With the introduction of breast pumps, many nursing mothers have learned they can have the best of both worlds. They are not as tied to their baby as they may once have been just because they are breast feeding as they can use a breast pump to express their milk.
Pumping breast milk is actually the easy part, its the storage and containers it’s kept in that can bring about problems. The last thing you want is for your baby to come down with tummy cramps and diarrhoea all because you didn’t keep your feeding tools sterile.
The one golden rule of storing breast milk is it must be not just clean, but sterile. It’s vital to have maximum hygiene before even trying to pump your milk.
All the parts of a breast pump must bed scrubbed after each use. This should always be done in water as hot as you can stand. Once they have been washed, then you must sterilize them, and once sterilized they should be kept in that state until the moment you are ready to actually start pumping. If you bring them out of the sterilizing solution too early, you run the risk of contamination.
Once you have pumped your breast milk, it should be refrigerated as soon as possible. It may be left at room temperature for up to six hours, but this should almost never happen. Fresh breast milk can be stored for up to 72 hours in the refrigerator, and if you need to freeze it, it can be stored up to four months. However, if you are going to freeze it, ensure it is frozen within 24 hours of pumping it out of your breast as otherwise it begins to degrade.
Once it has defrosted, you should always use it within 24 hours, and it should never ever be refrozen. Also never add warm milk to the top of frozen milk, that’s asking for an upset tummy; ensure you cool the fresh milk before adding to frozen milk.
If you need to pump on a frequent basis, you may become concerned that you will not have enough milk left to feed your baby. This is not true as your body will respond to the pumping and will continue to produce more milk.
Some people will supplement their breast milk with formula; however you may find the formula milk lies heavily on the baby’s tummy. One solution to this could be to consider diluting the formula with breast milk; this would have the added advantage of not only making it a lighter milk on the baby’s tummy, but also of making sure the baby is still getting the benefits of nutrients from his mothers milk.