How You Express Breast Milk Affects Nursing

by Della H. Harris

In the news: How you express your breast milk could affect how your wee one nurses. For instance, if a newborn is not successful latching onto your nipple or has trouble sucking, you can always try expressing your milk by hand or pump. There's a new study that says if you express manually, you're still likely to be nursing two months later. Why you ask?

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco took at look at 68 mothers of tots who ranged from 12 to 36 hours old who were having trouble breastfeeding. They randomly assigned the women to either doing 15 minutes using electric pumps or 15 minutes hand-expressing their breast milk.

Interestingly enough, the amounts of milk they produced didn't differ that greatly but what was most noticeable was that two months later, 97.1% of the moms who hand-expressed were still breastfeeding compared to the 72.7% who used the electric pumps. The researchers couldn't find a solid reason for this. They guessed that the women were embarrassed leading to being discouraged about breastfeeding, whereas they did report that the ones that hand-expressed were more comfy breastfeeding.

"Either machine or hand expression would be appropriate," said the lead author, Dr. Valerie J. Flaherman, an assistant professor at U.C.S.F. "But hand expression would be preferred."

The study was published online July 11 in Archives of Disease in Childhood, Fetal and Neonatal Edition.