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  • Writer's pictureMegan Dunn

Go With the Flow...Milk Ejection Reflex

Updated: Mar 15

You may have heard of letdown...such a sad sounding word for the experience of milk flow which is a relief and joy for parents! The technical term is Milk Ejection Reflex and it's a reflex which is impacted by many things but basically boils down to oxytocin function. "The origin of the oxytocin... system is thought to date back at least 600 million years." "its milk ejection property was described by Ott and Scott in 1910 and by Schafer and Mackenzie in 1911."

After birth, we are primed for milk flow through exposure to oxytocin during contractions. Sometimes complex births can impact our oxytocin and milk flow but even with the most simple and unmedicated birth, our breast tissue starts becoming a bit less sensitive to oxytocin over time. This can be especially true with pumping...because let's face it we don't love our pumps the way we love our babies!

So, how do we get milk flowing again? Let-down Formula: Check out and follow their instructions.

Fenugreek: powdered seed (600-800 mg, three times a day) or liquid extract (2mL per day) This is well researched and widely used but avoid this if you have thyroid issues, diabetes, or insulin resistance.

Fennel Seed: 1-2g of dried, powdered fennel seed or 3mL of fennel seed tincture three times a day a go to get the milk flowing. This supplement shouldn't be used during pregnancy.

Shatavari: Powder (3-6g/day) or liquid extract (1:2, 4-6 mL/day)

Other Super-Helpful Strategies

  • Chiropractic Adjustment, Acupuncture, or Massage: These therapies can help you relax and have better vagal function, assisting oxytocin's function.

  • Meditation and Deep Breathing: Close your eyes and picture your milk flowing while your baby contentedly nurses. Try deep breathing exercises, inhaling for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 8. Do it at least three times for the best affect.

  • Warm Compress: Use a warm rice pack or washcloth before feeds to encourage milk flow.

  • Skin-to-Skin: Get cozy with your baby, snuggle them during naps, and use a baby carrier. Skin-to-skin contact can trigger oxytocin release and help your milk flow at other times.

  • Breast Compression: Gently give your breast a very gentle squeeze for 4-5 seconds during feeding, moving your hand around if you feel those fuller spots. Also called "hands on pumping"

  • Eat When Baby Eats: Syncing your mealtime with your baby's feeding can help you relax and naturally release oxytocin. Whether you want to try supplements, relaxation tricks, or any of the other methods above, remember that every parent's journey is as unique and with these strategies, you can kick it up a notch, supporting your milk flow.


Laili, U., Nisa, F., Windarti, Y., & Amalia, R. (2024). Oxytocin Hormone Levels On The Breastfeeding Process. Migration Letters, 21(S2), 1427-1432.

Patel, H., Desal, H., & Krishnamurthy, R. (2015). Plant as a Booster for Lactation. American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 3(2), 59.

Fang, Y. W., Chen, S. F., Wang, M. L., & Wang, M. H. (2024). Effects of traditional Chinese medicine-assisted intervention on improving postpartum lactation: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Heliyon.

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