When to express breast milk

Expressing means removing milk from your breast so you can store it and feed it to your baby later. You can express by hand or by pump. If you need to express milk during your first few days breastfeeding, it is best to express by hand.

Expressing your breast milk is a very useful skill to learn.

In the early days of your baby's life, you may want to express milk if:

  • your baby needs to be cared for in a special care baby unit or paediatric hospital
  • you or your baby are too ill to breastfeed after birth
  • your breasts feel very full or uncomfortable
  • your baby is having difficulty attaching to the breast

Later on in your baby's life, you may also want to express your milk if:

  • you want to give your milk to your baby’s carer
  • you’re going back to work and want to continue breastfeeding
  • you’ve introduced other foods to your baby’s diet but you still want to give them breast milk - breast milk is an important part of your baby’s diet even if they have started to eat other foods.

Page last reviewed: 29 November 2018
Next review due: 29 November 2021