BASIC PHASES OF NURSING
Not everyone feels let down.
Once your baby successfully latches, you may feel a let down. Some report this as feeling like a surge of pressure, or a tingling sensation, while others don't feel a let down at all.
The sensation of sucking stimulates the nerves in and around the nipple and signals a release of a hormone called oxytocin.
Oxytocin is known as the "love" hormone, which sounds much better than a neuropeptide. We credit it with playing an essential role in lust, love, labor and let down.
Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. This hormone plays a crucial role in the bond that you will form with your baby. You probably felt some of that same sensation when you were making that baby also, after all, it is all about the lovin'.
When your milk lets down you may experience some minor pain which you may in time come to associate with relief. You may even feel some lumps in your breast or like everything there is engorged before your baby drains you breast. If you feel lumps or a hardness that does not resolve after the feed, be alert. Hard pea like lumps may be plugged ducts, and larger firm areas may be the beginning of mastitis. If you are experiencing either of these, call your OB or Midwife as you may need a prescription for an antibiotic.
Let down can also occur from a number of other triggers that you come to associate with your baby nursing. You might hear a baby cry, look at a photo of your little one or even when you think about your baby.
Not going to lie to any of you... oxytocin can be released when your intimate with our partner too, so if that partner is into nipple play - warn them, they might be in for a milky shower.
After let down has occurred you may move on to the expression phase. During this phase milk actually comes out of your nipple and into your baby's mouth or a collecting system if you are pumping.
The easiest way to handle the expression phase is nursing your baby, but you may also need or want to pump if you are away from your little one.
You can express milk with a breast pump and there are tons of models available and they are available in a range of prices.
If you intend to pump you may want to make the investment to get a double electric pump. At this point there are literally wearable breast pumps that will make your breasts appear larger than necessary if you plan to wear them around work. Wearable pumps are not intended for building supply, they are only recommended for maintaining already established full milk supply.
If you are only going to pump sometimes you can probably get away with a manual pump which will for sure also increase your grip strength.
You can also successfully express manually with your own hands. You never know when you may be unexpectedly away from your baby without your pump.
Pumps can also be rented if you don't want to make the investment or go through the tedium of digital expression. If you have health insurance, your insurance company will likely cover the cost of one new breast pump for each baby you have.