exress milk

Ways to Express Milk While Breastfeeding

If you are unable to breastfeed your baby directly, it is important to remove milk during the times your baby normally would feed. This will help you continue to make milk. Before you express breast milk, be sure to wash your hands. Also, make sure the area where you are expressing is clean.

If you need help to get your milk to start flowing, have one of the following items nearby - a picture of your baby, a baby blanket, or an item of your baby's clothing that has his or her scent on it. You can also apply a warm moist compress to the breast, gently massage the breasts, or sit quietly and think of a relaxing setting.

Most health insurance plans will cover the cost of a breast pump. Check with your insurance company for details.

Hospital-grade electric pumps can be rented from a lactation consultant at a local hospital or from a breastfeeding organization. These pumps work well for establishing milk supply when new babies can't feed at the breast. Mothers who have struggled with other expression methods may find that these pumps work well for them. Most health insurances cover breast pumps as a benefit Check with your insurance company for details.

There are 3 ways to express milk:

Hand Expression

How it Works
You use your hand to massage and compress your breast to remove milk.

What’s Involved

  • Requires practice, skill, and coordination. 
  • Gets easier with practice; can be as fast as pumping. 
  • Good if you are seldom away from baby or need an option that is always with you. But all moms should learn how to hand express.
Average Cost
  • Free, unless you need help from a breastfeeding professional who charges for her services.

Manual Pump

How it Works
You use your hand and wrist to operate a hand-held device to pump the milk.

What’s Involved

  • Requires practice, skill, and coordination.
  • Useful for occasional pumping if you are away from baby once in a while.
Average Cost

  • $30 to $50

Automatic, Electric Breast Pump

How it Works
Runs on battery or plugs into an electrical outlet.

What’s Involved

  • Can be easier for some moms.
  • Can pump one breast at a time or both breasts at the same time.
  • Double pumping may collect more milk in less time, so it is helpful if you are going back to work or school full time.
  • Need places to clean and store the equipment between uses.
Average Cost

  • $150 to over $250

Updated June 6, 2016

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