Encouraging Milk Flow
Massaging your breast will help open blocked ducts, besides loosening hardened areas or lumps. It does not increase milk production but allows easy flow of milk. It may even lessen the risk of mastitis. Massage gently on the breasts and do it yourself as you can judge the pressure applied:
- When both you and your baby are comfortable and relaxed, give a gentle massage on the chest region, ending towards the nipple.
- Now let your baby suckle. Then massage another breast. Be gentle as vigorous strokes could damage the ducts.
- Nurse skin-to-skin: Go skin-to-skin while nursing . Take off your clothes from the upper part of the body and leave your baby in a diaper, while nursing. Wrap a blanket covering both of you together and begin breastfeeding. The technique promotes bonding and helps in releasing more milk-producing hormones.
- Add pumping sessions: Add pumping sessions in between or after nursing sessions to maintain the milk supply. Pump for at least two to five minutes every time.
- The key to speed up milk production is to remove more milk from the breasts, frequently, so that lesser milk accumulates in between the feeds. Here are some tips to increase milk production through pumping.
- Use an automated hospital grade electric pump and pump both the breasts simultaneously.
- Shorten the intervals between pumping, rather than increasing the pumping duration. For instance, pump thrice every 15 to 20 minutes than thrice every half an hour, in case you are away for 8 to 10 hours.
- Follow the ‘massage-stroke-shake’ (M-S-S) pumping technique developed by Chele Mamet, co-director of the Lactation Institute in Encino, California:
- Double pump the breasts for five to seven minutes and stop.
- Simultaneously massage both the breasts in a circular motion (as if self-examining).
- Use your fingertips to apply gentle strokes in a line from the chest wall till the nipple.
- Using your hand, cup each breast and lean forward. Now shake your breasts gently.
- Repeat pumping for another five to seven minutes.
The Marmet Technique
The M-S-S technique stimulates prolactin levels, thereby increasing the milk production in a short time. For a more in-depth instruction on the M-S-S technique, please follow the link to download the PDF from the La Leche League International on the Mamet Technique.
Hand Expression of Breast Milk
Your body reacts to your baby’s milk demands and produces in the following way:
- Your baby’s sucking is a strong pull for the milk to come.
- Your brain receives the message.
- Your brain releases the milk ejecting hormone called oxytocin.
- Oxytocin flows through your blood to your breast muscles.
- The milk induced due to prolactin hormone flows out through the breasts.