Tips for Expressing and Storing Breast Milk
Do you have to be away because your baby is premature or ill? Or you have to go to work? Is your baby not sucking well or your breasts felt painfully full? There are plenty of reasons to express and store your breast milk at IVF center. You can also use expressed breast milk with her first solid foods. You can do it manually or using a breast pump.
Before using pump, ask for doctor’s advice or find out if you can try one before buying. Be sure that pump or container is clean or sterilized before using the same.
Expressing milk by hand is even easier than using pump, especially in the initial few days. There is no need to borrow a pump or buy it. Here are the tips which may help –
- Wash your hands properly with warm water and soap before starting and massage your breast gently.
- Cup your breast behind the darker part of breast.
- Squeeze it using a thumb gently and others in C shape. It won’t hurt. Just don’t squeeze the nipple as it would be unable to express and make it sore.
- Release the pressure and do it again in the same rhythm. Don’t slide the fingers over skin. Only a few drops will come out at first. Keep going as it can build up the supply of your milk. Milk will flow well with practice and some time.
- Move your fingers over when no drops come out and try another section and repeat.
- Swap to other breast when flow slows down. Keep switching breasts until milk drips slow down and stop.
- Move your fingers eventually to the nipple if it doesn’t flow or give a gentle massage to your breast.
- Hold a sterilized container or feeding bottle below the breast to catch the flowing milk.
Your baby may often need some more milk or may not be able to feed directly from your breast. This way, you may want to feed expressed milk in a cup. However, you need to do it under midwife’s supervision until you are assured enough to avoid the risk of choking.
Breast pumps can add some flexibility if you want more flexibility to your work life. You need to store your expressed milk safely when you start pumping.
Where to store expressed milk?
Before handling or expressing, wash your hands with water and soap. Store expressed milk in a capped, clean glass or BPA-free hard plastic or container. Special plastic bags can also be used which are made for storage and collecting milk. Keep in mind that storage bags for breast milk might leak, tear, and are more likely to be contaminated than hard-sided ones. Keep your bags in a food storage container made of hard plastic with a tight lid. Don’t store your breast milk in plastic bags or disposable bottle liners made for general purpose.
How to Store Expressed Milk?
Label each container with waterproof ink and labels with date of expressing breast milk. If you are storing the same at the childcare facility of your baby, add the name of your baby to its label. Place the container in the back of the freezer or refrigerator where it receives the coolest temperature. Store the milk in an insulated cooler for a while if you can’t access the freezer or refrigerator.
Fill the containers with milk your baby will need. You can fill it with 2-4 ounces and adjust them when needed. Also store the milk in small amounts, i.e. 1 to 2 ounces, for unexpected delays or situations in feedings. Don’t fill the breast milk fully on the containers as it expands when it freezes.
Can I mix already stored milk with expressed breast milk?
You can mix frozen or refrigerated milk with fresh breast milk. Keep in mind that the frozen or refrigerated milk is expressed on the same day. Cool the fresh breast milk properly in the cooler or refrigerator with ice packs before adding the same to previously frozen or chilled milk. Don’t mix frozen breast milk with warm breast milk as frozen one can thaw a bit.
Is there any difference in smell or color in thawed breast milk?
According to your diet, the color of breast milk may vary. Thawed breast milk might have different consistency or odor than freshly expressed one. It can safely feed your baby. If your child refuses thawed one, it might affect the storage period.