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M&BTV: Expressing Breast Milk

Expressing breast milk isn't always a walk in the park. Get the knack with help from the M&B experts...

Geraldine Miskin, Breastfeeding Advisor says: There are different ways that mums will normally express. Some will express with a manual pump or express with an electric pump and it very much depends on mum to mum and very much depends on whether you need to do it occasionally or whether you are doing it to feed a sick baby.

Mum 1: I use a manual breast pump; I’ve not tried an electric one. It’s purely by choice; I wanted to be in control of it and I didn’t want a machine to be taking over so this way I can control it all myself – how much I do and how hard I make the pump work.

So attach it onto the breast and try and line it up so the nipple is into the gap and hold it on. The milk doesn’t come through straight away it takes a while so you have to just pump to start with just to get suction going to start. This is where it starts to mimic the baby suckling.

Arabella, Specialist Feeding Advisor says: Once mums have got breastfeeding established, they often think about expressing milk. There are benefits and advantages to this – you can have some milk in storage, maybe dad can then get involved in feeds and a grandparent and so on. However, expressing ideally shouldn’t be commenced at six weeks at the earliest.

Mum 1: It takes a little while to get going. First time I tried to express, ten minutes there’s not a lot there and after half an hour I barely had an ounce out. It’s quite disheartening – you sit there all this time pumping and trying to get the milk out and it doesn’t happen and its easy to think it’s not going to happen and I’m going to give in. But now I can do sort of ten / fifteen minutes and get three to four times the amount out of it of each breast, you need to persevere.

Arabella says: As for storing breast milk, sterilise each bottle and your breast milk can be stored in that for 24 hours in the fridge or three months frozen in your freezer. Make sure that you label it with the month you froze it to avoid any confusion.

Mum 1: They talk about when your breastfeeding as well that the formula can the milk and you can see as well when you’re expressing it that it’s a lot more watery and then you’ll get the full-fat milk come through after. I find it’s important that I express for a reasonable amount of time. It’s not the volume but the amount of time. I did one time express for a short amount of time and then I got a blocked duct because I stopped half way through and obviously that can lead to things that you don’t want. So it’s important to keep going with it.

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