Lactation experts offer a couple of other suggestions for getting your milk flowing. Sometimes just thinking about your baby can stimulate the let-down reflex. If that doesn’t work, try taking a warm bath or shower, or applying warm washcloths to your breasts. If you are away from your baby, look at a picture or listen to a recording of your baby’s noises. Relaxing music can help mothers to “let down” more milk.
Massaging your breasts may also do the trick, and is usually recommended before attempting manual expression. To massage your breasts, move your fingers in a circular motion around your breasts at least 10 times. After the massage, very gently stroke downward with your fingernails toward the areola — the darker area around your nipple — several times, avoiding any pressure on the breast tissue.
Now you should be ready to try expressing milk. Stand up next to a high counter or other surface, and place your clean collection bowl near your breasts. If you use a wide mouth container with a handle, you can hand express while you sit. There are a variety of different ways to express milk, but the following method is usually successful. Cup the breast underneath with your four fingers and place your thumb above, just behind the edge of the areola. Lift the breast and then press your hand straight back toward the chest wall to increase the internal pressure in the breast. Gently, but firmly, bring the thumb and index finger together behind the nipple, over the milk sinuses. Be patient as it takes some time to learn this new skill. If you have difficulty getting the hang of it, consult your lactation consultant.
When you’ve emptied your breasts into the bowl, transfer the milk into a bottle — or other storage container — using a plastic funnel. Store your milk in an insulated cooler with ice packs, a refrigerator or a freezer for later use.
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