Expressing after or instead of breastfeeding is frequently used to support breastfeeding. Expressing can:
Because of the health benefits for babies, the mother’s milk or colostrum is the first milk choice when supplementing.
1) When expressing is critically important
Regular expressing after each of the baby’s feeds can be critical to maintaining the milk supply if the baby cannot breastfeed normally and regularly and to provide the baby with breast milk.
This includes babies who:
Expressing should continue until the baby can breastfeed effectively.
2) When expressing is helpful
Expressing after breastfeeding can help stimulate the milk coming in if it is late or if the mother is at risk of having a low milk supply.
Temporarily expressing after breastfeeding may be helpful in increasing milk production if the milk supply has always been low or if it is now reduced, even if the baby is breastfeeding well.
3) When expressing is less helpful
In some situations, expressing may be ineffective and time consuming.
a) Permanently low milk supply
Breastfeeding mothers who have never made enough milk or whose milk supply is permanently reduced and whose babies breastfeed normally, may be unable to increase their milk supply by expressing.
b) Slightly suppressed milk supply
Some mothers may give only small amounts of supplement (one-quarter or less of the baby’s milk) that is not the mother’s own milk but rather other milk types such as infant formula. Mothers may be able to slowly decrease and then stop the supplements without needing to express.
This could include mothers whose milk supply was normal after birth but dropped because of a lack of breast stimulation or because of taking certain medication that have since been stopped.
However, other mothers may choose to express and give more of their own milk until the supplements have stopped.