Ahead of expressing, you should:
You can choose to express breast milk with a breast pump or express it by hand. Whichever you choose, there are a few things you can do to help make it easier:
At this point, you should be ready to start expressing…
When actually expressing breast milk, start by making sure your breast is fully in the horn of the breast pump. You need to create a seal to get things working efficiently.
If you’re using an electric pump, begin slowly at first while ensuring that the pump is in the correct position and comfortable. You should see the milk dropping into the container. If there’s no milk there, try adjusting the pump on your breast to create a better seal.
While you are expressing, simply use one hand to massage your breast from the armpits towards the nipple.
Be sure to express until the milk flow stops on each breast. How long this will take can depend from mum to mum and even day to day. Don’t worry if you only get a little milk though, as everyone is different and it will get easier.
If you are having problems expressing breast milk, you might like to try something called a breast compression while you are expressing. It will help to stimulate additional let-downs and thoroughly drain all of the milk ducts.
After expressing breast milk from one breast, repeat the cycle again on the other breast.
To express breast milk by hand, cup your breast with the palm of your hand and place your thumb just above your nipple. Compress and release the nipple until the milk begins to flow. Continue until the milk flow stops on the breast and then repeat the cycle again on the other breast. Once you have completed the cycle on both breasts, please remember to store your breast milk in a sterile container.
It can feel a little odd expressing breast milk by hand, as well as taking a while to get the hang of the technique, so don’t worry if it takes a few attempts.
Other articles you might find useful for understanding breast pumping:
When should I start expressing?
How do I store my breast milk?