Health Encyclopedia

Let-Down Reflex

Let-Down Reflex

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

Last Revised: April 3, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Mary Robbins, RNC, IBCLC - Lactation Consultant

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

USNWR 2013-2014Magnet Hospital RecognitionConsumer Choice2014 Best DoctorsJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.