Your baby may sometimes be unable to feed from your breast. It can then be useful to express your breast milk by hand or using a pump.
How do I express my breastmilk manually?
Make sure your hands are warm and clean and that you have a clean container for collecting your milk. To stimulate the letdown reflex, gently massage your breast and roll the nipple between your fingers. When the milk starts to drip, hold the outer edge of the areola (the darker area around the nipple) between your thumb and index finger. First press your fingers inwards and then squeeze them together. Release and repeat this gentle pumping motion rhythmically for as long as milk keeps coming. Try not to let your fingers slide, but rather keep them stably in the same place. After a while, you can start to move your fingers around the areola so as to empty your breast fully. Stress, pain and anxiety can inhibit milk letdown, so you can express less milk than you actually have. Having your baby close to you, or if you are apart, a photo of your little one can help.
How do I pump my breast?
Make sure your hands are clean and that you have clean pump equipment ready. To stimulate the milk letdown reflex, gently massage your breast and roll the nipple between your fingers. Some pumps have a ’massage mode’ to stimulate letdown first. When the milk starts dripping, place the round flange on your breast. The flange must be of the right size for the breast so that it feels comfortable. Centre your nipple inside the flange so that it is not drawn in at an angle. Positioning the nipple incorrectly can lead to soreness. Stress, pain and anxiety can inhibit milk letdown, so you express less milk than you actually have. Having your baby close to you or, if you are apart, a photo of your little one can help. Many nursing mothers have more milk than they are able to express by pumping. Your baby will often empty your breast more effectively than a pump can.