Tips for Pumping and Storing Breast Milk

Tips for Pumping and Storing Breast Milk: Making It Work for You

breastfeeding Apr 18, 2024

Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey, but it can also be challenging, especially when you need to pump and store breast milk. Whether you're a working mom, traveling, or simply want to build a stash, having a reliable system for pumping and storing breast milk is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore practical tips to help you navigate this process with confidence and ease.

1. Prepare for Pumping Success

Investing in a high-quality breast pump that suits your needs (electric, manual, or battery-operated) is crucial. Gather necessary supplies, such as breast milk storage bags or containers, a cooler bag, and ice packs. Creating a comfortable and relaxing pumping environment can also help promote milk letdown.

2. Establish a Pumping Routine

Pump at regular intervals, ideally every 2-3 hours, to maintain your milk supply. Try to pump around the same times each day to establish a consistent routine. Pump first thing in the morning when your milk supply is typically highest.

3. Proper Pumping Techniques

Ensure your hands, pump parts, and storage containers are clean and sterilized. Apply a warm compress or take a warm shower before pumping to encourage milk flow. Massage your breasts gently and use breast compressions while pumping to maximize milk output. Relax, take deep breaths, and think about your baby to stimulate letdown.

4. Storing Breast Milk Safely

Use breast milk storage bags or containers designed specifically for breast milk. Label each container with the date and time the milk was expressed. Refrigerate or freeze the milk within 4 hours of pumping to maintain freshness and nutrient quality. Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 6-12 months.

5. Freezing and Thawing Breast Milk

Leave enough headspace in storage containers to allow for expansion during freezing. Freeze breast milk in small portions (2-4 ounces) to avoid waste. Thaw frozen breast milk in the refrigerator overnight or by holding the container under warm running water. Never refreeze thawed breast milk.

6. Combining and Handling Breast Milk

You can combine freshly pumped milk with chilled or frozen milk as long as it's from the same day. Gently swirl the milk to combine, but avoid shaking or vigorously mixing. Use the oldest stored milk first to maintain a fresh supply. Discard any unused milk from a bottle or container after your baby has finished feeding.

7. Traveling with Breast Milk

Pack breast milk in an insulated cooler bag with enough ice packs to keep it frozen or chilled. Use a separate cooler for frozen and chilled milk to avoid accidental thawing. Check with airlines or transportation authorities for specific guidelines on traveling with breast milk. 

8. Building and Maintaining a Breast Milk Stash

Start pumping and freezing breast milk a few weeks before returning to work or your planned separation from your baby. Aim to have at least a two-week supply of breast milk stored. Rotate your stash by using the oldest milk first and replenishing it with fresh milk. Consider donating excess breast milk to a local milk bank if you have an oversupply. Practice with a bottle frequently to prevent bottle refusal once the baby is 3-4 weeks old and has a good latch. 

9. Seeking Support and Guidance

Don't hesitate to reach out to lactation consultants or healthcare professionals if you encounter any challenges or have questions. Join breastfeeding support groups or online communities to connect with other moms and share experiences. 

Remember, every breastfeeding journey is unique, and it's essential to listen to your body, and your baby's cues, and seek support when needed. 

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Hey mama,

I'm Brooke Miller,

Before becoming a mom, I chronically dieted & thought "eat less, move more" was the healthiest option. I dealt with exhaustion, mood swings, hormone imbalances (not getting a regular cycle), high cholesterol and weight cycling. I felt like something was wrong with me.

Before I got pregnant with my first son, I discovered the balanced nutrition approach I teach inside The Postpartum Shift. Once I implemented the framework, I was energized, gained strength, got my period back, lowered my cholesterol & maintained my healthiest weight. I continued this during my pregnancies & postpartum periods and recovered quickly after birth, made more than enough milk for my babies, had energy (even with the sleep deprivation) & stable mood. Postpartum was really enjoyable.

With a decade of experience as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor, I created The Postpartum Shift to help moms boost energy, mood, metabolism & milk supply to have a stress-free & enjoyable postpartum experience.




Find Your Healthiest Weight & FeelĀ Like Yourself Again Postpartum

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