Expressing Breast Milk: Tips & Advice for Storing
Breastfeeding has a long list of benefits for both mother and baby and is considered the most natural and healthy way for a baby to feed. When every effort is made to help a mother breastfeed her baby, both mother and child benefit significantly. However, there may be periods she may temporarily not be able to breastfeed her baby directly. Nonetheless, she may still be able to provide her child with the best nourishment possible. How? By expressing her milk.
We’ll talk about why you may need to express your breast milk and how to make it a positive experience for both you and your baby. Be sure to consult with medical personnel and lactation consultants when making decisions that may impact your or your baby’s health.
Why You May Need To Express Your Breast Milk
When a baby is born, and as they grow, you may find a variety of reasons for expressing your breast milk, either providing the milk for immediate use or storing it for later.
Why Mothers Of Newborn Babies Express:
- Your recovery after giving birth may be challenging.
- Your baby was born prematurely or with medical challenges.
- Your newborn may initially struggle to breastfeed.
- Your breasts may initially need relief from the discomfort of engorgement.
- Expressing your milk can help prevent infections and stimulate milk production.
Why Mothers Of Growing Babies Express:
- You are returning to work. You will need to express enough for your baby to use while away from him. You will also need to express your milk while at work to relieve fullness.
- Your spouse qualifies for Parental Leave, allowing them to bond with the baby while feeding with your expressed milk.
- You may feel ready for an occasional outing with or without your baby.
What Is The Best Way To Express Breast Milk For Your Baby?
You can express your milk in three ways: by hand, with a manual breast pump, or with an electric pump. We will take you through a breakdown of each method to help understand which is best for you:
The advantage of hand expressing is that no special equipment is required, and this technique can be beneficial when just a minimal amount of milk needs to be expressed. For example, if you have a blocked milk duct, you can quickly and easily ease this discomfort by massaging the afflicted area by hand. Hand expressing is also helpful if your baby is sleepy due to newborn jaundice and is not building up your supply sufficiently.
Using A Handheld Pump:
Hand-operated pumps may be able to collect more milk than hand-expressing does. It can, however, become tiring. On the other hand, it is helpful for a limited time and does not require much space or setup. Once your milk comes in, your newborn may initially have difficulty latching on. A handheld pump can be used to start the flow and relieve some of your engorgement, making it easier for your baby to then nurse properly.
Expressing Milk With An Electric Pump:
Electric breast pumps are robust and are operated hands-free. Suppose your little one is hospitalised. In that case, an electric pump is the best solution for building up a plentiful supply and meeting your baby’s nutritional needs. The power and the speed of electric pumps will also be the kindest method for you, the baby’s mother, who may be feeling tired and emotional, without the energy to express milk in a more labour-intensive way.
Returning to work is another time when electric pumps demonstrate their superiority, particularly if your baby has not begun to eat solid foods and is solely dependent on your breast milk. For more information on feeding your baby when returning to work, check out our blog post ‘Breastfeeding Your Baby When Returning to the Office’ which provides more advice.
Choosing The Best Breast Pump For You And Your Baby
You will find an excellent selection of breast pumps on the O’Flynn Medical website. If you are unsure which pump is the most appropriate or how long you need to express your milk, it may be a good idea to choose our breast pump rental service and see if it suits your requirements.
Ameda Elite Double Breast Pump:
The Ameda Elite Double Breast Pump is an electric pump that can get the job done quickly and efficiently by simultaneously expressing milk from both breasts. Some women are more comfortable expressing one breast at a time, as it closely resembles nursing a baby. This hospital-grade pump can do both single and double pumping. Whether you purchase or rent, you will need to also buy a flange kit for the pump for hygienic purposes.
Ameda Finesse Breast Pump:
The Ameda Finesse Breast Pump can be battery-operated and comes with a flange kit and its own collection system. Known for its leak-proof tubing, the pump prevents the entry of potential bacteria into the milk. It is also quiet, so it can be used for discreet pumping when away from home.
YOUHA Breast Milk Collector:
The YOUHA is a breast milk pump with a difference as it does not pump. Not needing any electrical connection, it collects the milk that leaks out of one breast while your baby nurses on the other side. It provides suction for attaching comfortably and collects the extra milk that flows when you have a “let-down“. The YOUHA does not let you waste a drop of milk and helps keep you dry and clean.
What Will You Need?
When you are ready to express your milk, choose a comfortable chair, surround yourself with some food and drink, and relax. Nursing chairs can be a comfortable option for breastfeeding your baby and expressing your milk. Some mothers prefer rocking chairs without arms. Others prefer a standard armchair. It is also a good idea to keep a towel or a cloth nappy with you to clean up any spills.
Depending on the pump you use, you may need some accessories. For example, flange kits for the Ameda Elite pump must be purchased separately. In addition, collection containers and breast milk storage bags are not always included with the pump or may need replacing from time to time.
How To Express Breast Milk Successfully
Expressing your milk becomes easier with time. You will become a pro, especially if you are matched with the appropriate equipment. To help you along, here are some tips for expressing breast milk successfully:
- If you need to express milk before you come home, use a sturdy hospital-grade pump such as the Amida Elite Double Breast Pump.
- Try to relax. Once you are home with your baby, this will be easier for you. Sit comfortably. Surround yourself with snacks, water or juice, reading material, if possible, and your baby.
- Massage your breasts or apply a damp, warm cloth before expressing.
- If you are building up your milk supply, a good guideline is to express every two hours for eight hours. Add a session at night to prevent engorgement.
- Whether you feed your baby with a bottle or a cup, only provide him with your milk.
How To Store Breast Milk Properly
Freshly expressed milk is the best milk you can give your baby. It can be stored in breast milk storage bags in the refrigerator. The Store’N Pour Breast Milk Storage Bags from Ameda, for example, are a convenient storage solution for breast milk and are compatible with Ameda breast pumps.
The following is a brief list of tips for storing breast milk:
- Proper breast milk storage bags do not need sterilisation before use. However, other containers do.
- Store small quantities. What your baby does not drink will be wasted.
- Do not store breast milk in the fridge for more than five days. If the milk was frozen, a day is the maximum storage time.
- Keep the bags in the coldest part of the fridge.
- You can freeze milk in storage bags for three months in the fridge freezer and six months in a chest or upright freezer.
- Defrost milk inside the refrigerator. It should defrost within approximately 12 hours.
- Quickly warm up defrosted milk by placing the container in a bowl of warm water.
We Are Here To Help
While you are expecting and after you give birth, you may find all thoughts of breastfeeding overwhelming. You may not even know which questions to ask. This is entirely natural. However, it is comforting to know that at O’Flynn Medical, we can answer any questions you may have about medical equipment for hospitals and homes. Our range of breast pumps and their accessories have helped many mothers after birth.
Contact us today to get in touch with an expert who can give you advice on expressing breast milk and selecting the correct breast pump that suits you and your babies’ needs.