Background: The expression of breast milk allows a mother to be away intermittently from her infant while continuing to breastfeed. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between expression of breast milk and breastfeeding duration
Methods: A cohort study of 12 months duration. The mothers were recruited from two public maternity hospitals in Perth, Australia between mid-September 2002 and mid-July 2003. While in hospital, participating mothers completed a questionnaire that included questions on how they were feeding their newborn. Telephone interviews conducted at regular periods monitored changes in infant feeding practices, including expression of breast milk. Multivariate Cox regression analysis was used to explore the association between breast milk expression and the duration of any breastfeeding.
Results: A total of 587 mothers, or 55% of those eligible, participated in the study. Of these 93.5% were breastfeeding at discharge from hospital. Mothers who expressed breast milk (at one or more time periods) were less likely to discontinue any breastfeeding before six months (Relative Risk 0.71, 95% CI 0.52, 0.98) than those who had never expressed milk.
Conclusion: This study found that mothers who express breast milk are more likely to breastfeed to six months (any breastfeeding). While further research is required in different cultures to confirm these results, the appropriate use of expressed breast milk may be a means to help mothers to achieve six months of full breastfeeding while giving more lifestyle options.