Breast compression is a method where you gently squeeze your breast to put extra pressure on the milk glands. The immediate result will be either an increase in the flow or the release of more breast milk. Breast compression essentially stimulates an easy milk let down or ejection reflux.
Compression helps to spread out the normal fibro glandular (dense) tissue of the breast making it easier for radiologists to see through the breast tissue and detect abnormalities that might be hidden by the overlying tissue.
The sole purpose of breast compression is to continue the flow of milk to the baby once the baby no longer drinks on his or her own. All that you need to do is move your hands around while you’re pumping and squeeze your breast gently but firmly. This can be especially helpful if you’re doing breast compressions to work out a clogged duct. (Note: Sometimes pumping and doing breast compressions with a blocked duct can be painful.
Compression will also stimulate a let down reflex and often causes a natural let down reflex to occur. This technique may also be useful for the following:
1. Poor weight gain in the baby.
2. Colic in the breast fed baby.
3. Frequent feedings or long feedings.
4. Sore nipples for the mother.
5. Recurrent blocked ducts
6. Feeding the baby who falls asleep quick.
If everything is going well, breast compression may not be necessary. When all is well, the mother should
allow the baby to finish feeding on the first side, then if the baby wants more – offer the other side.
How to use breast compression
1. Hold the baby with one arm.
2. Hold the breast with the other arm, thumb on one side of your breast, your finger on the other far back from the nipple.
3. Keep an eye out for the baby’s drinking, although there is no need to be obsessive about catching every suck. The baby will get more milk when drinking with an open pause type of suck.
4. When the baby is nibbling or no longer drinking, compress the breast, not so hard that it hurts though. With the breast compression, the baby should begin drinking again.
5. Keep up the pressure until the baby no longer drinks with the compression, then release the pressure. If the baby doesn’t stop sucking with the release of compression, wait a bit before compressing again.
6. The reason for releasing pressure is to allow your hand to rest, and allow the milk to begin flowing to the baby again. If the baby stops sucking when you release the pressure, he’ll start again once he tastes milk.
7. When the baby starts to suck again, he may drink. If not, simply compress again.
8. Continue feeding on the first side until the baby no longer drinks with compression. You should allow him time to stay on that side until he starts drinking again, on his own.
9. If the baby is no longer drinking, allow to come off the breast or take him off.
10. If the baby still wants more, offer the other side and repeat the process as above.
11. Unless you have sore nipples, you may want to switch sides like this several times.
12. Always work to improve the baby’s latch.