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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
Natural Treatments for Mastitis and Blocked Ducts