Most mothers find that feeding their baby at the breast is the most efficient and effective way to nourish their little one. But there may come a time when this is not possible and you will need to express your milk and store it for a later time.
There are a lot of questions and concerns about expressing breastmilk, and even the most seasoned mothers may be unclear on proper storage procedures. Below are our top 5 tips for expressing your milk and keeping it fresh for your bubs.
Tip 1: Take Your Time Exploring Your Breast Pump Options
If you plan on pumping and storing breastmilk on a regular basis, you should consider investing in a breast pump. A breast pump will fall under one of the the following two categories:
- Electric pumps: These pumps can be plugged directly into the wall and will have either a single or double pumping attachment. Some may feature battery packs and adapters, and there are several light weight varieties available for work or travel.
- Battery-operated pumps: These pumps are handy but they are often not strong enough for those who are considering pumping long-term.
Before you buy a pump, read reviews online and rent the same model from your local pharmacy or hospital.
Tip 2: Breast Pumps Are Not For Everyone
Many mums will tell you that it is easier to express and store breastmilk by using a breast pump. But a breast pump may not be convenient or be an effective method for some.
In these situations you may want to try hand expressing your milk. Hand expression takes a little practice, but if you follow these steps you can express just as much breastmilk than if you were to use a pump.
- Position your hand so that your thumb is above the nipple and your fingers are underneath. Both should be positioned 2 to 4 centimetres away from the nipple with the thumb at 12 o’clock and the fingers in the 6 o’clock.
- Press the thumb and fingers directly back towards the wall of your chest.
- Roll the thumb and fingers forward to squeeze out the milk. You will need to repeat this process to encourage milk flow.
- Once the milk is flowing, turn your hand slightly so that the thumb is positioned at 11 o’clock and the fingers at 5 o’clock. You may need to experiment a bit to figure out where your fingers should be positioned.
Tip 3: Keep Frozen Breastmilk In Your Freezer
Unexpected situations may arise where you will not be near your bub when he needs to be fed, so it is a good idea to keep frozen breastmilk in your home or at a carer’s home.
Different freezers allow breastmilk to be kept for varying lengths of time.
- For freezers inside the refrigerator: Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored for up to 2 weeks.
- For freezers with a separate door: Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored for 3 to 6 months
- For deep freezers: Freshly expressed breastmilk can be stored for 6 to 12 months
If you are placing breastmilk in the back of the refrigerator, it can last for up to 5 days. Breastmilk kept in an insulated cooler pack with one or more ice packs can be kept for 24 hours, while breastmilk at room temperature will only last for up to 6 hours.
Tip 4: Rinse And Clean Your Equipment Regularly
All equipment which comes in touch with your breastmilk should be rinsed in cold water after each use. This will remove the milk and make sure that your equipment is hygienic.
Your expressing equipment should be completely cleaned at least once every 24 hours if it is in frequent use. Take apart containers and the pump so that everything can be cleaned with hot water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Rinse twice in hot water, allow everything to air dry, and then store it in a container or plastic wrap.
Tip 5: Relax And Think About Your Baby
Expressing your breastmilk – whether by pump or by hand – is not always easy. If you find that you are having difficulties, take deep breaths, try to relax, and think about your baby. This can help encourage your letdown reflex.
Make sure that you are in a comfortable environment and that you are wearing clothing which will not restrict your ability to express milk. Wearing a nursing bra or a shirt on which is too tight can push down on the milk ducts and make it difficult for milk to flow.
Peachymama recently introduced our brand new breathable bamboo nursing bras to our extensive line of breastfeeding attire. With no underwire and a stretchy fabric, our bras are even comfortable enough for you to wear to bed.
Find out more about your nursing bras and our latest fashions at www.peachymama.com.au.