Breast milk and the best means of expression

When newborn breastfed babies have problems sucking or latching on, it is often recommended that their mothers express breast milk. Observational studies suggest that use of breast pumps may lead to shorter overall duration of breastfeeding than if milk is expressed by hand. Some studies show breast pumping yields more milk than hand expression, although the opposite may be true immediately after birth. In a randomised controlled trial, 68 mothers of full-term newborns aged 12–36 h with feeding difficulties were randomised to 15 min of either bilateral hand pumping or hand expression.[1] The median volume expressed in a single session did not differ significantly. Mothers randomised to hand express were more comfortable being seen expressing than those pumping. At two months, significantly more women expressing by hand (96.1%) than by pump (72.7%) were still breastfeeding. This study should be extended to mothers of preterm babies.



Reviewer: David Isaacs, Children's Hospital at Westmead,