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Pumping and expressing breast milk
Pumping And Expressing Breast Milk
Women who breastfeed usually need to pump or express their breast milk. Pumping can be done with a commercially available pump, or it can be done with your hands. There are several potential reasons for pumping milk:
- If you work, you may want to pump your milk and then refrigerate or freeze some of it, so your baby's caregiver can bottlefeed your baby with your milk.
- Your breasts may feel tender and swollen with breastmilk, or they may begin leaking. Therefore, you might want to release some of it.
- Your breasts will generally continue to produce milk as long as you breastfeed. If you stop breastfeeding for any reason, your milk will begin to dry up within a few days. Therefore, pumping is a way to keep your breasts regularly stimulated while you are at work, on errands, or if your baby is sick and has temporarily stopped feeding.
When choosing a breast pump, consider the following:
- What types of pumps are available? Should I purchase a breast pump or rent one?
There are several different categories of pumps. These include: hand pumps, battery-operated pumps, small electric pumps, medium-sized electric pumps, and hospital-grade electric pumps.
Pumps are available for purchase or rental. Depending on your budget and the type of pump that you are looking for, you should discuss which option is best for you with your doctor or lactation specialist.
- Am I going back to work full-time or part-time?
Depending on how many feeding times you will miss, you may need a single pump or a double pump (which pumps both breasts at the same time). Generally, double pumps are more efficient for the full-time working mother because they get the job done quicker. (They provide full pumping in 10-20 minutes.) Single pumps are usually more appropriate for mothers that may only miss 1 or 2 feeding times a day.
- How do I store breast milk?
Human milk is quite different from other types of milk. It is not homogenized; therefore there are certain steps that you must take to ensure that it is safely stored.
- Wash your hands before touching anything (breast pump, milk containers, breasts, etc.)
- Always make sure that the collection cup is clean, and avoid touching the insides of bottles or caps whenever possible.
- Make sure the milk is put in a sanitized storage container.
- Label the container with the time and date of collection
- Refrigerated breast milk (no more than 24 hours) should be used as soon as possible.
- Frozen breast milk can last in a refrigerator freezer for months, and in a deep freezer (-0º F) for 6 months or longer. NEVER refreeze breast milk!
- How do I thaw breast milk?
You should NEVER microwave breast milk (it can disturb the nutrients and the milk could be too hot for your baby). Thaw your container in warm water (or run warm water over it) for about 30 minutes.
It is normal for the milk to separate into milk and cream. Gently shake the bottle to mix it before feeding. In addition, the breast milk may normally appear bluish, yellowish, or brownish. Some mothers report that it smells soapy. This is fine, but it should not smell sour.
Use the thawed breast milk immediately or keep it in the refrigerator for no more than 24 hours.
- How do I help start my "milk flow"?
By firmly massaging your breast in a circular motion, gently stroking your breast from the top to the nipple, and leaning forward to allow gravity to help bring the milk down, you can assist in stimulating the milk ejection reflex.
Using a breast pump frequently will help to provide your baby with breast milk as if you were breastfeeding naturally. Likewise, it enables you to go back to work and feel comfortable that your baby is receiving the appropriate nutrients!
Review Date: July 11, 2001
Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., Pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer, adam.com
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