Expressing Breast Milk


Expressing milk is a great way of giving you a break whilst someone else can feed baby, and also an effective way of relieving engorgement pain or helping your baby to latch on without struggling with hard breasts and a fast milk flow.  

When expressing by hand cup your breast with four fingers underneath and your thumb on top. Do not squeeze your nipple as you won't get any milk out and will probably end up quite sore! You are aiming to get milk from the ducts behind the nipple, so try to move around the breast as you squeeze in order to empty the breast.

When you start you may just get small drips, but as you keep going, and with more practice, you will start to get more milk faster. Make sure to get as much milk out of one breast as possible before moving onto the next one. 

Expressing by hand is often better in the early days when you are too sore to use an electric pump. Hand expressing can relieve engorgement pain as well as making it easier for you baby to latch on and feed. If you do struggle with engorgement then hand expressing whilst looking at your baby, or in the shower can help the milk flow better. 

If you are expressing using a machine you must ensure that all parts of the pump and bottles are sterilised. You can help milk flow whilst using an electric pump by also gently squeezing around your breast whilst the pump is going. Hot flannels or pads can also help milk flow. Electric pumps are generally an expensive option, but invaluable for the amount of time and effort saved, especially if you are exclusively pumping, or pumping to return to work.

Make sure that you have the right size breast shield before pumping as a tight fit can be painful and limit milk supply. Position your nipple inside the shield, or funnel, and set the pump to the maximum level that you feel comfortable with. Pumping both breasts at once is a more effective way as you save time, and doing so helps you to produce more milk. Generally you will pump more milk in the mornings, but pumping after feeding can help stimulate your milk supply. 

When you begin to feel comfortable expressing with an electric or manual pump you can pump one breast whilst feeding your baby on the other. You should never feel pain whilst pumping and if you do ensure that the level, or your hand pressure is not too much, and that your nipple is not cramped inside the funnel. 

If you give baby a bottle of your pumped milk then make sure to pump when so that your supply keeps up.