The ability to express breast milk is invaluable in supporting and prolonging breastfeeding with today’s busy lifestyles. Of course, breastfeeding is all your baby needs, but many moms need or choose to express their milk at times to give them more flexibility. In the very early days expressing can help new moms get over any early hurdles they may face as they establish breastfeeding, and then, later on, mom’s breast milk can be given by bottle if she cannot be there for a feed.
Many moms find expressing comes easily, whereas some need more practice to get started. Here are my tips for successful expressing:
- Practice makes perfect – or certainly improves how easily you can express! Try at the same time every day for a few days. After baby’s first feed of the day is a good time
- Stimulate the let-down reflex before you start to pump if the milk does not flow very easily. Do this by having a warm bath or shower or placing warm flannels over the breast and then gently massage the breast with the flat of the hand. Expressing from one side whilst feeding from the other is effective as the baby is doing the job of stimulating let-down for you!
- Having sterilized and assembled the pump, place the pump centrally on the breast. The design of the Philips AVENT Comfort manual breast pump (RSP R1000, 55) means that you don’t have to lean forward and can sit in a more comfortable position. Begin to pump gently and increase the amount of suction as far as is comfortable
- If using a manual pump, depress the lever as far as is comfortable; hold for a second or two, release then repeat. Find a rhythm which feels natural – you are trying to mimic your baby suckling at the breast in order for your milk to begin to flow. The comfort petals on the Philips AVENT Comfort manual breast pump gently massage the breast during expressing to help milk flow. When your milk begins to flow, slow down the pumping rhythm a little to suit you
- Continue pumping until the milk flow ceases then swap to the other side. When flow on the second side ceases, return to the first
- It may be helpful to continue to gently massage the breast towards the nipple throughout, as this could help with let-down
- The reason why you are expressing will determine how long you carry on for and/or how much milk is expressed
Successful expressing depends on various factors – being relaxed, comfortable and unhurried are very important. However, do be aware that many moms express less from their breast than the baby would take at that time. Most babies feed more quickly and take more volume of milk than the same time spent pumping. Don’t be disheartened if you express less than you’d hoped. With practice, you’ll find what works for you.