Would you… Express?

Hardly as controversial as the title sounds, today I’m looking for a bit of advice.

So far (10 weeks in,) I haven’t expressed any breast milk at all. I haven’t had any need to or wanted to really – I’m quite happy feeding her myself, although I can imagine I might have tried sooner if she wasn’t sleeping as well! The only thing that has tempted me is the thought of an ’emergency’ and the benefits of having a stored milk supply. This week I also have a work meeting to attend in the evening which I will have to take Bea along to, and I’m starting to see how much easier it would be to be able to leave her with daddy for 2 hours, worry free.

I didn’t buy a pump at first as I knew I could buy one quickly if I needed it (I know some people use them early for babies that won’t latch properly, or to build supply etc…) and I planned to follow the advice on not expressing until your milk supply is stable. So now I have 2 questions: Can you recommend a pump and do you have any advice on when/how to pump and store/re-use?

I’m also thinking ahead a little here as Bea already refuses a dummy and I’m worried will refuse a bottle. It’s not an issue now but I will be going back to work at around 8 months and if all is well at that point with the breast feeding still, I would express at work for what she needs on top of solids she is taking. (I don’t even know anything about this! How much of her requirements would be met by food at this stage? I’m guessing not so much?) So I need her to be taking a bottle well before then to minimise back to work stress.

Thanks in advance for your advice and thoughts readers! 🙂


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39 thoughts on “Would you… Express?

  1. The Ameda Lactaline is a v v v good pump.

    The breastfeeding network do a very good pdf leaflet that you can download that tells you all the ins and outs of breastmilk storage should you wish to put it in the fridge or freeze it.

    Toby never took a bottle, but friends had success eoth NUK teats and the medela calma range. Get Daddy to offer her the bottles as she will smell milk on you and not want to take them.

  2. I expressed pretty early (maybe 3 weeks – currently at 12) at a friend’s advice to get my baby to have a bottle (in case of emergencies etc – we also tried a daddy night feed but I ended up waking anyway… so stopped them pretty quickly.)

    My baby also refuses a dummy but is fine with a bottle. However, he has a strong preference to taking it from me, which is not ideal (I went out for the first time without him a couple of weeks ago – for just 3 hours during the day and despite being very hungry, baby was very grizzly and on hunger strike, refusing the bottle… But took the bottle from me as soon as I got home with a big smile on his face). So, this weekend he had 2 Daddy bottles. I use the Philips Avent Comfort electric pump. Is really simple and effective – and got good reviews on Mumsnet.

  3. I expressed only a few times as I found it really uncomfortable. Much more uncomfortable than I ever found breast feeding. If I had to be out for a feed my husband would give D ready made formula. That worked for us so I knew that a) he would take formula and b) he would take a bottle.
    We also made sure we gave him a bottle every two or three weeks from when he was 5 weeks old as I wanted to make sure he contained taking a bottle.
    I know this doesn’t really answer your question but this was the easiest option for us. I never had to make sure I had expressed enough as long as we had a few ready made bottles in the house.

  4. With regards to the returning to work thing – even if she isn’t all that keen on bottles, by that time she should have a grasp of using a cup so may take milk from that, or water at least. Some babies will refuse all milk at nursery, then just make it up when they get back with their mum. She will be eating a good two meals, if not three by then, so certainly won’t expire in between being dropped off and picked up again.

  5. I am evangelical about expressing. Have been since day 4 when my milk came in. It’s meant I can give a bottle to Mr K when I want a nap, and crucially meant I can get out and about without the baby knowing she’s got her milk set up.
    I went back to work when Ellie was 5.5 months and only just starting to wean and expressing milk at work was hard work – used to have to express about 24oz/500ml per day. Now it’s easier (but not easy). She’s on 3 ‘meals’ a day and only takes 10oz whilst at nursery.

    Electric pump didn’t work for me (used the lactating dual pump) – it doesn’t make sense but I use the Phillips Avent singular manual pump and it yields more milk.

    • The Lactaline dual pump, that should read… The one recommended above!

      Also for ref, Ellie is 8.5 months now and feeds 5x per day (3x breastfeeds, 2x bottles) plus 3 meals.

