Breastfeeding for Beginners

Experienced Lactation Consultant  (IBCLC)  & Midwife 

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Expressing


The need to express milk may become necessary to stimulate your supply; for a nursery baby; if your nipples become too sore to feed; or if milk is required for storage. Expressing may be performed manually, with a manual pump or, if you are intending to express over a prolonged period of time, an electric pump. A double electric pump is the best option and ten minutes of expressing usually produces a good volume of milk, the majority of that being removed during the first five minutes. If using a single pump express in four sets of five minutes each as you alternate sides. 

Breast milk can be stored in the body of the refrigerator for a few days and in the freezer for a few months. To prepare for feeding thaw the milk in the refrigerator or stand the required amount in a container of warm water - never use the microwave.

Tips for manual expressing:        

  • Express regularly and at the same intervals as you would normally breastfeed.
  • A hot shower or heat packs for ten minutes prior to commencement will assist with milk ejection.
  • Wash your hands and have a clean receptacle ready for the milk. Depending on the volume expected a medicine cup, tea cup or bowl may be appropriate.
  • Make yourself comfortable with good back support and relax.
  • Gently massage the breasts, running your hands over the nipple and areola to stimulate the milk ejection reflex. Having baby nearby, or photos of baby, may also be helpful.
  • Position index finger and thumb on opposite sides of the nipple, at about the edge of the areola or 2.5cm from the base of the nipple.
  • Push directly back towards the chest wall. Then either ‘roll’ both the finger and thumb from their outer side to their inner side (i.e. towards the nipple) without shifting their position on the breast OR simply compress the breast directly between finger and thumb without moving the fingers towards the nipple.

It may take a minute or so to stimulate milk ejection. Milk only flows easily during milk ejections which occur at about three minutely intervals so expect your flow to stop and start over a period of time.

If using a pump it is best to finish off with some manual expressing to fully drain the breast.