Why We Love Breast Compression While Breastfeeding (And You Should, Too!)

Breast compressions while breastfeeding will improve your flow of milk and keep your baby drinking.

Breastfeeding childSimply 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.

Breastfeeding selfieAs 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.

Shortens feeds

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.

18 comments

  1. Lauren Kinghorn says:

    Hi Raquel, thanks for an interesting and informative article. I have been nursing my son for 2 and a half years and have heard of breast compression at La Leche League meetings, but never understood just how helpful it could be in shortening feeds. Is it way too late for me to give it a try?

    • Raquel says:

      Good job on extended breastfeeding, Lauren! You can try breast compression, but since you’ve been breastfeeding for 2.5 years, I think it’s safe to say that your baby is feeding well. In that case, it’s really not necessary. All the best!

    • Jessica says:

      I have 4 small children and i breastfed all of them (not very successfully), I might add. I found it very difficult with the first two and a bit easier with the second two. I always felt my supply could have been better. I did not know about breast compression. Although I tried something similar to what you were describing, I didn’t actually know it was a helpful technique. Had i known, I would have tried it a bit better and maybe it would have helped with my supply.

      • Raquel says:

        Thanks for sharing this, Jessica! I think that’s what makes breastfeeding more challenging than what it already is. There seems to be lack of information and awareness among mums, that we often don’t know what to do! You’d wish that there was some sort of baby manual to help you along the way with every issue you encounter. We can surely keep reading and reading, but then again, time is something we don’t always have. I do think going over the Breastfeeding Made Simple book is a great start. My goal is to keep helping breastfeeding mothers know more so that they won’t resort to quitting right away. Often times, there is still something that can be done. Cheers!

      • Adrian Yeow says:

        I remembered a Tedx talk I went to that talks about breastfeeding. Interestingly, the speaker is a man.
        He was speaking about breastfeeding and how the society should adopt to it by not looking or staring at the mum who breastfeed their children as a respect to them. At one point if I remembered correctly he even mentioned that the society should also prepare places for woman to breastfeed their child. Such as a special place in a restaurant.

        • Raquel says:

          It is really refreshing to have this view on breastfeeding, from a man no less. I just read about a young woman who was breastfeeding her baby (who was crying of hunger) in the subway. And although other passengers looked away, there was a person who took a photo of her while breastfeeding (despite covering up). That person posted it online and criticised the mother, only to issue an apology after the young woman’s husband sued him.

          This is not the first time I heard this, and it’s really SAD… I hope our society will come to terms that it is not a form of nudity, and eventually remove any stigma or double standard. If there were more breastfeeding stations in public, then I’m pretty sure a lot of nursing moms will benefit from this. Thanks for sharing this, Adrian.

        • Pitin says:

          Hi Raquel,

          Where did you learn all this info? I would love to breastfeed as well if I get pregnant again. If you read it from books, what books are those? I would love to succeed in breastfeeding if I get a chance to be a mom again. It’s my major frustration, lol. I’ll bookmark your page. I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot here as well:)

          Thanks!

          Pitin

          • Raquel says:

            Hi Pitin. I guess aside from personal experience, curiosity and interest led me to learn more about breastfeeding. 🙂 I would love to help you in your breastfeeding journey should you get another chance. Feel free to send a message if you have any questions. Happy reading! 🙂

          • RachelLouise56 says:

            This is such a great and helpful article! As a nursing student and a lover of babies, I know a little more than the average not yet mom about breastfeeding. It only makes sense that breast compression can help the flow of milk to your baby, and there are so many benefits to it as well! The best part is that it benefits both you and the baby, rather than just one of you. Thanks for sharing, great article!

            • Raquel says:

              Thanks Rachel! 🙂 Definitely hope this comes in very handy for you when the right time comes. Cheers! 🙂

            • Enid says:

              I breastfeed both my kids. It is a great experience for mom and baby. The hardest thing is to relax. It’s like everything else…it takes practice. You’ve never done this, and neither has your baby. You will learn together. Relax. Use the coach at the hospital. Find some music that is soothing for you and baby, you can do this! My kids never had an ear infection as a small child. This is one of the huge advantages to breastfeeding. Better immune systems. Eat healthy and give baby a great start!

              • Raquel says:

                Couldn’t have said it better. So glad to hear about your breastfeeding experience. Practice makes perfect indeed. Thanks for sharing, Enid! 🙂

              • Nadia says:

                I know breastfeeding can be quite a challenge for mothers. I don’t have children, so I don’t really know for sure. Based on some people that i know, it can be quite painful. Having said that, breastfeeding is also a critical thing and one of the most important phases of a baby’s life. Unfortunately, some mothers could not breastfeed their children due to some health problem.