Background: Given the importance of mother's milk for very low birth weight (VLBW) infants, it would be helpful to know which circumstances are most favorable for milk expression.
Objective: This study aimed to estimate the volume of milk obtained by mothers of VLBW infants as a function of proximity to the infant and use of the kangaroo position during the actual expression.
Methods: In this prospective cohort study, when the infant was stable and the mother had established a breastfeeding routine, she was given a notebook in which to record the location of expression and the amount of milk expressed for 10 consecutive days. Breast milk expression volumes were recorded and analyzed.
Results: Data were collected on 26 mother-VLBW infant dyads and 1642 milk expressions. The first early morning expressions (n = 276, 17%) were conducted at home. Thereafter, 743 (45%) expressions were conducted far from the infant, either in a different room within the hospital or at home, and 623 (38%) were performed in proximity to the infant (beside the incubator, during kangaroo mother care [KMC], after KMC, or during kangaroo father care). The mean milk volume was significantly higher when expression was conducted in proximity to the infant. When only milk expressions conducted in proximity to the infant were considered, volumes obtained during KMC (107.7 mL, 91.8-123.5) and after KMC (117.7 mL, 99.0-136.5) were significantly higher than those obtained beside the incubator (96.9 mL, 79.9-113.9), respectively, P = .0030 and P = .0024.
Conclusion: Milk expression conducted in proximity to the infant, particularly during and immediately after KMC, is associated with higher milk volume.
Keywords: breast pumping; breastfeeding; kangaroo mother care; milk expression; milk production; very low birth weight infants.