Tips for expressing breast milk
How do I express breast milk?
Sometimes it can be necessary to use a breastpump, for instance, if a newborn baby only sucks very weakly from the breast so that milk production is not adequately stimulated. Regular pumping can also build up and maintain milk production if mum and baby are separated, e.g. when you return to work or the baby is premature or ill. You can carry on feeding your baby with your precious breast milk and will be better able to continue breastfeeding at a later date.
When you use a pump the milk does not always flow straight away. Feelings such as fear and pain can block the let-down reflex. You can encourage the flow of milk in the following ways:
- Choose a comfortable position for pumping.
- Relax and think about your baby; look at a photo of her.
- Pump where you can see or are close to your baby.
- Listen to harmonious music.
- Carry out a short breast massage (Plata Rueda) before each pumping session.
- Place a warm compress, e.g. the Temperature Pack, on the breast before pumping.
- Warm the funnel of the breast shell before putting it in place.
How do I go about expressing breast milk?
Expressing should never be painful.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Prepare your breastpump and the pumpset.
- Find a quiet place and make yourself comfortable; put something to drink within reach.
- Carry out a short breast massage (Plata Rueda).
- Centre the breast shell and hold the pumpset onto the breast shell while pumping. Do not put a lot of pressure on the breast in doing so.
- Turn on the breastpump and regulate the suction strength (vacuum) and the suction speed (cycle) so that pumping feels pleasant.
- Massage your breast while pumping.
- Pump from the right and left breast alternately. You can take a short break in between, have a drink and briefly massage the breast.
- Turn off the breastpump, remove the pumpset and clean it as described in the instructions.
A high vacuum does not necessarily lead to more milk and can cause sore nipples.
How often should I pump?
If you and your baby are separated or breastfeeding is not successful, it is sensible to express milk as soon as you feel able to and within the first 6 hours after birth if at all possible. In the first 12 or 24 hours it is also possible to obtain colostrum by hand before pumping.
Don’t be put off if you can only pump a few drops of milk during the first few days after the birth. Pumping during this phase is used mostly to stimulate the breast so that it gets the message and produces milk.
Use the pump 8 times in 24 hours if possible. Give yourself a break of 5 to 6 hours overnight unless you produce a lot of milk, in which case there is a risk of engorgement.
It is more effective to pump more frequently than to pump for a longer period each time.