What is the let-down reflex?
Clare Byam-Cook says
This is the mechanism that releases the milk from the breasts when your baby feeds and also affects how fast the milk flows. This varies enormously from mother to mother, with some having a very fast let-down, others having a very slow let-down and the majority having a normal or average one. A mother has no control over her let-down reflex and it is very much the luck of the draw as to how fast or slow it is.
How can I tell if I have a fast or slow let-down?
The easiest way to tell is by using a breast pump. If you have a fast let-down, you will see your milk squirting out and you will be able to express your milk really quickly (eg.120mls in 10 minutes). If your let-down is slow, the milk will only drip out and after 10 minutes you might have expressed as little as 20mls. Having seen this, you will realise why some mothers can feed their babies much quicker than others.
Why do I need to know how fast my let-down is?
You don’t need to know but you will find it helpful because the speed of your let-down dictates how long it will take your baby to get enough milk out of your breasts to get a full feed (rather than a snack). If you have a fast let-down your baby may be able to get all the milk he needs in as little as 10 minutes, but if your let-down is slow you will know that your baby needs to stay awake and feed for a great deal longer than this.