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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pumping, Storing and Using Breast Milk

This week is Babywise Friendly Blog Network week and we are all discussing the topic of feeding our children. When I was pregnant with my first baby I wasn't sure how passionately I'd feel about breastfeeding. Once I learned about all the benefits of breast milk for babies, I became much more dedicated to giving my children the very best thing for them!

I often get asked about how I pump, how I store the pumped milk, and how I use the milk that I have stored. I am blessed to be able to stay at home full time with my children so I don't have the pressure of pumping at work or dealing with transporting milk on a daily basis for child care. I do, however, travel often. And many of those travels require leaving my young baby at home while I'm away. When my son was 7 weeks old my husband and I went to Paris for a week. And when my newest baby was 11 weeks old we went to Hawaii. Both of these trips required me to start pumping soon after my babies were born to allow time to store up enough milk to be able to leave them with enough to eat while we were away! Even though I may not have to give my children bottles on a daily basis, I am still well trained in the fine art of pumping ;)


Pumping:

  • A good breast pump is vital to a successful pumping experience. Since we do travel often and I do use my pump so much, I have the Medela Freestyle . It's seriously amazing. I can attach the hooks to my bra and it allows for hands free pumping. It's the only pump I've ever used so I can't recommend any others...but I love mine! 
  • In order to start saving up milk I start pumping when my babies are about a week old. The BEST way to pump without increasing supply is to pump at random times each day. This tricks your body so it doesn't start producing more milk. I would pump one day after her first morning feeding. Then another day I'd pump after her last feeding for the day. The next day I'd pump after her lunch feeding, etc. 
  • I'm so, so thankful I discovered Milkies . They are AWESOME. You put the Milkies onto the breast that you are not nursing from. While the baby nurses on the one side, you leak milk into the Milkies on the other. This is what I refer to as "free milk." I didn't have to pump to get it and it's a great way to add to your supply! 
  • Once I start giving my baby a bottle (usually also around a week old or so) then I always pump for the "missed feeding." I know some people pump and give their baby the milk in their bottle that they just freshly pumped, but I have never done that. I always pump and store the milk then use previously pumped milk for the bottles. I often pump more milk than my baby drinks from a bottle so this is another great way to add to my collection!
  • Another good way to store up extra milk is to pump for comfort. Once my baby starts sleeping longer stretches at night it takes awhile for my body to slow down on the production. So if I wake up uncomfortable I will pump a little to allow myself to go back to sleep. This adds to my stored milk and allows me to sleep!
  • I have several friends who keep a nightly pump session once their baby sleeps through the night. They will pump before they go to bed to allow extra milk storage and to go to bed nice and empty. I've never done this (I don't like pumping anymore than I have to!) but it's another great way to get extra milk if needed. 
Storing:
  • As I pump milk I pump it into Medela Bottles that fit on my pump. I then put these bottles in the fridge. Breast milk is good in the fridge for up to 8 days so if I'm going to do any bottle feeding I will use the fridge milk for that before I freeze it.
  • I keep the milk from the Milkies separate from the pumped milk. After each feeding I pour the fresh "Milkies milk" into a bottle and put it in the fridge. Once it's cold I will pour it into a bottle of other Milkies milk. You never want to combine fresh/warm milk with already cold milk! 
  • I have used many different brands of breast milk storage bags but have found that the Lansinoh brand is the least likely to leak! I always freeze my milk in 2 and 3 oz quantities. These amounts allow for the easiest bottle making amounts! I measure the milk out in a bottle first then pour into the bags. 
  • I label the bags with the amount of milk, the date, and the type of milk it is. I put a "P" if it's milk I pumped and an "M" if it's milk collected from using the Milkies. Because the Milkies milk is fore milk it's not as rich in nutrients at the pumped milk. I am mindful to label this milk so I can be strategic when I use it later on.
  • I keep my milk frozen in a deep freezer. It is good for up to a year in a deep freezer. In a refrigerator style freezer it's good for up to 3 months. I always lay it flat when first freezing as it makes it much easier to store it!
  • When I travel and bring the milk home with me (which I always do!) I am careful to label that milk with where I traveled. Milk from Hawaii is labeled with an "H" etc. This way if when the milk gets used I will know it was milk that was traveled with so if there are any issues with it I know which milk to throw away. I've never experienced any problems with any of my milk but it's a precaution I think is worth taking!
Using:
  • My milk is mostly used for times when I'm away from my baby. I give the frozen milk to the care giver (typically my mother-in-law) and she thaws it to use for each feeding. 
  • Since the Milkies milk is the fore milk, when I use it to make bottles I will do a mixture of Milkies and pumped milk. This ensures my baby is getting a bottle of the best combination of nutrients. 
  • I also like to mix different dates of milk. I have read that as your baby grows your milk changes so by making bottles of milk from different dates it helps give a good variety of milk to my baby. 
  • I always end up with WAY more breast milk in my freezer than I need. Usually I'm done nursing my babies before I'm out of the stored milk. I have read that it's more beneficial for babies to receive one serving of breast milk a day for a longer period of time rather than giving it multiple times a day and running out of milk sooner. 
  • With my first baby I weaned him from nursing at around 9 months old. I did a couple feedings a day of breast milk and a couple a day of formula and he was able to still have breast milk until he was a year old.
  • With my second baby I nursed her until she was 13 months old. Having the extra breast milk allowed her to get a sippy cup of breast milk every day until she was close to 16 months old. 
  • During the winter months I try to up my kid's immune systems the best I possibly can...I may have also started adding some frozen breast milk to their smoothies ;) Liquid gold, right? 
Pumping and storing breast milk is not always a simple process. Any mother who has pumped will tell you that she'd much rather nurse her baby! However, being able to give my children the nutritional benefits that breast milk provides makes all the hassle well worth it. Do you have any pumping tips?

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