Expressing Step by Step - The Good Birth Company The Good Birth Company
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Medela Harmony Breastpump
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Using Your Breastpump: Step by Step

The secret to successful and enjoyable expressing is to turn this every day event into a personal moment of intimacy between you and your baby.

Cleaning and Sterilising Your Breastpump
Expressing Step by Step

At first, expressing using a breastpump might feel a bit funny. However, as you become more comfortable with your breastpump and have settled into a daily pumping routine, expresing will become second nature.

Breastpumps imitate the baby's suckling at the breast as closely as possible. The breastshield and the pump unit (whether manual or electric) share the work; while the breastshield sits on the breast, the breastpump forms a vacuum and expresses the milk. In the case of the Swing breastpump, the pumping rythm is copied from the baby: at the beginning of a feed it sucks faster and then becomes more leisurely once the milk starts flowing.

Cleaning and Sterilising Your Breastpump

We strongly recommend that you check the manufactirer's instructions on cleaning and sterilising the different parts of your pump. Here are some guidelines.

Before First Use and Once Every Day

Disassemble, wash and rinse all parts of the breastpump that comes into contact with your breast and the milk. Place all these parts in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Heat it up and boil for at least 3 minutes. Remove from the stove, drain the water. Allow the parts to cool before you handle them. Air dry them on a clean towel. Alternatively, the parts of the breastpump that come into contact with your breast and the expressed milk can be washed in the top rack of your dishwasher.

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After Each Use

It is not necessary to sterilise the breastpump parts after each use as long as you do so at least once a day. If you are expressing milk for a sick or hospitalised baby, you will need to be more careful and we suggest that you follow more stringent cleaning instructions as advised by your health professional). Wash all parts of the breastpump that come in contact with your breast and the expressed milk in warm, soapy water. Rinse in clear water and allow the parts to air dry on a clean towel. Use a damp (not wet) cloth to wipe the motor unit of electrical pumps after each use, ensuring that the breastpump is diconnected from the mains.


When you are not using the breastpump, wrap all parts in a clean towel or store in a dedicated container. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your breast and the breastpump parts and try and avoid touching the inside of bottles and lids. Before expressing, clean your breast and the surrounding area with a damp cloth. Do not use soap or alcohol which can dry the skin and cause cracked nipples. Medela products are not designed to be sterilised in a microwave.

Expressing Step by Step


Before every pumping session, wash your hands thoroughouly with soap. Sit in a comfortable chair, next to a table that will hold the pump. Have a storage container ready for the milk. Be sure you have a little nest set up for you with some water to drink or maybe a snack, a phone, remote control or book (if you are having tea, do not use peppermint tea as it reduces milk production).


Take a few moments to breathe deeply. Close your eyes. Massage your breast gently, kneading it with your fist or tickling/stroking your nipples. Think about your baby at the breast. Or imagine yourself in a favourite, calming setting. This step helps you relax so your milk will flow more easily. For the milk to flow, your brain must secrete an hormone called oxytocin. This toxin will stimulate your milk vesicles into filling your milk reservoirs from which milk flows to your baby or to the breastpump. This step is therefore important, usually, your baby's lips coming into contact with your nipples will naturally induce the secretion of oxytocin. Staring at a photgraph of your child or a garment with your child smell can have the same effect.

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Ensure your breastshield is not too small and is positioned correctly as this could lead to rubbing and in the worst case injury to your nipples. Centre your nipple(s) in the breatpump's flange(s). If it has several suction settings, start with the lowest (minimum vacuum) as too high a setting could again injure the nipple (the amount of milk that is expressed does not increase with stronger suction). You can increase the suction if necessary to get more milk. At first you'll see only drops of milk appearing in the flange, but after your milk ejection reflex is triggered, you'll see the milk spray out of your nipple.

When to stop

Continue expressing until the milk is no longer flowing. Sometimes by taking the flange off and repositioning it, you will stimulate other milk ducts and milk will flow again. If you are double expressing, you may want to pump a minute or two longer after the milk flow stops to see if you can trigger another let-down and get more milk.

Storing and Using Expressed Milk >>>


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