How to express your breast milk & store it safely

Expressing is a way of taking breast milk from your breast and an excellent opportunity to ensure your baby enjoys the immense benefits of exclusive breastfeeding. However first few attempts can be very discouraging and tiring.

There are unique times we would need to express milk such as when we have a premature baby, very small baby, a baby with suckling problems and most times when our very short maternity leave expires and we have to leave our cute babies to return to work.

In all, it means that your baby can carry on enjoying breast milk while someone else is caring for him/her. Expressing milk can be done by using hands, a manual pump or an electric pump. Before you start, you need to ensure all your materials are clean especially your hands.

To express breast milk by hand, cup your breast with the palm of your hand and place your thumb just above your nipple. Compress and release the nipple until the milk begins to flow. Rotate around the breast and continue until the milk flow stops.

If using a manual or an electric pump, ensure your breast forms a perfect seal with the cup of the pump, begin to pump slowly as you begin to see the milk dropping into the container. If there’s no milk, try adjusting the pump on your breast to create a better seal.

You can express milk and leave it to your caregiver for feedings throughout the day. If left out, discard unused ones after 6 hours but when stored in the refrigerator, can last 3 days and if in the freezer, can last 2 weeks to 6 months depending on the temperature.

Microwaving or heating breast milk is not advisable as nutrients are lost in the process, rather leave it to thaw or place in lukewarm water, till its ready for use. You can feed your baby expressed breast milk by syringe, spoon, cup or bottle. Throw away half drunk milk as it would have mixed with your baby’s saliva and may not be hygienic for him to have next time. 

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