When you are scared, anxious, or stressed, the stress hormones (mainly Adrenaline, Cortisol, and Norepinephrine) coursing through your body inhibit the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is an important breastfeeding/breast pumping hormone because it is responsible for actually releasing the milk that is stored in your milk-making cells. Essentially, oxytocin allows your breast milk to flow freely from your breast. This reaction is called a “let-down” and is often associated with a tingly feeling in the breasts, although not every mama feels her let-down. Without oxytocin, breast milk will continue to accumulate in these milk-making cells, causing engorgement and ultimately a decrease in milk supply.
If you are stressed or anxious when you are pumping/breastfeeding, it is highly likely that over time you won’t produce as much milk. During this Coronavirus outbreak, it’s important that mamas continue to breastfeed their babies, or provided pumped milk, as breast milk contains essential antibodies for fighting viruses or bacteria. If you are having difficulties with your let-downs, here are some tips to encourage that oxytocin release:
Relax your mind and practice calming meditation techniques. Mindfulness techniques that inspire a ‘meditative’ state may encourage letdowns and a more efficient, productive breast pumping or breastfeeding session.
Practice skin-to-skin. Studies has shown that holding your baby skin-to-skin helps increase your milk volume by increasing your levels of oxytocin. So, snuggle your little one close to your bare chest, inhale that sweet smell of their downy head, and let that oxytocin flow!
Listen to music. Playing a song that brings a smile to your face, be it a calming Mozart tune or the latest hip-song song that makes you want to break out a dance move, can limit those stress hormones and put you in a more relaxed state.
Put a smile on your face. Research shows that mere act of smiling can help us deal with stressful situations more easily. It is thought that smiling reduces levels of cortisol, whether a person feels happy or not.
It’s also important to remember that your breast milk supply is almost entirely driven by a supply and demand system. The more demand on the system through breastfeeding or pumping, the more milk your body will make. If you are not breastfeeding or pumping regularly, your body will start to decrease supply. In addition, having a pump that functions in a similar manner to how a baby nurses is important to maintaining your milk supply. Ardo’s Calypso breast pump mimics a baby’s suckling to continuously stimulate your breastfeeding hormones and ultimately protect your milk supply.