Milk expression, breast milk storage and bottle feeding

As a breastfeeding mother, you may sometimes need to remove milk from your breasts.

Milk expression while breastfeeding may be necessary if your baby is unable to breastfeed directly, you want to make more milk, you will be away from your baby for one or more feedings or you need to relieve fullness in your breasts.

 You can remove milk with your hands or with a breast pump.

Removing milk by hand is convenient and doesn’t require any special equipment. You may need to practice with different hand positions until you find what works for you. Begin by applying warm cloths and gently massaging your breast. Use your thumb and fingers to form a “C” at the outer edge of the areola, the darker skin around your nipple. Then press, compress, relax.

You can also use a breast pump to remove milk. A manual or single electric breast pump is good if you only pump once in a while. A double electric pump allows you to express both breasts at the same time and is best if you pump often.

When you are pumping or expressing your milk, it is important to keep the milk safe. If using a pump, make sure it is clean. Wash your pumping equipment with soap and water and let it air dry after each use. Express milk from both breasts. Store breast milk in clean glass or hard plastic bottles or in breast collection bags. Place a single serving in each container. It is best to refrigerate your breast milk quickly after pumping and use it in the next day or so. However, there may be times you may not be able to refrigerate or use your milk right away.

To thaw frozen breast milk, place the unopened container in the refrigerator overnight or hold the container under warm running water until the milk is thawed.

Never thaw or warm breast milk in a microwave oven. Microwaving can destroy live cells and creates hot spots that could burn your baby’s mouth.

Many mothers combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding when they return to work or school, or need to be away from their baby for other reasons. Expressing your milk can help with your bottle feeding.

 Michigan State University Extension offers programming to work with mothers to educate them on breastfeeding.

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