Expressing breast milk can be a useful way to help relieve pressure when the breasts are full, or to allow your baby to be fed by you or someone else with a bottle. Expressing can also be vital for a poorly baby who may not be able to feed from the breast, or an unwell mother who is unable to feed. It is very common for women to experience sore nipples during the early stages of breastfeeding, so expressing milk is one way of allowing the nipples to recover whilst keeping up the demand for milk. On a similar note, should a woman be experiencing blocked ducts or mastitis, expressing can help to keep things moving and help to overcome these issues. Of course, too, some women want to provide breast milk, but would rather express then give directly from the breast. So there are many reasons why expressing could be useful.
How to express
There are two different ways to express breast milk: by hand, or with a breast pump. In the early days after delivering a baby, it may be more effective to express by hand, as the breasts produce colostrum in small amounts. As milk production speeds up and become more plentiful, a pump may be quicker and easier.