Breast compressions while breastfeeding will improve your flow of milk and keep your baby drinking.
Simply put, if your baby is not stimulating your breasts, milk production goes slow, and milk supply will be an issue. When this happens, your baby will be very restless because the milk flow is not meeting their needs.
I remember when my baby was born, I always asked for help because she was clearly hungry. She was so unsettled, she kept crying so loud, and would open her mouth as if she was looking for food. I felt so bad since I knew that I didn’t have much to give her at that time, no matter how hard I tried.
One of the important things the nurses taught me was the correct attachment. It took a while to learn, but if you get it right from the very start, meaning when your baby is a newborn, your life will be so much better.
Another thing I remember was that when I was breastfeeding, there were points where they were applying pressure on my breasts to help the milk flow. This was especially true when my baby was about to fall asleep on my breast.
I have to admit that it felt so weird to have people ‘massage’ your breasts. My husband actually laughed at the thought that they were harassing me (he was joking, of course).
I only realised later on that it was indeed very helpful. There’s so much to love about breast compressions while breastfeeding…
Drains the breast
If your baby starts falling asleep at your breast, improving attachment and compression will allow your milk to flow. Your baby will swallow the milk and wake up as the milk flows.
Someone also told me before to massage my baby at her jawline so she’ll keep drinking and won’t sleep. I had to try, right? I tried and tried. But alas, that was a myth and it doesn’t work…
Breast compression works by pressing your breast between your thumb and fingers as far back from your nipples as comfortable. Pressure should be firm, but not painful. Compress when your baby is sucking, and rest when your baby is resting. If your baby is drinking well, there is no need for you to compress.
Helps clear blocked ducts and mastitis
Let’s first talk about blocked ducts. Since we have several milk ducts in our breasts, sometimes milk builds up, lumps form, and breasts begin to feel sore.
Please don’t keep on pressing too hard on it. Made that mistake before. I mean, cmon, I knew nothing then and I just wanted it gone since it hurt. So I pressed so hard as I slid my fingers across the lump and I thought I can remove it that way. I was obviously wrong and it took so long before that big lump disappeared.
Instead, massage it in a very gentle manner towards the nipple during and after feeding. If you cannot clear the lump, that are may become red and inflamed. You may even develop a fever.
It helps to keep the sore breast empty as possible by feeding your baby often. Warm baths also felt good.
Meanwhile, mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue due to uncleared blocked milk ducts. It can happen if you missed feeding, if you have cracked nipples, or if breasts are not emptied (often due to poor attachment).
You will have painfully full breasts, hard lumps, red patches on your skin, and you will feel like you’re getting a flu.
When this happens, don’t stop breastfeeding. Do the opposite and breastfeed often. You can even express by hand if your breasts still feel full and your baby doesn’t want to feed.
Rest as much as you can and consult your doctor right away.
Stimulates milk let down
In the first 3-6 weeks of life, many babies tend to fall asleep at the breast when the flow of milk is slow. So it’s not really because they are lazy drinkers or they’ve had enough.
As they grow older, 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. Some babies even fall asleep at 3 or 4 months when the milk flow is slow.
Massaging the breasts while breastfeeding ensures that the baby gets more of the healthy hind milk that has more fat content and more satisfying. This also helps reduce colic.
When baby is feeding too frequently or too long, breast compressions also helps to shorten the feed. This is also good when you have sore nipples, and would like to shorten the session.
When your baby is nibbling or no longer drinking, compress the breast, not so hard that it hurts. The baby should be drinking again when you compress.
There were times at the start when I felt like my baby was eating me alive! It was normal for her to have 30-40 minute feeds per breast, and she can go up to an hour on one breast. And this was when she was still not attached properly, so my nipples were so sore and were hurting like crazy. I was just all too happy to shorten the feed.
Breast compressions indeed work like a charm. However, you don’t have to do this all the time. In time, everything will just happen naturally. If its all good, allow your baby to finish feeding on the first side, and then offer the other side.
Did you try breast compression while breastfeeding? We’d love to hear from you if you have personal experiences you’d like to share. Please leave your comments below.