Breast milk is liquid gold. It is so valuable and amazing that scientists cannot reproduce it in a lab, and only you can make it. Your body perfectly formulates your milk for your baby, and pumping allows you to provide milk even when you are not there. This article covers the fundamentals of pumping breastmilk to meet your goals, whether an occasional pumping session or building a serious freezer stash. If you plan to return to work after maternity leave, this article walks through navigating pumping at work. Plus, everything from cleaning and sterilizing your pump and accessories to safely storing your milk.
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Article and Resources
See this page for all the breastfeeding resources, episodes, and articles in one place.
The Pumping and Breastfeeding Relationship
Pumping and breastfeeding go hand in hand. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, pumping is a must. Without it, you are your baby’s only source of nutrition; even getting away for a few hours can be challenging. Hooking your breasts up to a machine to pump milk may feel strange. The ability to give your baby your breast milk from a bottle is impressive. This can make a significant difference if you need to be away from your baby for a short time, especially if you return to work after maternity leave.
If you are planning to pump, it is essential to understand the pumping-breastfeeding relationship. The most efficient way to remove milk from your breasts is to breastfeed. Hands down, an electric pump, even a hospital-grade pump, will not do as great of a job as your baby. However, they can still do a good job, and a pump will work in the absence of your baby.
When you remove milk from your breasts, you are essentially telling your body this is a meal; keep producing this quantity of milk at this time. If your baby is getting pumped milk in a bottle at noon on Tuesday, you need to pump at noon on Tuesday. It doesn’t have to be exact, but it should be relatively close to maximizing your supply and keeping your milk production up. If your baby gets a bottle and you do not pump, you are telling your body you don’t need to produce as much milk because your baby doesn’t need to eat a meal right now. While it can be nice to have someone else give your little one a bottle, it may not make sense to pump to give your baby a bottle when you can breastfeed.
How Long Should Your Baby Get Breastmilk?
There are common misconceptions about the length of time babies should be breastfed. These surround some milestones your baby will hit, like getting teeth at six months or talking and walking after about age one. Any length of time your baby receives breast milk is beneficial. You must supplement with formula if you stop breastfeeding before the first year. Some mothers only breastfeed briefly, and others continue it well into the toddler years.
Recommendations from the World Health Organization and Pediatric Associations
In 2022 the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its policy statement on breastfeeding. The AAP is consistent with the World Health Organization and many pediatric associations worldwide. You should exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months. At around six months, you should introduce your baby to solid foods with continued breastfeeding for up to two years and beyond.
Two years may sound like a very long time. Any amount of time your baby is getting breastmilk will benefit them greatly. If you stop breastfeeding before your baby’s first birthday, you must supplement with infant formula.
If you are breastfeeding and not incorporating formula, it can feel like you are always tethered to your baby. The main reason you would pump breastmilk is that your baby can still drink your breastmilk while you are away. This can allow you to get out for a few hours and run errands, enjoy a night out with your friends, or return to work. Some moms prefer to pump exclusively rather than breastfeed. Pumping also allows you to build up a supply of frozen milk for future use. It is even possible to build up a supply and still feed your baby breast milk once you stop breastfeeding.
How Much Milk Will Your Baby Need?
When you pump, you tend to focus more on the quantity than if you are breastfeeding and never see the exact amount of milk your baby is getting. After your baby is born, you will produce between 19-30 ounces (550-875 mL) of milk daily by the end of the first week. The average feeding probably is around 3-5 ounces (90-150 mL). This is going to stay reasonably consistent for the first six months. Keep in mind that these estimated measurements are for breast milk. Since formula is harder to digest and the nutrients are less readily absorbed, quantities of formula may be higher. You can check with your pediatrician for exact guidelines, but this article talks specifically about breast milk.
Changes in Breastmilk
When you examine pumped milk, you may notice color, consistency, or smell changes. These changes are usually due to your diet. It is normal for changes in your milk, and there is no need to overanalyze its characteristics.
