Breast Pumps: Expressing & Storing Breast Milk

Ever tried feeding breast milk from a bottle? It's like all the goodness of the world stored in a little bottle - with an extra touch of convenience. And how wonderful is that!

If we were kangaroos, we would put our newborn babies in our pouch and jump around all day long, finishing up our chores while caring for and feeding our baby at the same time. But, we are not.

Luckily, we have a great option that could help us in providing healthy breast milk to our young ones, without binding us to breastfeed for long intervals and making life quite closer to the pre-baby work routine (almost!). This option is called Expressing and Storing Breast Milk.

Breast pump:

Whoever gave the idea of using breastfeeding pumps, was certainly a noble person who knew the real importance of breastmilk. For expressing your milk, you need a breast pump that suits you. There are two main types of breast pumps:

  • Manual breast pumps
  • Electric breast pumps

If you are just experimenting with the breastfeeding and pumping process, we would recommend you to use a manual breastpump (they don't cost much as compared to the electric ones). You need to first check whether using a breastfeeding pump and storing breastmilk is feasible for you or not. Once you realize you need it and find breastfeeding and pumping convenient for later use, you could look out at the electric breast pumps available in the market.

If at any point you feel that your milk flow is not adequate, make sure you read our article on 8 effective ways to improve the flow and quality of your breastmilk. But remember that regular pumping is a proven way to increase breast milk, because when you empty one breast completely, more milk is produced to meet the milk demand (ever heard of the Demand-Supply ratio?)

How to express:

Before starting to use a breast pump, gently massage your breasts with your hands. If you are using electric breast pumps, pump for 15 minutes, then take some break by softly massaging your breast and then pump for 15 more minutes. Repeat this for the second breast.

If you are manually expressing your breastmilk using a breastfeeding pump, your breast generally gets massaged when you try to pump it. Still it is a good idea to gently massage before and between the pumping process.

When not to express/ store your milk:

There are however rare instances when a mother's milk is not advisable for her baby. Make sure you read our article on when not to breastfeed.

How to store:

Whichever pumping technique you use, make sure you take extra care to keep the expressed breast-milk in a safe and clean place. If you want to store it for future use, make sure you remember these storage guidelines.

You can safely keep the expressed breastmilk for:

  • 5 – 7 hours at room temperature when the breastmilk is freshly expressed.
  • 5 – 7 days in the fridge.
  • 5 – 7 months in the freezer.

Make sure that the container you use is sterilized and your hands and breasts are clean before starting the procedure. To know more about effective bottle sterilization processes, click here.

How to freeze:

If you want to freeze your breastmilk, make sure that the freezer temperature you are setting results in making the frozen breastmilk rock solid. A good idea to judge if the freezer has the right freezing temperature is to check the ice cream present in it. If the ice cream is hard, this indicates that the mothers milk will also be frozen properly. If it is slightly on the soft side, increase the coolness of the freezer.

Newborn baby drinking stored breast milk
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How to thaw (use the frozen milk):

Never microwave the frozen milk as its radio waves can destroy some of the important nutrients found in breast milk. Furthermore, radio waves can make the milk too hot that might burn your baby’s mouth. To thaw the frozen milk, take it out of the freezer and run the bottle or container under a warm tap water or dip the container carefully in warm water.

You'll soon get used to it.

Breastfeeding is the most amazing gift a mother can give to her newborn. Even if you have a busy schedule that cannot allow you to sit and breastfeed your newborn, you could always store this incredible milk at a convenient time, and a nanny or caregiver could give it to your baby.

If at any stage you feel an inclination towards leaving breastfeeding and shifting to formula feeding, make sure you read our article on breastfeeding vs formula feeding for help and motivation. You can always refer to our formula feeding section in case you decide to opt for formula milk.

But don't be put off by the little extra work expressing and storing breast milk involves. Your baby is worth it. Totally!


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