Expressing your breast milk

manual breast pump

There may be times when you need to express your breast milk. Have a look through our guide to expressing breast milk and bottle feeding.

Expressing your breast milk

Expressing milk means extracting milk out of your breasts so you can store it and feed it to your baby later. You can express breast milk by hand or with an electric or manual pump, whichever is more comfortable for you.

After you've expressed your milk, you can either give it your baby straight away, or store it in the fridge or freezer.

Why express breast milk?

There are various reasons why you may want to express milk, for example:

  • if your baby is premature or has problems after birth – you may not be able to breastfeed, but they can still have your expressed breast milk
  • you're returning to work or study
  • your breasts feel uncomfortably full
  • your baby isn't able to latch on or suck well
  • you want to boost your milk supply
  • when you start introducing solids, you may want to include some breast milk

If you do not need to express your milk straight away, it's best to wait until you and your baby feel happy and confident with breastfeeding before you start expressing milk regularly.

For confidential breastfeeding information and support, call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212. Lines are open 9:30am to 9:30pm every day.

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