Why Does Milk Let-Down When Baby Cries?

Engorgement Oct 12, 2021

It felt pretty unbelievable the first few times I felt tingling in my breasts and a release of milk when my baby cried. I noticed this would happen when I reminisced about my baby or even when I heard a stranger's baby cry. It's incredible to think that a person's body can react so instinctively. Our bodies are so perfectly made to supply the needs of our babies.

One embarrassing moment, I recall, was forgetting to wear breast pads and leaking in public. Some mothers have leaked right through their breast pads. My left breast leaked a lot more than the right one, and apparently, it is often the case that a mother leaks more from one breast than the other! Some mothers don't leak at all, and this is normal too.

I Noticed That Leaking Happened More Frequently When:

  • I was engorged; this is usually the case during the first few weeks after birth, as your body is trying to regulate the amount of milk it needs to produce.
  • When I had a let-down, which happened several times during feedings and in between, as mentioned above (when I heard my baby cry)
  • A let-down can also occur during love-making, which causes you to release the same hormone, Oxytocin, the love hormone.
  • I noticed that my milk would flow quite a lot more after a warm shower or bath or when the weather was hot.
Breastfeeding
Photo by Luiza Braun / Unsplash

What Causes This Phenomenon?

It's all due to the hormones our bodies produce postpartum. Please read more about breastfeeding hormones and how they work.

What I Have Learned That Might Help You

  • If you keep your breasts on the emptier side to prevent engorgement, you will minimize leakage. Breastfeed your baby as often as you can. Try not to go too many hours without draining your breasts.
  • If you want to prevent a let-down, cross your arms over your chest and apply gentle pressure, this can help stop the flow of milk.
  • When you go out, pack an extra top and breast pads. Don't forget to wear a pair of breast pads.
  • While breastfeeding, the free breast would usually quirt profusely during a let-down. You can collect this milk with a nursing shell; this way, you can freeze it and provide it to your baby later or at least prevent the milk from spraying all over the place.

I stopped leaking after two months of breastfeeding, but some moms may continue to struggle with this for up to 6 months postpartum.

After weaning, some mothers find that they still have some breast milk leakage for a few months and even years, but this is a rare occurrence.

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Tracy Behr

A homeschooling mother of two, breastfeeding helper, and lover of all things natural!