Breast Compressions

A Useful Technique to Help Your Baby
Get More Hindmilk

I found out about breast compressions well after I needed them with my first son, but it is a technique that has been a really great one to know so I can teach mothers who see me how to:

  • Know when their breast milk has been fully drained
  • Know when their baby is just comfort sucking
  • Decrease the likelihood of blocked ducts and mastitis
  • Help your baby fall asleep without breastfeeding to sleep
  • Finish the foremilk and increase the amount of hindmilk their babies are getting

Breast compressions are basically a technique you can use to get the last of your milk out of your breast while your baby is still too young to do it well on their own. This helps you avoid blocked ducts and mastitis, and helps your baby get lots of that fabulous hind milk that calms down their digestion and helps them sleep longer too.

To be able to do it you will need to know the difference between drinking milk and nibbling/comfort sucking. The following video gives an idea of when the drinking happens. You are looking for the swallow.

Once the drinking stops your baby will start to fall asleep and only nibble at the breast occasionally. To use this technique start your breastfeed as usual and wait till your baby seems to fall asleep. Once they start to comfort suck you can use this protocol:

  • Wait till your baby makes a small sucking motion
  • Gently squeeze your breast
  • You should notice that your baby starts to drink again instead of comfort sucking
  • Allow them to drink until they start to comfort suck again
  • Compress your breast again as they start to suck a little
  • Wait again until they start to comfort suck
  • Compress your breast again (it may be useful to compress a different part of your breast to encourage milk to empty from all the ducts)
  • When your compressions don't stimulate any more proper drinking detach your baby and offer them the other side

At this point your baby may not wish to drink any more milk, but they may also drain your other breast. It is best to be guided by them. No two babies are the same. Some prefer one side while others like both at every feed.

How to Help Your Baby Stop Breastfeeding to Sleep - Without Any Crying!

I get lots of new mothers seeing me who would like to help their baby learn how to fall asleep without breastfeeding, but they don't want to do it with a controlled crying approach.

This suits me well because I don't feel at all comfortable with controlled crying. If their babies are 3 months old or less I encourage them to use breast compressions to know that their breast is fully drained so that their baby doesn't wake up shortly after because they are still hungry.

Breast milk contains hormones that help your baby sleep. Babies respond to flow and will start to fall asleep if the flow slows down. This can be a bit confusion when your baby is a newborn because you may think that they have finished their feed.

What has actually happened is that your milk flow has slowed right down and if you stimulate it your baby will get more milk before falling asleep.

  • Use the breast compressions steps above. Once your baby stops drinking even after you compress you will know that you are fully drained on that side
  • Now you need to decide if your baby needs the other side or not - this is very individual for different babies and different mothers. You will know what is right for you.
  • If you have finished the breastfeed you can choose to let your baby comfort suck to sleep (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this) or you can try detaching them and see if they cry.
  • If your baby cries once detached you may choose to re-attach them
  • If they don't cry though you can then try laying them down on their own
  • If your baby cries at this point you can choose to pat them to comfort them, pick them back up again to comfort or re-attach them to calm them down

As you can see, there are lots of options along the way, and I always make sure that the mother is really comfortable with each decision along the way.

My biggest piece of advice to all new parents is don't do anything you don't feel comfortable with - you will only regret it later. See my Parenting Book Reviews page for other ideas to make parenting as smooth as it can be.

Some other pages you may find useful:

Low Milk Supply

Breastfeeding Problems

Natural Treatments for Mastitis and Blocked Ducts

Back to Breastfeeding Babies home page from Breast Compressions


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If your baby is older than 3 months you can still try this, but there are probably more age appropriate solutions in "The No Cry Baby Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. You can find it on the Parenting Book Reviews page