Breastfeeding certainly has it’s advantages to both mother and child, but what if you ever need to leave your baby with a sitter or carer for more than a few hours? You have to feed them something.
Expressing your breast milk is the perfect solution. Your breast milk can be stored in the main part of the fridge (not the door), for 24 hours or frozen for up to 3 months.
The first thing you will need is to store the expressed milk in a sterile plastic container, you may also need a breast pump and a towel to help keep things clean.
Whenever trying to express breast milk, always try to be as relaxed and comfortable as you can.
Most mothers who express straight after breast feeding usually have good success, but if you need to express between feeds the following tips will help you get good results as well.
A good way to relax is to have a warm shower with the water running onto your back, some women find expressing in the shower helps if expressing milk causes them some pain and discomfort, but the problem with expressing milk in the shower is the milk is difficult to keep sterile and may have to be thrown out.
Massaging your breasts before expressing is another good idea, as this will help encourage the letting down of your milk. When massaging your breasts, sit yourself in a comfortable position and support your breast in one hand, with your other hand gently massage the breast using the flat part of your fingers in a circular motion.
Slowly making your way around the entire breast while moving in towards the nipple the whole time, then rolling the nipple between your fingers, this will help draw the nipple out. Another effective way of relaxing the nipple is to place a warm hand towel or face washer on the breast just before trying to express.
Do this several times to make sure the entire breast has been massaged. Massaging your breast in the shower is another relaxing environment that will help stimulate and relax your breasts.
When expressing milk by hand, hold the outer edges of the nipple (where the pink or brownish skin surrounding the nipple meets the breast, the areola), and press with your finger and thumb in a steady rhythm to empty the milk ducts. I should qualify that by saying you won’t actually empty the breasts completely, but when the flow becomes a few drops.
You will want to have your thumb about half way up your breast and run it down towards the nipple, don’t squeeze the nipple as squeezing can close the ducts, you want to only squeeze the edges of the areola so the nipple stands out.
When expressing milk manually you will usually need a container with a large opening, because it can be quite difficult to accurately direct the flow of the milk.
You may need to change hands as this can cause your fingers to tire after a while, but it is important to keep the rhythm steady and consistent, as this will simulate a child sucking on the breast.
Be aware not to be too vigorous when hand expressing, you need to be careful not to damage the soft tissue in your breast.
Using a breast pump will take alot of the mess and effort out of expressing breast milk manually.
If you decide to use a breast pump, make sure you follow the instructions given with the particular type of pump that you have. You still need to be careful not to damage your breasts from placing the pump in an awkward position or applying too much suction to the nipple.
Always ensure that the parts of the breast pump that come in contact with your breast are sterile, this will reduce the risk of contaminating the milk.
Sometimes lactation can become inadequate if you feed your child expressed milk more often than straight from the breast, a good idea to help reduce this is to finish expressing manually for a few minutes. This helps to keep the nerve fibers in the nipple stimulated and ensures all of the milk ducts have been emptied.
Try not to get too discouraged if you are only able to express a small amount of milk, a little bit at a time will soon add up, so if you plan ahead you should have a good supply on hand when you really need it.