Baby Care

Expressing Breast Milk - Breast Milk Expression Tips, Expressing & Storing Breast Milk
Breast milk expression techniques are useful to store breast milk for later use. Read to find tips for expressing and storing breast milk.

Expressing Breast Milk

There are times when you may want to express breast milk. If your breast may be too full and hurts, it would be a good idea to express the milk and store it for later use. You may want to go out and would like the person taking care of your baby to feed him/her breast milk, instead of formula milk. Additionally, you may have to rely on milk expression techniques when you are carrying the baby out, so that you have breast milk in store for the baby. You can express milk with your hand or with a breast pump. Read the article to find some useful tips on expressing breast milk.

Breast Milk Expression Tips

Hand Expression

  • Sterile wide rimmed container to collect milk.
  • Clean, washed hands.
  • Privacy
  • Massage your breast gently to increase milk flow or use flannel to warm your breasts.
  • Hold your breast with one hand and with the fingertips of the other, move all around the breast stroking it gently. You can use the back of your knuckles, massaging from the outer edge of the breast to the nipple.
  • Once you have completely relaxed, place your hand behind the areola and start squeezing gently. You should be applying pressure on the milk sacs that are under the skin, at the edge of the areola. These sacs will feel like peas under your fingertips.
  • As you squeeze in, milk will first drip out and then spurt. Move your hand all over the breast to remove milk from all the ducts.
Breast Pumps
There are a variety of breast pumps available today. You will have to very carefully select the pump that is best for you. If you choose the wrong one, you may harm your breast tissue. It is best to consult your doctor before buying a pump. There are two types of breast pumps:
  • Battery-operated Pumps: These are easy to use, but may not be very durable. These make less noise than electric pumps. Use a pump that has been designed to release suction at regular intervals to prevent excessive pressure.
  • Electric Pumps: There are different kinds of electric pumps available in the market. Some come with a double pumping system, which is convenient for expressing milk from both breasts at the same time. Small and light pumps are available, which can be easily carried to work and when you travel. These pumps can be recharged in your car, as they come along with adapters.
Storing Breast Milk
There are bags that are specially made to store expressed breast milk. You can use small disposable bottle bags or small glass or plastic bottles as well. Depending on how soon you want to use the expressed milk, you can either refrigerate or freeze it. Here are a few tips to follow:
  • Fresh expressed milk can be stored for ten hours at room temperature. Milk brought to room temperature after refrigerating or freezing must be used within half an hour.
  • Fresh expressed milk can be refrigerated for anything between five to seven days. Taste the milk to find out whether it is fresh, before giving it to your baby.
  • You can store freshly expressed milk for up to six months in an average freezer, depending on the efficiency of the freezer. Make sure you store in the coldest part of the freezer and away from the door.
  • Pumped milk that has been refrigerated for less than 48 hours can be frozen. If refrigerated for more that 48 hours, it should not be frozen.
  • Freezing causes breast milk to expand. While filling bottles or bags, leave about one inch from the top, so that there is place to accommodate this expansion. If you are using a disposable bag, fold the top and fasten it with a rubber band.
  • Milk containers should be labeled with the time and date on which it was expressed.
  • If you can express large quantities of milk, do not store it in a big bottle or bag. Use small bags or bottles. The baby will need only small quantities at a time and you can defreeze one small bag or bottle each time. Thus, wastage will be minimized.
  • If you want to transport stored breast milk to use away from home, keep it cold till you use it. Use a cooler with ice or frozen packs to keep the milk cold, while transporting it.
  • The oldest milk should be used first.
Defrosting Expressed Breast Milk
  • To thaw breast milk, use a hot bowl of tap water or do it at room temperature. Defrost using minimum amount of heat.
  • Do not microwave to defrost, as it destroys the essential vitamins and enzymes in the milk.
  • Feed the baby defrosted milk, only when it has thawed completely.
  • If the milk smells or tastes sour, do not use it.
  • Milk that has been thawed should be kept in the refrigerator and used within 24 hours.

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