Breast milk is high in fat, perfect for a growing baby. When breast milk sits and cools in a bag or bottle, it will separate into layers, with the fattier milk rising to the top. When you heat milk, gently swirl the warmed bottle to mix the layers, do not shake it. Shaking milk can break up some of the long-chain fatty acids.
You have three options to pump milk. You can hand express, use a manual pump, or use an electric pump. Each of these has its pros and cons. You may also combine some of these methods depending on where you are and what you have available. Any form of pumping gets better and easier with practice.
Electric pumps tend to be the most effective for removing milk. All electric pumps have flanges that go on your breasts with tubes connected to the electric motor for suction. Milk is expressed directly into bottles or bags. There are hospital-grade and home-use electric pumps. If you had your baby in a hospital, you might have access to a hospital-grade during your stay at the hospital, or you can rent one once you get home. Most moms that use a hospital-grade pump rent it because they are pretty expensive to buy. The other electric pump option is buying one for home use. Home-use electric pumps are the most widely used and the main focus of this article. You can also apply everything in this article can also be applied to a hospital-grade pump, a manual pump, or even hand-expressing milk.
If you are in a situation where you do not have access to electricity, you can use a manual pump. This is a similar setup to an electric pump. A flange goes on your breast with a bottle and a manual pump attached. To use the pump, you squeeze the handle and express milk into the bottle.
The last option is hand-expressing milk, allowing you to express milk directly into a bottle or cup anywhere without additional accessories. Hand expressing is pretty simple, and you can do a quick search on YouTube to see a video.
Getting a Pump Through Insurance
In the United States, health insurance companies cover breast pumps. Aeroflow is a company that makes this process super easy by working with your insurance company. I have used them in the past and had a great experience. If Aeroflow does not work with your insurance, you can contact your insurance directly to find out how to get a breast pump covered.
Electric breast pumps tend to lose some power over time, making pumping less efficient. The lifetime of a breast pump is about a year. Even if you have a pump from a prior baby, you want a new one. If you are in a position where you do not have health insurance and are having trouble affording a pump, you may still be able to get some assistance to buy one. Talk to your care provider and ask about any low-income programs that may be available. You can also add a pump to your baby registry; hopefully, a generous friend or family will help cover it.
Getting Started with an Electric Pump
Although different brands of electric pumps differ, they all operate relatively the same. An electric pump has a unit with a motor in it. You plug the unit into an electrical outlet and use a battery pack or a charger to pump in your car. Small tubes are connected from the motor to the flanges on your breasts, creating suction to remove milk. Milk flows from the flanges directly to a bottle or bag for collection. While the tubes may have some condensation, no milk flows through the tubes.
Before you use your pump for the first time, you want to sterilize all parts by boiling them. To do this, boil a large pot of water and add all the parts to the pot for ten minutes. You will also want to do this with bottles and nipples before using them for the first time.
How to Use an Electric Pump
Before you start a pumping session, you want to wash your hands. With clean hands, you connect everything to your pump. Two small, thin tubes connect to the pump; the other ends join to a plastic piece attached to a bottle or bag and the flanges. Place the flanges on your breasts and turn on the pump.
Most pumps will start with quick short suction. This mimics a baby’s latch, which begins with quick short sucking motions. This triggers your milk release, sometimes called a letdown, and once milk is flowing, their sucking will slow down. Most pumps will automatically switch to a slower mode after a few minutes. It should also have a button you can press once your milk lets down to slow the suction.
Pumps have a knob to control the speed and intensity of the suction. This shouldn’t hurt; turn it down if you are uncomfortable. You can experiment with different settings to determine what intensity level works best for you. Once it pumps milk, let it run for 10-15 minutes or until you aren’t producing much milk.
Pumping Bras & DIY Solutions
Pumping bras do make pumping easier. It takes less time because you pump both breasts simultaneously, and you can be hands-free. This can be especially helpful if you are trying to answer emails while pumping at work or even if you are relaxing reading a good book.
