Mothers will want to express breast milk for a number of reasons. It could be because she is working, going for an important appointment or even shopping for some goods in the market under the scorching sun where your baby can’t come.
However it is also important to remember that expressing your breast milk is not an option to leave your little one at home with a family member, friend or a nanny because a bottle of milk per day is not enough to keep your baby well nourished the whole day.
Another reason for mothers to express breast milk is when her baby is having a medical condition that does not allow the mother to feed properly. Thus, if your baby is premature or has special needs don’t hesitate to feed him or her with expressed breast milk.
What is the best time to express breast milk?
This is an aspect most mothers are confused with and they start expressing milk at different times as their friends or relatives propose. We recommend doing it when your baby starts his or her feed. Doing this exactly the same time your baby feeds every day, even at work, will help your milk supply going strong and bond with your baby when you two are apart.
What is expressing milk?
- There are two methods of expressing milk and one is by pumping (via a machine) and hand expressing. Hand expressing is cheaper. We discuss more on these two methods below.
- When you start to express or pump breast milk you find days that you won’t produce milk as much as the days before. This does not mean you’re necessarily producing a low or inadequate amount of milk. Give it a couple of times, eat food products that’ll help enhance milk production and if this does not work consult your doctor.
- There are various types of pumps in the market and you should always make sure you buy the best, not the cheapest or that is expensive and seem to be the best. Stroll down many markets before you buy one and also, get an expert’s help to choose one.
- If your baby is breast feeding, the BabySpace recommend you to pump or express milk after feeding the baby. As the baby naturally respond to an easy and fast flow of milk expressing or pumping milk before the feed will slow it making your baby to put extra energy to draw milk. This should be avoided as far as you can because babies will later get used to having little amounts of feeds.
- Make sure that you know every aspect that needs to be known about expressing and especially pumping milk. So instructions and observing a demonstration will help you get a cue of the process.
- It will help you if you select a quiet and comfortable spot to express milk or to do the pumping. This encourages letdown. You can also massage the breast for a few minutes or lean over and gently shake your breast which will help the flow of milk. You can also cuddle your baby for a while so that your breasts will start the feeding process but make sure you don’t irritate your baby by keeping him or her near milk that won’t be fed. Or if you are away look at a photo of your baby and if you don’t have one close your eyes and remember him or her.
How to hand express milk?
Most mothers in Sri Lanka are used to hand expression and always acknowledge this. There is nothing wrong in hand expressed milk but you have to make sure about the hygiene of the process because it is easy for milk to get contaminated for the slightest mistake you make. It is also understood that hand expression will help you draw more milk than pumping.
The following tips will show you how you can easily go through this process.
- Wash your hands thoroughly. Even a bit of soap left in your hand will create health conditions in your baby. Do not use hand sanitizers to keep your hands clean before expressing milk.
- Place your thumb and your index finger on the sides of the nipple. It should be 1-2 inches from the nipple.
- Gently press the nipple toward the rib cage (if this process hurts consult your doctor).
- Then roll your fingers together in a slight downward motion to draw milk
The pumping method
Pumping can be hectic and tiring but some mothers in Sri Lanka, who spoke to us, said that they prefer pumping so let’s see how you can pump milk from your breast. Remember that if you do not pump is the required way your nipples will start to sore.
- Make sure that you wash your hands. We know that you already washed your hands when you started to feed your little one but we recommend doing it again to avoid clichés.
- You should always remember to sterilize the pump before it is being used. To do this put the pump in hot water and wash with soap.
- Start pumping immediately after you feed your baby because then the flow of milk is still on the move and it’ll be easier to pump milk that way.
- Gently place your nipple in the center of the flange of the pump
- Make sure that you start pumping at the lowest setting and then gradually go up
- Keep pumping for fifteen minutes on each breast and if the beast goes dry before fifteen minutes add two minutes and then stop.
- If you feel uncomfortable or the process hurts try lowering the suction setting, make sure that your nipple is centered well in the flange or try doing it for a shorter period. If it continues to hurt consult your doctor.
- After the process leave the pumping kit other than the tubes or the motor in the refrigerator. If not wash the pump, each part that needs to be washed, with hot water the next time you use it.