Expressing A Starting Out Guide

4 min read

Expressing A Starting Out Guide


How to begin your Expressing Journey

First up, congratulations on your (perhaps, soon to be) arrival! Motherhood is one of the scariest hoods, however also one of the most rewarding, wonderful journeys – and we are here for it!
Expressing breastmilk is a common part of breastfeeding, most breastfeeding mothers find that they express milk at some point in their journey. Whether it be to relieve engorgement, create a freezer stash for when they need to leave baby with their other parent or a caregiver, donate excess breastmilk and returning to work - to name a few!
Beginning expressing, like beginning breastfeeding, can feel natural to some, and daunting to others, so below we have made a guide to ease that anxiety and give you a good base of knowledge to start your expressing experience.
Double Breast Pump

When should I express?

We suggest expressing an hour after feeding your little one and giving your body at least an hour or two before needing to feed again, as you may still be wanting to feed while you build up your supply, expressing at the same time of the day will help signal to your body that you need more milk at that time.

How long should I express for?

Most mums find pumping for 15-20mins is a good amount of time, this can vary, it commonly takes expressing both sides to get a full feed for your little one too. Typically you will see an increase of how much you can collect over a week of routinely expressing, as your body adjusts to the new sensation and as you add in a new feeding session.

single pump

How many times a day should I express?

It is over to you how many times you pump during the day, many mums find four-hourly to work when maintaining supply, and will increase the number of sessions if trying to increase supply. Research says a breastfed baby needs 30ml per hour that you are away from them, so that’s always a good place to start when working out how much expressed milk you will need.

Let down tips:

To assist in getting a let down while expressing (especially as you are starting out) you can try use a warm cloth on the breast while massaging, look at photos or video clips of your baby which will help to release oxytocin, practice breathing exercises or pop on some calming music to help you relax and get the most out of your pumping session. With your breast pump start by using the stimulation mode and waiting until you have a strong letdown before changing to expression mode. You may find you need to adjust the suction level to suit (sometimes a different level is required for each breast, this can change over time as you get used to the sensation) to get a let down.

This is new to you, and new to your baby, join us on this journey together

Storing breastmilk:

Once you have expressed (and if this is your first time, please don’t be disappointed if you only get a few ml’s ~ this is completely normal and can take a wee while to build up!) You will need to store your breastmilk safely and correctly,

Ensure that the expressed breast milk is stored in a sterilised bottle or sterilised plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, breastmilk storage bags are ideal. It will keep at room temperature for 4 hours and in the fridge for up to 2 days. Store milk at the back of the fridge where it is coldest and isn't affected as much by the door opening. Don’t add freshly expressed breast milk to cold expressed milk. Wait until it has cooled to the same temperature and only store one day’s milk per bag, i.e. do not mix different days' milk. You can also freeze the expressed milk, In a freezer box inside the fridge for 2 weeks, in a separate-door freezer for 3–6 months — stored as far back as possible, or in the deep freeze for 6–12 months.

Remembering that morning milk has different properties than evening milk (morning milk will have more sugars and works to wake and give energy for the day, where as evening milk has melatonin and fats to assist with sleep and keeping your little one fuller for longer) ~ so you don’t want to give morning expressed milk in the night 😊​and vice versa.

Ensure you label your milk with Date, Time, Volume & Babies Name (particularly if this is going to a carer).

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Our Five Top Tips!

1. Keep Hydrated!Keep that water bottle near at all times, before during & after expressing or breastfeeding
2. Ensure you have the best suction kit fit, this will ensure optimal results (remember this fit can change over your breastfeeding & expressing journey!)
3. Take your time - ask Hubby to take the baby (and perhaps toddler!) for a walk so you can familiarise yourself with your pump, the fit and getting into a comfortable position and space
4. Don’t stressabout the amounts you are pumping initially - work on being relaxed during your pump sessions, remember to check out those cute baby pictures/videos - the less you stress the more you’ll express!
5. Reach out and ask for help! Minor tweaks and a chat with our team or one of the wonderful lactation consultants can make a world of difference

Written by Hannah Dyer

Hannah is our Breast Pump extraordinaire at Milkbar. Since having her daughter Hazel one year ago, Hannah has been using all Milkbar products to ensure a smooth feeding journey and has been enjoying sharing her knowledge and experience to help thousands of mamas get the most out of their Milkbar Breast Pumps!

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