Increasing breast milk production for premature infants with a relaxation/imagery audiotape

Pediatrics. 1989 Jan;83(1):57-60.


Many women whose premature infants are hospitalized in a newborn intensive care unit choose to express breast milk for their babies. Yet anxiety, fatigue, and emotional stress are powerful inhibitors of lactation. To facilitate the breast-feeding experience, intervention mothers were given a 20-minute audio cassette tape based on relaxation and visual imagery techniques. At a single follow-up expression of milk at the hospital approximately 1 week after enrollment, they expressed 63% more breast milk than a randomized group of control mothers. The fat content of the breast milk in the two groups was not significantly different. Among a small group of mothers whose infants were receiving mechanical ventilation, the increase in milk volume compared with that of control mothers was 121%. Longer-term effects of the relaxation/imagery approach (such as extending the duration of breast-feeding or reducing parental stress after hospital discharge) and the physiologic basis for the increased volume of expressed milk (improved milk production v more efficient milk ejection) are appropriate topics for future research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Lactation / psychology*
  • Milk, Human / analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Tape Recording*