Expressing Breast Milk

There are many reasons why a mom may need to start expressing breast milk.  Some mothers need to go back to work before baby is one year old, some mothers may have some supply concerns, and other mothers may just want to be able to run errands or go out for dinner and be able to still give their babies the breast milk that is custom made for their baby.


There are three different ways for a mom to express milk

  • Hand expression
  • Manual (hand) pump
  • Electric pump


If a mom is wanting to express her milk because she is going back to work and baby will be away from her for a longer stretch of time, here are a couple hints to get things off to a good start.

Remember that frequency is more important that how long you pump so when you are at work, try to take shorter breaks more often - at a minimum pumping 10-15 minutes every three hours - but pumping 5-10 minutes every 2 hours or so would be even better.

It also can be helpful to bring a piece of clothing that smells like baby to hold when you are pumping to help your body remember why you are pumping and help with increased milk supply.

Also, in the weeks before you go to work, sometimes it is helpful after baby feeds to pump for 5-10 minutes to tell your body to start to make more milk and to start building up a supply for baby so there is less pressure on you for the first few weeks when you are back to work.

If you are having any trouble with your employer about your breaks for pumping, please have them check out the employer page.


Here are some tips from other sites on milk expression

Breastmilk Pumping Calculator


Breastmilk counts - Pump and Store


Kids Health - Pumping & Storing



Hand Expression

Hand expression can be quite helpful to breastfeeding moms by reassuring them of the existence of breast milk as well as being found to significantly increase breast milk supply, even when done in conjunction with pumping.

Here is a link to a video on hand expression: