When to Express Your Milk and Offer It to Your Baby

Wondering when to pump or hand express your milk to store for later use? Try these options:

  • Express or pump between feedings (an hour before or after) to build up a supply of milk to store for your baby. You can also try pumping early in the morning before your baby wakes up or during her mid-morning nap.
  • If your baby is full after nursing on one breast, pump the other side. You can also pump or catch the milk that leaks out of the other side while feeding (there are products that help with catching)

  • If you are going to be away from your baby for a longer amount of time, pump at intervals that approximate when your baby might feed, i.e. every 3 hours or so. Bring a photo of your baby or something that smells like him or her to help trigger a milk letdown.

Freeze the pumped milk in 1 oz. - 3 oz. bottles or bags designed for storing milk, and date them. Some moms like to store them flat so there is more room to stack. Start now and you’ll have a bit of a supply if you need to go away or back to work soon.

Try to offer a bottle of expressed milk after your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old (when breastfeeding is established and going well), but before 6 weeks of age. Babies may refuse the bottle if it is introduced after that.

See also...

•  Hand expression

•  Pumping and bottles

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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