You can easily make one to avoid purchasing a pumping bra. A quick search online will bring up many options. The easiest way is using a sports bra or spandex like a bandeau top. You put it on and make a mark where your nipples are. Take the bra or top off and cut holes so your nipples stick out. You could get fancy and hem it so it doesn’t fray around the holes, but it is unnecessary. Once you have a bra top with holes, take the flanges or shields of your pump, the cone-shaped pieces, and make sure they fit on your breasts, and the narrow end of the flanges should poke out through the holes. You want to make sure the holes aren’t too big, so start on the smaller side, and you can always make them bigger.
Fine Tuning Your Pumping Technique
The first time you pump will likely be clunky and awkward, and you may not produce much milk. As with anything, the more you do it, the better you will get. You will find your techniques to make pumping efficient and maximize the milk you get in each pumping session. The best time to pump is when your breasts feel full. If you wait too long, you will get engorged, which can be uncomfortable. Working out the timing and getting the hang of the ideal schedule for you may take some time.
While your pump runs, you can also do hand compressions to maximize the milk expressed or speed up the process. It may be challenging to do this to both breasts simultaneously, even with a pumping bra. Try hand compressions on one breast at a time while the pump is running on both. Again, this may be awkward initially, but it can be helpful once you get the hang of it.
Some mothers find it helpful to look at a picture or video of their baby while they are pumping. You will have a million photos and videos on your phone, which makes this super easy. Seeing a picture of your baby can be a significant boost when you need a reminder of why you are going through the trouble of pumping.
Creating a Comfortable Pumping Environment
The environment you pump in can affect how easy, comfortable, and productive pumping is. Ideally, you want a private, quiet place to pump. This may be easy at home but more challenging at work. The U.S. requires employers to give you a private space to pump that is not a bathroom. Of course, your options for the location to pump depend on your situation. If you have a private office, you can pump without going anywhere. If you are in a cubicle, it may not be the most private environment to pump. Larger office buildings may have a dedicated lactation room on site. You could also find out if your company has a vacant office you could use a few times a day or even an empty conference room.
An office job certainly makes it easier to pump at work. There may be additional challenges if you work in retail, the service industry, in a warehouse, or anywhere else. If you do not work in a traditional office, you may need to be more creative in finding a space to pump. Consider pumping in your car if you drive to work. Think outside the box and come up with a creative solution. Remember that this is temporary, and you will not need to pump forever.
Whether at home or work, where you pump needs to be in a comfortable space. For most mothers, this probably means that you would like to know that no one will walk in on you. If you are concerned about this in a work environment, it is a good idea to put a sign or note on the door to tell people not to come in. You can be as obvious as making a sign that says, “Baby’s lunch in progress,” or something more discreet like, “Do not disturb.” If the room you will be pumping in does not have a lock, ask for a lock on the door if it is essential for you to know that no one can come in. You can even purchase a portable lock or a door security bar if your employer will not install a lock.
Practicing With Your Pump Before Your Baby is Born
If this sounds like a lot, you may be tempted to practice with your pump before your baby is born. You can sterilize all the parts and assemble everything, so it isn’t new to you when you first use it. Nipple stimulation does cause your body to release oxytocin, which could trigger labor. Some women do use an electric pump for nipple stimulation to try and naturally start labor. If you are past your due date and want to try this, you certainly can. If you are considering using a breast pump for nipple stimulation to start labor, it is good to run it by your care provider first.
For the first few days after your baby is born, your body produces colostrum in minimal amounts. Your milk doesn’t come in until days two, three, or even four after your baby is born. The first days and weeks of caring for a newborn and figuring out breastfeeding is a significant adjustment period. It may be nice to get the hang of breastfeeding before introducing and incorporating a pump into your schedule. Your immediate focus once your baby arrives is not to start building a freezer stash from day one. Give yourself some time to get the hang of breastfeeding. Knowing the ins and outs of breastfeeding will set you up to be a pro with pumping and making the two work together.
