Idaho CareLine: In Idaho, Dial 2-1-1 or 800-926-2588
Collecting and Storing Your Milk
You can collect (express) your breast milk when you are unable to nurse your baby.
This can be done using hand expression or a good quality manual pump. If you plan to express often, a double electric breast pump may be faster and more efficient. Good quality pumps can be purchased or rented from medical suppliers. If you are a WIC participant, contact your WIC clinic for information about pumps.
Wash the pump or container you will use to collect your milk in with hot, soapy water. A margarine tub, wide mouth glass, or cup works well if you plan to hand express. With practice, you can express directly into a nurser bag or bottle.
Begin by washing your hands. Put a warm washcloth on your breasts to help your milk flow. When you are first learning, you may want to practice in the shower.
Massage your breasts for a few minutes. Do this by placing one hand under your breast for support. Apply gentle pressure using a circular motion with your other hand. Massage from several starting points around the breast, always working from the edge of the breast toward the nipple. Repeat on your other breast.
Place your fingers and thumb about one inch behind the nipple. Press back toward your ribs and then gently squeeze in and down toward the nipple.
Move your hand around your breast and continue. Collect your milk into a clean container.
Pick out the correct nipple adapter for your breast size (if available). Put the adapter in the end of the pump.
Center this piece over your nipple and hold the pump in place.
With the type of pump shown, gently pull the outer section of the pump to create suction. Continue to pull in and out as milk starts dripping into the pump.
Always read instructions that come with the pump before using.
When milk flow slows down, switch to your other breast. Then massage both breasts again and pump some more. Expressing your milk gets easier with practice and works best when your milk supply is built up. Don't be discouraged if you can express only a small amount at first.
With manual expression or a single manual pump, pumping takes about 20-30 minutes. If pumping with a high grade double electric pump, expect pumping to take about 10 minutes.
To keep your milk supply up, you may need to hand express or pump every 2 to 3 hours from after your last nursing until you can nurse your baby again.
Storing Your Milk
Returning to Work or School
You can work or go to school and continue to breastfeed. Be creative and find what works for you! Here are three choices:
If You Want to Continue Offering Your Baby Breast Milk Only, Then...
2 to 4 Weeks Ahead of Time
A Few Days Ahead of Time
If You Want to Offer Your Baby Breast Milk and Formula
Whatever Time You Spend Nursing is Good for You and Your Baby.
*This handout is not intended for use by mothers of premature or sick infants.
For breastfeeding information and support in your community, call the
Idaho CareLine at 2-1-1 or 1-800-926-2588.
Revision of Breastfeeding Basics: Collecting and Storing Your Milk (1998).
Many thanks to our reviewers: Kathy Eng; Bonnie Williamson, LPN; Patricia Warjack; Joanne Graff, CFCS, CLE; Joyce Schleis, RN, BSN, IBCLC; LaVonne Mills, MD; Jill Barnes, CA; Lori Bilodeau, RN; Kim Reynolds; Debbie Kannenberg, RN, IBCLC;
and many other professionals associated with hospitals and WIC clinics throughout Idaho.
ILLUSTRATED BY: Lisa Penny DEVELOPED BY: Idaho WIC Program, Department of Health and Welfare, P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0036
PUBLICATION NO: 404E (1989). Revised 1998. IDHW-20,000-15570-4/98.