Pumping breast milk is a great way to provide the health benefits of breastfeeding when you can't be with your baby. Specifics for successful and efficient pumping vary widely depending in circumstances, pump types and other variables. But here's some basic guidelines for pumping breast milk for home use:
Cleanliness Counts – Yes, breastmilk (unlike formula) contains natural antibacterial properties. But, even in the life of a busy mom, it's still important to wash hands before pumping. Pump parts and bottles used for storage and feeding should be washed with hot, soapy water and air dried. Wash pump parts again thoroughly between pumping sessions (if you don't have access to facilities to wash between pumping, try placing pump parts in your cooler bag along with your expressed milk). In a pinch, medela now makes no-rinse wipes to clean your pump parts (shown below). Sterilize pump parts and bottles daily, or at least frequently in boiling water or using a steam or microwave sterilizer (we loved our avent microwave sterilizer, also shown below).
Perfect Parts – Pumping seems simple, but can create complications if you don't have the right parts. Personally, I had severe dermatitis, mistaken for thrush, that turned out it was caused by friction from early pumping and use of a nipple shield. Breasts are not one-size-fits-all and neither are pump parts. My problems largely went away when I switched to a larger pump shield and used a small amount of Nipple Cream to lubricate (not too much, or there's not enough friction to stimulate the milk!). I like the Medela Personal Fit System which is now easily available in many retail and online stores. And my favorite nipple cream by far is Motherlove's Nipple Cream. Both are shown below.
Savvy Storage – Choose storage containers designed for expressed breastmilk. If freezing, be sure to use some brand of breast milk storage bag. Bottle liners or plastic storage bags may leak, leach nutrients from the breast milk, or worse, leave chemicals from the plastic. On that note, when using bottles, it's best to choose glass or look for Bisphenol-A (BPA)-free plastic. There are also all kinds of other nifty products out there these days that freeze milk in ways that are more space efficient in the freezer, or more convenient or efficient to use. Just make sure that they are intended for breastmilk storage. And keep in mind, whatever container you use, that breast milk expands when frozen, so leave room in the container!
For more information on pumping, storing and using stored breast milk, also see my articles "How to Store Breast Milk" and "Using Stored Breast Milk – Guidelines" through the Related Links section below.
Cleanliness – Here's the Quick Clean Wipes and Microwave Sterilizer I mentioned above:
Parts – Here's the Personal Fit Connectors that work with Medela Pumps – there are 4 sizes of shields that fit into them. 24mm is standard, with 21mm and 24mm smaller sizes and and 30mm and 36mm larger sizes. My favorite nipple cream by Motherlove is also linked here.
Storage – Here's several different types of Breast Milk Storage Options
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