Getting the best out of your breast pump


Compressing the breasts during pumping without causing the pump to lose suction will assist in milk ejection. You can find some more information at Dr Jack Newmans website on breast compression and watch videos on Breastfeeding.

If you are using an electric pump it will have a pre-set suck programme, if you are using a manually operated pump I find that mothers are able to express more effectively if you mimic the action that baby would use, i.e. 4-6 short partial depressions of the pump handle followed by one full depression of the handle during which the milk will stream, repeat until the milk no longer flows readily.

If you need to initiate a milk supply or need to express most of your baby’s milk requirements, a double electric pump is best, these can be easily hired. You may find some useful information on hiring at the National Child Birth Trust or call to find a NCT breast pump agent for your area on 0300 330 0770. You can also visit Medela and Ameda Pump Rental for more information.

Storing breast milk

To save valuable time it is only necessary to sterilize your breast pump once every 24 hours, provided you cover the pump funnel with some paper towel or cling film or put it in a clean air tight container and store the pump in the fridge between expressing. Decant the milk into your chosen storage container before expressing further milk. Ensure you label your milk carefully with the date and time and amount.

Good resources on expressing and storing your breast milk and frequently asked questions can be found at the below links:

When to express

  • Expressing immediately after breastfeeds means that there is minimal impact on the potentiality for milk at the next feed. Expressing between feeds or too close to the next feed can often mean that the supply available to baby is compromised.
  • You will usually be able to express more in the earlier parts of the day, this is normal, and is a result of fluctuating milk producing hormones.
  • If you would like to give your baby some expressed breast milk at either their or your bedtime, express the amount you need in the morning, you may need to express after two consecutive feeds during the day to get enough for the bedtime or ‘dream’ feed.
  • You may also need to express at the time that baby is given the expressed milk feed, as they will be missing a breastfeed, if you don’t do this you may experience engorgement and / or a reduction in milk supply.

There are some very useful resources available at Kelly Mom

For more information on feeding your baby from a feeding device, read Katherine’s complete guide Your breast fed baby and expressed breast milk

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