A guest post by Brittany from Beautiful You Lifestyle on how to properly store breast milk…
Breastfeeding can seem intimidating when you don’t feel educated on how to properly nurse your infant or store your milk. You may ask yourself, “Why do I need to pump and store breast milk?”
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Four Reasons You May Need to Pump and Store Breast Milk
There are a few reasons why you want to pump and start storing your milk as soon as possible.
- Returning to work: Building a freezer stash will allow your baby to continue feeding on your breast milk while you are at work.
- If you become ill for a long period of time and are unable to nurse: You will have milk supply available for your infant.
- If you don’t want to supplement with formula: Storing milk will allow you to take a date night or go away for a weekend without the baby, and the sitter can serve your milk to your baby while you are gone.
- Lastly, if you just simply have had enough with nursing and want to quit: You can still have milk for baby so he/she can benefit from breast milk as long as possible.
How Do I Pump Breast Milk?
You can choose to pump with either a manual pump or an electric pump. An electric pump is often covered by your insurance so be sure to talk to your insurance provider on how you can take advantage of that.
Manually Pumping Breast Milk
First, let us talk about the manual option. To pump with a manual pump, you will have a flange that typically connects to a “lever” type pump. It is quite simple. Attach the lever to the flange. Then screw on the flange to same brand of bottle.
Put the flange over your nipple so that your nipple is centered and begin pumping the lever up and down. Your nipple will begin to thrust back and forth until you feel a “let down” sensation and milk will start squirting (for lack of a better word) into your bottle.
Pumping Breast Milk with Electric Pump
Secondly, we have the electric pump option. All electric pumps are different. Just be sure to properly read the instruction manual for whichever pump you choose. It also helps to buy the bottles that are within the same brand of pump you buy.
Majority of the time, you will have tubing that you place in a hole on top of your flanges. The tubing will also connect to your electric pump. Hold the flanges up to your nipples, with the nipples centered and select the intensity of the pump.
A higher intensity does not guarantee a better or quicker milk production.
Pro Tip: To get the most of your pumping experience, be sure to pump a full 20 minutes! While you may believe your milk supply has emptied because milk is no longer coming out, you will catch a second and third wind!
A different type of milk comes out from the second and third wind that is also helpful for baby so try to wait it out the full 20 minutes.
How to Properly Store Breast Milk
Storing breast milk is important to assure you are providing the freshest milk for your little one. Use the below rules of thumb for storing breast milk:
How to Store Breast-Milk in Refrigerator
If you are storing breast milk in a refrigerator, it is best to use the milk within 4 days for optimal freshness. If it goes beyond 4 days, you will want to trash the milk. A great way to keep track of how old the milk is, is by buying a few caps that tell you which day you pumped. Below photo is for the Medela bottles.
So what if you didn’t pump a full bottle worth? Can you combine milk from two different days? You can, but ere on the side of caution. The warm freshly expressed milk can bring down the temperature of the old breast milk, making room for bacteria to grow.
However, generally it is okay to do so but the date must remain the date of the oldest breast milk.
Pro Tip: As a general rule, try to store your milk in the back of fridge, and not in the door.
How to Store Breast-Milk in Freezer
Additionally, you can store your milk in the freezer. You will need freezer safe bags. Each pumping brand typically has their own breast milk storage zip-lock baggies. On the bag, make sure to use a pen to mark the date of the milk and the amount pumped.
Once frozen it will be hard to determine how many ounces are in the bag.
There are mixed opinions on how long milk can remain fresh in the freezer. While there are some that say freshly pumped breast milk can obtain freshness for up to 12 months, I recommend pitching it after 6 months.
Another common question is, can you freeze milk that has been stored in the fridge or does it have to be freshly expressed? Breast milk is typically okay to freeze even if it has been in the fridge so long as it has not passed 2-3 days of being stored in the fridge.
Again, you will want to mark the date the milk was pumped, not the date it was frozen.
Storing Thawed Breast Milk
So now, you are going out on a date night and having a sitter watch the baby. Time to bring out a bag of your frozen breast milk so your baby has something to eat while you are out. You have a couple of options.
For instance, you can bring the frozen milk out the day before and put in the fridge. Let the milk thaw out in the fridge and use within 24 hours. You can also thaw out the frozen milk by running under hot water. Once milk is thawed, use within 24 hours.
It is not recommended to refreeze previously thawed out milk.
Now that you understand the basic rules of thumb for breast milk storage, get pumping. If you have any further questions, please head over to Beautiful You Lifestyle and fill out a contact form.
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