Pumping Breast Milk: Get The Best Of Both Worlds
By Michelle Higgins
You want to go back to work but would like to keep feeding baby the best food possible- breast milk. Is exclusive breastfeeding possible if you are away from baby eight hours a day? Yes, here is where pumping milk comes in.
Why pump breast milk?
Most moms pump breast milk to collect and store it for their babies while they are not around. However, if you have engorged breasts you can express some of your milk to ease the discomfort. If your baby is premature or cannot latch on to your breast for some reason, pumping breast milk might be recommended for her.
I have no clue how to proceed!
Well, the first thing to do is to decide what method you will be using. Will you be pumping milk regularly? If you plan to do this, then investing in a breast pump will save you a lot of time and energy. Where will you be pumping milk? There are fancy battery operated pumps that will let you pump milk while you work. Do you need one of those? What are others doing? Though it is not a good idea to compare babies, comparing pumps can help you choose the best one for you. Discuss your options with your healthcare provider too.
Choose the right method
Expressing breast milk by hand is a long and painful process. If you will be pumping only once in a while to ease engorgement, provide a relief bottle or store milk for emergencies, this can work for you. Electric breast pumps can extract milk from both breasts at the same time, and they are much faster. Battery operated breast pumps might not be too cost effective but if you want to pump on the go, they are your best bet. Whatever method you choose, it is important to learn how to pump milk.
Storing your precious breast milk
Refrigerate expressed milk immediately if you want to store it for future use. Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for as long as six hours. If you freeze it, breast milk can stay fresh for a week or two. Make sure you freeze it in small quantities for easy thawing. Thaw milk under running water instead of the microwave. Never refreeze thawed milk.
Tricks of the trade
Timing matters. A good time interval after nursing helps pump more milk as your breasts will not generate much milk right after your baby has drained them.
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Your milk supply partly depends on the amount of water you take in.
Relax and keep your surroundings quiet. Or play some soothing music while you put your legs up and close your eyes. Remember that stress can reduce your milk output.
Thinking about your baby can stimulate the flow of milk.
Pumping milk can seem tough in the beginning. Spend the initial few days on learning the technique. Eventually, you will be able to fit it nicely into your schedule. And what is more you will enjoy the best of both worlds!