How to express or pump breastmilk?

How to express or pump breastmilk?

Before expressing or pumping milk, try the following methods to stimulate the milk let-down reflex which helps milk flow:

  • Have skin-to-skin contact with your baby if possible. If your baby is not around, look at your baby’s photos or videos
  • Have a hot drink
  • Apply warm compress to your breasts for 3 minutes or less, or take a shower with warm water
  • Gently pull or rub your nipples with your thumb and index finger
  • Gently massage your breast
  • Ask your family members to massage your back

Now, you can express your milk. Prepare a clean container and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Then you can start the milk expression by hand or breast pump. Kindly note that neither hand nor breast pump expression will cause pain. If you experience pain, you may be expressing incorrectly. Below are the correct steps to express milk by hand:

  • Hold your thumb and index finger opposing each other in a C shape and place them behind the areola of your breast
  • Compress the breast tissue gently and then relax. Repeat these movements until milk is flowing. If there is no milk, re-position the fingers until milk is flowing freely
  • You may compress different parts of your breast in the same way
  • When your milk flow slows down, switch to the other breast. Keep changing breasts 5 to 6 times. If your milk doesn’t flow, gently massage your breasts and try again
  • Each milk expression takes about 20 to 30 minutes or until the breast softens

If you are using a breast pump for expression, make sure you read the instruction manual first.

  • Choose a flange with the right size that fits your nipple
  • Place your nipple in the middle of the flange
  • Start with the lowest suction and increase gradually. Maintain the suction at a level where the milk flow is smooth and does not cause you any pain
  • If you are using a single breast pump, change breast alternatively for 5 to 6 times. For a double breast pump, you can pump both breasts at the same time
  • Each milk expression will take about 20 to 30 minutes or until the breast becomes soft