With the advent of breast pumps, many nursing mothers have discovered they can have their cake and eat it too! Or in other words 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 probably the easy part, it’s the storage and the containers it’s kept in that can cause problems, and the last thing you want is for your baby to go down with tummy cramps and diarrhoea just because you didn’t keep your feeding utensils sterile.
The golden rule (make that a platinum rule), of storing breast milk is not just clean, it’s sterile. It’s imperative your hygiene is at it’s maximum before even attempting to pump your milk, and if it’s not, then I suggest you leave it in its natural containers where its nice and sterile. (Your breasts)!
You must scrub all the parts of a breast pump after every use. This should always preferably be done in water as hot as you can cope with. Once they have been washed, then you must sterilize them. 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 them being contaminated.
Once you have pumped your breast milk, then it should be refrigerated as soon as possible. It can be left at room temperature for up to six hours, but this should only happen very infrequently. Fresh breast milk can be stored for up to 72 hours in the refrigerator, and if you want to freeze it, it can be stored for up to four months. If you are going to freeze it, ensure it is frozen within the first 24 hours of pumping it out of your breast as otherwise it will start to degrade.
Once it has defrosted, you should always use it within 24 hours, and it should never ever be refrozen! You should also never add warm milk to the top of freezing milk. It’s asking for an upset tummy; ensure you cool the fresh milk before adding to frozen milk.
If you feel you will 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 produce more milk.
Some people like to 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 ensuring the baby is still getting the nutrients from his mothers milk.