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Expressing Breastmilk

There are many reasons to hand express your breastmilk.  It can be done early and often, even when breastfeeding is going well. Breast expression can be done by hand or with a pump.

Expressing breastmilk allows you to:

  • Give baby a taste of breastmilk to get them interested in latching.
  • Soften the areola to allow your baby to get latched.
  • Lessen the discomfort of overfull breasts.
  • Collect and store breastmilk to feed your baby when you cannot be with them.
  • Prevent soreness by gently putting a few drops of breastmilk onto your nipples and areolas (darker part of the breast).
  • Increase your milk supply.

You may want to express and store breastmilk to feed your baby later. Breastmilk can be expressed by hand. In the early days you may only get drops of breastmilk each time you express. Your newborn’s tummy is small, so a few drops are what your baby needs.

Breastmilk can also be expressed using an electric or manual pump. The type of pump you purchase, or rent may depend on how often and how long you plan to use the pump. Expressed breastmilk can be fed using a spoon, cup, or other methods. If you are thinking of using a bottle, consider waiting until breastfeeding is going well. Sucking milk from a bottle is different than breastfeeding and your baby may have difficulty switching from the bottle to the breast.

Hand express your milk early and often

Expressing breast milk illustration

Adapted with permission from Best Start Resource Center

7 Steps to Hand Expression

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Gently massage your breast.
  3. Place your fingers and thumb behind the areola in a "C" shape.
  4. Press back towards your chest. Compress your fingers together and towards the nipple.
  5. Collect drops of milk to feed your baby or store for later.
  6. Repeat (press back, compress, relax) and move around your breast.
  7. Switch breasts and repeat.


Expressing and Storing Breastmilk English / Francais (PDF 1.03 MB)


Hand Expressing Milk

Cup Feeding and Other Feeding Methods

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