  6. You might find these useful;


    There’s a link there to a PDF to print with really useful info for anyone babysitting a breastfed baby.


    Babies don’t necessarily have to take a bottle. Many won’t. Even tiny babies can usually drink out of an open cup though (they lap it like kittens!) so have a look at your options there too.

    Good luck, I’m sure you’ll all be fine!

  7. I posted a comment from my phone earlier but it doesn’t seem to have registered so if this is a repeat, feel free to delete the first!

    I am evangelical about expressing milk. Have been since day 4 when my milk came in. I wanted Mr K to have the experience of feeding her too, to be able to hand baby and bottle over to him and go off for a nap when needed, and crucially it’s meant that I can go away for a day and know she’s got enough milk to last.

    Ellie went to nursery when she was 5.5 months and only just beginning to wean. Expressing milk at work was hard, she was drinking 500ml/20ish oz at nursery. Now she’s 8 months and on 3 “meals” of solids a day, she only drinks 10oz milk per day spread over 2 bottles. So that gives you a rough idea of what you’ll need to be expressing Rebecca (although I know all babies are different!)

    In terms of pump, I use a manual as find it yields better results (Phillips Avent). But I know I’m an anomaly. I did use the Avenda lactaline for a while but it just didn’t work for me (although motor excellent and can see it’s a good quality pump).

  8. Sorry I should say that as she is now, that 3 meals a day plus two bottles is what she has at nursery between 7.30am-5pm. She also has a 6am feed, a 6pm feed and an 8pm feed at home.

  9. Def recommend the Medela Swing pump. Electric & battery operated should you need to use it on the move. I found having a supply in the freezer for (very rare) evenings out or time away from the baby & had no trouble with baby taking it from Tommee Tippee bottles. Just make sure you never leave the freezer door open by accident – having to throw away a good supply of milk was really depressing after such an accident here.

  10. I use the medela swing pump which is really good. I started my little girl with one bottle a day from dad (the dream feed) from about 4 weeks onwards and is now a firm part of her routine (I use the word very loosely!!) Really glad we did this as I have friends who have found it really difficult to get their babies to take a feed from one when they tried later on. I don’t express anymore as I can’t be bothered but have a supply of breastmilk in the freezer which I have started to use up this week to get her used to a cup, I also made some little breastmilk lollies that I thought may be useful when she starts teething. I use little bags to store the milk but wish I had used freezer trays as then they would be in 1/2 Oz portions rather than random amounts. I chose to express every day at about 8pm, don’t think it matters when you do it as long as you keep to a regular time, your body gets used to it then (I think, as the amount I got to begin with was a depressing dribble but it got better!). Sorry, long waffle! Hope you find it okay.

  11. I started expressing when Ava was four months as I was back shooting weddings. However, I never wanted to interfere or disrupt breastfeeding as I’m such a worrier so prior to this hadn’t given her a bottle or dummy. Ava never took the bottle. No matter how much she tried she just never “got” it. My parents ended up using a the bottle as a cup and letting her lap it up…One thing I never anticipated was that my milk went off so quickly, sometimes whilst in the fridge, even though I followed all the correct sterilising and storage procedures…it baffled everyone. So my poor Mum had to smell and taste my milk before giving it to her because there were previous occasions before when we had been giving her rancid milk that was just disgusting, but hadn’t realised it as it was fresh, out of the fridge, sterilised etc. Some batches were fine, others weren’t even though I had done the same thing with all of them! Although, I haven’t come across anyone else who had this problem.

  12. If you know you are going to want to use bottles at some point it might be worth thinking about introducing one earlier rather than later. We decided we needed to do one bottle every day due to sleep issues so built it up gradually – 1 feed, then the next week 2, then the next week 3 until S was doing one feed a night. A word of warning though… even though he was used to S giving him a bottle he refused at nursery! So even bottle training is no guarantee. These babies get so set in their ways…

    Expressing was a bit crazy really, I never found it easy and with hindsight, as we were doing a regular feed, should have gone to mixed feeding. I would definitely have better spent that time asleep!


