When you use your hands or a breast pump to get the milk from your breasts, is termed is Expressing of Breastmilk.
Situations in which expressing milk is useful are:
- To relive breast fullness in conditions like engorged breasts, blocked duct or milk stasis, oversupply etc.
- In order to feed a baby while he learns suckling from an inverted nipple
- To feed a baby who is having difficulty in coordinating suckling
- For feeding a baby who `refuses’, while he learns to enjoy breastfeeding
- To feed underweight baby who cannot breastfeed
- To help feed sick baby, who is not grown enough to suckle enough
- When breastmilk is required for a baby when his mother goes out for work
- To prevent leakage when a mother is away from her baby
- To help a baby to attach to a full breast
It is important that a mother learns about how to express milk, so that they are prepared as and when need arises.
The most useful and commonly used method is to express milk from hand. There is no need of any appliance, it can be easily done anywhere at any time. Hand expressing is easy when the breasts are soft, however it is a bit challenging when breasts are engorged or tender. Mothers can take help from their nurse or doctor after the first and second day of delivery.
Important points to remember
- Expressing must be done gently in order to avoid pain and discomfort
- Gently massaging breast and nipple stimulation helps to encourage the milk flow
- Mother can use relaxation techniques or can think about the baby while expressing, this helps in further calming down the brain and makes her more relaxed
- Frequent expressing throughout a 24-hour period is much effective at stimulating milk supply than expressing after a longer period of time at one sitting
- When the baby is unable to take feed from the breast for more than one or two days, in such cases combination of hand expressing and breast pump will help in providing more stimulation for breastmilk supply
- If breasts become very full, a little milk should be hand expressed just before the feed to help the baby to latch on well.
- If nipples are too tender for the baby to breastfeed hand expressing is the gentlest way to obtain milk
How long does expressing-breastmilk take?
Breast milk expression may take approximate of 20-30 minutes.
It is important to express milk from one breast at one time until the flow reduce down to drips and after that only switch to the other breast. Once that breast flow also slows down and if breastmilk expressing is done because of low supply, switch back to the first breast again. By switching, express each side two or three times, supply can be increased over time.
Breast compression is used to help in draining the breasts and therefore can speed up the process thereby increasing the amount of milk obtained. Breast compression basically means squeezing the breasts gently which means applying gentle pressure where the breasts meet the ribs with fingers on one side and thumb on other side.
Discuss how to use combination of hand expressing and a breast pump with your nurse or treating doctor or midwife to provide additional stimulation for milk supply. This process is especially important if breastfeeding is not done directly from the breast for more than a day or two, particularly in cases when baby is newborn, premature or unwell.
Breast milk supply is not affected by:
- Mother’s age
- Sexual intercourse
- Menstruation or menstruation cycle
- Relatives and neighbor’s disapproval
- Returning to a job (if baby continues to suckle often)
- Age of the baby
- Caesarian section
- Number of children
- Simple or ordinary diet
How much milk should you get?
- Mothers of healthy babies who are born in the due date month generally produce 500-600MLs of breastmilk every 24 hours towards the end of the first week
- Mothers of preterm or premature infants need to have 500-700MLs by day 7 in order to ensure that there will be enough milk when the baby is older and ideally 750-800 MLs by the end of the first two weeks
- Moms of twins Should have 1100-1400ML every 24 hours by two weeks
Signs that a baby is not getting enough amount of milk
- Poor weight gain which means less than 500 g per month or less than birth weight after 2 weeks
- Passing small amount of concentrated urine (yellow and strong smelling) and that to less than 6 times a day yellow and strong smelling
Possible reasons for this
- Baby not satisfied after breastfeeds
- Baby cries often
- Very frequent breastfeeds
- Very long breastfeeds
- Baby refuses to breastfeed
- Baby has hard, dry or green stools
- No milk comes when the mother tries to express
- Breasts did not enlarge (during pregnancy)
- Milk did not `come in’ (after delivery)
For further information regarding the steps to hand express breast milk, how to use a breast pump, storage of expressed milk, handling of expressed milk utensils or any other related information, stay connected.
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