Top tips for expressing breast milk

Whether you’re returning to work or can’t stay with your baby all day, expressed breast milk is the next best option for nursing your baby. Registered professional nurse and midwife, Pippa Hime gives advice…

The benefits of giving your baby breast milk are endless and they don’t need to stop because you’re separated for any reason. Expressing milk will help give your baby breast milk for as long as possible.

1. Choose your pump

Expressing breast milk can be done by hand or with a manual or electric pump. Choose the best option to suit your needs. A double pump saves on time and many women find electric pumps to be easier if they’re expressing on a regular basis.

2. Keep clean

Ensure your hands and all pumping equipment is clean before starting. Your pump should be washed with warm, soapy water and rinsed thoroughly.

3. It’s all about timing

Pumping can be done immediately following a feed, between feeds or in replacement of a missed feed. Pumping in the morning often provides a higher yield. Try to express over baby’s normal feeding schedule if you’re back at work. Aim to keep a regular schedule to ensure your supply remains high.

4. Pick your spot

Being anxious or stressed could inhibit the milk ejection reflex, so try to relax. It helps to have your baby or a picture of your baby to look at.

5. Cover up

Research shows that mothers who don’t watch the pump in action express more milk than those who stare at it watching every drop.

6. Stimulate your let down

Massaging the breasts or using a warm compression prior to expressing will help stimulate the milk ejection reflex.

7. How long?

This will vary from woman to woman and from pump to pump. You should express both breasts every time you pump.
On average, express for 5 – 7 minutes each side but no longer than 20 minutes in total. If you’re using a double pump, it will be around 10 – 15 minutes in total.
Gradually build up time and strength of the pumping to prevent nipple trauma.

8. Storage

Breast milk can be stored in sterile bottles or special breast milk storage bags. It should be dated and named if it will be used where there may be more than one baby having expressed breast milk.

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