  13. If you’re planning to express for her at 8 months I would go for an electric pump. I had a manual which was fine for my needs, but if you are going to be away from her at 8 months you will need to pump for your own comfort let alone meeting her needs.
    Store the milk in breastmilk storage bags, you can get these in Boots/Tesco etc. It keeps in the fridge for 24 hours and a lot longer in the freezer. I used to defrost in a jug of cold water on the worktop, it defrosts really quickly. I always used a sterilizer when I gave bottles but I think after 6 months this is less important (correct me if I’m wrong). If she doesn’t take a bottle you could try her with a a sippy cup (Tommee Tippee free flow cups, label says suitable from 4m+).
    Some babies just won’t get on with bottle or cup feeding, so you might find that she feeds at night instead to make up for it. There is no way of knowing till you try.
    My baby didn’t have a bottle of expressed milk until he was about 5 months, he fed fine off it but was never as interested as he was with boob. So it was ok for the odd time away from him. I was the one that suffered more, think frantically hand-expressing in a nightclub toilet in Amsterdam while a bouncer hammered on the door convinced I was taking drugs or something! I was only away for 24 hours, oh the relief when I could feed my baby again!

  14. Should add that Kellymom is an excellent source of breastfeeding information and has sections on expressing and storing milk.

  15. We started occasional bottles at around week 5. My two tips: get a pumping bra (so much easier to be hands-free) and put the bags of milk directly into the freezer instead of the fridge. The latter tip helps with the “soapy” taste that expressed milk can get due to the fat content.

  16. I started expressing as soon as baby Y. was born, because she was born at 34 weeks and she was being fed my milk via a nasogastric tube, later a mix of breastfeeding + bottles.

    I was pumping 7 times / day for about 3 – 4 weeks and ended up with a huge freezer stash (that I was just happily able to donate to a mom of twins, also born early).

    If you want to build a stash for when you are working or if at any moment you need to increase your supply I strongly recommend the hospital grade Medela Symphony (available for rent, normally). I think using it was one of the positive factors that help us breastfeed succesfully, which we have done until now at 8 months and a half.

    Otherwise, if you want a pump for home / work I use the Medela Pump in Style (or the slightly different Medela Freestyle as its equivalent sold in Europe I believe). They are strong and work really well.

    I started taking a first-aid and emergencies for infants and small children and it has been great to be able to just pump and leave the milk at home for my mother in law or husband to give to Yu while I am away at class. It would also give us the freedom to go on date nights for dinner or to the movies if only I could really let go and take the plunge and do it.

    I am not near you, but perhaps for your meeting you could ask someone to lend you a pump or rent one and just try? And maybe teach Bea to use a bottle (but I would try a slow-flow nipple so that she still has some “trouble” and she does not get accustomed to bottles too fast and get nipple confusion or refuse the breast) (Which I don’t think would happen for a 1-time or once in a while event, yet the fears instigated by the breastfeeding evangelists stay ingrained in my subconscius).

  17. Oh and you can store breastmilk in the freezer 6 months, in the fridge 6 days or at room temperature 6 hours (if it is not really tropical hot). (Easy to remember 6-6-6 rule).

    You can store it in bottles or in bags that are specially designed for it (I still have a ton of bottles from the hospital and they have been sterilized, I could send them to you if you’d like).

    At 8 months Yu is eating solids 3 times / day (some purée and some baby-led-weaning inspired meals, which means, in short that she eats / plays with whatever food we are eating: pieces of fruit, bread, avocado, pasta…. ) but during the day she still breastfeeds 2-3 times and at night as well 2 times. I think until about a year most of the nutrition comes from breastfeeding, but the increase in solids is gradual so that by 1 year most of the nutrition is coming from solids (and at that point if you wish you can switch to cow milk or completely wean from formula or breastmilk).

  18. Medela swing electric pump. I currently have a hospital grade double Medela pump on hire as Imogen didn’t latch until 7 weeks and I expressed several times a day. I still express at least once a day though am probably going to send back the hired pump soon and use my Medela swing instead. I express before bed (after Imogen is down for the night) and at other times if I feel full and she isn’t hungry (we’re not in a feeding routine).

