You started pumping and storing your breastmilk, whether you’re using a bottle or nursing at the breast, it can be a difficult endeavor.
In my experience, I had to go to countless websites for information and ask every single mom I knew and even those I didn’t. So I decided to create this for you, by compiling the most important information available out there, in one place.
So now that you have decided to start pumping and storing breastmilk. You may be asking yourself, Am I doing this right?
No worries, I will tell you what you need to know.
First let’s talk safety, before you pump, wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. Make sure the area where you are pumping and your pump parts and bottles are clean.
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When to Start Pumping
In my opinion, you should start pumping right away. Meaning at the hospital, you should be offered a pump during your stay, if you want to ensure production my advice is to accept it.
In today’s world, we’re not given enough time with our babies. Maternity Leave usually only lasts until the baby is three months but our babies need our milk for up to a year of age. Due to this predicament, your supply may decrease if you’re only feeding in demand, I explain more about how to increase milk supply here.
Get Your Milk Flowing
If you are pumping and your baby is not there, you may need some help to get things going. You can look at the million pictures you took of your baby, grab a used onesie and smell it and if that doesn’t do the trick then try massaging your breast and make sure you’re relaxed. Stress is not gonna help in this situation, stress rarely helps in any situation so: “mama don’t stress”.
Bagging and Storing
How to Store Breastmilk:
- Use breastmilk storage bags, not just any bag. Breastmilk storage bags are pre-sterilized, disposable and freezer-safe. Some brands I’ve used and would recommend are Lansinoh and Medela breastmilk storage bags.
- Clearly label milk with date, time and amount. Some bags are not completely accurate when it comes to the liquid amount in oz or ml. If you’re planning on daycare for the baby then also include your baby’s name.
- Leave an inch or so from the milk to the top of the container, because it will expand when freezing.
- If you’re storing in bottles wait to tighten bottle caps or lids until the milk is completely frozen.
- At room temperature; breastmilk is safe for up to 4 hours after pumping. (up to 77°F).
- Refrigerated for up to 4 days. (39°F)
- Refrigerator freezer for up to 4 months (0°F).
- Deep freezer for up to 12 months. (0°F)
- When pumping outside of home use cooler packs. You can put breastmilk in a cooler or insulated cooler pack with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours after pumping. After 24 hours in a cooler, the breastmilk should be refrigerated or frozen.
- If you’re not going to use refrigerated breastmilk within 4 days of pumping, freeze it right after pumping.
Thawing Frozen Milk
- Always thaw the oldest milk first.
- Thaw the bag or bottle by switching from freezer to refrigerator overnight.
- Once breastmilk is thawed to room temperature or warmed after being in the refrigerator or freezer, use it within 2 hours. If you have any leftover milk when the baby is finished feeding, be sure to throw it out within 2 hours.
- After thawing breastmilk in the refrigerator use within 24 hours This means 24 hours from when the breastmilk is no longer frozen, not from when you take it out of the freezer. But if you weren’t paying attention then just to be safe, if you did not use the milk throw it out 24 hours after it was taken out of the freezer.
- NEVER refreeze breastmilk after it has been thawed.
- Breastmilk does not need to be warmed but some parents prefer to so, especially if the baby won’t take cold.
- Maintain containers sealed while warming.
- If it’s a bag, hold it under running water. If it’s a glass or plastic bottle you may use a container filled with water. The water can be warm but never hot.
- Do not heat in microwave or stove as it can damage the milk and could burn your baby.
- Swirl the milk to mix the fat that may have separated, never shake it.
If you have any questions leave a note in the comment section below…
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Sources & References
Adapted from 7th Edition American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Pediatric Nutrition Handbook (2014); 2nd Edition AAP/American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Breastfeeding Handbook for Physicians (2014); Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) Clinical Protocol #8 Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants
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(2017); CDC Human Milk Storage Guidelines (2018).
ABM Clinical Protocol #8 Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants
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