Cochrane review – Methods of milk expression for lactating women


The peeps at Cochrane have just released an updated review looking at the optimal methods of milk expression for lactating women.

This updated review includes “34 randomised controlled studies involving 1998 participants, with 17 trials involving 961 participants providing data for analysis. Studies included the mothers of infants in neonatal units in the USA, UK, Malaysia, Brazil, Egypt, India, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya and Nigeria, as well as term infants in the USA, Australia, and UK.”

The authors conclude:

“The most suitable method for milk expression may depend on the time since birth, purpose of expression and the individual mother and infant. Low-cost interventions including early initiation when not feeding at the breast, listening to relaxation music, massage and warming of the breasts, hand expression and lower cost pumps may be as effective, or more effective, than large electric pumps for some outcomes. Small sample sizes, large standard deviations, and the diversity of the interventions argue caution in applying these results beyond the specific method tested in the specific settings.”

Bottom line:

  • The best method for milk expression varies between individuals;
  • Low-tech/cost interventions include early initiation, music, breast massage/ warming, expression/ pumping;
  • Due to the variability in study design & populations, take care in applying these results to the wider population (but let’s face it, the above methods are worth a try, they’re not exactly dangerous…!).

Check out the complete review by clicking on the link below…

Becker GE, Smith HA, Cooney F. Methods of milk expression for lactating women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD006170. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006170.pub4.

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