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Hand Expression Linked to Improved Breast-Feeding Rates

Mothers who hand-express milk more likely to breast-feed than mothers who express with pumps

THURSDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Mothers who hand-express breast milk for their term infants feeding poorly shortly after birth are more likely to breast-feed their infants at two months than mothers who express with electric pumps, according to a study published online July 11 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal & Neonatal.

Valerie J. Flaherman, M.D., from the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco, and colleagues compared bilateral electric breast pumping to hand expression among 68 mothers of healthy term infants feeding poorly at 12 to 36 hours after birth. Participants were randomly assigned to 15 minutes of bilateral electric pumping or hand expression. Milk transfer, maternal pain, breast-feeding confidence, and breast milk expression experience (BMEE) immediately after the intervention, and breast-feeding rates at two months after birth were the outcome measures studied.

The investigators found that the median volume of expressed milk was not significantly different between the groups (0.5 ml and 1 ml for hand expression and electric pumping, respectively). The two intervention groups showed no difference in maternal pain, breast-feeding confidence, and BMEE. At two months, mothers who had hand-expressed were significantly more likely to breast-feed their infants than mothers who expressed with pumps (96.1 versus 72.7 percent).

"Hand expression in the early-postpartum period appears to improve eventual breast-feeding rates at two months after birth compared with breast pumping," the authors write.

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