Project Breast Feeding

3 – Pumping and Milk Storage

Why pump?

Pumping can ensure that breast milk is available for your baby when someone else is caring for him. Moms who work outside the home also find it important to pump while they are at work so they can keep up their milk supply. For working moms, it is important to maintain frequent nursing during non-work hours to help maintain the milk supply.

Since the production of breast milk is a supply and demand process, if milk is not being demanded (by a pump at work or the baby at home), less milk will be produced.

When should I start pumping?

It is ideal to wait until your milk supply is firmly established and stabilized, which generally takes about six weeks. Pumping too much too early can result in oversupply, which can lead to engorgement and make you susceptible to infection. For mothers who need to return to work at six weeks, you could begin pumping at four weeks, but only pump once per day until your milk supply is stable.

Where do I get a breast pump?

You can purchase a hand or electric breast pump from a local retailer or online company that sells breastfeeding supplies. You can also rent a breast pump from some hospitals or retailers. For a list of resources in central Florida, see the handout Central Florida Breast Pump Depots created by the Central Florida Breastfeeding Task Force included in this packet.

Is my employer required to let me pump at work?

Yes. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of March 2010 requires, by law, that all employers must provide a private (no bathroom) place and reasonable break time for mothers to express breast milk during the workday.

How should breast milk be stored?

Store breast milk in bags made for collecting milk, or in glass or plastic bottles. Label the milk by date. Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for 3-4 hours (optimal) or 6-8 hours (acceptable); in the refrigerator for 3 days (optimal) or 5-8 days (acceptable); or in the freezer for 6 months (optimal) or 12 months (acceptable). The optimal time is when most of the nutrients are still intact.

In an acceptable time, some of the nutrients have begun to breakdown and non-harmful amounts of bacteria begin to grow. Thaw frozen milk by holding the bag or bottle under warm water, or defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Thawed milk should be used within 24 hours.

Do not microwave. For more information, see the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee guidelines:
What if I’m not getting very much milk when I pump?

It is common to have less milk extracted from a pump than your baby. To help increase milk during pumping, sit down and relax for a minute before beginning to pump. Drink some water, relax and look at pictures of your baby. While pumping, use your thumb and forefinger to gently push the milk through your breast toward the pump. Try to pump every 1.5-2 hours to maintain a good milk supply.

3 – Pumping and Milk Storage

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