Hormones and cuddles set the stage for milk production, but the order is placed for the long-term in the early hours after delivery with frequent removal of first milk, either by the baby or the mother. Milk out, more milk in. New research supports a low-tech, high-touch approach to help mothers make plenty of milk and know that their babies receive enough.
The ancient maternal impulse to hold, touch and help her baby, to keep the connection, plays an important role in every birth story. Game-changing research, including our own at Stanford, rediscovered the immense value of simple hand techniques. And what happens in the very first hours matters the most for long-term success.
Hand expression of small amounts of first milk onto a spoon, which can then be offered as
a “dessert” after breastfeeding, sounds pretty simple, but research shows that frequent hand expression in the early hours boosts later production for weeks.
Furthermore, frequent supplementation of the newborn with mother’s milk flattens the normal weight loss trajectory. With simple guideposts (weight, bilirubin, stool color, behavior) combined with personalized mother-baby information, we hope in the future to provide feeding and expression strategies to reduce and prevent problems.