What is Breast Compression and How does it benefit breastfeeding?
The sole purpose of breast compression is to continue the flow of milk to the baby once the baby no longer drinks on his own (sucking without drinking). Compression will also stimulate a let down reflex and often causes a natural let down reflex to occur. The pressure on the milk glands causes the glads to release more milk and increase milk flow. Breast compression encourages the baby to actively drink for longer due to the increase in milk flow during each feed. Breast compression can also help increase milk supply as it ensures that the breast is being properly emptied. Remember, Supply and Demand – the more milk the baby is extracting from the breast, the more milk the body will produce to cater for the baby.
This technique may also be useful for the following:
- Poor weight gain in the baby.
- Fussy baby
- Colic in the breastfed baby.
- Frequent feedings or long feedings.
- Sore or cracked nipples for the breastfeeding mother.
- Mastitis and/or Recurrent blocked ducts.
- Feeding the baby who falls asleep quickly at the breast or pulls away from the breast after a short period of nursing.
If everything is going well, breast compression may not be necessary. When all is well, the mother should allow the baby to finish feeding on the first side, then if the baby wants more – offer the other side.
How to use breast compression:
- Hold the baby with one arm.
- Hold the breast with the other arm, thumb on one side of your breast, your finger on the other, far back from the nipple.
- Pay attention to the baby’s drinking, although there is no need to obsess over catching every suck.The baby will get more milk when drinking with an open pause type of suck.
- When the baby is nibbling or no longer drinking, compress the breast, not so hard that it hurts though.With the breast compression, the baby should begin drinking again.
- Keep up the pressure until the baby no longer drinks with the compression, then release the pressure. If the baby doesn’t stop sucking with the release of compression, wait a bit before compressing again.
- The reason for releasing pressure is to allow your hand to rest, and allow the milk to begin flowing to the baby again. If the baby stops sucking when you release the pressure, he’ll start again once he tastes milk.
- When the baby starts to suck again, he may drink. If not, simply compress again.
- Continue feeding on the first side until the baby no longer drinks with compression. You should allow him time to stay on that side until he starts drinking again, on his own.
- If the baby is no longer drinking, allow to come off the breast or take him off.
- If the baby still wants more, offer the other side and repeat the process as above.
- Unless you have sore nipples, you may want to switch sides like this several times.
- Always work to improve the baby’s latch.
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