Let-down is the process by which milk is released from the milk glands to the milk ducts in preparation for breastfeeding. When a breastfeeding 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.

Current as of: November 21, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Mary Moe Robbins, RNC, IBCLC - Lactation Consultant