Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hand or machine?

A recent article was posted in the NY times regarding the effectiveness of hand pumping or using an electric pump when expressing breastmilk. http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2011/07/10260/new-moms-who-express-milk-hand-breastfeed-longer-ucsf-study-finds The study found that women who hand expressed were much more likely to still be breastfeeding at two months postpartum. There isn't a clear reason for this but some say that it could be due to the fact that the moms using the pump may have been dissappointed with the initial results of 1 ml of colostrum as they were given such a large resevoir to fill. Another reason might be that mothers hand expressing may be more comfortable with expressing than their counterparts. I would like to add that learning to effectively hand express gives moms the knowledge and power. This may be linked to comfortabliity or merely the the tools to complete the job on her own when in a pinch.
I have now worked as a nurse in the NICU for 7 years and have only since gained the experience of teaching how to hand express to new moms. While working in the UK it was standard to teach moms to hand express for the first 72 hours. I hope that this will soon catch on here in the US.
Personally, I find hand expression great for those moments when I'm out and not able to use my pump. I remember finding it very much a relief when I was engorged to relieve the pressure. There were even a couple of times when my daughter didn't want to feed from both breasts and I hand expressed one side to "even myself out" :) Here is a great instructional clip of how to effectively hand express.  http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/breastfeeding/Pages/expressing-breast-milk.aspx
I leave you with this... My husband always says... "Express yourself" when I'm pumping and I can't help but think of the quarky song!
Happy breastfeeding week!!!

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