Content of the material
- Pumping your Breast Milk
- Guidelines for using expressed breast milk
- Cleaning equipment
- How to Store Your Breast Milk
- How to store breast milk in the freezer2,3
- Mini Fridge Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Mini Fridge for Breast Milk Storage
- Temperature Control
- Size and Capacity
- Storage Time
- Energy Consumption
- Preparing expressed breastmilk for use
- Expressing breastmilk with a manual pump
- How often and how much?
- Should I Use a Bottle or Breast Milk Storage Bag?
- Learn Everything You Ever Need To Know About Breastfeeding
Pumping your Breast Milk
Eventually, you’ll want to leave your house though. Maybe with your little bundle, maybe without.
And as much as you may want to take your precious baby wherever you go, this is not always an option.
I know my job was not keen on letting me bring my baby to work.
In order to keep up a successful breastfeeding relationship, you’re probably going to need to pump and store your breast milk. That way when baby gets hungry, your partner or babysitter can grab a bottle of your milk from the fridge and provide a nourishing meal for your little one.
Even if you don’t work, there is a big chance you will want or need to pump breast milk in order to meet your baby’s nutritional needs.
Guidelines for using expressed breast milk
Stored breast milk tends to separate into layers, with the fat (cream) rising to the top. Gently swirl the bottle to mix the layers before feeding your baby. Vigorous stirring or shaking can damage some of the milk’s nutritional and protective components.5
When your baby feeds on expressed breast milk from a cup or bottle, bacteria from his mouth can naturally end up in the milk. For this reason, it’s best to throw away any leftover, partly drunk milk within one to two hours of his initial feed. To avoid wasting expressed milk, it’s always a good idea to store it in small amounts, and only use what you need.2
You do not have to disinfect or sterilise your own expressing equipment if you have a healthy term baby.
- If you are expressing several times a day, rinse the equipment in cold water after use and store in a clean, closed container.
- If you have a fridge, you can store the unrinsed expressing equipment in a clean, closed container or plastic bag.
- If you are expressing only once a day or less, clean it after every use.
Thoroughly clean expressing equipment at least once every 24 hours.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water, and dry well.
- Take the equipment apart and rinse the parts in cold water. Wash in hot water with a small amount of dishwashing liquid – you can use a brush.
- Rinse twice in hot water.
- Drain equipment upside-down on a clean cloth/paper towel, cover and air dry.
- Store equipment in a new plastic bag, plastic wrap or clean container.
- If you use an electric breast pump, do not wet any electrical parts and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
Talk to your doctor, child health nurse, lactation consultant or Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor about cleaning expressing equipment if:
- your baby is sick
- you or your baby has thrush
- you have a nipple infection.
How to Store Your Breast Milk
That’s why it’s always important to: Label your breast milk with the date and time it was pumped to keep track of what’s fresh. Frequently clean out the fridge and freezer to discard spoiled milk. Utilize the sniff test and discard any milk that smells sour, even if it hasn’t met its expiration date.
How to store breast milk in the freezer2,3
Read on for how to freeze breast milk safely:
- Freeze your breast milk as soon as possible after expressing.
- Expressed milk may be added to already frozen breast milk, provided the milk you want to add is cooled in the fridge beforehand. Don’t add body-temperature milk to frozen milk.
- For easier thawing and minimal wastage, store your milk in small portions (less than 60 ml). These can be combined after defrosting.
- Check that your breast milk storage containers can be used in the freezer – some products (such as glass bottles) may crack at very low temperatures. Medela breast milk storage bags are ideal for storing frozen breast milk as they’re freezer-proof, ready to be used and easy to label.
- Don’t fill bottles or bags more than three-quarters full, as breast milk expands during freezing.
- Store frozen breast milk at the back of the freezer where the temperature is most consistent. Keep it away from the walls of self-defrosting freezers.
Mini Fridge Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Mini Fridge for Breast Milk Storage
When shopping for the best mini fridge to store your breast milk and baby bottles, there are some key features that you need to consider before making a purchase to ensure you end up with the right product. Here are the most important ones to keep in mind:
The ability to adjust the temperature of your breast milk mini fridge is a helpful feature that will allow you to choose how cold your milk gets. For safely storing breast milk, you need the fridge to maintain the temperature of around 39°F (4°C). So it’s important to make sure that the fridge you buy can maintain this as an average temperature in all its compartments.
Likewise, the ability to store frozen breast milk may be handy if you are planning on storing your milk for later use or donating milk to another family. So having that adjustable temperature control feature may be helpful for you.
Either way, it’s a good idea to always warm expressed breast milk before giving it to your baby.
Size and Capacity
For breast milk storage, you would want the capacity should be at least 4 liters; which is enough to fit about 3 or 4 17-ounce baby bottles.
Another factor to consider is if you want to store your pump parts in the mini fridge alongside your expressed breast milk. Keeping your breast pump parts in the fridge means you won’t have to sterilize them with each use. But of course, you will need to factor that extra size into your choice.
Generally speaking, the best mini fridges for storing breast milk are either cube-shaped or tall. Cube-shaped models offer more compactness so the chances of fitting them under a desk or on top of a counter are significantly higher.
Cube-shaped models are also more portable, which makes it easy for transporting breast milk from one place to another. They do offer fewer racks and less space, but they can be more than enough if you’re just looking for short-term breast milk storage.
