Tips for expressing

Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your baby, and to help you continue the experience for as long as possible, consider the following options:
  • Breastfeeding exclusively
  • Combining breastfeeding with feeding expressed breast milk.
  • Breastfeeding when you and your baby are together and feeding infant formula if recommended by your health professional. Note that this is likely to result in a diminishing supply of breast milk.

When expressing and storing in preparation for returning to work, plan to have the amount of milk necessary for the number of feeds that you will miss each day. For example, if you will be away for 10 hours and your baby would normally eat three times, you will need to have at least three bottles to give your caregiver. Many mums prefer to freeze several days’ worth of breast milk in advance.

Practical Tips
  • Before expressing wash your hands thoroughly and make sure all equipment for expressing and storing milk is washed, rinsed and sterilised.
  • Express approximately the amount the baby takes at a feed.
  • Make sure the storage container is covered or sealed and labelled with current date.
  • Place in the body of the refrigerator where it is colder, not in the door.
  • Refrigerate breast milk for no longer than 48 hours (UK Royal College of Medicine recommendation) after which time it must be used, frozen or discarded.
  • Breast milk may be kept frozen for up to three months. Once the milk has been thawed, it can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. It should never be refrozen.
  • Breast milk should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator, or under warm water.
  • To warm breast milk place in a bottle warmer or under a warm tap. Shake the bottle to mix as the fat content may become separated.

Safety tips
  • Always discard any milk that is left over at the end of a feed.
  • Do not add fresh milk to previously expressed milk in freezer. If you are storing milk in the fridge to add to during the day, only add milk which has been expressed into a sterile container and cooled for a few minutes under a cold tap. Milk can only be stored like this for a maximum of 48 hours (from first expression) after which it must be used immediately or frozen for future use.
  • Transport expressed breast milk in an insulated container with an ice pack.
  • For freezer storage, your freezer should be cold enough to keep ice cream hard.
  • Milk can be hand-expressed, but a breast pump is usually easier. Ask your health professional for advice.
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