With all due respect to hormones, it's your baby who starts your breast milk flowing. And your baby who determines the amount of milk you produce. So to get breastfeeding started or to produce more breast milk, put your baby to your breast.
As breastfeeding gets started
But your baby will soon fix that. Your milk production adapts to your baby’s needs – it’s pretty ingenious. If your baby sucks a lot, your milk increases. If baby sucks a little less, the supply decreases. It takes a few days to fine-tune the amount, but it will happen.
The milk ejection reflex
When baby sucks on your breast, impulses are sent to your brain causing it to release two hormones vital to breastfeeding. One of these hormones is prolactin, which helps produce the milk. The more your baby sucks, the more prolactin is secreted and the more milk is produced – and vice versa. The other hormone is oxytocin, which regulates the milk ejection reflex (the impulse that makes your milk flow).
The milk starts flowing after your baby has been sucking for a while. You might feel a tingling, prickling sensation in your breast when it starts. The milk may drip or spray out in jets. Some women don’t really feel the milk ejection reflex, while others feel it as soon as they hear their baby crying.
Stress can inhibit the milk ejection reflex
Milk ejection can become less efficient if you’re tense, nervous or stressed. For this reason, you need peace, quiet and relaxing surroundings.
Later on, as you get more confident and accustomed to breastfeeding, the milk will flow more easily. For most women, breastfeeding eventually becomes a reflex, something you do without even thinking. It becomes a practical yet cosy thing to do. And with a little practice it won’t take long for you to get there too.