Reverse pressure softening: a simple tool to prepare areola for easier latching during engorgement

J Hum Lact. 2004 May;20(2):227-37. doi: 10.1177/0890334404264224.


Successful breastfeeding requires efficient milk transfer through the nipple-areolar complex, which includes subareolar tissue. Subareolar tissue resistance increases during engorgement, when expanded circulation and excess interstitial fluid compete for space with increasing milk volumes. Physiologic and iatrogenic events often combine to produce distortion of breast anatomy. Resulting latch difficulty, delayed milk ejection reflex, poor milk transfer, pain, and nipple damage discourage many mothers. The rationale and technique for a simple intervention developed in practice are described: reverse pressure softening (RPS) before latching significantly reduces resistance of subareolar tissue, temporarily freeing it to interact more efficiently with the baby's mouth. RPS also triggers the milk ejection reflex promptly. The health care provider can perform RPS or teach the mother and her significant others, even by telephone.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Milk Ejection / physiology
  • Nipples / physiology*
  • Pressure