Does breast massage help to prepare breasts for feeding?

Massaging the 4 quadrants of the breast can serve as a way to stimulate lactation in the 3rd trimester. This type of stimulation would typically begin after 36 weeks gestation provided you have gotten the OK from your obstetric provider to do so. Massaging the breast also provides an opportunity to become familiar with your breast & how they work which can increase confidence when it’s time to breastfeed. Hand expressing & storing colostrum after 36 weeks can also facilitate lactation.

Hand expression is the best way to express colostrum. Colostrum is a dense concentrate of everything your baby needs to transition from the very sterile environment of your womb to extrauterine life & all its new factors. Minerals, proteins, & your protective antibodies are among the very rich content of your colostrum. You can expect to only express small amounts of colostrum just onto your nipples – remember it’s content-rich & dense! Using a pump may not be as effective so is not advised.

Learning how to hand express is simple and gets easier with practice. Some of the benefits of hand expressing are:

  • Hand expression will help manage engorgement and avoid mastitis.

Pregnant Persons with Diabetes

Babies born of diabetic moms are at risk of developing low blood sugar levels or hypoglycaemia, within the first 24 hours of life. Colostrum can be used to maintain your baby’s blood glucose levels. Research shows that exclusive breastfeeding reduces the risk to babies born of diabetic moms developing diabetes later in life.

Planned Cesarean Birth

  • Families having a planned cesarean birth can use hand expressed & stored colostrum to supplement should you be separated from your baby. Your colostrum can also be used to supplement if you feel a bit too sedated after the surgery to initiate breastfeeding.

Le Leche League has been a well trusted international source for breastfeeding education, training, organizing & advocacy since 1954. They offer step by step instructions on hand expression on their website, click here to watch the video.