This is a very good technique for improving babies'
weight gain and to encourage babies to nurse more
especially in the first few days when babies tend
to be sleepy. It is said that breast compression
method increases the fat content in breastmilk.
Available in our online store.
Breast compression method.
The purpose of breast compression is to continue the
flow of milk to the baby once the baby no longer drinks
(open mouth wide-pause-close mouth type of suck) on
his own, and thus keep him drinking milk. Breast compression
simulates a letdown reflex and often stimulates a natural
letdown reflex to occur. The technique may be useful
- Poor weight gain in the baby
- Colic in the breastfed baby
- Frequent feedings and/or long feedings
- Sore nipples in the mother
- Recurrent blocked ducts and/or mastitis
- Encouraging the baby who falls asleep quickly to
Breast compression is not necessary if everything is
going well. When all is going well, the mother should
allow the baby to "finish" feeding on the
first side and, if the baby wants more, should offer
the other side. How do you know the baby is finished?
When he no longer drinks at the breast (open mouth wide-pause-then
close mouth type of suck). Breast compression works
particularly well in the first few days, to help the
baby get more colostrum. Babies do not need much colostrum,
but they need some. A good latch and compression help
them get it.
It may be useful to know that:
- A baby who is well latched on gets milk more easily
than one who is not. A baby who is poorly latched
on can get milk only when the flow of milk is rapid.
Thus, many mothers and babies do well with breastfeeding
in spite of a poor latch, because most mothers produce
an abundance of milk.
- In the first 3-6 weeks of life, many babies tend
to fall asleep at the breast when the flow of milk
is slow, not necessarily when they have had enough
to eat. After this age, they may start to pull away
at the breast when the flow of milk slows down. However,
some pull at the breast even when they are much younger,
sometimes even in the first days.
- Unfortunately many babies are latching on poorly.
If the mother's supply is abundant the baby often
does well as far as weight gain is concerned, but
the mother may pay a price-sore nipples, a "colicky"
baby, a baby who is constantly on the breast (but
drinking only a small part of the time).
Breast compression continues the flow of milk once
the baby starts falling asleep at the breast and results
in the baby:
- Getting more milk.
- Getting more milk that is high in fat.
Breast compression method -
HOW TO DO IT
- Hold the baby with one arm.
- Hold the breast with the other, thumb on one side
of the breast (thumb on the upper side of the breast
is easiest), your other fingers on the other, fairly
far back from the nipple.
- Watch for the baby's drinking, though there is no
need to be obsessive about catching every suck. The
baby gets substantial amounts of milk when he is drinking
with an open mouth wide-pause-close mouth type of
suck. (open mouth wide-pause-close mouth is one suck,
the pause is not a pause between sucks).
- When the baby is nibbling or no longer drinking
with the open mouth wide-pause-close mouth type of
suck, compress the breast. Not so hard that it hurts
and try not to change the shape of the areola (the
part of the breast near the baby's mouth). With the
compression, the baby should start drinking again
with the open mouth wide-pause-close mouth type of
- Keep the pressure up until the baby no longer drinks
even with the compression, then release the pressure.
Often the baby will stop sucking altogether when the
pressure is released, but will start again shortly
as milk starts to flow again. If the baby does not
stop sucking with the release of pressure, wait a
short time before compressing again.
- The reason to release the pressure is to allow
your hand to rest, and to allow milk to start flowing
to the baby again. The baby, if he stops sucking when
you release the pressure, will start again when he
starts to taste milk.
- When the baby starts sucking again, he may drink
(open mouth wide-pause-close mouth). If not compress
again as above.
- Continue on the first side until the baby does
not drink even with the compression. You should allow
the baby to stay on the side for a short time longer,
as you may occasionally get another letdown reflex
and the baby will start drinking again, on his own.
If the baby no longer drinks, however, allow him to
come off or take him off the breast.
- If the baby wants more, offer the other side and
repeat the process.
- You may wish, unless you have sore nipples, to
switch sides back and forth in this way several times.
- Work on improving the baby's latch.
- Remember, compress as the baby sucks but does not
The above works best, in our experience in the clinic,
but if you find a way which works better at keeping
the baby sucking with an open mouth wide-pause-close
mouth type of suck, use whatever works best for you
and your baby. As long as it does not hurt your breast
to compress, and as long as the baby is "drinking"
(open mouth wide-pause-close mouth type of suck), breast
compression is working.
You will not always need to do this. As breastfeeding
improves, you will able to let things happen naturally.
Reproduced with permission by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPCJ
ack Newman, MD, FRCPC, graduated from the University
of Toronto medical school as a pediatrician in 1970.
He started the first hospital-based breastfeeding clinic
in Canada in 1984 at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children.
He has been a consultant with UNICEF for the Baby Friendly
Hospital Initiative in Africa and has published articles
on the subject of breastfeeding in Scientific American
and several medical journals. Dr. Newman has practiced
as a physician in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Dr. Jack Newman is a leading authority on infant care
who has implemented breastfeeding clinics throughout
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