Expressing breast milk: Are some methods better than others?
The method a woman chooses to express breast milk will mostly depend on her personal preferences. The milk is expressed more quickly, and possibly in larger amounts, when an electric pump is used rather than expressing by hand. Doing relaxation exercises while expressing milk might also increase the amount.
There are many reasons why breastfeeding is important for babies – for example, the closeness between the mother and her child, and because it lowers the risk of some infectious diseases in babies. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusively breastfeeding in the first six months after birth, and then continuing to breastfeed the child while starting to introduce solid foods too.
Sometimes babies aren’t able to drink milk from the breast – perhaps because they’re ill, or were born too early (preterm) and are too weak to suck the milk out. A mother may not be able to breastfeed because her nipples are too sore, for instance, or because she has to work or keep an appointment.
In such situations, she can express milk for the baby to drink either straight away or out of a bottle later on. If a mother’s breasts are engorged (painfully full and hard) or she has mastitis (a breast infection), expressing milk can relieve the discomfort. Milk can either be expressed by hand or using a breast pump. Breast pumps are available in various forms: for one or both breasts, manual (hand) pumps, battery-operated and electric pumps. The type you choose will depend on which one you feel most comfortable with.