    Imogen takes the milk in a bottle the day I express it but for building up a store of milk on top of usual feeds, I’ve heard its best to express in the morning as milk supply is higher then.

    I would absolutely not worry about Bea not taking a bottle at 8 months as from 6 months ish she could go straight to milk in a cup instead. At that age the guidance for formula fed babies is to have around 500ml of formula a day (well it was 2 years ago) until they are 1 as well as food. I guess that is around 3 breastfeeds.

  19. Hi

    I pumped as my twins were 10 weeks premature and it was the only way they could take my milk in the beginning. I actually got on very well with it and even double pumped at the hospital. The best pump by far (and the one the hospital recommend) was the Medela electric pump. No pain and was relatively easy. You can store the milk in the freezer for up to 3 months so this was a real plus and so by the time I brought them home (at 7 weeks old) I had a good stash to get though. It also stopped me feeling like a helpless new mother as there wasn’t much else I could do!


  20. If you are planning to express at work, a manual pump can be much quieter and therefore more discrete than an electric pump so something to bear in mind depending on your set up. When. I returned to work, my daughter was 9 months and I mostly used milk that I had expressed and frozen in my last few months off maternity leave rather than worry about expressing at work. I have also heard that should give your baby a bottle every week or so, so they “remember” how to take a bottle. We tried to do this every week but we did forget sometimes, and it didn’t seem to make much of a difficulties. Good luck with the expressing!

  21. I used the medula swing and thought it was pretty decent. I wasn’t great at expressing and my supply was never huge anyhow but I perservered and would keep a supply in the freezer in the breast milk storage bags. Don’t forget your milk is different at different times of day so you should try and match the time of day you express with the time you give that bottle.

    Annie was always fine with the bottle and we used the Mam ones which apparently lots of babies do take. We had to try a few before she would take it though. Again it’s perseverance but it didn’t take long. (She did take a dummy though so it might have been easier because of that!)

    Rachie xo

  22. Very enthusiastic vote for the Medela Swing here and expressing in general. Also, re off milk – it may just be that your milk is high in lipase (a good thing) if it smells disgusting. If you’re sure you have stored it correctly and warmed it carefully, it is probably fine. It is really unlikely milk put straight into the fridge or frozen after expressing would be off (barring a power cut) so don’t panic if that seems to have happened! Breast milk is actually more robust than formula in terms of storage etc, something that really irritates me now my daughter is on formula!

    Expressing is hard work but it helped me prolong the time I breastfed for so I’m positive about it. It hurt my head in the early days trying to find the ‘right’ time to do it though!

  23. I expressed- which was never a problem, though really cut into the mornings when I was hoping to get out and about… Not sure if it’s already been mentioned but that’s the best time of the day to get a good batch as your supply is highest. The tommie tippee three speed thing was good for me. In terms of storage I found the Lansinoh purple sealing bags in a tupperware box brilliant.

    Taking the bottle was tricky- it seems babies have their own minds about this- some do, some don’t, and I think from many friends experience there’s no hard and fast rule. If you’re having problems taking bottles it’s worth borrowing different types from friends so you’re not shelling out loads, but it might just be passage of time that means they’re more likely to take them eventually. If she doesn’t fancy it then persistence is good, but not worth it becoming a stress for you- things do change so quickly when you least expect, so the difference in a couple of days/weeks might be dramatic, and I think once weaning starts if you’ve had trouble with bottles it’s definitely worth trying again.

  24. PUMPING. Ugh. Bane of my life. As someone said earlier, Kellymom is an excellent resource – can’t top it. One thing about storage that not many people know: when you stand milk in a fridge for a while, the cream rises to the top, so it can be tempting to give it a good shake to mix it back up – NEVER do this. Shaking it apparently messes up the delicate balance of the milk and reduces its nutritional value. Just give it a little swirl. Freezing also destroys some of the nutrients, so stick to refrigerating if you are using it up within a few days and don’t need to build up a stash.

