safe motherhood


Expressing and storing breastmilk

It is useful to be able to express breastmilk, for example, if your breasts are over-full, or you want to go out and leave your milk for someone else to give to your baby in a bottle. You can express either by hand or with a breast pump.

To hand express you need:

• A wide-rimmed, sterile container for collecting milk;
• Clean hands;
• Privacy.

1: Warm your breast with a flannel, or by massaging to encourage the milk flow.
2: Holding your breast gently with one hand, move all around it with the other, stroking with the fingertips, or the back of the knuckles, from the outer edge of the breast towards the nipple.
3 When you are fully relaxed, position your hand behind the areola and start to squeeze gently. The idea is to put pressure on the milk sacs that are positioned under the skin towards the edges of the areola. They feel like small pea-sized structures. Try pushing in towards your rib cage before rolling your fingers inwards.
4: As you start to squeeze, milk will come out of your breast first in drips, then spurts. Move your hand around your breast to remove milk from all the ducts.

Storing milk

Milk should only be stored for 24 hours in the fridge. If it is needed for later, freeze it as soon as possible after collection. If you are expressing several feeds a day, cool the newly expressed milk first for half-an-hour in the fridge before adding it to milk already in the freezer.

Milk can be frozen for up to three months in a domestic freezer. Thaw the breastmilk by holding the container under cold running water. Gradually add warmer water until the milk is heated to room temperature.

Don't heat breastmilk in a microwave as unevenly heated milk might burn the baby.

For more information read 'Breastfeeding: How to Express and Store Your Milk, price £2.50, from NCT Sales: 0870 112 1120.

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