On the other side, tall mini-fridges have more breast milk storage room but they take up much more space. If you plan to express breast milk at work and have your own office space, it might be a good idea to buy one of the larger models, such as the Danby or the Midea. But if you are traveling, or otherwise moving around a lot and don’t have your own storage space, a more compact model like the Cooluli will be a better option, because it takes up a lot less space and can be powered with your car’s cigarette lighter.
Remember that you can match these mini milk fridges with a good quality cooler bag to transport your cooled expressed breast milk from work to home, or while you are out and about. I’ve got a great article on cooler bags for breast milk here.
Good portability means that you’re able to easily carry and move your breast milk fridge from one place to another while still getting the best possible cooling capacity whether indoors or outdoors.
Portability makes life so much simpler for working breastfeeding moms. A small portable mini fridge is a great option for storing and transporting breast milk between work and home.
This is why you should take the size of the mini-fridge into account, as well as look for models with lightweight construction and convenient carrying handles if you will be moving the fridge regularly.
Additionally, some mini fridges have the ability to run on your car’s cigarette lighter, which will mean that if you are moving around in a vehicle often you will be able to keep your expressed breast milk stored at the perfect temperature. This is a super handy feature to have if you need that extra convenience.
The duration of the storage period can be short or long depending on the capability of the breast milk fridge, the frequency of use, and how long it takes you to restore the fresh breast milk.
If you want to store your milk for up to 7 days, you may prefer a more long-term milk storage options. For longer term milk storage, opt for a compact mini fridge with a compressor.
On the other hand, moms who prefer giving their babies breast milk as fresh as possible can be well suited with short-term storage options. These are equipped with thermoelectric semiconductors and are perfect for storing milk between work and home or while traveling. Fresh breast milk should only be stored in these portable mini fridges for up to 24 hours, before being stored in a freezer or given to your baby.
If you’re in the market for an efficient portable mini fridge to keep stored breast milk cold while you are on the go, then you will need to be aware of the energy consumption levels of your target product.
For travel or in-car storage of breast milk, you will likely need a mini fridge with lower energy consumption and various power support options such as USB ports and cigarette lighters in vehicles.
Preparing expressed breastmilk for use
You can give your baby expressed breastmilk with a cup, spoon or bottle.
Warm your container of breastmilk by placing it in warm water. Use fresh breastmilk first if you have some, but if you’re using frozen breastmilk, you can thaw it by placing it in either cool or warm water.
Gently swirl the bottle or container, and test the temperature of the milk before feeding your baby. The temperature should be lukewarm or around body temperature. Some babies don’t mind it if you feed them milk that’s been thawed but not warmed.
Don’t use a microwave oven to thaw or warm the milk, because this destroys some of the components of breastmilk. It can also result in hot spots, which can burn a baby.
Expressing breastmilk with a manual pump
Manual breast pumps usually consist of a breast shield attached to a pump handle and collection bottle or container.
Just as with hand-expressing, the first step in expressing breastmilk with a manual pump is getting yourself relaxed and comfortable. This helps get your let-down happening in whatever way works for you. Gentle massage as described above is a good idea too.
Here are the next steps, when you’re ready:
- Place the breast shield of the pump directly over your breast with your nipple centred.
- Squeeze the pump handle gently and rhythmically – you might see only drops of milk until your let-down happens, and then it’ll spray.
- Pump until your milk flow stops.
- Switch to the other breast. You can go back and forth several times.
How often and how much?
How much you need to express depends on your reason for expressing.
- If you are expressing to relieve full breasts, just express enough to feel comfortable.
- If you are expressing for a premature baby or for a baby who is unable to breastfeed, you will need to express fully and often.
Some mothers express large volumes every few hours, while others find it easier to express small amounts more often. Other mothers prefer to ‘power pump’. This is when you express several times in a 2 to 3 hour period.
Expressing more often (frequency) may increase the milk volume better than spending a longer time (duration) expressing at each session. Choose an expressing pattern that suits you, and keep expressing for a few minutes after the milk flow has stopped.
It is important not to judge breastmilk production by the amount of milk you can express. A healthy baby is better at draining the breast than a breast pump.
Should I Use a Bottle or Breast Milk Storage Bag?
The right containers are crucial for proper breast milk storage. Breastfeeding moms can safely store their milk in glass, hard plastic bottles , or BPA-free milk storage bags . Avoid using disposable bottles or regular bags found around the home. Your storage container needs to be specifically for breast milk. If you would like to use bottles: Use glass or hard plastic storage bottles that are BPA-free Make sure they’re leak-proof Breast milk storage bags are another great option, especially for freezing human milk
Learn Everything You Ever Need To Know About Breastfeeding
My friend Stacey is a certified lactation educator and created an awesome breastfeeding program for new moms! This is the program I wish I had when I first started out breastfeeding my baby.
This is like a really great breastfeeding book but with lots of fun formats like great video demonstrations and a printable trouble shooting guide!
If you want to learn how to make breastfeeding easy (and pain free!) Stacey is your girl!
She has helped thousands of new moms have a healthy breastfeeding relationship with their baby, all while learning from the comfort of their own home. Her course is awesome and so affordable! (About the cost of a single breastfeeding book.)
Go check out all the course details!
*Update: She also just put out an awesome pumping course made just for mama’s to get the hang of pumping. Perfect for those moms returning to work after maternity leave!