Breast compression is a technique to continue the flow of milk to the baby once the baby no longer drinks on his own. Compression will also stimulate a let down reflex. Breast compression may be useful in the following situations:
1. Your baby isn’t gaining enough weight
2. Your breastfed baby is colicky
3. You are feeding your baby super frequently or feedings are taking a very long time
4. Your nipples are sore
5. Your ducts clog
If everything is going smoothly and you and the baby have gotten the hang of breastfeeding, breast compression may not be necessary. When all is well, you should allow the baby to finish feeding on the first side, then switch to the other side if the baby wants more.
Here’s a step-by-step on how to use breast compression:
1. Hold your baby with one arm.
2. Hold your breast with the other arm, with your thumb on one side of your breast, and your finger on the other side, far back from the nipple.
3. Pat attention as your baby feeds, 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 starts to nibble or you notice they are no longer drinking, gently compress the breast. But be careful, you don’t want to compress it so hard that it hurts. With 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. Let the baby stay on that side until they start drinking again, on their own.
9. If your baby stops drinking, take him or her off your breast.
10. If the baby still wants more, offer the other side and repeat the process as explained above.
11. Unless your nipples are sore, you may want to switch sides like this several times.
12. Always work on improving the baby’s latch.