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Expressing your breast milk

There are lots of reasons you might choose to express your milk. It may simply be the best option for your family, a partner may want to help with feeding, or you may be planning a night out with friends. Whatever the reason, expressing gives you a great alternative to breastfeeding. 

Planning to express your breast milk

Expressing milk, where you collect some of your milk to feed your baby with at another time, can be the best option for many mums. There's lots of reasons for expressing breast milk. Some mums don't really like the idea of breastfeeding, some babies are not well enough to feed and some mothers find breastfeeding too difficult. Others choose to do a mixture of breastfeeding and expressing - it's completely up to you. If you already know you'd like to express milk, talk to your midwife and make a note in your feeding plan.​

Building your milk supply

It's a bit easier to get your milk supply going if you breastfeed for the first 2-3 days, and your baby will instinctively look to do this during skin-to-skin contact just after birth. However, if it's not for you then just express from the start. Your baby will still get all the benefits of breast milk from expressed milk, and holding your baby close during feeding makes it a really comforting experience for your baby.

Building a bond with your baby

Try and make sure your baby is only fed by you or your partner at first. This will help make feeding a key time to build a special connection with your newborn.

You can find out more about buying or renting a pump, how to express breast milk and watch a video on using an electric breast pump.

Learn how to hand express in 4 simple steps

Hand expressing is the easiest way for new mums to express their milk.

Follow the pictures and advice as you hand express the first few times. If you have any problems, speak to your midwife or health visitor.

Step 1

Start off by encouraging your milk to flow. Being near your baby or having a picture of them will help. Then begin gently massaging your breast and nipple to stimulate the hormones needed to release milk.

Step 2

Position your thumb and fingers in a ‘C’ shape, 2 to 3 cm back from the base of your nipple.

Step 3

Gently press, release and repeat until your milk starts to flow. This may take a few minutes.

Step 4

When the flow slows down, move your fingers round to a different part of your breast and start again. Then repeat with your other breast.

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Feeding Expressing Your Feeding Options Baby (0-1 years)

Last updated: 16 May, 2019