Breast compressions

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Sonya Myles 3 years, 3 months ago.

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     Heidi Nowalany 

    The post below is borrowed from Breastfeed Chicago! to generate some discussion on our forum. Moms and/or LCs, please share your thoughts!

    “I have seen quite a few mothers squeeze, compress, etc whilst feeding, and
    it seems to be an instinctual thing? I’ve seen experienced moms do this,
    and with no seeming worry that their supply is inadequate, just to give the
    baby a good feed and a good breast drainage I presume.

    However, I am guessing that moms get info on breast compression via Jack
    Newman and others who link to his info. I don’t know if there is actual
    research evidence, but I believe he and many others see more swallows
    whilst compressing. I do teach breast compression, not as a rule, but as
    needed for dyads dealing with low supply, poor transfer, etc.”


    Yes I also believe compressions are instinctual and definitely benefit babies transfer, especially with sleepy or jaundiced babies. It is important to teach effective compressions and when they are needed, specifically emphasizing the need to be gentle and not bruise the breasts. I do believe people can get carried away with it and cause some damage. On the other hand, moms need to be familiar with their breasts and be comfortable handling them, which will in turn benefit breastfeeding.

     Sonya Myles 

    I think sometimes we overlook the benefit of preparing breasts prior to feeding. Doing some light breast massage, some light stroking and a little reverse pressure softening to stimulate the milk ejection reflex can work wonders in helping a baby transfer.

    Sure, sometimes breast compression can be useful, but I have also seen the other side of this advice where a mom is so focused on breast compression she forgets to enjoy breastfeeding. Making breastfeeding all work and no play is unfair to mothers and babies. So, yes, some breast compression can be a good thing, and I do think working with your breast while feeding your baby is a natural response, but so are many other movements a mother makes, which are also important. Suzanne Colson has done some lovely work on a mother’s response to her breastfeeding baby and has identified a number of natural movements and interactions that I am sure all play a role in milk transfer. Sometimes we get so caught up in the little we do know we forget the lots we don’t know. I think that sometimes more instruction is not a good thing, if things are going well, leave them, if things are not going well, tweak as little as possible to get them going well. I know, it seems like a simplified approach, but I honestly believe that less can be more when it comes to breastfeeding advice. Not that I haven’t gotten in with both feet, up to my knees in solutions and advice, but only when all the little tweaks did not show improvement.

    Hmm, I think I may have just answered another question, one that wasn’t even asked 😉 My take home message, not everything we do as humans requires a to do list, and breastfeeding shouldn’t either, try and keep it as uncomplicated for mom and babe as you can. Breast compression comes in as an easy way to help encourage transfer, if an intervention is needed, or mothers naturally do this, but if mothers feel they have to compress their breasts for breastfeeding to work (as based on information out there), then I think we (as a profession) may have missed our mark in ways to communicate and teach and should be more careful with the information we put out there.

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