Breastmilk. Every Ounce Counts.

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Planning Ahead

If you will be away from your baby long enough to miss one or more feedings, pump or hand express your milk at the same time you would have normally breastfed your baby. This will help you keep up your milk supply so you can continue breastfeeding, even if you return to work or school. Storing your breastmilk safely after you pump will make sure your baby always has the nourishment he needs while you are away.

Pumping Tips

Express your milk faster

You can express your milk much faster if you use an electric breast pump and your hands at the same time.

Get a free pump

If you are going back to work or school, or are having a hard time building your milk supply, you can get a free pump from your health plan. Call the number on your health plan card to ask about this benefit. If you have trouble getting a pump from your health plan, call your WIC clinic. They can help.

Start pumping on your maternity leave

If you plan to go back to work, it's a good idea to begin pumping while you are still on maternity leave. It will help you get prepared and build a backup supply of breastmilk. You can begin anytime you feel ready. Start with pumping once a day between feedings. Many moms find that they are able to express more milk in the morning. Once you find a time that works best for you, try to pump around the same time each day.

Keep a consistent schedule

When you return to work, you will need to express your milk during the times you would normally feed your baby. Let your employer know about the importance of keeping that same schedule. Pumping at work will help you breastfeed your baby longer because it tells your body to keep making milk. It will also keep your body comfortable so that you can focus on work.

Thoughts of your baby can help milk flow

If you look at a picture of your baby, listen to a recording of your baby's voice, or think about nursing your baby, it can help you relax and start your milk flow.

The basics of pumping

Wash your hands first

Wash your hands before pumping breastmilk, and then massage both breasts.

Start with a low suction

Pump both breasts at the same time, starting with low suction. Then increase to a comfortable suction. If you can free up one of your hands, try compressing your breasts (squeeze softly and then let go, over and over) to get more milk out. Continue until your milk flow slows to a trickle.

Massage

Massage your breasts again, especially in areas that feel full.

Express into the pump's bottle

Finish by hand expressing your milk into the pump's bottle shield or pumping one breast at a time. Do whichever way you are able to express the most milk.

Pump regularly

Your breasts make more milk than you will be able to pump, but it is important to pump regularly while you are away from your baby. It will keep up your milk supply.

Pumping shouldn't hurt

Pumping shouldn't hurt. If you have pain or difficulty with pumping, ask the WIC office or a lactation consultant for help.

If you have experienced an injury or infection from a breast pump, please report your breast pump issue to the FDA. This can help them to better understand the risks of breast pumps and potentially prevent problems from happening to others.

How to Store Breastmilk

1

Wash your hands before handling breastmilk.

2

You can store breastmilk in a plastic or glass bottle with a screw-on lid or in sterile zip-seal breastmilk storage bags. You can find these in the baby section of most grocery stores.

3

Label the containers with the date the milk was pumped and your baby's name. This is helpful if your baby goes to child care where there is more than one infant or if more than one mom is pumping at work.

4

Cool down the breastmilk you pump as soon as possible. You can store it in a refrigerator or in a cooler with ice packs. The milk can also be frozen if you aren't going to use it right away.

5

Store breastmilk in amounts that you use for a normal feeding. Since you can't re-freeze breastmilk, you may want to start by storing about 2 to 4 ounces per bottle or bag. Every ounce counts!

How to use pumped breastmilk

Color variations

  • Many moms notice the breastmilk in their refrigerator looks blue, yellow, or brown and wonder if something is wrong. That is normal—the color of breastmilk can be different depending on the foods you eat.
  • It is also normal for breastmilk to separate, so that the fatty part of the milk rises to the top.
  • Gently tilt the bottle or the sealed bag back and forth, and the fat will go back into the milk. Do not shake the bag or bottle.

Breastmilk storage guidelines

Storage method Best used within Still safe to use within
Insulated cooler bag 24 hours 24 hours
Refrigerator 3 days 5 days
Freezer section inside a refrigerator 2 weeks 2 weeks
Freezer with a separate door or deep freezer 6 months 12 months

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