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Breastfeed Med. 2011 Aug;6(4):183-90. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2011.0014.

Comparison of the patterns of milk ejection during repeated breast expression sessions in women.

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  • 1School of Biomedical, Biomolecular, and Chemical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia .



This study aimed to investigate the consistency of milk ejections and milk expression characteristics within mothers at repeated expression sessions.


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.


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.


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.

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