Expressing your milk can prolong the breastfeeding stage and can help keep your milk supply up. Most mums who express their milk use a breast pump. A big advantage of using a breast pump is it can help you prepare your breastmilk in advance for your baby for feeds when you may not be around.
So here is our guide on using breast pumps for mums who choose to express their milk.
Manual pumps are a popular choice for many mums. A manual pump offers a few great benefits for mum including:
- A manual version is great value for money
- Manual pumps are small so it’s easy to store and transport
- They are quiet and discreet
- Manual pumps have fewer parts to go wrong, so it’s pretty reliable
- To relieve very full, firm breasts
- No danger of power source running out, your hand is always available.
It is worth remembering though that using a manual pump can be tiring and can take quite a while.
1. Ensure you have the equipment you need
An important part of successfully expressing your milk is to ensure you have the right equipment at the start. You want to choose a pump that is designed to adapt to an individual mum’s needs. Ideally it will have a suction controller so you can adjust the amount of suction that feels comfortable for you and the adjustable funnel can also be adjusted to a position that works for you.
Breast milk storage bags are a good ideas to ensure your milk is stored safely and correctly once expressed. Storage cups are usually easily cleaned and sterilised and an ideal storage for your breast milk in the fridge or freezer. Breast milk can be stored for up to 6 months in the freezer if it is -18C or lower.
2. Don't hide in the bathroom
If you are expressing your milk as you are returning to work, do remember you will need to express while you are at work, unfortunately your milk can’t wait for a more convenient time. Be sure to ask your boss for a discreet place where you can express your milk. Don't feel you have to hide away in the toilets to express, speak to your HR department for a private room to express comfortably. Manual breast pumps are the perfect choice as they are quiet and discreet.
3. Waste not want not
Your breast milk is about the most valuable liquid there is, so wasting it is not an option. Use small storage cups to store around 2-3oz of your breast milk that can then be kept in the fridge or freezer. If you store 8oz in one container and it is defrosted, however much is left over will have to be thrown. If it's stored in 2oz pots, you can always use two or three if necessary with no wastage.
Storing breast milk
You can store breast milk in a sterilised container or in special breast milk storage bags:
In the fridge for up to 8 days at 4C or lower (you can buy fridge thermometers online) – if you are not sure of the temperature of your fridge, or it is higher than 4C, use it within 3 days
For 2 weeks in the ice compartment of a fridge
For up to 6 months in a freezer, if it is -18C or lower
Breast milk that's been cooled in the fridge can be carried in a cool bag with ice packs for up to 24 hours. Storing breast milk in small quantities will help to avoid waste. If you're freezing it, make sure you label and date it first.