Define Your Goals for Building a Stash
Building a milk stash and having that insurance policy in your freezer may sound really appealing. Before you start, think about why you want a milk stash and how much you want to have stocked up. You do not want to go through the trouble of stockpiling gallons of milk if it will just sit there and expire. Pumping is work; you want the time and energy to be worth it. It is also a good idea to reevaluate this goal as time goes on.
How to Start Building a Stash
The best way to build up a stash is to start pumping once or twice a day after breastfeeding your baby. The easiest way is to pump after the first morning feeding. If your baby wakes up at 5:00 for milk, feed them and then pump. This may be tough if you aren’t an early riser, but your supply tends to be greatest first thing in the morning. Don’t panic if you do not pump very much at first. Your baby just ate, so don’t expect to fill up a couple of bottles. Even if it is just an ounce or less, your body will increase milk production when you are consistent about this. Before you know it, you will pump a lot more every morning after that first feeding. You are telling your body to keep producing this extra milk at this time every day.
Using this example, if you pump two ounces every morning in a month, you would have a stash of 60 ounces (1.75 liters) of milk, 12 or more feedings. If you pump four ounces in a month, you would have 120 ounces (3.5 liters) which is 24 feedings or more, depending on how much milk your baby drinks in each feeding. That is a lot of milk! This is based on a feeding being 5 ounces (150 mL). If your baby drinks less than this, it would equal more meals. This example is just if you are pumping once per day.
Imagine if you did it a couple of times a day. Multiply this over a few months, and you have a serious freezer stash. You can use frozen milk to feed your baby while you are away, whether an afternoon or a business trip or to continue giving them breastmilk after you have returned to work or even after you have stopped breastfeeding.
Planning to Pump at Work
Many moms who take maternity leave after their baby is born plan on returning to work. Be sure to think about the logistics of pumping work before you return to work. If you plan, you will get off to a much better start than if you just wing it. The first few weeks back at work are an adjustment period, and you will be getting accustomed to the new routine. Start pumping at least a few weeks before returning to work. This will build up a reserve, which is helpful to take some of the pressure off you as you figure out pumping on the job.
Talking to Your Boss or HR
Part of planning is talking to your boss or HR department before your maternity leave about needing to pump breastmilk when you return. You want to work out this way ahead of time so there are clear understandings, and you and your company know what to expect. Going back to work is a big transition after being home with your baby every day, and it will be one less thing to worry about if the pumping details are already hashed out.
This conversation can be awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need to say is, “I will provide breast milk for my baby when I return to work, and I will need to pump a few times a day.” That is it. If you are uncomfortable having an in-person chat, send them an email. You know the politics of your workplace best, and you may need to wordsmith your email or conversation to align with your company’s culture. The tone should be, “This will be happening, so let’s figure out the best way to make it work for everyone.” Don’t approach it from the perspective of, “Is it okay with you if I do this?” with the implication that your boss could say no.
Talking to Other Pumping Coworkers
If you have any coworkers who have had babies and went through pumping at work, talk to them. They are an excellent resource for how your company handles this situation. They can also give you tips on what worked well or didn’t while they were pumping milk at work. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn from someone who has already done this. On the flip side, if you are the first person at your company to navigate this, be sure to help others who follow you.
Your Work Pumping Schedule & Unpaid Time
Ideally, you will pump about every three hours when you are away from your baby. Remember, we discussed the relationship between breastfeeding and pumping earlier, so if someone gives your baby a bottle three times a day while away, you should be pumping three times. Everyone will be a little different with their pumping schedules. Generally, you would breastfeed your baby in the morning before leaving for work. Once you are at work, you would be pumping roughly around mid-morning, lunch, and mid-afternoon. Once you are back with your baby at the end of the workday, you will breastfeed them like normal. It shouldn’t be an issue to breastfeed as usual on the weekends or when you have days off. Remember, if you have an extra pumping session to keep building your stash, you must be consistent with that seven days a week.
