As a mother, learning how to express breast milk can help you a lot. Here’s why:
Why do I need to express my breast milk?
- Boost your breast milk production.
- Breastfeed exclusively to maintain a good milk production.
- Express breast milk after breastfeeding and in between breastfeeding sessions. Frequent emptying of breasts increases your milk supply.
- Breastfeed at least 3-4 times during night. Full breasts decrease milk supply.
- Store this expressed milk in a refrigerator and feed it to your baby using a paladai (suthi spoon).
- Returning to job. It’s challenging to continue breastfeeding with a job. But it becomes easy once you know how to express breast milk.
- Express frequently at home and once every 2-3 hours while working.
- Store this expressed milk in a refrigerator where it is safe for 24 hours.
- Caretakers can feed this stored breast milk using a paladai (suthi spoon).
- Breasts overfilled with milk (engorged).
- Soak a cotton cloth in lukewarm water and gently dab over engorged breast.
- Give a gentle massage to painful breast. This will let your milk flow.
- Gently express your breast milk. This will ease the pain and soften the engorged breast.
- Now you can latch your baby.
- Treating a blocked duct. If you feel an inflamed, painful lump near your nipples, it might be a blocked duct. Clear blocked duct by expressing its milk after a warm compress and gentle massage.
- Baby admitted in hospital. Preterm and sick babies admitted in hospital may not feed from breasts.
- Express your breast milk soon after birth and continue expressing every 2-3 hourly.
- Give this milk to your baby’s doctor who will feed it to your baby with a tube or paladai.
- Breast milk will help them heal faster and you will maintain normal milk production.
How to express breast milk by hands?
Expressing breast milk with hands is, handy! You can do it anytime and anywhere. You will also save the cost of a breast pump.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. There is no need to clean your nipples. But if needed, you can wash them with plain water. Do not use soap or other cleansers for nipples.
- Let your milk flow out of breasts.
- Hold your baby in skin-to-skin contact. This is the best way to boost your milk production and help your milk flow.
- Sit comfortably and relax.
- Take some lukewarm water in a bowl. Soak a cotton cloth in it and gently massage your breasts.
- Get a back massage.
- Position your fingers and thumb on breasts outside the edge of areola to make a ‘C’ shape. Do not place the fingers or thumb over the areola. Avoid supporting the weight of your breasts on this hand. Cup this breast with another hand for support.
- Gently squeeze forward while taking care that your thumb and fingers should not be over the areola. Do not slide your fingers or thumb over the breasts.
- Release the pressure and repeat it again while rotating your fingers and thumb to different positions of breast.
- Collect the milk in a sterile steel container. Shift to second breast once milk flow slows down in first breast. After expressing from the second breast, shift back to first. Express from both breasts changing positions till milk flow completely stops.
Expressing with hands shouldn’t be painful. Get help with a lactation counselor to learn how to express with hands.
Also watch this video made by UNICEF about hand expression of breast milk.
How to express using a breast pump?
You can also express breast milk using a hand-operated (manual) or electric breast pump.
- Manual breast pumps are cheaper but not as fast as electric pumps. Breast pumps should suck 40-50 times in a minute to get good milk expression.
- Get a right size breast shield (the funnel that fits over your breasts) when buying a breast pump. Wrong size shield will pinch your nipples while sucking causing sore nipples.
- Use sterilized bottles and breast shields every time when using a breast pump.
- Stimulate your breasts. Warm shower and breast massage will help your milk flow from breasts.
- Place the breast shields over your breasts while taking care that nipples should be in the middle. Adjust the suction pressure to your comfort. Suction should never be painful.
- Suction rhythmically when using a manual pump. Manual pumps are not as fast as electric pumps, so keep pumping for about 30-40 minutes to empty the breast.
Whether you want to boost your milk production or store your milk for the baby, expressing breast milk will always help improve your breastfeeding experience. Get help with a lactation counselor if your find it difficult to express. Post your questions, comments or suggestions in the comment section below. Start expressing today!