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The Whys and Hows of Expressing Breast Milk

When you're new to it, expressing your breast milk (removing breast milk to be set aside for a future feeding) may seem confusing. Do you need to use a pump? Which type? What if the milk doesn't "let down"? Relax! This article tells you everything you need to know, with step-by-step instructions and helpful tips. With some preparation and a little practice, you'll quickly learn what works for you.

What Does "Express" Mean?

Some mothers who choose to breastfeed and are able to be with their children 24/7 may not have to worry about whether they need to express their breast milk. This article is for those moms who will have to be away from their baby during nursing times and are wondering how to express breast milk.
If you are going to be away from your nursing infant, milk expression is a much-needed skill. Simply put, "expressing" means removing milk from your breasts so that it can be given to your baby at another time, usually in a cup or bottle. This is done to avoid having to use formula and to ensure that your baby is getting many of the valuable nutrients only breast milk can provide.

Why Would I Need to Express My Breast Milk?

There are times when even the most devoted stay-at-home mom may not be able to be there to physically breastfeed her little one. In these cases, having some expressed milk on hand can allow someone else to feed your infant. While being away from your newborn can cause a lot of anxiety for new moms, being able to provide breast milk while you are away can give you peace of mind in knowing that your baby is still benefiting from all the nutrients in your breast milk.
There are many reasons you might need to express your breast milk. For example, you may do it to:
  • Relieve breasts that have become engorged
  • Build up a stockpile of breast milk for when you aren't able to nurse your baby
  • Give your partner an opportunity to have that bonding time with your baby
  • Help stimulate more milk production
  • Give yourself a break.
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