When breastfeeding is well established, mothers may wish to express breast milk in order to bottle feed. This can be for a number of reasons. It may be to relieve uncomfortable, full breasts, to feed while away from home or simply so that someone else can feed baby.
Mothers should be advised that doing so will probably boost milk supply as it tells the body to supply more milk.
The best time to express milk varies from mother to mother and is influenced by the reason for doing so.
Milk producing hormones are highest at night so a good time to express may be first thing in the morning. To boost milk supply, it is probably best done after daytime feeds and to relieve engorged breasts – the answer is little but often, for example before each feed.
It helps to be relaxed when expressing milk, so mums should be encouraged to choose a time when they are not pressurized. A warm shower may help with relaxation and should increase blood supply to the breasts. Just as with actually breastfeeding, it is a good idea to have a drink handy.
Advise mothers not to express milk immediately before breastfeeding, as they may not have enough milk left for baby to take. When beginning expressing, they should allow time for ‘let down’. During the process, they should change breasts when the milk flow slows down and continue to alternate till the flow stops or drips very slowly.
The advantage of a manual pump is that mother stays in complete control. The pump should be set up according to the manufacturer’s instructions and the suction cup should be placed over the breast. Milk can then be extracted using the manual squeezing mechanism.
Electric pumps have the advantage of being quick and easy to use. After setting up the pump using the manufacturer’s instructions, the suction cup is placed over the breast and the machine is turned on. The machine will then extract the milk.