Advice from Canpol's experienced mothers.
When should I express milk?
Direct breastfeeding is best for your baby. However, there are situations, when it just isn't possible and you will need to express milk and give it to your baby in a bottle (remember that expressed milk is still of full value). Sometimes the motivation for expressing milk is connected with ailments which can be eased by using the breast pump. The most common situations are:
- hyperlactation (it usually occurs between the second and fifth day after birth)
- expressing some of the milk will loosen up the breast, relieve the pain and make it easier for your baby to latch on to your breast,
- your nipple "hides" in the engorged breast (e.g. when there was a longer break between feeds)
- expressing some of the milk directly before feeding will soften the areola and enhance the nipple, which will help your baby latch on,
- you don't have enough milk and think about pausing the feeding
- expressing milk with a pump stimulates milk production and boosts your milk supply,
- after feeding, you feel that the breast is not completely empty
- expressing milk will protect the breast from blocked ducts, and if you feel that your baby didn't get enough milk, you can give him the milk you expressed between feeds,
- your baby is ill and doesn't want to suckle - expressing milk every three hours will keep up your milk supply,
- your baby isn't gaining enough weight (consult your doctor first)
- expressing milk stimulates your milk production and enables giving your baby additional feed,
- you need some time off (don't feel guilty if you need to spend some time alone, after a short break you will be even happier when you go back home, and your smile will make your baby happy)
- you can leave the expressed milk for the dad or another minder to feed the baby,
- you have to go back to work (like most breastfeeding mums), but still want to continue feeding the baby with breast milk - regular expressing will keep up the natural milk production and enable feeding your baby with the most nutritious possible feed for as long as you want.
How do I express milk?
Expressing milk will be effective if you keep in mind that the quality of feeding depends greatly on your calmness, concentration and the pleasure that you feel during this very special contact with your child. Start with preparing the breast pump - wash it carefully before use and boil it once a day, wash your hands (this should be a routine for you before any contact with food). Wipe your breast with a warm, moist towel (you can also apply warm compresses for a few minutes). Sit comfortably, relax and start expressing: put the breast pump to your breast so that your nipple is inside the funnel, pull the plunger handle regularly with one hand and support the breast with the other. Repeat the actions for the other breast.When you have expressed enough milk, screw a cap with teat onto the bottle and feed your baby. Don't mix freshly expressed milk with defrosted milk. Don't feed your child with milk left over from a previous feed.
Should I express milk by hand or with a brest pump?
It's possible to express milk by hand, i.e. without a breast pump, but it's a tedious and long-lasting process during which women may feel pain. It's often caused by mistakes made during expressing, such as pulling the nipple, or pressing the breast too hard. In order to properly express milk by hand, you should first consult a professional, such as a midwife in the hospital or a doctor. If you often need to express large amounts of milk, use an electric breast pump, available at the maternity ward, or at a baby shop. If you don't express milk often or you find the sound of an electric breast pump annoying, or need more intimacy and silence during feeding, choose a manual breast pump. I found it very helpful during excessive lactation. Expressing milk helped loosen up my engorged breasts and my baby was able to latch on properly.