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Baby's Diet Topics..

You are here : home > Baby's Diet > Breastfeeding > Methods for Expressing Breast Milk

Methods for Expressing Breast Milk

Some women are unable to breast feed their babies due to different reasons.Such women have to express their breast milk. Breast milk can be expressed manually or with the help of pumps. Pumps are of different kinds.Choose trhe one, which is more comfortable for you. Here are some handy tips on expression of milk manually and by breast pumps.

What is the procedure for expressing breast milk manually

  • Hold your breast at the outer portion, away from the areola (the coloured part of the nipple), using both hands
  • Your hands should cup your breast, with your fingers positioned below your breast and the thumb above. 
  • Now squeeze the breast gently and firmly. Repeat this procedure about ten times at different points around the breast, but at the same level. 
  • Now move your hands closer to the nipple in the same cupped position and begin squeezing again. The aim is to coerce the milk down from the milk ducts to the areola. 
  • Next, hold your breast in one hand and press the outer edge of the areola to express the milk. Do not squeeze the nipple. 
  • You can also express breast milk using the palm of one hand while holding the breast in the palm of the other. 
  • You should stop expressing milk when it ceases to come as a jet and starts coming in drops. 

What are the different kinds of breast pumps and how do they work

Bulb or 'bicycle horn' pumps: 
When the bulb is squeezed, it creates a suction effect, which draws the milk out of the breast. While these are cheap, they are not very effective, difficult to clean (which may lead to unsanitary milk collection), and may cause sore nipples.

Trigger-operated pumps: 
Every time you squeeze the trigger, suction is created. While it requires the use of only one hand, it may not be convenient for women who do not have large strong hands. In addition, they are breakable, being made of glass. Another disadvantage of glass is that nutrients from the mother's milk may adhere to a glass surface. This does not happen with plastic.

Syringe pump: 
This pump has two cylinders fitted one inside another. The inner cylinder is placed over the nipple, while the outer cylinder is pushed in and out, creating suction. This is the most popular breast pump. It is easy to use and clean, reasonably priced, portable and can also be used as a feeding bottle.

Convertible manual pump: 
The advantage of this pump is that it has an electrical connection and can also be used manually when electricity is not available. 

Battery operated pump: 
While these pumps have the advantage of portability, they are not as powerful as electric pumps. The rate at which the batteries have to be replaced does not make them a viable option in terms of cost and practicality. 

Electric pump: 
While these pumps have convenience, speed and user-friendliness on their side, their prohibitive cost is a stumbling block. However, if time is of the essence for the mother, then an electric pump may be a worthwhile investment

Any other tips for expressing breast milk

  • If you are pumping your breast manually, keep a sterilized bowl, container and a funnel handy. Wash your hands before you begin expressing milk.
  • Choose a time of the day when your breasts are fullest. You should expect to pump your breast once every three or four hours if you need to store the milk. On an average, each collection can take from 20 minutes to 40 minutes.
  • If you are using a pump, make sure that it is sterilized. Clean it immediately after you have finished collecting the milk. Carry a bottle brush and detergent with you if you are away from home. 
  • Choose a time when you will have privacy and will not be interrupted by doorbells, telephone calls, etc.
  • While you may wash your hands with soap and water, avoid using soap, creams or ointments on your nipples. 
  • Drink a full glass of water, juice, soup, etc. before you begin. A warm drink may better stimulate the milk ducts.
  • Get yourself into a comfortable position.
  • Relax and unwind before you begin. Listening to music or meditating may be a good idea.
  • Think about your baby, apply hot fomentation to your nipples for five to ten minutes, take a hot shower, or massage your breasts. All this should make it easier for the milk to come down.
  • An oxytocin nasal spray (only to be used after consulting your doctor) enhances letdown reflex in case of major difficulty. 

Is manual pumping better than pumping with an electrical pump

Although a breast pump is quite expensive, if you get comfortable using it, then it is probably a more convenient and faster option than manual pumping.  However, many women have difficulty getting used to it, even after making the initial investment.  Manual pumping is a long and tedious procedure and sometimes the amount of milk collected does not justify the time and effort invested in the procedure. But it still seems the most popular alternative.

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Naina.8 years ago
i really din't know much about expressing breast milk. i am a working woman and am 4 month pregnant. expressing breast milk article is really a boon to me. thanks!
i am a working women. i am trying to expressing and giving my baby the milk in a bottle so that he is habituated of this when i am out. he is now 3 months old and need atleast 100 ml for each feed. but on one time expression only around 20 ml is coming.what can be done to incease the amount of milk?
RMM.8 years ago
hi naina!

in case u are a working woman expressing milk is the best way to continue wz breastfeed for yr baby.u get these breast pumps-manual as well electric.i wd suggest a manual pump-"avent" is my personal choice.u can pump milk at the baby's regular feed time at yr work place and leave it in the refrigerator for the baby for next day.