The United States requires companies to give you adequate time to pump, although the caveat is that they do not require time to be paid. If you pump three times a day at work, one of these pumping sessions would probably be on your lunch break. When you return to work, you will have mastered eating a meal while holding and breastfeeding your baby, so eating lunch while pumping should be a breeze.
Your employer may not pay you for the time in the other one or two pumping sessions. Some employers will not be concerned about whether you are on or off the clock. If you can use that time to relax, and do anything personal, take advantage of it. Although pumping should only take 10-20 minutes, if you are concerned about taking a pay cut to pump or working later to make up the time, try to find a way to get some work done while you pump.
If you are in your own private office, you can do anything you usually do at a desk. If you are somewhere else in the office, you could find something else work-related to do while you pump, like catching up on reading some proposals or whatever would apply to your specific job.
You could make phone calls while you pump, but you should know breast pumps are not the quietest little machines. If you need to be on the phone while you are pumping and are concerned about the noise, you could try putting the pump further away from you rather than right next to you. The tubes connecting you to the pump should be pretty long, and perhaps you can put the pump under your desk. You could even put a towel or blanket over the pump to muffle the noise. Get creative and find solutions to make this work for you.
Breaking Down Your Pump Set Up
After you pump, you still have to break everything down, clean it, and safely store your milk. The first step is disconnecting the bottles or collection bags from the pump. Put lids on the bottles or seal the plastic bags to prevent spills before you do anything else. At some point, you will spill a bottle of freshly pumped milk. This is one instance where it is okay to cry over spilled milk.
After removing the flanges from your breasts, leave your pump running for a few minutes to remove any extra condensation from the tubes and pump. You may want a tissue or wipe to remove any milk from where the flanges sat on your breasts. You can leave the pump running while disassembling, putting everything away, or preparing to clean it.
Cleaning Your Pump & Parts
The best method to clean the parts is to wash them in warm water with gentle dish soap. Most parents do not need to sterilize all pumping parts between pumping sessions. Many parents choose to sterilize pump parts at the end of each day. If your baby is born prematurely or has other health considerations ask your care provider or pediatrician for their recommendation for sterilizing pump parts and bottles.
Sterilizing and cleaning parts does not need to be cumbersome. One option is to put everything in a dishwasher. There are some baskets made for small parts that make washing pump parts in a dishwasher easy. The high temperature of the dishwasher will sterilize the parts. Many dishwashers also have a sterilize setting that you can activate when you run it. There are also microwavable bags that you can put everything into and pop the bag in the microwave to sterilize all the parts. Not all parents sterilize everything between pumping or feedings and are comfortable washing parts or bottles with warm water and dish soap.
Cleaning Pump Parts at Work
You have options for cleaning and storing all pump parts between pumping sessions at work. You could put everything in a Ziploc bag in the fridge between pumping sessions. Then wash it all at the end of the day, either at work or home. If you have a dishwasher at work, take advantage of it. If you find yourself washing parts in the community kitchen and feel uncomfortable setting stuff on the counter to air dry, see if you can find a spot at your desk to stash a small drying rack. You may be able to carve out a space for a small drying rack behind your printer or on a shelf. Then each time you clean your pump parts, put them there to air dry.
If you are not in an office setting, you may have fewer resources. You may need to use a cooler if you do not have access to a fridge. You may need to rinse parts in a bathroom if you don’t have a kitchen. Again, you must be creative to find solutions that work for you and your workplace, especially if you are not in a traditional office space.
Toting Supplies to and from Work
You will probably be toting your pump and supplies to and from work or to a different location to pump during your workday. Any company that manufactures breast pumps makes bags, usually just a plain black tote bag, specifically for a breast pump and all the accessories. The bags explicitly made for this are handy and may be nice, but you could also use any bag to store everything and tote it around with you as long as everything fits. If you are using your insurance to buy a pump, it will cover the basic pumping unit and the accessories. It probably will not cover the product package with the tote bag, which can be expensive.
