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It is natural for moms to want the best for their babies and fortunately, moms are equipped to provide the best with the ability to breastfeed! Aside from being created naturally by the body, breast milk is healthy and is rich in antibodies that help boost the immunity of your baby too. Of course, not all moms have the luxury to feed their babies 24-hours a day and because of that, milk pumping was introduced.
Are you ready to dip your toes into the world of breastfeeding and breast pumping? Check out our article Breastfeeding and Pumping Schedule: Sample Schedules for Nursing Newborns.
Things You Should Know About Breast Pumping:
Moms usually pump to collect milk so that whenever they are at work and the babies is left with a baby-sitter, they can still continue nursing even without their presence.
For moms who have a term, healthy baby (>37 weeks) it is ideal to practice pumping few weeks before completely shifting to pumping and storing breast milk. While for moms who give birth to preterm babies (<36 weeks) who cannot breastfeed yet, but decide to give their baby healthy breast milk, pump as soon as possible to increase your supply of milk.
Pros of Milk Pumping
o Relatively easy and can be done anywhere, even at work, as long as you have the proper equipment and storage.
o It helps stimulate milk production in the breasts and in turn increases your milk supply.
o Engorged breasts filled with milk can cause too much pain and pressure, breast pumping helps relieve this.
o It takes less time since the breast pump helps express the milk fast and efficiently.
o It also makes monitoring of the feeding habits of your baby easier.
Cons of Milk Pumping
o It is an endless cycle of washing and sanitizing the equipment used such as bottles, nipples and the breast pump itself.
o Some breast pumps are quite heavy and tiring to bring back and forth from home and work. Also, you will have to think on how to refrigerate the milk to avoid spoilage.
o There is a possibility of contamination as the milk does not come directly from the breasts and also, the containers / bottles may not have been sterilized or cleaned well.
o Also, some studies say that the longer the milk is stored in the freezer, the lesser the health benefits that you will get from it.
[Want to learn more? Read Exclusive Pumping: How and Why to Pump Breastmilk Instead of Nursing.]
When Should I Pump Milk?
It is advised for moms to pump their breasts in the morning as this is the most ideal time since this is when the supply is at its highest. You can also pump in between breastfeeding, at least 1 hour before your next scheduled breastfeeding session with your baby.
The number of times you pump per day depends on the feeding habits of your child and your supply of milk. Let’s say, a newborn will probably take a bottle every 2-3 hours, but that number will increase as they grow older.
How To Pump Breast Milk
For Hand Expressing Of Milk
1. Wash your hands with soap and water before you start and make sure that the equipment that will be used is sterilized and cleaned properly.
Tip! A warm towel or a simple massage over the breast makes it easier for the milk to be expressed.
2. Moms can express milk either manually or by using an electric pump. Most moms have a hard time expressing manually,which is why a lot of moms prefer using electric pumps.
3. Find a quiet place and a comfortable chair to sit on.
4. Place your thumb and index finger about 1 inch from the areola, making a C with your hand.
5. Gently but firmly squeeze your thumb and index finger then release to express the milk.
6. Rotate your hand slightly and try different section of the breast. Do this until the milk stops. It will be quite hard at first but gets easier with practice.
[Want to learn more? Read Pumping to Induce Labor: How to Do It and What to Look Out For.]
For Expressing of Milk Using An Electric Pump
- Center the flange over your breasts making sure that the nipple is at the center of its opening, creating an air seal.
- Start the pump at high speed first to see if there will be milk let-down, adjust the its speed to increase/decrease its suction according to your preference.
- Ideally, each session should only take about 15- 20 minutes for each breast. You may also try to fully empty your breast to stimulate production of more breast milk.
Types Of Breast Pump
Manual pumps use a breast-shield that is placed on top of breast making sure that the nipple and areola are in the middle. It has a lever or handle that is squeezed to create a suction to express the milk.
[Want to learn more? Read How to Choose the Best Manual Breast Pump.]
Battery-Powered and Electric Pumps
Battery-powered and electric pumps are more bulkier than manual pumps, since they require a small motorized pump which is connected to an electrical outlet or powered by a battery. This small motor makes suctioning of the milk easier.
[Want to learn more? Read Electric vs. Manual Breast Pumps: The Pros and Cons of Each.]
Proper Storage of Breast Milk
It is proper to store breast milk in appropriate storage bags or clean food-grade non-BPA containers only. Also, never store breast milk in disposable plastic bags that are not intended for storing as it may contain chemicals that might be harmful for your baby.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a guideline on the proper storage of breastmilk and how long it will last:
• For freshly expressed/pumped milk:
o At room temperature – Up to 4 hours
o Refrigerator (4°C)- Up to 4 days
o Freezer (-18°C) – 6 to 12 months
• For thawed or previously frozen milk
o At room temperature – 1 to 2 hours
o Refrigerator (4°C)- Up to 1 day
o Freezer (-18°C) – NEVER refreeze human milk after it has been thawed
• For left over milk after a feeding, consume it within 2 hours after the baby is finished eating.
Tip! Clearly label the breast milk with the date it was expressed. Follow the rule “first in, first out” as the quality of the breast milk decreases over time.
[Want to learn more? Read How to Clean Breast Pump Tubing.]
How to Thaw Breast Milk
Thawing your breast milk is essential prior to feeding it to your baby. You don’t want to give them milk that is too hot or too cold. You may leave the frozen milk in the refrigerator overnight if you plan on feeding them the next day. You can put the milk under lukewarm running water or put it in a container with warm water for faster thawing.
Weaning From The Pump
Decrease the number of times of pumps you have in a day and allow your body to adjust to the change. You can also keep the number of pumping sessions per day but decrease the duration. Repeat until you’re fully weaned and do not feel the need to pump anymore.
[Want to learn more? Read Breast Pump Accessories.]
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