Expressing and Storing Breastmilk
A while back, we wrote about ways to store your breastmilk. We figure that it’s a good time to think about these topics once again, so today we will be discussing the best ways to store your breast milk.
So, some guidelines for storing your breastmilk:
- Store at room temperature for up to six hours, if it’s no hotter than 25⁰C.
- A cool bag can prolong storage for up to 24 hours, providing that it has ice packs with it.
- Store your breast milk in a fridge for up to five days, at 4⁰C or colder. Keep it away from foods such as meat, eggs and other uncooked foods, and store it at the back of the fridge where it is the coldest.
- In the freezer compartment of a fridge for up to two weeks.
- In a home freezer at 18⁰C or lower for up to six months.
The NHS have stated that you should always store your breast milk in a sterilised storage container. If you’re using a pump, always make sure to sterilise the pumpsets before and after use.
So what reasons are there to express milk for your baby?
- If you’re going to be away from your baby, going back to work or if your baby is in special care
- Your breasts are feeling uncomfortable, or engorged
- Your baby can’t latch on properly or is unable to suck well, but you still want to give them breast milk
- Your partner, family or friends are going to help you with feeding the baby
- You want to take steps to boost your milk supply
- To build up a supply for an adopted or surrogate baby
- You want to donate the breastmilk to a milk bank
Storing Your Breast Milk
So, whatever the reason, you’re going to need a good way to store your milk.
Whether you’re expressing with a manual or electric pump, you’ll want to use our specially designed pre-sterilised Easy Freeze bags as they allow you to express the breastmilk directly into them.
When storing milk, you should be clearly labelling the time and date that you expressed it so that you can always use the oldest first. This should help you keep on top of things and ensure that you are rotating the breastmilk.
If you have frozen your milk, you’ll need to defrost it in the fridge before giving it to your baby. Once it’s defrosted, you should use it straight away – and never refreeze defrosted milk!
You can take the milk you have stored in the fridge and feed it straight away to your baby – some are more than happy to drink it cold.
Warming the milk up to body temperature is relatively easy. Just place the bottled milk in lukewarm water and once the milk has reached room temperature you can use it straight away.
If you’re using our Easy Freeze bags, the integrated temperature indicator will be clear once the milk has reached room temperature.
When warming your breast milk – never use a microwave to heat up or defrost the milk it can cause a change in the composition of the milk and can also create hotspots in the milk which can burn your baby’s mouth.
Once your baby has finished with the milk you should dispose of any extra after an hour of the feeding.
Expressing with a Breastpump
At Ardo, we offer both electric single and double breast pumps, along with manual pumps that are both easy to use. We can help you choose which pump is best for you as mums have different expressing needs. Contact us today for some friendly advice.
Manual pumps are good for occasional use, though may not be as efficient to express. Manual pumps are good to have in the changing bag when you are out and about without your baby, as you are still producing milk when your baby is not with you and you will want to express the milk to avoid any discomfort or engorgement.
You might also consider hiring a pump rather than an outright purchase. You can talk to one of our friendly advisors, or have a chat with your midwife or health visitor for some alternatives – though our hiring process is simple!
Our electric pumps feature controls that adjust both the cycles and the suction. Cycles - this is the stimulation mode that helps to achieve milk ejection reflex (let-down). Setting the cycles high and the vacuum low replicate the rapid sucking and low suction the baby does when breastfeeding. Vacuum is the expressing mode - only when the let down occurs and milk is released, do you increase the vacuum and reduce the cycles. Find the most comfortable level for you, and if you don't achieve let-down then stop and start again, as nothing inhibits milk flow like stress. It can help to massage the breast or use a warm flannel and if your baby is not with you, a video or photograph of your precious bundle can't help but make you smile.
Always make sure that your the pumpsets are fully dry before use.
Expressing by Hand after feeding or expressing
Expressing by hand encourages the milk to flow from a certain part of the breast. This may help in situations where your ducts have become blocked and you wish to increase your supply. It is good breast care to do this after feeding or expressing.
When expressing by hand, you should hold a sterilised bottle or container below your breast to catch the milk as it flows, or into your pumpset.
As recommended by the NHS:
- Before you start, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Some mothers find gently massaging their breasts before expressing helps their milk to let down.
- Cup your breast with one hand then, with your other hand, form a "C" shape with your forefinger and thumb.
- Squeeze gently, keeping your finger and thumb near the darker area around your nipple (areola) but not on it (don't squeeze the nipple itself as you could make it sore). This shouldn't hurt.
- Release the pressure, then repeat, building up a rhythm. Try not to slide your fingers over the skin.
- Drops should start to appear, and then your milk usually starts to flow.
- If no drops appear, try moving your finger and thumb slightly, but still avoid the darker area.
- When the flow slows down, move your fingers round to a different section of your breast, and repeat.
- When the flow from one breast has slowed, swap to the other breast. Keep changing breasts until your milk drips very slowly or stops altogether.
Having difficulty or need to have a chat?
If you’re having any problems, we can help. We even offer Facetime/Skype conversations so that you can get face to face advice. Please remember that we are not medical professionals, and can help with expressing, however for anything medical, please get in touch with a healthcare professional.