Oxytocin is called the LOVE hormone as it creates, in us, a feeling of love and devotion to this little being that we call our baby when hold him, think about him, miss him and feed him.
All of these feelings are natural and oxytocin helps the ‘let-down’ reflex when we breastfeed. It also tends to make you feel relaxed and drowsy - that is natural as well so take the time to relax while you are feeding. All these feelings help to release breastmilk when baby initiates a feeding.
Some of you may also have odd feelings before or during feeding. You may feel you have an upset stomach, go weak and sweat, or feel a little down – these are all temporary and should go away by the end of a feed. If these feelings continue between feeds please contact a health professional.
You still need oxytocin when you are expressing your milk and you can activate it by having something of your baby with you, for instance, if you are expressing at work it can help to do it in a clean and warm private room. Have photographs of your baby on a wall for you to look at, or have something that smells of baby – a piece of clothing or a toy as these can also trigger your let-down as well.
Gentle hand massage whilst thinking about and/or holding something of your baby can help to release oxytocin to support your let down as well and can encourage more milk to be let out when pumping. Using your finger tips or knuckles gently stroke or press from the outside of your breast to your nipple and go around as much of your breast as possible. It might also help to have something warm to put on your breasts. Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy packs can be warmed and put on your breasts before pumping and can also be wrapped around the cone as a warm breast will let out more milk. Additionally, the warmth will help the ducts to open which helps milk to release.