Coolers and ice packs specifically for breast milk are also great, but you can choose a cheaper option not explicitly made for breast milk that should work fine. It can also be nice to have supplies that stay at work and do not need to go back and forth. It is all about finding solutions that work for you and fit within your budget.
The guidelines for storing breastmilk for a healthy term baby are:
4-6 hours at room temperature
24 hours in a cooler with ice packs
3-8 days in the fridge
6-12 months in the freezer
If your baby is born premature, these guidelines may differ slightly. You should check with your care provider or pediatrician for the recommended storage guidelines for your situation. The fresher the milk, the better. Over time, and with cooler temperatures, the properties in your milk will become less effective. Even breastmilk frozen for months still has many nutrients that scientists cannot recreate in a lab synthetically. You must also watch dates to ensure you use the milk within the recommended guidelines.
Have an organized system for labeling and storing milk. You can mix milk from different pumping sessions together if you combine it at the same temperature. Don’t add warm milk you just pumped to cold milk sitting in the fridge. You can store it in the refrigerator if you plan on using the milk soon. If you are storing it in bottles, you can just use a piece of masking tape with the date on it. If you are taking milk to daycare, you may also want to include your baby’s name.
It may also be worth recording the approximate time you pumped the milk when you store it. There is evidence that milk pumped at different times of the day changes in composition. There is significant circadian variation in tryptophan, fats, triacylglycerol, cholesterol, iron, melatonin, cortisol, and cortisone. All of these components in pumped breast milk can help regulate your baby’s sleep and circadian rhythms. If you can give your baby milk pumped at roughly the time they are eating that meal, that would be ideal. It still makes sense to give your baby pumped milk over formula, even if you are using milk pumped at night for their first meal in the morning.
Tips for Freezing Breastmilk
Freeze milk in different portion sizes, generally between two to five ounces (60-150 mL) portions. Smaller amounts will thaw more quickly, and you will waste less milk this way. If you only freeze 5 ounces (or 150 mL) portions and every feeding your baby drinks four ounces, you waste an ounce (or 30 mL) each feeding. You will waste less with smaller amounts, and you can always combine two bags for one feeding.
The best way to store frozen milk is in freezer bags for breast milk storage. I highly recommend the bags from Lansinoh. They have markings on the side to see how much milk the bag contains and a spot to write in the date and the amount. When you do freeze these bags, I recommend laying them flat to freeze them. Once frozen, they don’t have to be laid flat, but it will be much easier to store them this way and fit more into a small space in your freezer.
Lipase is an enzyme naturally produced in breast milk that can give your milk an off smell and taste. This is only noticeable when you freeze milk, then thaw it out, and it may have a funny smell and taste. Some babies do not mind this at all. Others will be fussy about drinking it and may even refuse it altogether. If your milk has high lipase levels and your baby does not want to drink it, there is a solution. You can heat up and scald your milk before you freeze it. To do this, just put the milk in a small pot and heat it on the stove until tiny bubbles form around the edges, about 180°F (82°C). Then remove it from heat, cool it, then freeze it.
Scalding milk reduces some beneficial components, so you want to give your baby fresh milk whenever possible. The issue with lipase only happens after milk has been frozen, and the only way to tell if this will be an issue is to test it. You can pump a few ounces, put it in your freezer for a few days, pull it out, let it thaw, and smell it. You could have high lipase levels if it has a slightly sour smell. See if your baby is bothered by it. If your milk has a high lipase level and your baby doesn’t want to drink it, you may need to scald it before freezing it. It is an extra step, but it does solve the problem.
Tips for Thawing Frozen Breastmilk
Once you remove milk from the freezer and thaw it out, use it within 24 hours. Do not refreeze it once you thaw it out. To thaw out breastmilk, put it in the fridge the night before you use it, place it under warm running water, or place it in a bowl of warm water. You would never want to microwave breastmilk. Microwaves can create hotspots that could burn your baby’s mouth, break down some nutrients, and change the milk composition.
