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Imagery boosts breast milk.

Imagery boosts breast milk

A mother whose newborn lies hospitalized in an intensive care unit often finds it difficult to provide breast milk for her infant. With direct feeding prohibited, she may opt to give the child breast milk expressed with a breast pump. But the anxiety, fatigue and emotional distress that generally accompany having a sick infant often serve as powerful inhibitors of lactation.

Stephen D.K. Feher and his colleagues at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque sought to reduce stress and improve milk production in 30 mothers of hospitalized premature infants through the use of guided relaxation and imagery techniques provided on a 20-minute audiotape. After about one week, average milk production among women who listened to the tape daily was more than 1.5 times that of mothers who did not listen to the tape, they report in the January PEDIATRICS. Among mothers with the sickest babies, milk production in tape-listeners was more than double that in control moms.

"There was a relationship between the number of times a mother listened to the tape and the actual volume of milk she expressed," John D. Johnson, one of the researchers, told SCIENCE NEWS. The tape included a guided relaxation of muscle groups with deep breathing, and descriptions of pleasant surroundings, milk flowing in the breasts and the baby's warm skin against the mother.

The findings need verification with longer-term studies, the authors caution.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 4, 1989
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