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feeding and nutrition

The lowdown on expressing and storing breastmilk

What you need to know about expressing and storing breastmilk

Expressing and storing breastmilk: What you need to know

Understanding expressing and storing your breastmilk

Storing breastmilk

You can express milk in three ways

Manually (by hand)

1. Make a ‘C’ shape by placing your thumb above and your fingers below your breast near the edge of the areola (the dark skin) but away from the nipple. Your breast will feel slightly firmer here, but you may need to experiment where to place your fingers and thumb as everyone is slightly different

2. Keeping this position gently press the breast backwards 

3. Then press your thumb and first finger towards the nipple so as to ease the milk from your breast 

4. Release this pressure to let the milk flow again. Repeat. 
When the milk ceases to flow, switch to the other breast

Remember to rotate your finger and thumb positions to ‘milk’ the whole breast.

Hand pump

Place the sterilised suction cap over your nipple and squeeze the handle down to draw out the milk, collecting the milk in a sterilised 
container.

Electric pump

These work similar to hand pumps, but electrical parts exert the pressure. Pick from a simple electric pump or go for a more advanced pump that is said to mimic a baby’s natural sucking behaviour – and in some cases proves to increase your 
milk supply.

Storing breastmilk

Breastmilk should be stored in a sterile container with a lid. It can be stored in the back or bottom of the fridge, not the door, for up to five days at 4°C (39°F) or lower. If you want to freeze it, it can be stored in the fridge ice compartment for up to two weeks, in an upright freezer for up to three months or in a chest freezer for up to six months (store for only three months if your baby was premature). 

Defrost your breastmilk in the fridge, shake gently, then use straight away. Never defrost it in a microwave and never re-freeze once thawed. To warm the milk for your baby stand it in a bowl of warm water.


The lowdown on expressing and storing breastmilk