hope this will help.
oh yes, for the first day u will hv to express milk once a day for a week so that u have enough for day one.
link to articles
Rekha.8 years ago
please could somebody tell me from where we can buy a breast pump in bangalore. i have checked in most places including cash pharmacy. i could only find "hard breast relievers" and not breast pumps through which i could express milk for my 3 month old son whom i leave in a creche while i am in office. please you may write to my e-mail id : with details of shops
Melanie.8 years ago
hi jaya, when expressing breast milk you have to make sure you are expressing every 3-4 hours, waiting any longer will only give you a small amount. make sure you drink lots of water and eat well. you are best to eat & drink when expressing milk. also make sure you massage your breasts before you start. if you aren't producing enough breast milk you can always alternate with formula.
rachelle.8 years ago
thanks for the info on how long breast milk lasts i thought it only lasted an hour after pumping... thanks agian!
Sejal.8 years ago
i am going back to work part-time when my baby is 2 months old and will be expressing my milk. i have bought a breast pump and steriliser and i've been advised by the midwife to have a trial run two weeks before i go back to work.
arts.8 years ago
how much time can you store the expressed milk in the refrigerator???
Terri.8 years ago
i was breast feeding and went to bottled milk now im trying to go back to breast feeding by expressing as my baby has lost the nack for feeding off me. im expressing hourly and getting barely anything. plunket midwives said a strict regumin of pumping constantly for 48 hours increase milk production then keep going after that. and still getting baby to try feed as they are always more efficient at making the milk productiion increase.
there is also nursing tea
lactagogue tea improves breastmilk quality & quantity

promotes the stimulation of milk production, so its quantity and quality is improved.

it works by stimulating the lymph glands (short-term) which improves milk-flow and reduces congestion. lactagogue tea also improves the motherís digestion, and diffuses any intestinal gas in the mother, which can cause upset in the breast feeding baby eg colic.

pimpinella (aniseed) and foeniculum (fennel) improves the motherís digestion, which in turn helps to prevent colic in the baby. they also increase milk production (lactation). aniseed also contains b vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium, which are calming and restoring.

carum carvi (caraway) improves digestion and relieves colic and flatulence

urtica (nettle) stimulates lactation

1 level 5ml spoon (approx. 1g) contains equiv. dry plant: pimpinella anisum, fruit (aniseed) 250mg; foeniculum vulgare, fruit (fennel seed) 250mg; carum carvi, fruit (caraway seed) 250mg; urtica dioica and/or urtica urens, herb (nettle) 250mg.

one teaspoon to a cup of cold water; bring to the boil. simmer for 1 minute; allow to draw for 5 minutes; strain. drink 3-5 cups daily.
a couple of great ways to increase milk are to drink extra water, eat oatmeal, and drink tea. any ol' tea will do, however, there is mother's milk tea (which contains fenugreek, known to incnrnease production). also, remembering that milk is a supply-demand thing, moms can pump to encourage more milk to produce (in addition to nursing baby on demand).
breast milk contains just the right balance of nutrients for the baby. it provides exactly as much energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fat as your newborn needs to grow.
breast milk contains antibodies to help your baby resist certain infections. antibodies in breast milk boost your baby's immunity against ear infections, respiratory infections such as pneumonia, and digestive infections such as diarrhea and constipation. breast milk also reduces a baby's risk of developing allergies, tooth decay, high blood pressure and obesity later in life, although how this protection works is unknown.
breast milk is easier to digest than commercial formula. the nutrients in breast milk are more absorbable than those in formula. also, an enzyme present only in breast milk helps babies process nutrients more efficiently. because breast-fed babies have a digestive advantage over formula-fed babies, they usually have smaller, softer and less smelly diapers too.

breast-feeding helps you lose weight. it will assist you in burning the fat that you stored during your pregnancy and ease your return to your pre-pregnancy weight. breast-feeding, though, should not be viewed as a dieting strategy. in fact, nursing mothers need to consume an extra 300 to 500 calories per day for the extra energy that breast-feeding expends.
breast-feeding lowers your risk of certain cancers. rates of ovarian cancer, and in pre-menopausal women, breast cancer, are lower in women who have breast-fed.
breast-feeding strengthens your bones. breast-feeding builds bone strength and protects against osteoporosis.
breast-feeding promotes bonding between you and your baby. it creates intimacy and closeness with your baby, which can be extremely rewarding for both of you.
breast-feeding has some other practical advantages too, including:

it is less expensive and more convenient than bottle-feeding. if you breast-feed, you don't have to buy formula or prepare bottles and nipples.
you can do it anywhere and at any time. breast milk is available wherever you go, so you can feed your baby at the first signs of hunger.
pediatricians and other infant-development experts believe that breast milk is the optimal form of infant nutrition and recommend exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months. gradual introduction of iron-enriched solids in the second half of the first year should complement the breast milk diet. ideally, you should continue breast-feeding for at least 12 months. currently, almost 70 percent of women in the united states breast-feed their newborns. by the time babies reach 6 months, though, less than a third of mothers are still breast-feeding.

because no infant formula can match all of the nutritional benefits of a mother's milk, it's worthwhile to consider breast-feeding even if you work or use child care. the key is learning to use a breast pump before you go back to work.
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