How to Pump and Store Your Breast Milk

Breastfeeding is the best thing for you and your newborn. In addition, to breastmilk being free, high-quality nutrition for your baby, some other benefits are rapid weight loss and a stronger bond with your bundle of joy. Although, breastfeeding is the most natural and effective method of feeding, it takes some practice, preparation, and support to be consistently successful.

Getting with the Flow

Extracting breastmilk takes some know-how and coordination. You should have your baby on a pretty strict feeding schedule. Extracting your milk specifically when your baby is hungry helps to consistently produce breastmilk. Sometimes breastmilk will extract seemingly unmotivated so find a brand of breast pads that work for you. It helps to gently compress your breast in the direction of expression, think about your baby, and envision the milk leaving your breast if you are having trouble getting things started.

Pump It Up

It helps every breastfeeding mom to know how to express the breastmilk by hand. This method is free and readily available at all times. It may not be easy at first but after developing some skill and coordination you can express your breastmilk by hand as fast as some other methods. Ways to express breastmilk are:

  • By hand- massage breast to remove milk
  • Manual pump – use hand-held pump to remove milk
  • Electric pump – device uses batteries or electricity to operate pump

More moms are choosing to return to work or school full time after their baby is born. If you plan to be away from your baby often, proper pumping and storage habits encourage continuous lactation and are essential to your baby’s health. A few things to consider are your available resources, your schedule, and as always, your baby.

  • Expressing breast milk by hand is free and has the most availability. This method works best if you are only away from your baby on occasions.
  • Handheld pumps require some practice and cost around $30 – $50 (you can get one for free through your health plan).
  • With electric pumps, you can pump both breasts at the same time and are able to express more milk. The cost is around $150 – $250

You should at least try all pumping methods to determine which one works best for you and your baby. Start pumping when you are ready but the sooner you start the more practice you will get before returning to work or school.

Practice Good Habits

Wash your hands and wrist thoroughly each time before pumping or expressing breast milk. Make sure all your bottles and pumping equipment are thoroughly cleaned as well. The best way to prevent germs from contacting your baby’s milk is to wash all bottles and nipples with soap and warm water and let them air0dry.

Make it a point to express breastmilk at the normal time you would feed your baby to get the most milk and to make sure you keep producing milk. Pay attention to the times you pump and get the most milk. (For many moms, this time is earlier in the day.) Pump at these times especially to ensure your baby has everything he needs when you are away.

Proper storage and handling of your breastmilk help to make sure baby gets all the nutrients possible. Store the breastmilk in a plastic or glass bottle and cool the milk down immediately.  You can also use sterile zip-sealed plastic bags for breastmilk storage which are usually found in the baby care aisle.

Backup Breastmilk

Label your bottle or bag with the current date and your baby’s name, especially if you ‘re around other breastfeeding moms or your baby is in daycare. You can immediately freeze the breastmilk, place in a small cooler with ice, or in a thermal pack and place it in the refrigerator to cool the milk down. You may need to swish the milk around to mix the separated content. However never shake the milk as this can diminish vital nutrients your baby needs.

Here are a few tips to keep your breastmilk healthy:

  • Freeze and store breastmilk in one serving batches usually 2 to 4 ounces. Try to leave room in the container for expansion when freezing.
  • Thaw frozen container of milk in refrigerator overnight as breastmilk does not need to be warmer. If you prefer, warn the container under warm running water but never in the microwave.
  • Thaw the breastmilk within 24 hours and never refreeze milk.
  • Milk sitting at room temperature lasts about 3-4 hours.

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