Breastfeeding provides lifelong health benefits for both mothers and babies and is a free, fast food!

For many women breastfeeding is simple, but as with anything it becomes easier with practice. Your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC) is there to help you get started and until six weeks after your baby is born, when your Well Child provider takes over. Talk to your LMC if you have any specific concerns or questions. If you stay in hospital, there are nurses and midwives who can help.

On this page:


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Antenatal breastfeeding classes

Free antenatal breastfeeding classes are offered at Hawke's Bay Hospital in Hastings on the first Monday of every month (unless that Monday is a public holiday, in which case the class will be on the following Monday). The classes are held in the Education Centre (nearest the Emergency Department entrance on Canning Road) from 5.30pm-7.30pm. 

La Leche League 

La Leche League breastfeeding peer counsellors. Email or message on Facebook:

Central Hawke's Bay Parents' Centre

CHB Parents Centre offers the community a free and professional service with a Lactation Consultant. Contact Ann on 06 857 3844 or text only 027 279 6204 between 9am and 6pm.  


Kahungunu Executive. Ph 06 838 6835

Plunket 06 870 5009

Te Tai Whenua O Heretaunga Tamariki Ora – Ph 0508 826 274

24/7 services

Plunket Line – Ph 0800 933 922

Healthline – Ph 0800 611 116 


Let your support network know

Most women will be able to breastfeed without special preparation, but make sure you let your partner and family know that you will be breastfeeding so they can support you.

Expressing colostrum

You may wish to express colostrum before you give birth.

What is it? Colostrum is the first form of milk produced, just before and immediately after birth.

Why is it good? Colostrum is like a superfood for your baby. It contains antibodies to protect your baby against disease, and it may help keep your baby’s blood sugar levels stable. Newborn babies have small digestive systems, and colostrum delivers nutrients in a very concentrated form. It has a mild laxative effect, which encourages the passing of the baby's first stool, which in turn helps prevent jaundice.

When do I do it? Check with your LMC; but generally you can try expressing colostrum by hand from 36 weeks of pregnancy.

How do I do it? See the section below on ‘Expressing by hand’.

If you have expressed colostrum before birth, try to remember to bring your frozen colostrum to the hospital! 

If you are going to be away from your baby when a feed is due, or are returning to work, you may want to express breastmilk. It is best to express milk after a feed and the easiest time is in the morning. If you express milk just before a feed, there may be less for the baby.  The amount you can express may vary throughout the day, and is different for each mother.

Most importantly, be patient with yourself. If it’s not working out for you, take a break and try again another day, or ask for help.

Expressing safely

  • Sterilise any equipment that will come into contact with your breastmilk before you begin expressing.
  • Collect milk in a sterile syringe or container. It can then be stored in a sterile plastic bag or a container with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Once expressed, put it straight into the back of the fridge (where it’s coldest) if your baby will be drinking it in the next 2 days. It will only last at room temperature for around 4 hours.
  • If you wish to use it later, put it into the freezer where it will last 3-6 months.
  • Defrost frozen breastmilk by transferring it to the fridge and defrosting it slowly overnight. Do not use a microwave to defrost frozen breastmilk.
  • Frozen breastmilk will separate. Once defrosted, gently turn the container over to re-mix it.
  • Do not refreeze defrosted breastmilk.

Expressing by hand

Many women find expressing by hand to be easier and more comfortable than using a pump. Your LMC, midwife or Plunket nurse can show you the technique. 

  • Wash your hands.
  • Get a sterilised bowl or syringe.
  • Find a comfortable spot, preferably free of distractions.
  • Optional: warm your breasts up with a hot shower, flannel, heat pack or hot water bottle.
  • Gently massage breasts, including areola and nipple.
  • Place index finger and thumb on opposite sides of nipple (about one inch from base of nipple, usually this will be on the edge of the areola).
  • Push thumb and finger gently back towards breast wall then either squeeze gently or roll your thumb and finger – without shifting their position on the breast.
  • Repeat on the other breast.

When you first express the milk you may find that the flow is very slow to begin with. When the ‘let down’ reflex happen, the milk will flow more steadily. The let-down is a hormone reflex which causes the milk ducts to express milk, normally triggered by your baby’s sucking. It feels like a tingling sensation, similar to pins and needles. The let-down can be helped along by thinking about your baby, or looking at a photo if your baby isn’t there.

Another option is to breastfeed baby on one side and to express on the other side at the same time (if you can manage it!), or straight afterwards while the milk is still flowing.

There are some videos on YouTube that might help you get the hang of expressing by hand:

The Marmet Hand Expression Technique

Hand Expression of Breast Milk: Exactly How to Perform This Technique

There is also a visual guide in the Mama Aroha reference card.

Expressing by pump

There are many different electric and manual hand pumps on the market. You could buy one from a baby shop; or alternatively you could borrow one from a friend or hire one to see how you get on. This is a much cheaper option than buying equipment which you may hardly use. Remember that just because you find one particular pump awkward, it does not mean you will not be successful in the end.

For breast pump sales and hire you can contact the following services:

Baby on the move: Nicki McGavock, phone 06 211 3017 or 021 994 300 or email

HB Doulas: Tere England from HB Doulas, Mob: 027 4133 433 or email 



 Central Hawke's Bay Parents Centre

 La Leche League Hawke's Bay

Local Facebook page

   Breastfeeding page
  Plunket Hawke's Bay webpage
   Tamariki Ora Well Child provider