Storing Milk at Work
After you pump, you must store your milk in a fridge, an insulated cooler with ice packs, or even an insulated thermos. Whatever method you use, you should ensure you keep milk chilled during the day. If you have a community fridge, you don’t have to stick bottles directly in the fridge where everyone can see them. You could put the bottles in a paper lunch sack or even a reusable bag, so everyone who opens the refrigerator isn’t face to face with your milk. Many moms refrigerate their milk after pumping and take it home for use the following day.
If you are picking up your baby from daycare after work, you could even drop off milk the next day when you pick them up. On Friday, you can freeze your milk for Monday, and if you have any extra milk above your baby’s average intake, freeze it for future use.
Traveling with Breastmilk
Traveling with breast milk is easy. You need to pack it well and plan. This applies if you leave the house for the day or fly across the country. Think about the time it will need to be stored and how you can keep it cool. Remember the guidelines for storing milk. 4-6 hours at room temperature or 24 hours in a cooler with ice packs. If you are out and about during the summer, plan to bring a small cooler to keep milk cool.
When traveling long distances, like getting on an airplane or going on a road trip, you should put it in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice packs to ensure it stays frozen. If you pack it away in a checked bag, you could note that it is frozen breast milk, so if TSA inspects your bag, they will know what it is. You could also keep it in a carry-on with you. The biggest issue is keeping it frozen. Once it thaws out, you need to use it within 24 hours. Ideally, you keep it frozen and pop it in the freezer when you arrive at your destination. If you are staying in a hotel, you can request a fridge for breast milk if the room does not already have a refrigerator.
If your baby ends up in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), you might need to pump and store milk for an extended period. Providing breastmilk to newborns in the NICU is even more critical to their health than to a full-term, healthy baby. In an average home freezer, lipase increases with longer storage times. However, many NICU freezers store breastmilk at super-cold temperatures of -70° to -80° C. Milk odor and taste changes due to lipolysis do not occur at these temperatures. If you end up with your baby in the NICU, talk to your care provider or a lactation consultant about how you can best provide breast milk and whether you need to be more stringent about sterilization.
Pumping can also allow someone to donate breastmilk to a baby who cannot get breastmilk from their mother. If you are building up a stash of milk, keep an eye on the dates, and if you have milk that will expire before you can use it, please donate it. Don’t let breastmilk go to waste. It could make a significant difference for another baby. Some moms have an excellent supply, produce more milk than their baby needs, and donate it to another parent.
If you are considering donating milk or your baby could be the recipient of donated milk, you want to know your source. Milk banks have high-quality control standards for collection, testing, and storage. Some websites connect milk donors with recipients. As a warning, some people seeking donor milk do not have children. If you are considering donating or seeking donor milk, ask your care provider or a lactation consultant to recommend a good resource.
The Key to Pumping
The key to this being successful with whatever your pumping goals are is your commitment to it. You need to schedule a time during your day to pump. It takes time to get everything out, pump, clean, and put everything away. Even if you are not working and have an open schedule, pumping can be time-consuming and inconvenient.
If it is challenging to sneak away for 15-20 minutes to pump during work hours, you must find a method to add pumping to your schedule. Consistency is key. If you travel for work, you have to plan for that. If you spend some of your day in the field or in your car, use that to your advantage to carve out time. In the service industry, you may need a co-worker to cover your responsibilities while you pump. Depending on your industry and job requirements, you will need to find solutions that fit to make pumping a priority.
If you are constantly missing pumping sessions, it will affect your milk supply. If you want to continue to provide milk for your baby, you need to make it a priority to pump. Pumping may initially seem a huge inconvenience, but it gets easier. As your baby gets older, they get more efficient with breastfeeding, and you get better at pumping with time. You won’t always be hooked up to a baby or a machine. All the hard work you put into ensuring your baby has the healthiest nutrition is helping them build a better immune system and health that will benefit them for their entire lives.
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