This article is from the Breast Pumps FAQ, by email@example.com (Beth Weiss) with numerous contributions by others.
This is a summary of suggestions for encouraging a letdown when
** Relax (take several deep breaths and, if you know any relaxation,or
meditation techniques, use them. Prop up a picture of your baby in
front of you and stroke your breast, toward the nipple. Sounds silly,
I know, but it works. (The relaxation is the big part, the rest is
probably just dressing)
** Look at a picture of your child, think about the child actually
nursing and the milk began to flow. In fact I was pumping enough milk
for her for the next day and even had some to freeze.
** Bring in a picture of a child and a cassette recording of her
crying and such. When you are having a hard time letting down, look
at the picture, play the tape, and think about your child.
** Call your doctor. There is a synthetic hormone that he/she can
prescribe for you called Oxytosin (sp?) which will IMMEDIATELY cause
the let down reflex. This hormone is administered by nasal drops and
works great! It runs about $40 a bottle but if your insurance will
cover it - go for it! (Warning: these can be habit forming, and
increased dosages might be needed for continued effectiveness, so use
** If your baby smells a particular way sometimes you can use that to
trigger let down too (like baby powder or something; my first always
smelled a bit like the infant sheepskin he slept on, and that always
triggered let down for me).
** It is REALLY hard to get the let down reflex at work especially if,
like me, you have to pump in the restroom - frustrating! If there is
a private office with a door that locks (so you can relax and not
worry about "company" dropping in) use it!
** Nipple stimulation (twirling them between my finger and thumb)
until the letdown came. Or, if you have a one handed pump like the
Avent manual model, do the nipple stimulation on one side while you
pump the other. It may take several minutes at first but with practice
the response gets faster.
** pump at regular times (every day or every work-day). Whenever I
take week vacations or somesuch, I have a harder time when I return to
** be sure to sit in a comfortable chair
** warmth. It's always easy for me to pump after a warm shower (it's
hard to stop from leaking, sometimes!). If not available (e.g. at
work), try warm washcloths on the breasts.
** I eventually learned that if I pushed along the sides of my breasts
I could sort of make the milk squirt out and was eventually able to
get 3 oz or so most times after about 15-20 min of work.
** My suggestion to you would be to rent the Medela electric pump for
awhile. use it at work, if you can, or at least at home so that you
can get the feel for it.
** I found that I had to use visualization techniques to let down.
Early, for the first 2-3 months of pumping, I could just visualize my
son when he was a very young baby with his little mouth working away.
As he got bigger, I had to guilt trip myself. I would visualize the
alternative - him drinking formula from a bottle and that would lead
to very large collections - I hate the smell of formula.