Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pumping & Storage of Breastmilk

Since August is National Breastfeeding Month, I decided to share how I pump and store my breastmilk. I proud to say that I have been exclusively nursing my baby for 7 months now (read about my journey HERE). I'm also lucky that I'm a stay-at-home mom so we direct feed most of the time. However, I also pump to relieve engorgement and to be able to leave milk at home when I go out without baby.

I've been using the Medela Swing electric pump for all 3 of my kids. I first used this in 2010 after my first child and it's held up fine until now. This was recommended to me by a friend and I'm really happy with its size and the fact that it's not so noisy. I bring this with me whenever I leave the house so I can pump when needed.

Most of the time, I nurse right until I have to leave the house then baby just feeds again when I come home in about an hour or two. But if baby is sleeping or is full, that's when I pump right before I go and then leave the milk at room temp without refrigerating it (usually 4-6 hours) for when baby gets hungry.

Usually, I'm just out for about 2-4 hours anyway (maybe 6 hours max) and then I'll also pump on the way home in the car. Hubby and I also love going on movie dates and what I do is pump in the theater while watching. I mean, you're just sitting down doing nothing, might as well pump right? At least after, if we decide to have dinner or go to the grocery, I don't have to worry about my engorged boobs anymore. ;p

When going out, I usually have 2-3 bottles in the refrigerator. I keep them for 3-5 days, then move it to the freezer if baby doesn't get to consume it. I usually keep the milk in each bottle to about 3oz to prevent wasting milk in case baby doesn't finish it.

There are times though that I'll get to pump just a little (like maybe 1-1.5oz). What I'll do is set aside the bottle (still at room temp) and pump again after an hour or so until I get 3-4 oz. Then that's when I refrigerate it.

I've also mixed milk pumped at different times of the day. I did research on it and it said it was okay as long as they're the same temperature when mixed. So let's say I pumped 1.5oz in the morning and placed that in the ref. When I get to pump another 1.5oz later in the day, I put that also in the ref and then combine it in one bottle after a few hours when they're both the same temperature. But I've rarely done this (maybe just thrice?), and only mixed milk pumped in the same day.

I also use Pigeon's Peristaltic Nipples with cross cuts since the milk will only come out when baby sucks on it, just like when breastfeeding. Not like nipples with round holes where the milk comes out as soon as you tilt the bottle. With these nipples, baby is able to replicate how he naturally latches on to you when nursing.

I also use this small cooler bag when transporting my refrigerated or frozen milk somewhere (for example when we go to my in-laws house and leave the baby there for a few hours). It also comes with 2 reusable cold gel packs which helps keep the milk cold while in transit.

I have just a few frozen milk in storage because I prefer giving my baby freshly pumped or refrigerated milk only. I also read that frozen milk can lose some of its nutrients and antibodies, but of course it is still better than formula. Besides, we direct feed most of the time anyway. The frozen milk is just for emergency purposes just in case the refrigerated milk isn't enough when I'm out.

These are the storage bags I use:

I prefer the Lansinoh ones since they have a ziplock seal. However, they're a bit expensive so I only use these when transferring about 3-4oz of milk so there's more space (the bags can hold up to 6oz).

The Playtex Nurser Liners are what I use most of the time since obviously they're cheaper. I only transfer 2oz of milk into these 4oz bags so that there's enough space to seal it (take note that milk expands when frozen so you don't want to fill the bags all the way too). However, I've encountered instances when the bags had little holes so the milk seeps through. So just make sure to double check before freezing, or place them inside another ziplock bag when thawing.

I was given this sealer by a friend which I use to seal the Playtex bags:

There are 8 heat settings, but I only place it at no.2 then press down for about 2 seconds. I once didn't realize it was at no.4 and the Playtex bag sort of melted where I sealed it because it was too hot.

I try to remove as much air as possible before sealing it, but it's a bit tricky sometimes since the milk goes up. I just do it really carefully then seal quickly. Although I'll probably buy the bigger sized bags next time to make it easier hehe.

I also seal it twice just to make sure it's really closed.

Then I lay it flat in a tupperware before putting it in the freezer. I also place all the packs in a big ziplock bag when frozen already.

When thawing, I transfer it to the ref a few hours before if I know I'll be using it within the day. If using it straight from the freezer, running the frozen pack over tap water helps to thaw it quicker. But our yaya just puts the frozen bag in a bowl of hot water and then transfers it to the bottle when already warm.

For more information, I read Chronicles of a Nursing Mom, especially the VIP (Very Important Posts) section which has really provided me lots of useful tips. :)

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