While it might not be the most glamorous task (or anywhere close, actually), expressing milk can give you flexibility, increase supply and prolong breastfeeding. For many though, it's time-consuming and often hard work – especially if you have to find a discreet place at work (my ex colleague had to express in a storeroom), plus shlep all your equipment around.
During my expressing days, I sometimes woke up around 4am to express before going for a run or to races, though often I enjoyed the "down time" to read a book or watch TV. I enjoyed the bulk of it, but there were times that I felt like a cow strapped to a machine, and resented the time it took to express.
As it's Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Philips AVENT has some tips for easier expressing…
- Practice makes perfect – or certainly improves how easily you can express! Try at the same time every day for a few days. After baby’s first feed of the day is a good time.
- Stimulate the let-down reflex before you start to pump if the milk does not flow very easily. Do this by having a warm bath or shower or placing warm flannels over the breast and then gently massage the breast with the flat of the hand. Expressing from one side while feeding from the other is effective as the baby is doing the job of stimulating let-down for you!
- Having sterilised and assembled the pump, place the pump centrally on the breast. The new design of the Philips AVENT Comfort breast pump means that you don’t have to lean forward and can sit in a more comfortable position. Begin to pump gently and increase the amount of suction as far as is comfortable.
- If using a manual pump, depress the lever as far as is comfortable; hold for a second or two, release then repeat. Find a rhythm which feels natural – you are trying to mimic your baby suckling at the breast in order for your milk to begin to flow. The comfort petals on the Philips AVENT Comfort breast pump gently massage the breast during expressing to help milk flow. When your milk begins to flow, slow down the pumping rhythm a little to suit you.
- Continue pumping until the milk flow ceases then swap to the other side. When flow on the second side ceases, return to the first.
- It may be helpful to continue to gently massage the breast towards the nipple throughout, as this could help with let-down.
- The reason why you are expressing will determine how long you carry on for and/or how much milk is expressed.
Did you know?
You should try breastfeeding for as long as possible; ideally until your baby is 6 months of age.
Manual vs electric pumps – the difference
Philips AVENT Manual Breast Pump:
Soft massage cushion with warm feel- increases the comfort for Mom by gentle stimulation
Compact design- easy to transport and store
Fingertip control of pumping- mother can determine what rhythm works for her
Express directly into cups or bottles
Philips Avent Electric Breast Pump:
Easy to use settings and 3 expression phase setting
Non-intrusive sound- can be used anywhere
More milk in less time – very effective settings which minimise pumping time