Breastfeeding Bottling

In certain circumstances you can't always breastfeed your baby "in the moment". If you are going to work for example. Or if your child is born prematurely and does not yet have a sufficient suction reflex fully drink from the breast. If baby cannot, for whatever reason, access your breast whenever he is hungry, you can use a pump. This helps maintain milk production, and ensures that baby has your breastmilk available even if you and your breast aren't.

If your baby does not drink, or barely drinks, and you find yourself bottling your breastmilk very regularly, contact a lactation consultant. If you only occasionally pump and most feeds are "in the moment" then below are some handy tips for you.


When are the best moments to pump your milk?

  • In the morning, just after the first feeding. At this point there is a "extra" milk in your breasts that has been made at night, but has not been drunk because of the extra time between feeds.
  • In the evening before you go to sleep. Because your little one, if it sleeps through a bit, does not normally wake for food for the first few hours.
  • Right after every feeding. You will probably not have a lot of milk left, but pumping just after the feedings is a good tool to boost your milk production. If you combine the small amounts collected through the day then you'll probably have a full bottle by the end.
  • Considering setting a fixed time for an additional "feed" during the day, where you bottle all your milk. Your body will begin to expect this "feed" and will up production to match the demand.

Having trouble bottling?

1. Sit in a quiet, heated room. Somewhere where you will not be disturbed.

2. Take a warm shower or put a warm compress on your breasts before you start pumping.

3. Take some photos or a worn shirt from your little one. Or watch a cute movie of your child on your mobile phone. Thinking about your little one makes the milk flow better.

4. Carefully massage your breasts before you start pumping. For example, by making large circular movements with your fingers. Start on the outside. And work spirally in the direction of the nipple, constantly moving your fingers.

5. Caress your breasts from top to bottom, towards the nipple.

6. Roll your nipple between your fingers back and forth. Stimulation of the nipple makes the milk flow better.

7. Make sure the pump is positioned correctly.

8. Lean slightly forward.

9. Apply chest compression.

10. Drink something warm during the pumping, this will helo you relax.

11. Limit the use of nicotine, caffeine and alcohol.

Some remarks:

  • Bottling your milk is a learned skill, practise makes perfect.
  • Take your time and try to relax. If you are tense, the milk often takes longer to come forth.
  • Bottling takes as much time as live feeding.
  • The amount of expressed milk varies per breast, and from day to day. Even from time to time. So do not be alarmed if you produce a little less now and then.
  • It's normal for milk quantities to taper off as your child gets older.

How can you increase your production?

  • More frequent pumping. At least eight times a day with full bottles.
  • Try a double breast pump. This gives extra stimulation of your breasts, and a shorter bottling time.
  • Breast massage may help.
  • It's better to do it more often, rather than waiting for long periods between.
  • Cluster waves: every day for a week try pumping every twenty minutes a few times in a row.

How much milk should I have?
Up to six months, a breastfed baby drinks about 120cc to 150cc breast milk per kilogram of body weight. Factor in the number of feedings your little one normally drinks with you in a day, and you will know how much he needs from your bottled milk.

If you store and give your milk in small portions of about 50cc, you can use these as supplementary feed. If your little one is still hungry after his bottle or cup, then simply heat up an extra portion. This way you prevent large quantities of breast milk from being poured down the sink if your little one just happened to be less hungry than usual that day.


  • A child gets a lot more out of your breast than you will pump and bottle. Your bottle yield is therefore no indication for your milk production!
  • Do not continue pumping if no more milk comes. That only causes irritation of your nipple. Change breasts. Or try again an hour later.
  • Pumps must not hurt. If it hurts, something is wrong.
    • Is your pump fastened properly?
    • Is the suction too strong?
    • Is your nipple touching your breast pump somewhere?
  • Are you separated from your child for more than three hours? Then you should pump at least once. To keep your milk production up to standard.

Also see these information articles: · Breastfeeding · Benefits · Breastfeeding diapers · Changing food · Clustering · Duration · Empty days · Let down reflex · Menstruation · Milk channels and breast inflammation · Milk production · Nipples · Physical consequences · Positioning · Quickly stopping · Reasons to stop · Tandem feeding · Thrush

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