Using breast compressions and massage while pumping is essential for many mamas to get the most milk out of their pumping session. Here’s how you can incorporate breast compression and massage into your pumping routine.
How to do breast compressions
Breast compressions help empty the breast by applying gentle pressure to the milk ducts. To do breast compressions while pumping, start with your same hand and breast (e.g. left hand and left breast) and form a C shape with your thumb and index finger. After you begin pumping, place the index finger under the breast and the thumb on the top of the breast, maintaining the C shape. Make sure you don’t get too close to the flange or areola. Begin applying gentle pressure to the breast – you may even see milkflow increase while doing so! You can continue to apply pressure, or do a pulsating pattern along with your pump (for example, hold the compress for 3 pump cycles, release for 1, and repeat).
It’s important that you don’t apply too much pressure. Breast compressions should not hurt at all.
How to do breast massages
Using breast massage while pumping is a similar concept to breast compressions, except you will be stimulating individual areas when you massage. To massage your breasts, ‘point’ your index and middle fingers together firmly. Then, while pumping, begin at the top of the breast and apply gently pressure, moving your fingers in a circular movement. Slowly work down toward the areola – stop before reaching the areola and area under the flange. Repeat the process beginning at different areas around the breast, including underneath the breast and in the armpit area.
Make sure when you apply pressure, you’re not applying so much so that it hurts. Breast massage should not hurt.
Get a soft hands free pumping bra
Going hands free is while pumping is so helpful in so many ways, but it also makes it easier to do breast compressions and massage while pumping. Get (or make) a hands free pumping bra that is soft enough to allow you to massage your breasts through the material. Avoid hands free pumping bras with underwire or cabling in the breast area as those can make it difficult to massage and also impede milkflow.