Advice Articles

Expressing and storing your breastmilk

Breast Pumping

There are many reasons why you may wish to express and store you breastmilk – returning to work, night out with friends.  You may also wish to continue breastfeeding your baby - your baby naturally stimulates your body to make milk.  Increasing your breast milk through feeding and expressing is ideal for your baby when you are apart.

Expressing will help to empty and stimulate your breast to make more milk.  Express after your baby has had a breastfeed.  To start with you may not get much milk – persevere as your body needs time to adjust to the increased demand

If you are not breastfeeding your baby directly you’ll need to express at times your baby would have fed – this will be at least 8 times a day and you’ll need to consider expressing once during the night time

You will need to express from both breasts even though baby may not have fed from both.  Using Lansinoh’s 2-in-1 double electric breast pump will help you to stimulate your breasts and increase your supply.

Equally important is considering when to express.  One of the key session times is the night time feed.  At this feed your prolactin levels are at their highest because your body wants to make milk for the next 24 hour of breastfeeds.  It is always preferably to breastfeed your baby at the night time feed.  If you are exclusively expressing you really need to express at this time as well

Even when our babies have been breastfeeding and even when you pump after a breastfeed it is not always straight forward getting your breast to release breastmilk.  Ways to help overcome this, especially in the early expressing sessions, is to consider doing the following:

Sit in a comfortable position and relax your shoulders down.  This will help with milk release
Remove tight clothing/consider not wearing any tops.  This will give you unrestricted access to your breasts especially when just starting to express
Hand massage is an ideal way of stimulating your hormones and breast tissue.  It will also help to warm up your breast which will help your milk to flow.  Here’s how to hand massage:

Using your finger tips or knuckles (clench your hand) – gently and it is very gently press on your breast tissue.  Start high up toward your shoulder and work downwards.  You need to cover as much of your breast from your shoulder to the edge of your areola (the darker area of skin around your nipple).  You can massage underneath your breast as well if you wish to
Massage one breast at a time before moving onto expressing

When you feel you have hand massaged enough move onto hand expressing.  Hand expressing is a good way to remove milk from your breast and can also be helpful before you start to use your breast pump.  Your health professional can help you with breast massage and hand expressing
Key things to do when you are ready to use your breast pump:

Wash your hands thoroughly
Refrigerate or freeze as soon as possible; do not add freshly expressed breast milk to frozen milk
You can add expressed breast milk to previously refrigerated milk but ONLY if both have been expressed on the same day
Get into the habit of labelling your storage container/bag so you won’t forget when you express at work; ‘your name’ ‘breastmilk’ ‘date’ and ‘time’
Remember not to overfill each bag – 60mls is the maximum you should put in each bag
Whilst freezing, bags can catch on other foods or the freezer racks.  To reduce the risk of your bag being damaged consider putting a large plastic tub, into your freezer.  Place each bag in carefully to prevent damage to bags

Just as you and baby started on your breastfeeding journey together so you will with your expressing journey.  Giving your baby breastmilk when you are apart will help to reassure you that you are still giving your baby a very important part of you.  You should establish your breastfeeding with baby before you express, speak to your health professional about when to express for your baby.

Read our tips and guidelines on storing and thawing your breastmilk here.

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Breastfeeding   Pumping & Expressing   Postnatal  

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