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Top Ten Tips For Expressing Breast Milk

I've been expressing breast milk for several weeks now, so I thought I would share some important tips that have helped me greatly.

1. Be sure to drink plenty of water. It's hard to produce milk without it, as I've learned. I started out expressing four to six 3oz bottles a day, but then tapered off to two or three bottles. I realized I had not been drinking much water. Increasing my water intake helped to get my milk production back up. If you decide to increase your water intake, express 15 to 30 minutes later than you normally would for a while.

2. Expressing is usually better in the morning, or after a bath or shower. You get a good let down from it. (Let down is a basically a reflex that moves your milk from the milk ducts into your nipple where your baby or breast pump can suck milk out.)

3. If expressing more than once a day, try to keep to a routine. I express two to three times a day, at 8am, 2pm and 8pm. Although it's often recommended, I don't express through the night, since I always have to feed through the night because my partner won't get up to feed by bottle.

4. About 5 minutes before you're going to express, prepare two face cloths or flannels and a bowl of hot water. Don't make it too hot! I prefer to double express using an Ameda Lactaline dual pump. I put the hot cloths on both of my breasts for five minutes before expressing. If the cloths cool too quickly, reheat them.

5. Before expressing, remove one cloth at a time and massage that breast, rubbing softly. Pay special attention to massaging any lumps or sore areas. If you're expressing off one breast at time, put just one cloth on the breast your planning to use first. Once you feel you are ready to express, take the cloth off that breast, reheat it and place it on the other. If you're planning on double expressing, place hot cloths on each of your breast, wait five minutes, then massage both at the same time.

6. If your baby is due a feed, latch your baby on each breast for a few suckles. It could improve the amount of milk that you can express afterward. It takes about an hour for your production to rebuild.

7. If you do not have a regular routine, you'll express when you feel heavy and sore. You can increase milk production if you wait an extra ten minutes or so before beginning but it is not the best way. The best way to increase your milk production is to, express more regularly through the day and through the night.

8. To help with sore or cracked nipples, hand express a little of your breast milk and rub it onto your nipples and areola. I recommend that you do this after each time you express. It works better than any cream. If you have to use cream I recommend Goldshield Kamillosan. Chamomile ointment can also be used for nappy rash. But only use after expressing or breast feeding. I always wipe off any creams before expressing.

9. If you want to use a hand pump, I recommend the Tommee Tippee. Easy to use, clean and take apart. For an electric pump I recommend the Ameda Lactaline Dual Breast Pump. It is great for double pumping, which saves heaps of time when expressing. It's more expensive, but you get your money's worth. I tried a Medela dual action pump, and hated it. An hour after starting I still only had 30 mills. I can hand express that in 3 minutes.

10. Finally, it's very important to store breast milk properly:

  • Milk kept in bags specially designed for breast milk storage can be stored in the fridge or freezer.
  • Milk kept in the freezer can be stored for up 6 months at temperature of -18 Celsius or -0.4 Fahrenheit.
  • Milk stored at room temperature 26 Celsius or 78.8 Fahrenheit can be keep for up to 8 hours.
  • Milk thawed and placed in the fridge can be stored for 24 hours if unopened at the temperature should be +2 to +5 Celsius or 35.6 to 41 Fahrenheit. If opened it can be stored for 12 hours at the same temperature.
  • Milk stored in the fridge without being frozen or unopened can be stored for up to 72 hours. (Recommendation is 24 hours. I only keep it for 24 hours before I will pour it down the sink.) The temperature should between +2 to +5 Celsius or 35.6 to 41 Fahrenheit.
  • Milk that has been drank but not finished should be poured out after an hour.