How do I express and store breast milk?

How do I express and store breast milk?
How do I express and store breast milk?

Expressing milk not only stops good breast milk going to waste, it also gives you the freedom to breastfeed when it’s more convenient for you. It can be kept in bottles and with a little practice is easy to do. Keep reading to learn how to express and store breast milk.

How do I express and store breast milk?


Expressing milk is perfect for situations where you can’t breastfeed, need a break, or can’t be with your child but want them to have the nutrients that breast milk provides. Another great reason to express is that it’s one of the ways your husband can bond with your child, by getting involved in feeding.


Before expressing milk, soften your breasts with a warm flannel, or by taking a shower or massaging them. Then, once you’ve cleaned your hands and sterilised a wide rimmed bowl to collect your milk, you can start expressing.

  • Support your breast with one hand then massage down from the top of your breast to the nipple. Work all round it including the underside.
  • Now put gentle pressure on the area behind the areola (the dark skin around your nipples) with your thumb and forefinger
  • Squeeze them together and press backwards to release your milk. Be warned though, it can spray in lots of directions!


Using a pump can be quicker and less tiring than using your hands. Remember to soften your breasts with a warm shower or massage beforehand and make sure the pump is thoroughly sterilised before expressing. Depending on the pump you use, it should take 15-45 minutes and shouldn’t cause any pain.


You can store milk in a bottle in your fridge or freezer. But once heated, any unused milk must be thrown away. Remember to date the milk you store – it’ll keep for around:

  • 72 hours in the fridge
  • One month in a freezer compartment
  • Three months in a freezer (although this can reduce the amount of antibodies in the breast milk)

To defrost frozen milk let it stand in hot water until it’s thoroughly defrosted, check its temperature before feeding your child and then use it as soon as possible. Never thaw or warm the milk in a microwave as it will destroys its nutrients.