Background: This study aimed to investigate the consistency of milk ejections and milk expression characteristics within mothers at repeated expression sessions.
Methods: Twenty-five breastfeeding mothers expressed their breasts simultaneously on three occasions within 3 weeks, and follow-up visits were performed at 6, 9, and 12 months of lactation. During the 15-minute expression, milk was collected onto a continuous weigh balance to measure milk flow rate.
Results: The number of milk ejections was similar at the three sessions (5.1±2.0), decreasing at the 12-month follow-up (3.3±1.2). Mothers had a similar pattern of milk ejection at each session. The time that each milk ejection occurred was consistent for the first 9 months of lactation. Of the four milk ejection patterns identified, each removed a similar percentage of available milk but varied in the time to reach 80% of the total expression volume. The first two milk ejections produced the greatest percentage (62%) of total milk volume during breast expression.
Conclusions: For each individual mother, the timing, pattern, and number of milk ejections were consistent, suggesting a predetermined release of oxytocin. In light of the innate oxytocin release and milk removal characteristics in women, there is potential for individual tailoring of the duration of expression.