How can breastmilk be expressed?

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Always make sure that supplies are clean and wash your hands before handling breastmilk

Breastmilk can be expressed by hand, manual pump or electric pump. Following are suggested steps for properly and safely expressing breastmilk:

  • Before beginning, make sure that your supplies are clean and dry.
  • Vigorously wash hands, fingers, forearms and under nails with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, dry hands with paper towel and then use paper towel to turn off faucet. Read these instructions for more information on proper hand washing techniques.
  • Inspect your breasts and make sure that the nipples are not cracked and bleeding and that there are no open sores, lesions or blisters on the breast. If so, do not donate at this time. Please read this section for more information on open sores, blisters, and/or bleeding cracks on the skin.
  • Follow the pump’s instruction manual or consider expressing by hand. Please read this link for expressing tips and pumping information. This video is a good tutorial on how to express breastmilk by hand.
  • Properly label the storage container with name and date and place in the freezer or refrigerator.
  • After pumping and storing, wash and properly store the supplies.

Pumps can be bought or rented, either by the donor or by the recipient, depending on their arrangement with each other. No difference has been found in bacterial contamination when using a pump or manually expressing. Please see this Protocol of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine for more information.

Please note that there are two kinds of pump systems: open system pumps and closed system pumps. Open system pumps are not suitable for multi-person usage.

After the use of drugs, certain medications and alcohol, breastmilk may need to be expressed and discarded. For more information please read ‘Drugs, medication, alcohol and the decision to discard breastmilk?

Next: How can breastmilk be stored?

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