Breastmilk Expressing Advice

Confused about what exactly expressing means, and how to do it? Here are some simple and easy tips to expressing to help you along on this journey!

What is expressing, first of all? Expressing is a way of gathering milk from your breasts without the baby needing to suckle. This can be achieved by hand, using a manual pump, or using an electric pump.

Thanks to expressing, a baby unable to latch can still enjoy all the benefits of breastmilk. But even if breastfeeding is working for you and baby, expressing can allow you the benefit of having someone else feeding the baby – ideal if you need to go back to work, if you need a break at any stage, or even if you just need to be away from the baby for longer than a few hours.

Expressing is also helpful if your breasts are engorged, i.e. feeling full and uncomfortable. In this instance, expressing some milk can relieve the pressure and help you feel comfortable.

A few key tips to remember:

  • Always wash your hands before expressing
  • Make sure any equipment you’re using has been sterilised
  • Try to relax: the hormone oxytocin (present in your body when you feel happy and relaxed) causes milk to be released, increasing flow
  • Holding your baby or sitting near her, looking at a picture of her, or holding and smelling her clothes can all help
  • Gently massaging your breasts or applying a warm flannel to them before you start can help the milk to let down

It can roughly take between 15 minutes and 45 minutes to pump both your breasts: pump for as long as your milk is flowing well. Change breasts when you feel the flow is slowing down.

Once you have expressed, store the milk in sterilised containers with secure tops. We recommend borosilicate glass bottles as they contain no harmful chemicals and are resistant to shock temperatures. Silicone bottles are another great alternative. For younger babies use a syringe or a half-filled spoon. Babies older than 6 months will be able to manage a beaker with a simple valve.

Freshly expressed milk can be stored:

- Up to five days in the main part of a fridge (put the milk at the back of the fridge where it’s coldest)

- Up to two weeks in the freezer compartment of a fridge

- Up to six months in a freezer

(Please note that freezing milk destroys some of its antibodies baby needs to help fight infections. It’s therefore best to use rather than freeze any milk that you plan to use within five days.)

Important: remember to write the date on the bottle or bag before putting it in the fridge or freezer, and use up the oldest ones first!

To thaw frozen milk:

- Place the bottle or bag in a bowl of warm water

- Run it under cool then warm water from the tap

- Defrost it in the fridge overnight

Use the thawed milk straight away, and throw away any that’s left after the feed. Never use milk that smells sour.

Expressing shouldn’t be painful, but if you’re experiencing any pain or you’re finding it difficult, speak to your midwife who will be happy to help you.

At we have a dedicated Breastfeeding section with all the items you need to successfully express and store your precious milk. Shop all the top brands from the comfort of your own home – and have your order delivered straight to your home!

24th Jan 2020 Susanna

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