There are two ways to express breast milk. Though they are certainly not a glamorous mothering role!
HAND EXPRESSING If you only need to express breast milk every once in a while, for comfort or a rare bottle-feed, you may be able to get by with expressing by hand. This is the cheapest way to express breast milk because it requires no equipment, but it can be time-consuming and takes practice. Wash your hands before you start. Then, place your thumb 4-5cm away from your nipple and your fingers below so they form a "C" around the areola, and squeeze your finger and thumb together, pushing your hand back against the chest wall, continuing this process in a circular motion around your areola. If your finger and thumb are too close to the nipple, the "squeeze" will hurt and be ineffective. Use a sterile, wide-rimmed breast milk container or baby bottle to collect the milk. Electric and manual breast pumps may be faster and more efficient to express breast milk.
BREAST PUMPS To use an electric pump, you put a suction cup over your breast, turn the breast pump machine on, and let it do the work of extracting milk into an attached container. Manual breast pumps also use a suction cup, but you extract the milk by using a squeeze mechanism or operating some other device rather than relying on a motor powered by electricity. On average it takes 15 to 45 minutes to pump both breasts. Good breast pumps try to mimic the sucking action of a baby, stimulating your let down reflex, and don't cause pain.
Knowing which breast pump is right for you depends on how often you plan to use one and how much time you can spare for expressing. If you work full-time and have to find time to use a breast pump during a busy day, you might want to choose an ultrafast hospital-grade electric pump. But if you only need to express the odd feed occasionally so your partner can feed the baby when you're out, a cheaper manual breast pump may be sufficient, and some women prefer them to electric breast pumps.