Is it hard to get a letdown while pumping? This is actually fairly common – and fortunately, there are lots of easy things you can do to encourage letdown while pumping. Here are our best tips to get letdown while pumping.

What is letdown?

To help get letdown while pumping, it’s important to understand what letdown is – and how it works. Letdown is the physical process of getting the milk to flow from your breasts. Most importantly, letdown is a conditioned reflex. That means letdown is caused by various triggers, such as nipple stimulation and the hormone oxytocin. Because letdown is a conditioned reflex, you can actually train your body to respond to certain things and get letdown.

How to get a letdown while pumping

We’ve asked Spectra Mums how they get letdown while pumping. Here are some of the methods that they use to trigger letdown while pumping…

Relax and visualise success

It’s important to relax when you pump. If you’re tense, it’s very difficult to facilitate letdown. Closing your eyes and visualising success can help you relax and not focus on how much milk you’re getting.

Close your eyes. Deep breaths and just think of your baby. Feeding your baby. Cuddles with your baby. Happy thoughts  I also apply a small amount of pressure with my hand around my boob. Try not to think of other things like chores, other people etc..

– Emily

Agree with not watching what’s coming out, and try not to have expectations about what you should get or need to get – that always killed it for me! Zone out somehow and try not to care about the amount, as extremely hard as that can be when you’re relying on it!

– Melanie

I visualise waterfalls

– Bec

Set up your breast pumping station ahead of time so you have everything you need when you breast pump at night.
Find a comfortable place to pump so you can relax. When you’re tense it’s hard to get letdown while pumping.

Controlled breathing

You can do controlled breathing exercises to help relax while pumping.

Quiet relaxed environment, deep slow breathing & eating or drinking something warm while looking at pics/videos of bub 🙂

– Mandy

I used to take a few really really really deep dramatic breaths and lift my shoulders up (like shrugging them) as I breathed in and bring them down as I slowly exhaled. Sounds silly but the ‘over’ dramaticness of the shoulder shrug really really helped! Best of luck 🙂

– Stace

Watch videos of your baby

If you’re away from your baby when you’re pumping, watching videos of them can be an incredibly powerful cue for letdown.

Relax, deep breathing, watch baby or videos of baby. I used to actually pump one side while feeding from the other first thing in the morning.

– Annette

Think of your baby to get letdown while pumping
Being near your baby or thinking of your baby – or using photos, video, sound, or scent of your baby – can help you get letdown while pumping.

I would watch videos of my little one smiling and giggling and being adorable. It worked every time for me 🙂

– Sara

Put your feet up, eat something nice & watch videos of your baby if they’re not nearby

– Jacqueline

…and listen to sounds of your baby

You can combine video with the sound of your baby. A baby’s cry can be a very powerful letdown trigger!

It just happens for me. Except while in the shopping centre when you hear a baby cry lol

– Priscilla

Your baby’s scent

Smelling your baby works just as well as visual cues. You can bring bub’s outfit from the day before, or if you’re pumping at home, pump with baby near you.

I used to pump while baby was sleeping in her bassinet next to me. I would just drink her all in. The sound of the pump helped her sleep!

– Tori

A piece of clothing with my bubs smell on it. (Crazy I know but it works)

– Anastasia

Cuddling with a baby can help induce lactation without pregnancy.
Your baby’s scent can be a powerful letdown trigger.

Food and water

Make sure you drink plenty of water and eat enough food while you’re pumping. Staying hydrated is super important for milk production! You can also eat and drink galagtagogues, which are foods that boost milk supply.

Drink water throughout each nursing session, then drink water during pumping. Also pumped at the same time everyday. It acted as a cue. Worked most times.

– Elena

Drink ice cold water. The shiver would bring on a let down.

– Jo

Massage and nipple stimulation

You might notice that your baby twiddles, squeezes or hits your chest while breastfeeding. This is actually a natural behaviour to help facilitate letdown! You’ll need to be hands-on to get letdown while pumping, and massage and nipple stimulation can really help.

Plus gentle feather strokes away from the nipple. Then a gentle hand express till milk starts, then attach the pump, on a fast rhythms for 2 mins then to my normal pump pace/power.

– Anastasia

Tips from the Spectra Customer Support Team

We’ve asked our customer support team for their best tips to get letdown while pumping. Here’s what they have to say…

My best letdowns were when pumping when talking on the phone, or driving etc as I was never watching etc.

Skin on skin was a big thing that worked for us.

Pumping /feeding routines – the more you do it, the more you body is biologically inclined to have an easier let down.

Hot shower before pumping feeding – heat pads.

Massaging and compressing when pumping and feeding – if youre not using your hands youre not doing it right.

A good supply helps let downs – so eating/drinking galagtagogues and lots of water and calories.

Routines… train your body to let down by having solid routines for pumping and feeding.

Be happy – oxytocin helps with breastfeeding hormones amazingly. Make a conscious effort to be in love with your little one and be happy.

– Georgie

get letdown while pumping
Pack a piece of your baby’s clothing in your pumping bag, and other items that remind you of baby.

Look at your baby if possible, or look at videos and photos of them to remind your body who you are trying to make milk for. A relaxing environment is key, and stress will inhibit the flow of the milk so try to get comfortable and relaxed, maybe eat some chocolate and catch up on netflix rather than staring at your nipple waiting for the milk to start flowing.

– Anjuli

Get a letdown while pumping

You may have noticed a common theme amongst all the tips for getting letdown while pumping…

  • Think of your baby: Use video, audio, or smell if you’re away from your baby.
  • Relax and try not to focus on your output.
  • Stay hydrated and eat well.
  • Be hands-on while pumping.
  • Stick to a routine.

Since letdown is a reflex, you can train your body to letdown by consistently using a combination of the methods mentioned in this article.

What methods do you use to get letdown while pumping? Tell us in the comments below!

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