A method to increase breastmilk intake by the baby

We use a number of ways to help mothers and babies breastfeed better when they come to our clinic. One group of babies we see frequently are babies who cry or fuss, are not satisfied after breastfeeding, who need to start drinking more milk or who are already being supplemented.

 

There are many steps we go through when we see a mother and baby at our clinic – one of them is to show mothers how to use, what I call, breast compressions.

 

nursing compression

Mother compressing her breast with her left hand to increase milk flow to the baby

 

 

I learnt about breast compressions when I was working in Africa. I watched mothers compress or squeeze their breasts.  They did this almost automatically, but I never really understood why.  Early on, when the clinic was still in its early stages, a woman from Chile came for advice. She was doing breast compressions.  And so, I asked her why she was doing this.  She said “Because my mother said I should”.  I responded that this was a good thing, but why?  And she looked at me as if she was wondering why she came to me for help, and said “Because the baby gets more milk…”.  I truly felt that she left unsaid, “…stupid!”  And truly the penny did drop and I realized what all those African mothers were doing.  And we have used it successfully at the clinic ever since.  It is not the only method that we use to increase the intake of milk by the baby, but it is a simple one and one that is very easy to use.

 

Compression of the breast is an easy and effective method of getting more breastmilk to the baby when the baby is latched on to the breast.  A baby may be on the breast, but not necessarily drinking milk.  A baby latched on, and making sucking movements, does not mean the baby is getting milk. Watch this video of a mother of a two day old baby doing breast compressions.

 

If you need help with breastfeeding, make an appointment at our clinic.

 

Copyright: Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, 2017

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