him for the first week until we got it clipped.

OK, good.

My milk came in on day 3, but I didn't get very engorged like I hear most women complaining about. I was mildly uncomfortable, that's it.

Permit me to envy you!

For the first few weeks he was only producing about 5 diapers daily, and only one, maybe two would be poopy.

OK. That MAY be a problem...a wet is the equivalent of four TB water in a disposable. A heavy wet counts as two. Knowing that, how was he doing?

We use cloth diapers and they would range from bairly wet to medium-wet. Once in a while he would have a sopping diaper, but they were few and far between. 

He had a weight check at three weeks and he was only one ounce over his birth weight.

That's FINE. Many babies haven't even hit birth weight by three weeks, depending on their birth size. I need weights...reading on...

He was born at 8lbs 2oz. At 5 days old he was at 7lbs 4oz. At 2 weeks he was 8lbs 2oz. At 3 weeks he was 8lbs 3oz. At 4 weeks (after supplementing him for a week) he was at 9lbs 1oz.

I went to two different certified lactation consultants

IBCLC? It matters.

Yes, they were both IBCLC. Thankfully I delivered at a breastfeeding friendly hospital.

and they gave me some suggestions to increase my milk supply such as pumping while nursing, pumping after I nurse, mothers milk tea and fenugreek. None of them made a difference.

Based on dipes? I still need the answer to my above question.

Even after taking the supplements for a week and pumping it didn't make a difference in his diaper count. That didn't change until we started supplementing him with some formula

I've heard the term "let-down" thrown around a lot and I'm not sure if I exactly understand what it means. Is that when your milk starts flowing into babies mouth when he's eating?

And before.

I don't feel a thing when he nurses, like tingly feelings or anything that people talk about.

Means nothing. Some moms feel it, some momns don't.

I can tell he's getting milk because he's sucking and swallowing and when he pulls away I can see some in his mouth. I still don't produce enough for him though.

I NEED to know about those dipes.

The doctor had me start supplementing breastfeeding with 4-6oz of formula a day for him because he wasn't gaining weight

Weight is a poor marker. I need history, please. Birth, LOWEST if you know it, etc...

and didn't have enough wet/dirty diapers. Since we started supplementing him at 4 weeks he has seemed to be in a much better mood

Infant mood never means anything. REALLY.

and has 7-8 diapers a day.

Sopping? Sopping counts as TWO. I really really need those details.

He now has several sopping wet diapers a day. He didn't before.

And I'm still nursing on demand until I go back to work (sometime this week, sadly). Sorry if this is kind of scattered. I'm just unsure as to what the whole "let-down" thing is exactly and figured you guys would be able to give me an answer. Thanks :)

You already did know what letdown was., and yours is dandy. You can forget that part...get me all the answers I asked for above. THAT is what matters. I suspect you've been mislead in a way that will kill your supply.


gdiamante
by Gina on Apr. 19, 2010 at 9:23 PM


Quoting triforcechick:

OK. That MAY be a problem...a wet is the equivalent of four TB water in a disposable. A heavy wet counts as two. Knowing that, how was he doing?

We use cloth diapers and they would range from bairly wet to medium-wet. Once in a while he would have a sopping diaper, but they were few and far between. 

Ehhhh...that's right on the borderline.

He was born at 8lbs 2oz. At 5 days old he was at 7lbs 4oz. At 2 weeks he was 8lbs 2oz.

Birth weight by two weeks is fantabulous. **grin** In fact...he did nearly a month's growth betwene firve days and two weeks.

At 3 weeks he was 8lbs 3oz.

Considering the GINORMOUS gain in the first week (we expect a mere four to six ounces per week...his EXPECTED highest two week weight would be under eight pounds. He overachieved. Weight-wise, no worries. DIPES have me concerned here.

At 4 weeks (after supplementing him for a week) he was at 9lbs 1oz.

YOWZA. Considering we look for a pound a month...you can back off the formula.


I went to two different certified lactation consultants

IBCLC? It matters.

Yes, they were both IBCLC. Thankfully I delivered at a breastfeeding friendly hospital.

and they gave me some suggestions to increase my milk supply such as pumping while nursing, pumping after I nurse, mothers milk tea and fenugreek. None of them made a difference.

Based on dipes? I still need the answer to my above question.

Even after taking the supplements for a week and pumping it didn't make a difference in his diaper count. That didn't change until we started supplementing him with some formula

and didn't have enough wet/dirty diapers. Since we started supplementing him at 4 weeks he has seemed to be in a much better mood

Infant mood never means anything. REALLY.

and has 7-8 diapers a day.

Sopping? Sopping counts as TWO. I really really need those details.

He now has several sopping wet diapers a day. He didn't before.

We don't really look for sopping. Especially not with cloth since that can mean rashes! **grin**

My feeling is that you're doing better than you think...but I wouldn't drop the formula entirely yet. I WOULD reduce the amounts. An ounce every few days, see what happens.




Misery_Stitches
by on Apr. 20, 2010 at 1:50 AM

 "

and they gave me some suggestions to increase my milk supply such as pumping while nursing, pumping after I nurse, mothers milk tea and fenugreek. None of them made a difference.

Based on dipes? I still need the answer to my above question.

Even after taking the supplements for a week and pumping it didn't make a difference in his diaper count. That didn't change until we started supplementing him with some formula
"

My boy had weight gaining issues due to an improper latch (which  my doc saw at his 6 week check up that he has a bit of tongue tie too so probably was the cause... midwife and nurses at hospital never picked it up)... it caused him to not suck properly so his feeding on demand wasnt doing what it was supposed to do so my supply wasnt very good. This then resulted in him not eating enough making him lethargic so he wouldnt eat a full feed. He had barely wet diapers and hadnt pooped in about a week until we finally started getting a better latch....

Anyway what I am trying to say is try longer than a week... it took 3 weeks of me pumping after feeds after eery feed (which I was made to do every 2 to 3 hours) and using the pumped milk as his supplement INSTEAD of formula before he got back to anywhere close to birth weight - he finally topped over birth weight at 5 weeks old.

Now I dont need to pump or supplement at all as he feeds perfectly now and my breasts are easily supplying what he needs.

I dont believe a week like you did is long enough.

eema.gray
by on Apr. 20, 2010 at 1:59 AM

When my first was little, I never felt a let down . . . . . until he was three, going on four, months old.  Then I felt it one day and man did it HURT!  I actually wished I could go back to not feeling let downs.

Your milk let's down whether you feel it or not.  :-)  Some moms can "hear" it in a sense.  Baby latches on, right?  Sucks vigorously for a few seconds, eh?  Then changes to a slower suck, swallow, suck, swallow pattern?  That's when let down, otherwise known as MER - milk ejection reflex - kicks in.

JennaFoix
by on Apr. 21, 2010 at 12:49 AM

hmmm pretty interesting info.

I feel the let down and like marriedJess said I sometimes feel it before he eats. Mine is pretty much the same as she described as well. Its a burning sensation that starts about mid breast and SLOWLY travels to the nipple and "out" and then its over. and yes baby has unlatched during let down and I totally squirt everywhere. Its crazy lol. Interesting to know it has a name.

Quoting eema.gray:

When my first was little, I never felt a let down . . . . . until he was three, going on four, months old.  Then I felt it one day and man did it HURT!  I actually wished I could go back to not feeling let downs.

Your milk let's down whether you feel it or not.  :-)  Some moms can "hear" it in a sense.  Baby latches on, right?  Sucks vigorously for a few seconds, eh?  Then changes to a slower suck, swallow, suck, swallow pattern?  That's when let down, otherwise known as MER - milk ejection reflex - kicks in.


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