How to Pump, Store & Feed Breast Milk
Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
You’ve worked hard to provide breast milk for your baby and protect your milk supply. Keep your expressed milk clean and nutritionally intact for your thriving baby when you’re on the go, out for the day, or exclusively pumping. Read on for our top tips on pumping, storing, and feeding breast milk to your baby.
Before Pumping and Handling Breast Milk
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds before pumping or handling breast milk. Always pump into clean containers or bags. Listen to music or watch videos of your baby in a comfortable, sanitary, and private area. Traveling and not sure where to pump? Search nationwide for a place to pump here.
Every mom starts pumping for different reasons. Some start immediately after childbirth because of a health-related circumstance or others choose to exclusively pump right from the start. Others pump when they return to work and continue to nurse their babies when at home. Wherever you are on your pumping journey you will be giving your growing baby the very best nutrition by expressing your breast milk.
Express breast milk using a hospital-strength double electric pump. Pump both breasts simultaneously for 15-20 min using a cyclic pumping rhythm. Start on massage mode and when milk slows, switch to expression. Set the vacuum for comfort to optimize your pumping session. Use hand massage before, during, and after pumping to drain the breast adequately and make more milk for the next pumping session.
Easy Storage Solutions
Load up on extra Spectra Baby USA collection bottles so you won’t have to worry about washing & cleaning – especially when on the go. If you prefer to pump into a narrow neck bottle, a Spectra small cap adapter will convert any narrow neck bottle to a Spectra flange.
Pump, store and feed directly from the same bag with the Spectra Simple Storage Kit. This innovative storage solution also features a temperature sensor to ensure that breast milk is just the right temperature for feeding. Feed your baby right from the same bag with the Simple Storage adapter, Spectra bottle ring, and nipple.
Breast milk should be stored in clean food-grade containers such as BPA-free plastic, glass, or silicone as well as disposable milk storage bags. Spectra Baby USA’s quality high standard milk bags won’t leak or tear like most bags on the market.
Storage Quick Tips:
✔ Store breast milk in 2-4 ounce increments to prevent milk from being wasted.
✔ If using breast milk storage bags, pump directly into bags with an adapter and squeeze the air from the top before sealing tightly.
✔ Freeze breast milk bags flat to save space.
Feed Your Babe, Not Your Freezer
Breast milk is always best – no matter if fresh, refrigerated, or frozen! Fresh breast milk contains the highest anti-infective properties, next in line refrigerated milk and then frozen milk. Give your baby freshly pumped milk whenever available. Fresh, frozen, and refrigerated milk can be combined. It’s best to mix breast milk at the same temperature to keep the immunological properties intact though some sources do suggest breast milk composition is not substantially affected when varying temperatures are combined.
Breast milk should never be microwaved because it can heat unevenly and hurt your baby. In addition, microwaving can destroy valuable bioactive components found only in human milk. Gentle thawing of breast milk is best to preserve the quality. Thawing can be done in the refrigerator overnight or in a warm water bowl.
Feeding Quick Tips:
✔ Once frozen breast milk is defrosted, it’s good to use within 24 hours and shouldn’t be refrozen.
✔ Use leftover breast milk from feeding within 2 hours of finishing.
✔ Warm breast milk first, then gently shake. This technique will mix the fat which may have separated.
✔ Breast milk can be given cool, warm, or room temp to healthy full-term babies.
Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
According to the CDC, breast milk is optimal for 4 hours at room temp, 4 days in the fridge, and 4-6 months in the freezer. If you will be freezing your breast milk, it’s best to freeze it right away. Refrigerated breast milk can be frozen within 4 days of expression.
Keep your breast milk cool when a refrigerator is not available. Transport refrigerated/frozen milk by placing breast milk in an insulated bag or cooler with a frozen cold pack. Milk should be refrigerated or frozen within 24 hours.
Connect with a Spectra Baby USA IBCLC 24/7 via email at IBCLC@spectrababyusa.com. Our International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are happy to assist you with breast milk pumping, storing, and pumping.
Eglash, A., Simon, L., Brodribb, W., Reece-Stremtan, S., Noble, L., Brent, N., Bunik, M., Harrel, C., Lawrence, R. A., LeFort, Y., Marinelli, K. A., Rosen-Carole, C., Rothenberg, S., Seo, T., St. Fleur, R., & Young, M. (2017, September). ABM Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants, Revised 2017. Breastfeeding Medicine, 12(7), 390–395. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/57c2858d/KqhPD1RMGUCsOI2sn4jHRw?u=https://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2017.29047.aje
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