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Tips for expressing

When breastfeeding the sight, feel and smell of your baby at the breast as well as your baby latching and sucking causes your milk to start flowing (let-down). When expressing you don’t have this. Here are some useful tips to help when you are expressing (whether it is by hand or pump). They can be particularly useful when you’re expressing because you’re separated from your baby or your baby is premature or ill.

Find a comfortable place to express.

If you’re still in hospital you may feel more relaxed with the bed-curtains pulled. Some mum like to position themselves so they are facing away from a window or the place where the bed-curtains open.

If you are at home with older children, distract them with an activity that doesn’t require your full attention and will keep them happy and safe.

Minimise distractions

Ideally turn off your phone, TV and laptop. Some mums like to have soothing or relaxing music in the background.

Make sure you have everything you need to hand - a drink, a small snack, baby’s picture, a small towel to cover up or dry any spillages.

Connect with your baby

Looking at your baby’s picture or a video of your baby, a piece of their clothing or blanket can help you relax and connect with your baby before you begin expressing.   

Some mums find it helpful to close their eyes and imaging baby is feeding at their breast. Connecting with your baby in this way will help trick your brain to get your milk to flowing. 

If your baby is well enough, spend some time together in skin-to-skin contact before you begin to express.


Taking a warm shower or putting a warm moist facecloth (warm compress) on your breasts before expressing can help.

Massage your breast

Massaging or stroking your breast and gently rolling your nipple between your fingers encourages the release of hormones and helps get your milk flowing.  Massage your breasts before and during expressing. 

  • Start by washing your hands in warm water.  
  • Gently massage your breast.
  • This can be done with your fingertips (A) or by rolling your closed fist over your breast towards the nipple (B).
  • Massage - step 1  Massage - step 2
  • Work around the whole breast, including underneath. Do not slide your fingers along your breast as it can damage the skin.
  • After massaging your breast gently roll your nipple between your first finger and thumb (C).
  • Massage - step 3