Expressing Your Breastmilk
However you choose to feed your baby, hand expressing is a very useful skill to learn.
It’s ideal for relieving a full and perhaps uncomfortable breast and an excellent way of giving your baby your breastmilk in the early days, if baby is not feeding from the breast.
Ask a member of staff or breastfeeding peer supporter, to show you how.
For details of how to store your breastmilk safely see the Breastfeeding Network’s Expressing and Storing Breastmilk (PDF, 1Mb) leaflet.
How to hand express
You’ll be given a leaflet to show you how to hand express, which can be useful as a reminder of what you’re shown.
Click here to watch a video of a mother learning how to hand express, which also details why hand expression can be so useful.
Expressing breastmilk – what you may see
If breastmilk is expressed in the early days or late in pregnancy (when it is called colostrum). It will seep from the breast in little droplets, as it is produced in small quantities, it doesn't spray or spurt – just perfect for a new born babies tiny tummy.
To find out more about expressing colostrum late in pregnancy and the reasons why this can be useful for some women, contact one of our Breastfeeding Support Workers.
Between 2 and 5 days after your baby is born your “mature milk” comes in and then your breastmilk may squirt or flow when you hand express.
Reasons to hand express
Some of the reasons a mother might want to hand express are:
- Expressing some colostrum for baby might give them the energy and stimulus to feed, if they are a little sleepy or seemingly ‘reluctant’ at first.
- If your breasts become full, it is an excellent way of gently relieving uncomfortable or ‘over-full’ breasts.
- If you are separated from your baby for any reason, you can still give your baby your breastmilk, after hand
expressing it into a sterile container. A member of staff will show you how, and explain all the different methods.
Some women use a manual or electric breastpump to express and store their breastmilk, so their baby can be given their breastmilk by cup or bottle.
Click here for sources of electric breastpump hire (PDF, 30Kb).
For mothers with a baby on the neonatal unit who have been loaned an Ardo breastpump, the Ardo website includes videos to show you how to use the pump via the ‘Help Centre’ tab.