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Golden Rules for expressing your milk if your baby is not latching at your breast yet

Patient information A-Z

Remember your breast milk is amazing – it is easy for your baby to digest and protects your baby from infection. It is tailor made for your baby’s needs.

Non-urgent advice: Top tips

  1. Expressing is best started within the first two hours after your baby’s birth. Early and frequent expressing leads to greater long term milk production.
  2. Express at least 8 to 10 times in a 24 hour period. This doesn’t have to be every three hours - you can fit the expressing around you.
  3. It’s really important to express at least once between midnight and 06:00 because your milk producing hormones are higher at night.
  4. Avoid gaps of longer than four hours during the day and six hours during the night between expressing.
  5. It is good to do a combination of hand and pump expressing with breast massage.

Breast pump information

Double pumping is best where possible as this increases your milk supply.

Initiate programme (available on some pumps)

  • This is a 15 minute set programme for stimulation and can be used from birth.
  • Hand expressing is still required after pumping to collect milk, as early breast milk (colostrum) is so thick.
  • Do not worry if you don’t get any milk to start with, it is normal.
  • Continue to use the initiate programme until you are getting a total of 20ml on three consecutive occasions or until day five then move to the maintain programme.

Maintain programme

  • If you have been hand expressing you can use this pump setting once you are expressing at least 5 to 10ml.
  • Pump for two minutes after the last drop of milk has been expressed; this will help to increase your supply.


Cuddles with your baby skin-to-skin/ 'Kangaroo care' will increase your milk supply.

If you have any questions, please ask the staff looking after you.

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Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151