Antenatal breast expression: a critical review of the literature.

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OBJECTIVEto critically review literature related to the practice of antenatal breast expression (ABE) and the reasons for this practice.METHODSa critical review of available literature was undertaken by accessing Internet and library resources. Articles were to be documented in English. No restrictions were placed on dates due to the important historical background of this topic. Keywords used to refine the search included antenatal breast expression, colostrum, antenatal breast-feeding education and midwives and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC).RESULTSthe literature search discovered ABE has been performed historically to prepare breasts for breast-feeding postnatally. It is presently being taught to store colostrum to prevent neonatal hypoglycaemia or hasten production of Lactogenesis 2. Studies relating to nipple stimulation were also critically appraised due to concerns of premature labour.CONCLUSIONSlarge, credible RCTs are needed to confirm efficacy and safety of this technique. A survey exploring the prevalence of ABE practices is also indicated and to explore the information currently provided by midwives to women in their care.

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