breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

A forceful let-down

A forceful let-down happens when your milk comes out so quickly out of the breasts that the baby can’t cope.  Many times a forceful let-down is accompanied by an over supply, but this is not always the case.

Do seek professional help to make sure that your challenging situation is a simple forceful let-down alone or combined with an over supply as if not treated correctly can lead to a low milk supply!

When you are experiencing a forceful let-down you will notice your baby doing some or all of the following:

  • gagging, choking, gulping, gasping and coughing whilst feeding and the let-down is very quick.
  • pulling off the breast a lot
  • clicking sounds whilst feeding
  • clamping on the nipple to slow the flow
  • spit up often or be very gassy
  • not enjoying comfort suckling
  • refuse to breastfeed at times

Most mothers start seeing a problem of a forceful let-down and/or over supply between 3-6 weeks.  If this is simply a forceful let-down, you will need to help your baby deal with the flow.  If this is in combination to oversupply, you will also be working with adjusting your milk supply which you can read about it here.

How to help baby deal with a fast flow?

  • position baby so that gravity is ‘uphill’. Sitting upright, using the side lying position and laid back breastfeeding are all good options.
  • If you can see that baby is swallowing lots of air, stop your baby frequently during feeds to burp them
  • Nursing more frequently, will reduce the amount of milk accumulated in the breast making it more manageable for your little one
  • Pump/hand express enough milk so that the let-down slows.  This is the last one to try as pumping/expressing milk can encourage more milk to be produced which can be counter productive especially if also dealing with oversupply.

Whilst the above might not completely solve a forceful let-down, generally, this will usually subside by 3-4 months when your milk supply gets more stable.  Even if your let-down remains quite forceful, a baby will mostly like get used to it and be able to pretty much cope by that age.

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