- it’s more natural and gentler on the breasts
- it’s free and convenient
- it’s environmentally friendly.
Thie video above shows the correct technique of expressing by hand. Breastfeeding mums have different levels of milk supply. At the time that this video was filmed Aisling had just fed baby Sarah on the breast so there was little milk coming in which means that the speed of the flow of milk here is quite slow. The amount of milk that comes in will vary from mum to mum.
Place your thumb and first two fingers on the breast about 2-3cm from the base of the nipple - the thumb above the nipple, the other fingers below. Avoid cupping your breast. Press and massage the breast with a rolling motion. Reposition fingers and thumb in a different area of the breast and continue until you have massaged the whole breast. Don’t squeeze the breast or pull the nipple while hand expressing.
Breast pumps are manual or electric. Manual pumps are suitable for occasional expressing, while electric pumps are more efficient (but also more expensive). You don’t have to buy a pump, you can hire electric pumps from sources such as medicare.ie.
If you are expressing with a pump, you will have to sterilise the components before use. Whether you hand express or use a pump, you need bottles or breast milk bags to store the milk.
Successful expressingExpressing is often used to increase supply and to provide relief if a mum has sore nipples. Working mothers use pumping so their partner or a carer can feed breast milk to their babies when they are not around. Mothers of premature babies use expressing if their baby has a weak suck, cannot latch on correctly or if their baby remains in hospital while Mum has gone home.
Expressing is best done in the morning when your breasts are fuller. Holding a photo of your baby or an item of his/her clothing will help, as well as feeling relaxed. If you are not getting much breast milk, you might need to try pumping more often. If you are expressing to give your baby a bottle before they go to bed, express in the late afternoon or evening as your breast milk contains a sleep-inducing substance.
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