Breast compression is a gentle squeezing technique used to keep the milk flowing into a baby’s mouth if they have stopped drinking but are still suckling. This massage while breastfeeding will encourage the milk to flow and the baby to suck.
When Are Compressions Needed?
- When a baby falls asleep at the breast.
- When a baby takes too long to breastfeed or breastfeeds too often, compressions will help a mother shorten feedings.
- When a mother has sore nipples and needs the breastfeeding session to be as short as possible.
- Compressions can help drain the breast effectively during a breastfeeding session when a mother has mastitis or a blocked duct.
- The baby is a lazy drinker, premature, and has other sucking problems.
- The mother wants to stimulate milk let-down (increase her breast milk flow).
- To increase milk production in general.
- Massaging the breasts while breastfeeding ensures that the baby gets more of the substantial hindmilk that is fattier and more filling; this will also help reduce colic. How to improve the fat content in your milk.
How to Do Breastfeeding Compressions
- Make sure that your baby is latched on effectively and is, therefore, swallowing well. You should see your baby’s jaw moving with each swallow, and you may be able to hear your baby swallow.
- Hold your breast with a U hold (thumb or forefinger on top of the breast and other fingers under your breast as in the picture above). Try not to touch the areola (the dark part around your nipple).
- Use your thumb or forefinger and put some pressure on your breast; you do not need to move your thumb but only need to press down. Press down every time your baby sucks, and then release. Do not press too hard, as it should not hurt.
- If your baby continues to suck, you can stop compression until they stop sucking. The release of pressure will allow your milk to start flowing again.
- If your baby does not start drinking well after this, you can begin compression again.
Increase Milk Production With Breast Compression
- Breast compression can help increase milk supply because it stimulates the release of prolactin, the hormone that tells the body to produce milk. It can also help drain the breast more effectively, increasing milk production over time. Some women find that using breast compression can make nursing or pumping sessions more efficient and help them express more milk in a shorter time.
- Breast massage in-between feedings can also increase breast milk production.
- Other ways to increase breast milk supply.
Using Breast Compressions to Clear a Blocked Duct
Breast compression can help clear a blocked milk duct by stimulating milk flow and emptying the breast more effectively. To use breast compression to clear a blocked duct:
- Begin nursing or pumping on the affected side.
- As the milk begins to flow, use your fingers to gently squeeze the breast tissue around the blocked duct, starting at the back of the breast and moving toward the nipple.
- Continue to compress the breast as you nurse or pump.
- If the duct does not clear after a few minutes, try switching to the other breast and returning to the affected side.
- You can also try massaging the breast in a circular motion around the blocked duct, using gentle pressure to help loosen the blockage.
It's important to remember to be gentle and not to apply too much pressure, as this could be painful and potentially cause damage to the breast tissue. If the blocked duct does not clear after a few days or if you are experiencing significant discomfort, it is important to contact your healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.