The joy that accompanies the birth of a child is incomparable – as any mother will tell you.
The face of the mother lights up, and the grief of labor is soon forgotten.
However, this joy rapidly dissipates if the new mother is unable to produce any milk for the child. I can tell you from experience how terrifying this can be.
Every new parent knows the associated benefits of breastfeeding and any problematic let down is depressing, to say the least.
You are left wondering what is wrong with your body if you can’t give the best for the child. But don’t despair just yet.
The following are some of the tips that helped encourage milk to let down for better breastfeeding.
Stress is not alien to new mothers. We worry so much about many things related to the newborn.
Is the little sneeze mean she is getting down with something? – Mothers worry unnecessarily too much.
However, this worrying is not helpful especially when it comes to breastfeeding. It becomes a barrier.
The key is usually relaxation, to let off this stress. But how do you go about it, a few minutes before a breastfeeding session?
For starters, taking a warm, relaxing bath and choosing a conducive environment to do your nursing helps significantly. Some of us do with some smooth music playing in the background or sitting back in a comfortable chair with arm support is ideal.
You can as well do some relaxation techniques such as visualization and deep breathing – you probably know these from your postnatal classes. The benefit of relaxation exercises is that they dull the system responsible for stress and lack of milk for the little one.
Yes, everyone is familiar with the breathing exercises but what is visualization?
How do you go about it?
— Fleur Bickford (@NurturedChild) March 11, 2011
Well, visualization is imagining a large water body like a fountain or waterfall – the ocean also produces the same effect on the psyche. Many mothers that use this technique say that it helps stimulate milk to let down.
Another way of relaxing is getting an aquarium and watching the pet fish gracefully swim in the tank. This lowers blood pressure and elicits a relaxing sensation.
2. A Breast Massage
A gentle massage to the breasts has a positive effect on the milk let down. The message prevents cases of blocked ducts which is not a good thing – your doctor may tell you this.
After cleaning your hands, use the opposite hand and start the massage from under the armpits. Make circular movements with your fingers gradually down the breast to the nipple – it is more of a spiral motion using three fingers.
If you are done massaging the whole breast, stroke it with your hand. It shouldn’t take you more than two minutes – it’s an easy exercise, I can assure you.
Alternatively, you can get a breast massager that will ease ducts and prevent engorgement for a more natural milk let-down – breastfeeding was never this easier.
You will know that you are doing it right if the milk starts leaking – a good sign!
3. A Warm Cloth and Drink
For optimal results, use a warm compress together with the massage. What happens is that the heat from the cloth you soak in warm water causes the blood vessels to expand, allowing the milk down effortlessly.
However, a hot shower has the same effect – it’s your choice.
Some mothers tend to use ice on every part of their body that becomes sore. However, doing this on the sore breast will have a negative impact on the milk let down.
But you can complement the hot compress with a hot beverage. Taking a hot drink works the magic for breastfeeding mothers.
As my doctor puts it, the drinks are relaxing and help in the production of oxytocin – the feel-good hormones within your body – helping you produce milk efficiently.
4. Focusing on the Child
Nothing stimulates the breast milk more than a focus on the child – it is nature at its best.
In a relaxed environment, listen to some recorded babbles and look at your child’s cute photos and videos – these usually stimulate your motherly nature and prepares the breasts for breastfeeding.
For me, picking my little one’s clothes and taking a deep breath on them always does the trick.
The smell of the baby stimulates the breasts efficiently by preparing my body for a child feeding session. But the videos seem like the best since you use your visual as well as the auditory senses to focus on the child and prepare your system for the feeding session.
5. Have Fun
Stress, as discussed above is among the barriers to effective milk let-down. The body just seems to shut down in the face of nervousness – something about preparing your body for fight or fright.
But this helps no one.
Stress and anxiety inhibit let down, leading new mums to believe they don’t have enough milk. It becomes a vicious circle #breastfeeding
— Toni (@mamamilkmaid) November 5, 2010
That’s why many mothers – me included – will often find ourselves typing ‘how to get milk to let down’ in the address bar, partly because they are not having fun.
The easiest way of dealing with nervous situations or stress is by watching an exciting movie or listening to some music.
You can also read an interesting article from your favorite author – some people have it in them to tell good stories. I have heard some mothers say that they call their friends and chat a bit, not about the weather, of course – a little gossip may be good for the soul, at least for us women!
However, you do it, make sure you have fun to drive away the stress or thoughts that stand in the way of your baby’s feeding session.
Stress is one of the most significant barriers to an active milk letdown, any time. Getting rid of stress and relaxing is among the most efficient ways that you achieve optimal milk letdown to the happiness of your little bundle of joy.
I was able to stimulate my own milk let-down through the above simple exercises – it is never that hard.