Expressing, maneuvering and depositing breast milk

Sometimes breastfeeding fails. The formula however is not the best choice and in such cases, other alternatives are preferred. A viable alternative to formula is expressed milk either from the baby’s mother or from a donor, which can be offered from any recipient the baby accepts.

Pumping milk in order to feed your baby exclusively is a time-consuming activity based on a strict schedule. It takes great will, determination and you will also need to be extra careful about hygiene in order to successfully complete this activity. Expressed milk needs to be handled and stored appropriately in order for you to safely use it when circumstances require it. Before you decide to start pumping, you need to be fully informed and weigh all your options. 

There are three main subjects that require most of your attention.

  • EXPRESSING,
  • MANEUVERING,
  • DEPOSITING breast milk.

First of all, you need to know WHY you are expressing milk and in what circumstances your baby will receive it whether to treat lactogenesis II, when the mother is separated from her baby or to increase the milk supply.

 Situations such as having a sick or premature baby, the mother’s absence due to her being hospitalized, returning to work, taking classes or traveling because of her work, may require supplementing.

Also when the milk supply has decreased as a direct result to inefficient feeding(only when your certified lactation consultant recommends it), or simply because the mother chooses to feed her baby this way, pumping is useful.

Secondly, you need to consider a budget before deciding which method of expressing milk is the most suitable.

Manual milk expressing doesn’t require any financial costs doesn’t need any kind of equipment or electricity. You can use this technique whenever you need to eliminate tension so that your baby can latch on the areola. You may also resort to manual expressing in case of an emergency when you don’t have access to electricity or even to a pump, or simply your location makes it impossible to clean your pump’s components.

Using a pump to express milk may require certain expenses in order for you to purchase your equipment. Also, electricity costs need to be taken into account and the fact that certain components require changing from time to time. Using this method to express milk is faster and doesn’t take as much effort as manual expressing. You can also extract a greater quantity of milk and be more comfortable.

Thirdly, before you choose a way to express milk, it is recommended that you consider the amount of TIME the process requires. Manual expressing takes more time than using a pump and there are also significant differences between using a manual pump or an electric one.

  • The age and a general state of both mother and baby;
  • Comfort and efficiency, how easy it is to clean and assemble a pump, whether the components that require changing are available or not and if you have access to a service also need to be considered. Manual breast pumps are portable, however, only some of the electric pumps have this option. Some may come with an adaptor which makes it easy to use in a car while others need batteries.
  • Next step is to consider how safe each method is. It is best to avoid pear-shaped manual pumps due to a high risk of milk contamination caused by wounding nipples while the milk is extracted. Most of the pumps created for personal use can be open, which makes it quite dangerous to use a second- hand pump, whether you buy or borrow it. Using a second-hand pump can affect your milk supply if it is not functioning at its full capacity. Some mothers may not afford to buy a pump that suits their needs and cheap breast pumps may not be the best option if you plan to pump for a long period of time.

The last step to milk expressing is storing it. You may keep your milk in the fridge, in the freezer and even at room temperature, depending on your needs and circumstances. Expressed milk can be stored in glass or BPA free recipients.

Plastic recipients must be filled maximum 1/4 of their capacity if they will be kept in the freezer. It is also recommended to write to your recipient the date and time when the milk was pumped.

Expressed milk should be stored as follows:

  • up to 6 hours, when stored at room temperature;
  • up to 7 days in the fridge, the temperature must not exceed 4 degrees;
  • up to 24 hours in a thermal bag with frozen gel bags;
  • up to 2 weeks in a freezer compartment (for a one door fridge);
  • up to 6 months in the freezer (when the freezer is a different compartment);

What I want is to help you maintain an adequate milk supply over a longer period of time. This is why I want to share with you a few tricks to pump efficiently and I also invite you to DOWNLOAD them:

– applying hot compresses or taking a hot shower and even looking at your baby or his picture before starting a pumping session may help improve your milk ejection reflex;

– skin to skin contact increases your oxytocin level;

What I want is to help you maintain an adequate milk supply over a longer period of time. This is why I want to share with you a few tricks to pump efficiently and I also invite you to download them:

  • applying hot compresses or taking a hot shower and even looking at your baby or his picture before starting a pumping session may help improve your milk ejection reflex;
  • skin to skin contact increases your oxytocin level;
  • applying a gentle massage to your breast may help with milk ejection;
  • applying breast compressions during a pumping session may increase your milk flow and decrease the time you need to spend pumping;
  • a mother who feeds her baby exclusively on breast milk needs to have up to 8-10 pumping sessions  in 24 hours;
  • you can increase the quantity of expressed milk if you allow your baby to latch and stimulate the breasts before a pumping session;
  • your pump needs a cup that fits your breast size. A wrong sized cup may cause lesions to your nipples, may cause your milk supply to decrease and also it may not empty your breasts which can result in dealing with blocked ducts;
  • start by using your pump at its lowest speed and you can continue by slowly increasing its suction power as needed;
  • a mother who only pumps occasionally may stop after she extracted the quantity she needs while a mother who pumps constantly may stop only when the milk flow has stopped.

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