Breastfeeding, maternal health and everyday living
Q.16 Are there times when it is good for a mother to express her breast milk and then give to her infant?
Working mothers or mothers who have to be away from their babies for other reasons may wish to express breast milk in order to maintain exclusive breast-milk feeding while the baby is below 6 months, or to continue to give optimal nutrition to their child after that time. It may also be good for mothers known to be HIV infected to consider expressing and heat-treating breast milk in other circumstances, such as:
- when the infant is born with low birth weight or is otherwise ill in the neonatal period and unable to breastfeed; or
- when the mother is temporarily unable to breastfeed directly, so that someone else can feed the baby or the baby can be fed by tube; or
- the mother has a temporary breast health problem, such as cracked or bleeding nipples or mastitis. In this case the milk should be discarded, but expressing the milk will help the mother to continue breastfeeding after the problem is resolved; or
- during the process of stopping breastfeeding; or
- when ARVs are temporarily not available. In this case, heat-treatment is especially useful.