There’s many reasons why mothers might express their breastmilk to feed their babies.
Some are short term issues that need to be overcome such as having to take a medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding;
or to manage breast engorgement or allow sore or damaged nipples to heal. Sometimes using an electric breastpump such as a Medela Symphony is recommended as a way of increasing a mother’s milk supply.
For some mums expressing is a longer-term plan for managing times when you can’t physically be with your baby – perhaps you’re going back to work or study or your baby is in hospital still and you need to pump and feed that way.
For occasional short term separations (such as a weekly evening out), hand expression or a manual pump may be all you need.
But if you’re going to be expressing most of your baby’s feeds then you’d be best to consider a hospital grade breastpump like the Medela Symphony. These generally aren’t available as retail items due to their very high price tag (in the thousands) so its definately an item that you’d hire rather than buy.
Hospital grade breast pumps are extremely powerful, long-lasting, super efficient at extracting breastmilk yet very gentle and comfortable to use. Most importantly, the Medela Symphony has been designed to be able to be safely and hygienically used by multiple users.
When you hire you have a “single user sterile pumping kit” that contains all the parts that come into contact with you, your breast, your milk and your baby so hiring is quite safe.
Our 10 tips for successful expressing:
1. Choose your time
Find the time that suits you best to express. Allow yourself this time to rest, read a magazine or listen to a radio programme. If you can make it a regular set appointment time in the same place.
2. Get a pumping bra
It allows for hands-free pumping by holding the bottles for you. You can pump while working, typing, and talking on the phone.
3. Keep a hand towel handy
Having a little handtowel or facecloth handy to clear up any drips is essential and will save you doing a load more laundry.
4. Look at your baby
Even looking at a picture of your baby or holding an item of their clothing will help to stimulate your let down reflex and get your milk flowing.
5. Store your milk in small batches
You can always add or heat more but you don’t want to waste liquid gold.
6. Make Breastmilk Cubes
Freeze your expressed milk in ice cube trays then pop the cubes in a freezer-lock bag. Much cheaper than buying breastmilk specific bags.
7. Date your milk
Remember to write the date the milk was expressed so you can use the oldest first and rotate your supply through the fridge.
8. Have your own esky
It’s fine to leave breast milk out at room temperature for six to eight hours if you don’t have a fridge. But to be safe, and if you work or are out for a longer day, have your own cooler bag with an ice pack to keep your milk fresh. When you get home, transfer your milk to the refrigerator or freezer ASAP.
9. Ask for special treatment
Don’t be shy – you are entitled to a safe clean place to express at work and you don’t have to do it in the toilet.
10. Learn to hand express
Just in case you forget your pump one day, or you get stuck in a meeting or whatever. If something falls over in the plan, being able to hand-express will prevent engorgement and mean you’ve still got something to give to baby.