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If the term “Breast Compression” sounds odd and gives you the impression of milking yourself, then you are not off the target. It is a useful technique new mothers can follow to ensure that the breast empties its milk content and the baby feeds more efficiently. The production of milk is enhanced due to breast compression, since the baby feeds more frequently and in a thorough manner, thus emptying the breasts.
What Are Breast Compressions?
The breastfeeding method of building a mother’s milk supply and one that encourages the newborn to suckle more effectively is known as breast compression. The mother holds the baby in its nursing position and holds her breast with her fingers at its base and the thumb at the top. While doing so, she gently squeezes the breast which facilitates more milk, hence the baby gets more milk. Through breast compression during breastfeeding, you are able to ensure that the baby gets all the milk you have produced. During this process, the milk glands are gently pressurised to release more milk and this increases the milk flow. If the baby receives more milk every time it suckles, it is encouraged to keep sucking actively. This increases the feeding frequency and the production of milk increases since the breasts are being emptied regularly.
What Are the Benefits of Breast Compression?
Though breast compression while pumping for milk is an underrated technique, it is one of the most helpful methods to use while feeding the baby. Breast compression has the following benefits:
- It helps to feed newborn babies who often fall asleep while suckling and find it difficult to complete the feeding session. This generally happens when the milk flow is slow and stops intermittently. Just like kids need to be nudged to finish their meal, by compressing the breast slightly, a small quantity of milk is forced into the baby’s mouth. This helps in completing the feed, and the baby feels full.
- Mothers often get sore nipples due to long feeding sessions. Through breast compression, the feeding time can be shortened without impacting the quantity of milk being consumed by the baby.
- It is helpful for babies who do not gain weight as desired to consume more milk during a feeding session.
- Many babies have difficulty in latching on, due to which they do not feed enough to satisfy their hunger. Such babies compress the breast using their gums or even create a vacuum with their mouth to help the milk to flow out evenly and adequately. Breast compression is an effective method of supporting the babies to feed entirely.
- Mothers who have a low supply of milk can enhance it by carrying out breast compression regularly during feeding time.
- Breast compression helps to empty milk faster and encourages faster production of milk. Mothers who express milk for storage while they are away could use this technique to gain the above benefits.
- Mothers who experience mastitis can use breast compression to keep the milk flowing. Mastitis is caused due to a clogged milk duct and is an infection that makes expressing milk an agonising experience for mothers. If you think that mastitis will make breast compression painful, then make sure you press slightly above or around the infected area to avoid the pain.
How to Do Breast Compressions While Nursing
If there are no problems with breastfeeding and your baby is getting as much milk as he needs, then breast compression is not required. But when maximising your baby’s intake becomes a priority, it proves to be a great support. Follow the below-mentioned steps to carry out breast compression while nursing your baby to make feeding time satisfying for both.
- Hold your baby with one arm while your palm supports his head.
- Encircle your breast with the other hand and place the thumb on one side of the breast (preferably on the top side). The rest of the fingers should be placed on the lower side of the breast, near the rib portion of the chest.
- See if the baby is drinking milk in the right manner. The baby can drink large amounts of milk when he uses the “open mouth-pause-close mouth” sucking method.
- Watch when the baby stops using the “open mouth-pause-close mouth” method and simply nibbles at the breast. Now compress the breast in a manner that will put pressure on the entire breast. Do not roll your fingers along the breast, hold and squeeze in a manner so that it does not hurt. When you compress the breast, the baby should begin drinking again with the “open mouth-pause-close mouth”. Make sure to use compression while the baby is sucking but not in the process of drinking milk. Watching videos of how to compress the breast while suckling the baby will help too.
- Maintain the pressure on the compression until the baby sucks at the breast without actually drinking. If the baby does or does not suck without drinking, then release the pressure. Your baby may stop sucking altogether if you stop compression but as soon as the milk begins to flow, he will start again.
- By releasing the pressure, you will be able to rest your hands a bit and will also allow milk to begin flowing again. Do not worry if the baby stops sucking when you ease the pressure as the taste of milk will soon become irresistible for him to resume.
- As the baby resumes sucking, he may go back to the earlier method of “open mouth-pause-close mouth”. If he doesn’t, begin compression as mentioned above.
- Keep the baby on the same side till you feel he isn’t sucking even after compression. Hold him there for a while as there could milk reflex and the baby can drink for a while. When the baby finally stops drinking, take him off and allow some rest.
- Offer the other breast if the baby demands more and repeat the process as earlier.
- You could also switch sides several times during one feeding session to give your tired arms and hands some rest.
- All throughout, focus on improving the baby’s latch for better feeds.
- Compress when the baby sucks but does not drink and allow the baby to begin sucking. It is also recommended not to compress if the baby has stopped sucking.
Can All Mothers Do Breast Compressions?
There isn’t a rule that says that all mothers should carry out breast compressions while breastfeeding the baby. As long as your little one is gaining weight as required, seems happy and your milk production seems to be adequate to satiate his hunger, you will not need to do breast compressions. If you have sore nipples or any abrasions around the nipples, breast compression may become slightly tricky. If not, most mothers can perform breast compressions without a hitch as and when needed.
Can Breast Compression Cause Blocked Ducts?
Although experience cautions mothers from pressing or squeezing the breasts while breastfeeding the baby, if done in the right manner it does not cause blocked ducts. This was a common fear for new mothers in earlier times, but knowledge and awareness have led to the clearing of such doubts to a large extent. If the right technique is followed and done gently, breast compression can prove a highly useful technique for increasing milk flow and get the baby to begin sucking once again. As mentioned above, do not press into the breast throughout the feeding session. Instead, press and release the breasts at frequent intervals as outlined in the above steps.
Breast compression may be underrated but it is an incredibly effective technique to ensure your baby is fed well through the breastfeeding sessions. By gently squeezing during breastfeeding, not only is the baby fed for a long time but it also ensures that the milk supply is increased since the breasts are being emptied more thoroughly.
Also Read: Essential Tips for Breastfeeding