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Hormones are often described as “keys” that fit perfectly into certain receptor sites throughout your body to “unlock” or perform certain functions. Receptor sites tell the hormones where to do their important work. In your body, the receptor sites for prolactin and oxytocin are established in your breasts during the first several weeks after your baby’s birth. The more you breastfeed, the more receptor sites are created. The more sites that exist, the more milk you can make. This is why you should breastfeed your baby early, frequently, and without formula. In the long run, this will give you more options as you return to work or school.

Let-Down Reflex

Breastfeeding is easier when your body is relaxed and comfortable. The let-down reflex is what happens when your milk flows to your nipple. Your body does this on its own. Even if you do not feel relaxed you can help your milk let-down by relaxing your shoulders, taking a deep breath, and letting it out slowly. You do not have to feel relaxed for the milk to let-down, but it does help.

You may feel the let-down before your baby starts suckling or after your baby has been sucking for a couple of minutes. Let-down feels different for nearly every woman. Some barely notice a tingling feeling as their babies nurse; others say it is a squeezing sensation. Either way, it lasts for a brief moment and is one of the signs that your baby is getting your milk. After you have been breastfeeding for a few weeks, just hearing your baby or even thinking about your baby may cause let-down.

You may notice:

• Uterine cramps.

 Milk dripping from the opposite breast.

 Milk appearing in the corner of baby's mouth.

 Sounds of baby swallowing.

 A feeling of calmness and relaxation.

(Adapted from the California WIC Peer Counselor Manual)

What Real Moms Say...

"Breastfeeding was a wonderful experience. I would get overwhelmed with emotion and feel 100% connected with my sons."

- a mother helped by a NYS WIC peer counselor

Breastfeeding Your Newborn

Newborns have very tiny stomachs. You can expect them to nurse often – for long and short periods of time, sometimes even in cluster feeds, or several brief feedings in a row. There is no need to worry about a schedule – let your baby nurse when he is hungry. 

Watch Your Baby, Not The Clock.