Expressing and Storing Breastmilk Tips

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Breastmilk storage containers

If you pump most of your milk, you have probably been frustrated more than once that as you transported your milk from one place to another in bottles with nipples, the milk either spilled or leaked onto your things, into your car, and worst of all was no longer available for your baby. However, some brands, such as Medela, have developed caps for regular baby bottles which close them off completely, no more little holes for milk to leave out of and no more spills. This facilitates transporting milk and ensures your baby will get all the milk you worked so hard to make and deliver.


Breast Milk Banks

If you find yourself with breast milk to spare or the room in your heart to share, consider donating your breast milk. You may have chosen to wean your child but have not yet dried up your supply. There are sick, premature, and orphaned babies both in the United States and abroad that would greatly benefit from donated breast milk. Breast milk banks in the United States can be found at However, the International Breast Milk Project,, has also drawn a lot of positive attention promoting breast milk being sent to South Africa to help babies in need. There is not a significant cost to the donor except for your time and ensuring your health. Donors will be screened for communicable diseases, but healthy nursing mothers will not likely be turned away. Your child's benefits can be extended to others in this way.


Self-expression of Milk

If you ever find yourself engorged, without your baby or a pump, you can always express some of your milk by hand, allowing you to become more comfortable. First make a C shape with your thumb and pointer and index fingers. Place your thumb slightly above the areola (colored part of the breast) and the other two fingers about an inch below the areola. Using the fingers instead of cupping, push the breast gently toward your chest and then gently squeeze back outward. It sounds complex, but if you let your body guide you and practice, you could become more efficient than your pump.

How much do I need to pump for each feed?

How much do I need to pump for each feed?

Here is a chart of average pumped milk intake by weight:8 lbs 21.3 oz per day, 9 lbs 24.0 oz per day,
10 lbs 26.7 oz per day, 11 lbs 29.3 oz per day,12 lbs 32.0 oz per day, 13 lbs 34.7 oz per day,14 lbs 37.3 oz per day, 15 lbs 40.0 oz per day,16 lbs 42.7 oz per day.
If you'd like to continue this chart, take a baby's weight in pounds and multiply by 2.67. That gives you average number of ounces per day. Then take the total ounces and divide by the daily feedings to find out how much to put in a bottle.

What is a hospital grade electric pump?

Hospital Grade Electric Pumps

For long-term pumping, you will need the professional electric pump (hospital grade) made by White River, Medela or Ameda-Egnell. Their rhythmic suctions are automatic. These heavy duty pumps are used by mothers of preemies or sick babies, and by working mothers who can leave them at the job site. These also come with the double kit for faster, more efficient pumping. These pumps are too expensive for most women to buy, but can be rented on a daily, weekly or monthly rate. Your lactation consultant or health care provider can tell you where to locate one.

What is a hand pump?

Hand Pumps

There are many different hand pumps on the market today. The most popular hand pump is probably the cylinder type. It looks like two tubes (usually made of clear plastic), one of which fits inside the other. It creates a vacuum (suction) when the inner tube is pulled in and out. The milk goes directly into the outer tube or into a standard bottle. It is easy to use and is convenient to carry with you. It is also easy to clean. There are several brands on the market and most work about the same. The White River brand features a flexible shield which some mothers say helps stimulate milk production. Ameda Egnell and Avent now make pumps that can be easily operated with one hand. The design of these pumps allows the mother to pump while nursing.

How long can I keep breastmilk?

Different methods of storage

Different methods to store breast milk are as follow: in a cooler with ice packs for 24 hours, at room temperature (66-72degrees) for 10 hours, refrigerator 8 days, refrigerator freezer 3-4 months, deep freeze (0 degrees) for 6-12 months.

What is a small electric pump?

Small Electric Pumps

Several companies now make small electric pumps. These pumps fit in a handbag and are convenient to take along on short trips away from the baby. They are best suited for limited, occasional use and probably won't hold up for long-term, heavy use. Small electric pumps do not have automatic rhythm, and require the mother to control the suction rhythm with her finger. These pumps are very reasonably priced and like the battery-operated pumps, will probably work just fine if you only need it once in a while. They are available in large discount stores and drugstores.

How should I clean my pump?

Cleaning Your Pump

While human milk has a lot of protective qualities, it is important to take precautions to keep it bacteria free. Most pump equipment should be rinsed out with clean water and stored where it can dry. A cleansing solution provided by the pump company should be okay, but regular soap can give the baby diarrhea. Be sure to clean the area well where the milk comes in contact. Be sure to wash your hands before pumping, too! At least once a week you should wash it thoroughly, preferably in the dishwasher. There you have a non-sudsing detergent, and the high temperatures reached in the dishwasher are important.

What is a medium sized electric pump?

Medium Sized Electric Pumps

If you are going back to work, there are several medium-size electric breast pumps available for that purpose. Two breast pump manufacturers (Bailey, Medela), now have affordably priced electric pumps that are portable and lightweight. Medela will rent the Lactina. These pumps have double kits included that allow you to pump both breasts at once. They all come in carrying cases and are convenient to take to work.

How do I clean a hospital grade pump?

Cleaning a Hospital Grade Pump

Hospital grade pumps are required to have a safety valve that does not allow milk to regurgitate (backflow) into the pump. Each patient has her own disposable kit, so that each kit is cleaned by that woman. These kits can be used multiple times by a woman, with cleanings after each use, but they can't be used by more than one woman. The only thing that is necessary to clean the pump is to wipe the pump off with the standard cleaning solution that the hospital provides for other multi-patient use equipment. This is a standard procedure in hospitals; you don't need to do any more cleaning beyond this.

What is a battery operated pump?

Battery Operated Pumps

A battery operated pump is small and can be used with one hand. Most do not have automatic rhythmic suction. Milk flows directly into a standard bottle. The biggest complaint about these is the short life span of the batteries, and the suction gets less as the battery gets weaker. However, some of the battery operated pumps can be converted to electricity with the use of an adapter. These are only recommended for short term, occasional use. If you have a preemie who must remain in the hospital a long time or if you plan to pump at work, you will need a more substantial pump. But if you only need a pump occasionally these pumps will do just fine.


Troubleshooting a Pump

If your pump suddenly stops on you, or you can hear it working yet there is no suction, the problem and solution are usually simple. Your pump's parts may be loose. Try reattaching any removeable parts and turn it on again. Try a different electrical outlet. If this doesn't work, try using battery power. There could be a problem with your cord. It is difficult to find replacement parts for pumps without direct contact with the manufacturer. Hopefully you kept your receipt and if nothing else can turn that contact with the seller into something productive. This is a time when a back-up hand-held pump might be useful.


Electric Versus Hand-Held

If you are a working mother, knowing your breaks will be limited and you are always short on time, or a busy homemaker, you are better off with an electric pump. Neither a newborn, nor a more mobile child will give you time to pump calmly. If you are staying at home, you will have to schedule it in between other chores and caring directly for your child, and naptime tends to be filled with other obligations. Most recommendable would be the double electric pump to save even more time. The only reason I can imagine to use a hand-pump would be for emergencies or if you are truly 'going green.'


When to Freeze

You can keep breast milk refrigerated for 24 hours without worry. Anything over 48 hours is risky. If you wish to keep your milk longer than this, freeze it immediately. It should be able to stay good for up to three months frozen. However, once you thaw it out, it must be used immediately in order not to risk going back and upsetting baby.

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