Sunday, July 8, 2012
Breastfeeding: Pumping and storing facts
In general, your body will not react the same way to a pump that it would a baby, but pumping is possible.
Whether you are going to be pumping and feeding baby from the tap or exclusively pumping, try to set a schedule. As I have said before, your body will adjust to how much milk you produce. If you pump sporadically, this may cause you to over produce, which leads to leaking if you don’t pump. Or it could lead to not making enough to pump extra, which means you would barely get anything when you try to pump.
When I pumped with Brentley, I would pump at night just before it was time for us to go to bed. My body became used to this, and I would consistently get the same amount every time I pumped. If I missed a pumping session for whatever reason, I would leak because my body was preparing to get rid of it.
If I would have consistently skipped pumping, then my body would have started producing less to adjust to the lack of demand.
So, as you can see, pumping can be done. I still have a good bit of breast milk in my freezer that I can’t bring myself to throw away because that stuff should be worth gold for the time and effort I put into it :p
Just be consistent. You can increase your supply by consistently pumping more and decrease it by consistently pumping less (the same goes for feeding baby more or less).
As for the actual act of pumping, I personally feel that electric pumps are less painful, less time consuming, and require less physical effort. Whether using electric or manual, make sure you have your nipple centered as close to perfect as you can in the suction cup. If you don't, it will be painful and you will not be able to produce much, if any, milk. I would always begin pumping on the lowest setting for about 30 seconds, then move up to the highest setting. This also reduced pain.
Electric pumps are more expensive, but well worth the money. Many hospitals and/or health departments will rent out electric pumps. In the end, I believe it's cheaper to just buy your own though.
With Grace, I pumped to feed. I never did store any of it in the freezer. I did store some extra in the fridge. I always stored it in bottles with flat caps because it was going to be used soon. It can be stored in the fridge for five days before spoiling.
With Brentley, I pumped to store. I used breast milk storage bags for this. I bought mine at Wal-Mart. I got them for about $8, and I stopped pumping before I ran out of bags. They last a long time. These are the ones I used, and they worked great!
Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months in a regular freezer, and up to 12 months in a deep freezer. Write the date that you expressed the milk on the bag, that way you can make sure that you don’t used expired milk.
However, once you take it out and warm it up, you cannot refreeze it because it can already be contaminated with bacteria. It must be used within 24 hours after thawing. Because of this, it is better to store smaller amounts in one bag. Instead of storing 6 or 8 ounces in one bag, store 2 to 4 ounces, and use the oldest milk first. This will save the liquid gold from spoiling.
Once the milk has frozen, it must stay at a constant temperature. Do not store milk in the freezer door, and do not pour fresh milk on top of frozen milk. Both of these things change the temperature of the milk.
When warming your breast milk (or formula for that matter), it is best to run it under hot water, and continue testing it until it is warm. With formula or breast milk, when heating it in the microwave, it heats unevenly, so while it may feel only warm when you tested it, the baby may get a pocket of hot milk that could burn him or her. And with breast milk, heating it in the microwave can actually take away the nutrients in the breast milk.
Breast milk stays good for 6 to 8 hours at room temperature. If you are going to need it out for longer than that, it can be stored in an insulated bag with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours. After that, you must refrigerate it.