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Frequently Asked Questions about Expressing

When are the best times to express?

  • One of the best times is after an early morning feed when the supply is often abundant
  • About 30-60 minutes after the baby has fed or you have expressed
  • If the baby takes milk from one breast at a feed then you can express from the other breast
  • When the baby is feeding from one side, you can express the other breast at the same time

How much milk should be expressed for a feed?

This is always going to be an estimate as babies differ and will vary depending in the reasons why you are expressing.

A rough way to work this out is  as follows:

  • Baby’s weight in kilos X 150mls = amount in 24 hours
  • Divide this by number of feeds in 24 hours
  • E.g. 5kgs baby X 150mls= 750 mls over 24 hours
  • If baby feeds 10 times then each feed will need to be roughly 75mls

How do I store breast milk?

For healthy term babies it can be stored at:

  • Room temperature for maximum of 6 hours
  • At the back of a fridge (not in the door) for up to 5 days at 4.c or lower
  • Up to 2 weeks in the freezer compartment of a fridge
  • Up to 6 months in a freezer that is -18.c
  • To defrost milk
    • Thaw in the fridge and use immediately
    • Stand container in a jug of warm water or run under a tap of warm water
  • Warm milk up just enough to take the chill of it and before you give it to your baby always check the temperature by shaking a few drops onto your wrist

How do I give my baby the expressed milk?

  • Using a bottle is the usual way of giving expressed breastmilk. However, it is best to get breastfeeding established before you try bottles as occasionally some babies may prefer to bottle feed rather than breastfeed. When breastfeeding is established babies are able to feed from a bottle without it affecting their ability to breastfeed.
  • Some breastfed babies are reluctant to take a bottle especially if they are older and have never been given one. Some ideas to try are:
    • Hold and cuddle your baby first
    • Warm and soften the teat by putting it in boiling water
    • Ask someone else to give the bottle
    • Offer it when the baby is not hungry but is alert and relaxed.
    • Try using a different position to feed
    • If the baby is older –around 4 months try giving the milk in a cup


For more information you can download a section on from Bump to breastfeeding on expressing and returning to work  or download a copy of the leaflet about expressing from the following link:


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