When you aren’t able to be with your baby around the clock, pumping and storing your breastmilk can insure that your baby is still getting all the benefits of breastmilk. Below we will answer a few of the most common questions about pumping a storing your breastmilk.
If you are going to be pumping all the time, the best place to start is with a high quality breast pump. Though they can be pricey, a good breast pump will help to insure that you are comfortable; maintaining a healthy milk supply by fully emptying your breasts; and will be durable enough to last a long time under heavy use. One of the best and most recommended breast pumps on the market is the Madela Pump in Style.
Once you have procured a good pump, you will need to establish a pumping routine.
Whenever you are home with your baby, always breastfeed first. Then follow up by pumping. At first you may not get a lot of milk, but this will increase your milk supply so that you can meet the needs of your baby while nursing, and then have leftover milk to pump and store.
In order to maintain a good milk supply, establish a good pumping routine for the hours that you will be away from your baby. Pumping every 2-3 hours will insure that your milk supply is maintained.
Keep in mind that no pump is capable of expressing your breastmilk as well as your baby can. Whenever possible during your day or night, nurse your baby.
Start by reading the instructions that came with your pump. Every pump is different and you will need to learn about the controls for your pump. Keep in mind as you start, that pumping should not be uncomfortable and never painful. If you are uncomfortable or in pain, stop right away to prevent damage to your nipples. Start with clean hands and sterile equipment to prevent contamination. It can help you achieve good suction to moisten your breasts before you begin. After you have properly placed the pumps on your breasts, turn your machine on to the lowest setting. Gradually increase the pump setting, until you are at a comfortable level and expressing milk. Pump for 15-20 minutes on each breast, just as you would if you were nursing your baby.
Research has shown that pumped breastmilk is generally free of bacteria. It can be kept at room temperature for up to 10 hours, if the temperature is between 66 and 72 degrees. Temperatures between 72-79 degrees limit the time to between 4 and 6 hours. When you are out of the house, the best way to keep pumped breastmilk for long periods of time is to keep it in a cooler or insulated bag with a cold pack. Milk can be stored for up to 24 hours at 60 degrees or less.
Breastmilk kept in a refrigerator, between 32-39 degrees, can be used for up to eight days.
Breastmilk can safely be frozen and then thawed when needed. Breastmilk frozen in a refrigerator freezer can last for up to 4 months. Breastmilk frozen in a deep freeze, which maintains a zero degree temperature, can kept for 6 months or longer.
Keep in mind, any milk that your baby has not finished while eating should be refrigerated right away and used within a couple of hours, as your baby’s saliva will compromise the integrity of the milk and cause it to spoil much faster.
Though your breast pump will come with storage bottles and possibly a kit to turn them into feeding bottles, you should carefully choose a bottle based on your situation. These days there are bottles for just about every situation. Since you will likely be switching between breast and bottle, it is best to look into bottles that will compliment this and are made specifically for breastfeeding babies. For more information see the article: Things to Consider When Choosing a Bottle.
Breastmilk should never be heated in the microwave. It can be heated in the bottle you are using, in a pan of hot water on the stove, or using a bottle warmer. There are many different types of bottle warmers on the market. When you are looking for a good one, make sure that it is both safe for breastmilk, and will fit the type of bottle you are using.
As you begin your pumping journey, we wish you much success in your continued effort to provide your baby with all the benefits of breastmilk. If you should have trouble switching between pumped milk and breastfeeding, the following article will help you troubleshoot: Troubleshooting Switching Between Breast and Bottle Feeding