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Expressing Breastmilk

Work, school, or even a late-night movie can require you to be away from your baby. This doesn’t mean you have to give up breastfeeding. You can transfer milk from your breast to a bottle (expressing). But remember, don’t give your baby bottles or pacifiers until he’s at least 4 weeks old. This is so he can get used to your natural nipple first.

Always wash your hands before expressing.

Woman sitting in chair expressing milk from both breasts with double breast pump.

Stimulating Letdown

Gently massage your breast to stimulate the milk flow. Start under the arm and move around the entire breast. If you’re away from your baby, looking at your baby’s picture can help your milk let down.

Expressing by Hand or Pump

Your lactation consultant or other health care provider can help you choose the best method for your needs.

  • Expressing by hand reduces pressure in swollen or leaky breasts. It may be a good way to begin a pumping session. If you need to provide expressed milk to your baby in the first few days after delivery, hand expression can often obtain more colostrum than using a pump. Ask your postpartum nurse or health care provider to teach you how to hand express.

  • A pump works like a baby’s suck and is the fastest way to express milk. Pumps come in manual, battery-operated, and electric styles. To protect your breasts, follow the instructions that come with your pump.

  • Pumps can be purchased in many locations. Pump can also be rented from some pharmacies and medical equipment stores. Check with your hospital to determine where you can purchase or rent your pump.

Working and Breastfeeding

  • Talk to your partner or childcare provider about timing bottles of breastmilk. It’s best if your baby is ready to breastfeed when you return from work.

  • Express milk during breaks. This helps protect your milk supply. It also helps prevent engorged or leaking breasts.

  • Arrange to breastfeed at lunch if your childcare is nearby.

  • Breastfeed before you leave for work and soon after you return home.

  • Breastfeed at night and on weekends. Your baby can have bottled breastmilk during the day.

 

 
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