Maintaining your Breastfeeding and milk supply


If you are planning to spend time away from your baby whilst Breastfeeding, it is
important to protect your Breastfeeding and your milk supply by being careful to continue to stimulate your milk by using a breast pump or hand expressing.

Your breast milk supply is very finely tuned to the demands of your baby, therefore to maintain your milk supply it is important to mimic your baby’s feed frequency and not doing this can result in your breasts beginning to shut down milk production often preceded by engorgement or mastitis.

Expressing Breast Milk

Before you start, it is important to find a comfortable place to sit and to relax as much as you can. Some mothers find that expressing takes a bit of practice, having a picture of your baby to look at can help.

Hand expressing

Some mothers are quite good at this, and others find it difficult, this is normal. Hand expression is best used in the very early days of Breastfeeding as you cannot collect tiny amounts of colostrum and transitional milk in a pump. Some mothers find that it easier to express if you are Breastfeeding your baby at the other breast.

To hand express, first wash your hands, place your index finger and thumb on the areola and apply pressure simultaneously back into the areola and together, it takes some time to master this. Move your fingers around the areola to find the best places to get the milk to flow. The best results are achieved by moving all around the breast and expressing both breasts. Use small clean bowl to collect the milk.

Using a breast pump

The use of a breast pump takes practice and you may find that the pump does not always stimulate the breasts in the same way as baby would.

The correct way to use a breast pump

When using any pump it is important the funnel part of the pump is the correct size for you, only the nipple and no more than about 1cm of areola should extend into the funnel when the pump is being used. If more areola is going into the pump the pump will not work efficiently and it will also make you very sore! You can buy different sizes funnel inserts for most pumps.

Some mothers find that their milk flows more readily with or without the use of the flexible funnel insert that is included when you purchase some pumps.

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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