Expressing and Storing Breast Milk


Breastfeeding concerns

Breastfeeding on demand means just that; feeding baby when she is hungry rather than on a schedule. This will probably be every one to three hours. Frequent feedings is the best way to establish an adequate milk supply. Over time, your baby will consume more at each feeding, and reduce the total number of feedings each day. Babies do not always nurse on a regular schedule. Sometimes they will nurse four or five times in a five or six hour span and then sleep for several more hours at a stretch. Avoid pacifiers if at all possible in the early weeks. These will just cause nipple confusion and will satisfy your baby's sucking needs thus making nursing not as productive.

It is best not to give your baby supplemental bottles when starting to breastfeed. It can take 5 to 7 days for your milk to come in fully, and baby's sucking will stimulate milk production until supply meets demand. Full term, healthy babies do not need supplementary bottles of formula, sugar water, or water if they are breastfed frequently and on demand from both breasts. Their requirements for nourishment will be met as long as breastfeeding is not limited. If you are seriously concerned about whether your baby is getting enough, talk to your baby's doctor.

Do not despair if at first you do not succeed at breastfeeding. You and baby are both inexperienced at this and you both have a lot to learn. With patience and perseverance you will teach your baby to nurse quite efficiently. Ask for help from a breastfeeding counselor, experienced nurse, your childbirth educator, or your physician. You can also find many support groups and agencies such as La Leche League.

Expressing and Storing Milk

Expressing and storing your breast milk allows you to leave your baby for a while without altering her usual diet. Although awkward at first expression will become easier with time. You can buy or rent effective equipment designed for pumping your breasts. Your breastfeeding counselor, childbirth educator or physician may make suggestions to you on the type of pump you should use, based on your needs.

Getting ready to pump

●     You will need clean hands, clean equipment, and bottles or disposable baby bottle liners.

●     Choose a time of day that your breasts are at their fullest. This is usually in the morning.

●     Drink a full glass of water, juice, milk or decaffeinated tea or coffee just before beginning. This will help to relax you and stimulate let-down.

●     Sit in a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be disturbed.

●     Relax for several minutes before beginning.

●     To encourage the let-down reflex try the following: Apply warm, wet towels to your breasts. Relax and imagine baby nursing and the milk flowing. Massage your breasts with your fingertips. Start way back under your arms and at the outer boundaries of your breasts and massage towards your areolae.

Using Expressed Breast Milk

●     Fresh. Feed the milk to baby right after pumping.

●     Refrigerated. Use within 48 hours if kept at 40 degrees Farhenheit.

●     Frozen. Use within two months if your freezer is very cold. Or within 2 weeks if not very cold. One disadvantage of using frozen milk is that freezing destroys some of the anti-infective properties.

Discard any milk that has been stored for longer than those recommended above.

Introducing a bottle to a breast fed baby

You may want your baby to use a bottle when you are gone for a feeding or while you are at work. Some babies take a bottle with no problem, while others do not take it so easily. If you have a problem introducing a bottle to your baby, try the following techniques:

●     Wait until breastfeeding is well established before introducing the bottle. A baby who is still learning to breastfeed or who needs coaxing to latch on and remain latched is at risk of becoming nipple confused. Usually waiting until your baby is three or more weeks old is a good idea.

●     If possible put expressed breast milk into a bottle rather than formula. A familiar milk may help baby adjust to a bottle.

●     Sucking from a bottle is a new experience for the breastfed baby. Take it slow and introduce the bottle only when baby is calm and rested. The goal at first is to acquaint your baby with a bottle, not to replace an entire feeding.

●     You will probably feel better once you know that your baby will take milk from a bottle. Help your baby to take the bottle well before returning to work.