Breastfeeding is something wonderful, but for many mothers it’s not always possible to find the time. Pumping milk in advance means that mothers can provide nutritious breast milk to give to their child later on.
Using a milk pump might feel strange at first, but it gives you much more independence without depriving your baby of precious mother’s milk.
Breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your child, so it can take some time to get used to. For this reason you shouldn’t feed your baby breast milk from a bottle for the first six to eight weeks.
You can pump milk either by hand or with a pump. Expressing milk by hand is more time-consuming and requires some practice, but it’s the cheapest method because you don’t need any equipment. A pump makes it easier and more efficient. A manual pump is sufficient for occasional use, but if you intend to pump milk regularly it’s worth investing in an electric one. Many pharmacies, hospitals, midwives and breastfeeding specialists also have pumps for hire.
If you only want to pump off small reserves of milk occasionally, the best approach is to pump for around 15 minutes per breast after you’ve breastfed your baby. Mothers who want to use their milk for several feeds (if they’re returning to work, for example) should use a pump while they are away and store all the milk collected.
At room temperature (between 17°C and 25°C) breast milk keeps for up to eight hours, less at higher temperatures. You can store breast milk for up to 72 hours in the fridge and if you freeze it in small amounts in sealed containers, it will keep for up to six months. It’s essential therefore to label the containers clearly with the date on which the milk was pumped off. Once it’s thawed the milk has to be used immediately or thrown away.