    The easiest system I found was to use a pump that was compatible with the bottles you use to feed the baby – I used a Tommee Tippee hand pump with Tommee Tippee bottles, then got screw-on lids for fridge storage that I could then swap for a teat when it came time to feed her. So much simpler than faffing around transferring milk from one container for the pump to another for the fridge to a third for feeding (assuming you pump the correct amount for a single feed into each bottle – you can’t mix warm and refrigerated milk, they need to be the same temp). Don’t know if similar compatible options are available for other brands of pump/bottle, but it made my life easier.

    Lastly, this video was recommended to me by the midwives at the breastfeeding clinic. There is a lot of talk about the practicalities of storage etc but not much on how you physically pump milk – this is a pretty clear video that shows how to get the maximum amount from an expressing session. May not be helpful if you’re just wanting to match the feeds she’s having at nursery, but could be good to know if you were trying to build up a supply for a longer separation, or trying to get the most amount in the least time.


    • That is the best explanation of pumping that I’ve seen, Kirsty. Thanks for sharing the link, it looks like a reliable resource. I’m off to explore other pages in the breastfeeding section now.

      Just one thing, you know how it says double (electric) pump then later single pump, does it mean single electric pump or just a single manual pump? I know some just hand express into the pump but I wasn’t clear on the electric/manual thing.

  25. I started expressing after a few months (can’t remember exactly but basically when my milk supply was up). I have the Medela Freestyle, which is a double electric pump (deffo recommend getting a double, you save a LOT of time). Although I fed Albert myself I purely expressed to build up the freezer stocks for later and get him used to having a bottle by giving him one bottle every other day or so. Basically I wanted to guarantee that I had extra milk every day so there was plenty for when the occasions it would be so much easier would crop up, and eventually when I’d have to *sniff* leave him with grandparents.

    Just express straight away after you’ve fed Bea so she’s not going without, I would do it twice a day in the beginning, now I just do it in the evening before I go to bed. It takes a little while to build up your supply for this extra ‘feed’, don’t worry if you only get announce or two to start with, I was soon getting a full 7oz bottle full in one go. Having a shower or bath first can help you get more!

    Every baby is different of course, but Albie is now 10 months and has three meals a day, and on the days he drinks expressed bottles he has 20oz in total (4oz bottles at 8, 10, 1, 4 & 7). It’s still a heck of a lot to express so I have to do it religiously every evening just to get enough for the 1 day a week he needs it!

  26. I haven’t read all the comments (sorry, v lazy) but needed to share somewhat of a eureka moment I has last week pump wise.

    I had a tommee tippee electric with my 1st, which always worked very well but was the noisiest thing ever.

    This time I was eyeing up the medela swing, but just couldn’t justify the cost, then I came across the Spectra 3, http://www.anawiz.com/acatalog/Spectra_3_Breast_Pump.html which was £60 and could be turned into a double with purchase of an extra breast shield set for just £10. So I bought, and it’s amazing.

    Takes me 10mins to express 6oz in double mode, which is a full feed, as baby #2 is only 5 wks.

    Granted, it’s bulky, but since I bought it I found out they do other less bulky and more portable looking pumps, found them online here http://www.anawiz.com/acatalog/spectra.html. (although I bought mine through good old amazon. – it arrived in less than 24hrs)

  27. Another vote for A medela swing. I have only expressed infrequently usually to relieve oversupply. I store my milk in lstorage bags in the freezer. I have also been told six hours at room temperature, 6 days in the fridge and six months in the freezer.

  28. Yet another vote for the electric Medela swing. I actually started off with the Tommy Teepee but as it was like a jigsaw (15 or so pieces which didn’t seem to want to fuse, or at least work together when I was tired and in a hurry…!) I soon caved and bought the Medela. It’s 5 elements that you can put it together in seconds, which is great. I really recommend not doing what I started out doing, which was wait until baby was asleep…it took hours initially and tbh the return wasn’t worth the hours not slumbering! The best results for me were after the 1st feed of the day when baby was back sleeping – and, if possible, after a quick hot shower. That was prime time and worked a treat! Also don’t recommend doing it under pressure – I found I never could if I was in a rush to leave the house and anxious about producing enough to cover my absence. Just didn’t work for me at all…do it in advance – in as a relaxed state as possible! I used Tommy Tippee bottles with first stage slow release teats – they seemed to replicate the nipple and baby took to them well. Good luck! x

  29. Another vote for the Modela Swing! And re bottles – the Nuk bottle worked for us, and we tried pretty much every bottle on the market! She turned her nose up at all the others but the Nuk seemed to work, apparently it’s the only bottle where the milk hits the roof of their mouth, like breastfeeding. Not sure if that’s true but she happily latched onto it!

