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Methods of milk expression for lactating women

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, September 2016
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (94th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (82nd percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
1 blog
1 policy source
20 tweeters
7 Facebook pages


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304 Mendeley
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Methods of milk expression for lactating women
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, September 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd006170.pub5
Pubmed ID

Genevieve E Becker, Hazel A Smith, Fionnuala Cooney


Breastfeeding is important, however not all infants can feed at the breast and methods of expressing milk need evaluation. To assess acceptability, effectiveness, safety, effect on milk composition, contamination and costs of methods of milk expression. We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (21 March 2016), handsearched relevant journals and conference proceedings, and contacted experts in the field to seek additional published or unpublished studies. We also examined reference lists of all relevant retrieved papers. Randomised and quasi-randomised trials comparing methods at any time after birth. Three review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and risk of bias, extracted data and checked them for accuracy. This updated review includes 41 trials involving 2293 participants, with 22 trials involving 1339 participants contributing data for analysis. Twenty-six of the trials referred to mothers of infants in neonatal units (n = 1547) and 14 to mothers of healthy infants at home (n = 730), with one trial containing mothers of both neonatal and healthy older infants (n = 16). Eleven trials compared one or more types of pump versus hand expression and 14 studies compared one type of pump versus another type of pump, with three of these studies comparing both hand expression and pump types. Twenty studies compared a specific protocol or adjunct behaviour including sequential versus simultaneous pumping protocols, pumping frequency, provision of an education and support intervention, relaxation, breast massage, combining hand expression with pumping and a breast cleansing protocol.Due to heterogeneity in participants, interventions, and outcomes measured or reported, we were unable to pool findings for most of the specified outcomes. It was not possible therefore to produce a 'Summary of findings' table in this update. Most of the included results were derived from single studies. Trials took place in 14 countries under a variety of circumstances and were published from 1982 to 2015. Sixteen of the 30 trials that evaluated pumps or products had support from the manufacturers. The risk of bias of the included studies was variable. Primary outcomesOnly one of the 17 studies examining maternal satisfaction/acceptability with the method or adjunct behaviour provided data suitable for analysis. In this study, self-efficacy was assessed by asking mothers if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: 'I don't want anyone to see me (hand expressing/pumping)'. The study found that mothers who were using the electric pump were more likely to agree with the statement compared to mothers hand expressing, (mean difference (MD) 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.15 to 1.25; P = 0.01, participants = 68). Mothers who were hand expressing reported that the instructions for expression were clearer compared to the electric pump, (MD -0.40, 95% CI -0.75 to -0.05; P = 0.02, participants = 68). Descriptive reporting of satisfaction in the other studies varied in the measures used, did not indicate a clear preference for one pump type, although there was satisfaction with some relaxation and support interventions.We found no clinically significant differences between methods related to contamination of the milk that compared any type of pump to hand expression (risk ratio (RR) 1.13, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.61; P = 0.51, participants = 28), manual pump compared to hand expression, (MD 0.20, 95% CI -0.18 to 0.58; P = 0.30, participants = 142) a large electric pump compared to hand expression (MD 0.10, 95% CI -0.29 to 0.49; P = 0.61, participants = 123), or a large electric pump compared to a manual pump (MD -0.10, 95% CI -0.46 to 0.26; P = 0.59, participants = 141).The level of maternal breast or nipple pain or damage was similar in comparisons of a large electric pump to hand expression (MD 0.02, 95% CI -0.67 to 0.71; P = 0.96, participants = 68). A study comparing a manual and large electric pump, reported sore nipples in 7% for both groups and engorgement in 4% using a manual pump versus 6% using an electric pump; and in one study no nipple damage was reported in the hand-expression group, and one case of nipple damage in each of the manual pump and the large electric pump groups.One study examined adverse effects on infants, however as the infants did not all receive their mothers' expressed milk, we have not included the results. Secondary outcomesThe quantity of expressed milk obtained was increased, in some studies by a clinically significant amount, in interventions involving relaxation, music, warmth, massage, initiation of pumping, increased frequency of pumping and suitable breast shield size. Support programmes and simultaneous compared to sequential pumping did not show a difference in milk obtained. No pump consistently increased the milk volume obtained significantly.In relation to nutrient quality, hand expression or a large electric pump were found to provide higher protein than a manual pump, and hand expression provided higher sodium and lower potassium compared to a large electric pump or a manual pump. Fat content was higher with breast massage when pumping; no evidence of difference was found for energy content between methods.No consistent effect was found related to prolactin change or effect on oxytocin release with pump type or method. Economic aspects were not reported. The most suitable method for milk expression may depend on the time since birth, purpose of expression and the individual mother and infant. Low-cost interventions including initiation of milk expression sooner after birth when not feeding at the breast, relaxation, massage, warming the breasts, hand expression and lower cost pumps may be as effective, or more effective, than large electric pumps for some outcomes. Variation in nutrient content across methods may be relevant to some infants. Small sample sizes, large standard deviations, and the diversity of the interventions argue caution in applying these results beyond the specific method tested in the specific settings. Independently funded research is needed for more trials on hand expression, relaxation and other techniques that do not have a commercial potential.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 304 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 3 <1%
United Kingdom 2 <1%
Canada 2 <1%
Spain 2 <1%
Brazil 2 <1%
Denmark 1 <1%
Ethiopia 1 <1%
Kenya 1 <1%
Unknown 290 95%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 62 20%
Researcher 46 15%
Student > Ph. D. Student 35 12%
Unspecified 31 10%
Other 28 9%
Other 102 34%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 119 39%
Nursing and Health Professions 68 22%
Unspecified 38 13%
Social Sciences 21 7%
Psychology 14 5%
Other 44 14%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 38. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 22 July 2018.
All research outputs
of 12,724,322 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 10,409 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 265,792 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 193 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 12,724,322 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 10,409 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 20.3. This one has done well, scoring higher than 87% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 265,792 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 193 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its contemporaries.