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How do you express breast milk?

For the first 6-8 weeks you will need to be with your baby most of the time. After this period your breastfeeding will be established and you might fancy going out and leaving your baby for a while here and there. If you are only away for short periods then feeding beforehand might be sufficient but if you will be gone for a longer period then you can express some milk to leave for someone else to feed them. There are lots of pumps on the market for you to choose from, but mums generally find the hand-operated ones the best ones to use. These produce milk quickly and efficiently are easy to use.

If you do not have a breast pump or don’t fancy using one then it is so easy to hand-express. Start by stroking your breast, this encourages an increase in blood flow to the area. Then, gently massage either side of your areola (the dark area around the nipple) with your thumb and forefinger. This may be associated with a tingling feeling as your breasts start to produce milk. Drip the milk into a sterilised container like a small bowl or a measuring jug (bottles are tricky to aim into! Another tip is to have a photo or a tape recording of you baby with you as you express if you’re not with your baby. This stimulates your body to produce milk faster.
The milk you collect by whichever method of expression can be frozen in sterile containers and then when needed, defrosted and reheated. Do NOT reheat expressed breast milk (EBM) in a microwave as this process damages the antibodies. Simply, place the container of milk, into a jug or saucepan of hot water and heat gently making sure to test the temperature of the milk on the back of your hand before the feed so as not to harm your baby.

A breastfed baby may refuse a teat. If this is the case you can feed him EBM from a sterilized spoon or cup (your midwife can show you how if you are unsure) and that normally does the trick!

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