  30. Having scanned the comments above I think I’m in a huge minority when I say that I much much prefer hand expressing to using a pump. I do have a Tommee Tippee pump that works fine but I find hand expressing more comfortable. So far I’ve just expressed when my milk supply has been mega high and then stored it for when we need it. I’m giving M a bottle every few weeks just so she gets used to using one, an it’s nice to know I have the freedom to go out for a little longer if I want to (although I haven’t yet!) also though it’s really lovely for G to get to feed her sometimes, he adores it.

    KL x

  31. I went back to work when Ava was eight months. I thought she’d take formula out of a cup, but she wouldn’t. I never even tried to express, just kept her on me, till she was old enough to cope without me.

    I was lucky in that I work flexible hours, and I would give her a breastfeed as I dropped her off at childminders, and another one at pick up. She would have big feeds morning and night. I only started doing full days when Ava was eleven months old though.

    A friend of mine had a nursery next door to her work, and used to pop across at lunchtime to breastfeed.

    At eight months Ava was having three meals a day, two snacks, and very good at taking her water.

  32. Reckon you’ve got everything covered with all this advice.
    I feel exactly as Kirsty does when I hear the words ‘expressing’ or ‘pumping’…..just aarrrgghh! As others have said, Kellymom is an amazing resource for everything you might need to know about pumping and taught me to accept that it just works for some Mum’s & not others.
    I tried a manual Phillips pump & an electric medela swing. The medela was loads better for me. The storage bags you can attach to the pump and pump directly into were really handy.
    Before you get pump happy and start freezing loads, just check how your milk stores. I worked my socks off to pump 2 ice cube trays full in the early days to discover much later on (via Kellymom) that my milk didn’t store well (something to do with proteins I think) so was fine in the fridge but not in the freezer.
    Finally, should you have a bottle refuser (fingers crossed you don’t), try a MAM bottle…..think they’re meant to be the softest and most nipple like teat.
    Good luck on your pumping journey! Xxx

  33. I’m late to this thread but would love to know what you chose to do. I can see you did express but how did you get on with introducing a bottle etc.

    My son is 13 weeks and I am thinking about introducing a bottle as would like to be able to have a night out at Christmas…….. and for emergencies!

    Any tips etc?

    • Hi Kate!

      I actually can’t remember when we first tried Bea with a bottle, but I know it was for when I left her at home for the first time to go to a work evening meeting, maybe around 4-5 months. I don’t think I’d hesitate to try earlier (if it’s going o be infrequent) in future, and if I’m honest, my own and lots of friends experiences have been that Babies are very changeable and may take a bottle one day/week/month when you need them to and then not again another time when you also need them to. I tried the Medela Calma teat first but we soon switched as the EBM bottles were so infrequent that I wasn’t worried about her getting lazy, and i felt with a normal (slow) flow teat she could taste the milk and knew what she was meant to do with the strange thing in her mouth.

      Bea took the bottle beautifully at first then we didn’t give it her again for ages, and then tried much later and she wasn’t having any of it. By the time I’d gone back to work she would take it again. At 14m we are still BF and Bea has always had EBM when she has required a bottle – she was on 2-3 a day when I went back to work and slowly dropped them until she was just on morning and night feeds at around 10-11m.

      I hope that helps – I think the key is don’t stress if your son doesn’t do what you expect, try again in a few weeks. I know lots of people introduce a regular daily bottle to ensure they can get that time away and maybe if you feel strongly then try that, but I felt it was a lot of hassle when I had no real need or desire to be away from her at that point. And I still don’t think it’s a guarantee against them going off it! x

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