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Pumping breast milk

Sometimes it can be difficult for mothers to coordinate breastfeeding with doctors’ appointments, work or the occasional evening out. Pumping breast milk can help make it easier to cope with a hectic daily schedule.

Breastfeeding is something wonderful. But for many mothers it’s not always possible to find the time. By pumping in advance you can create reserves of nutritious breast milk that you can later feed to your child.

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 bottled milk for the first six to eight weeks.

How do I pump off milk?
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 lactation counsellors also have pumps for rent.

How and how often should I pump milk?

If you only want to pump small reserves of milk on an occasional basis, the best approach is to pump for around 15 minutes per breast after you’ve breastfed your baby. If you want to put aside enough reserves for several feeds at a time, for example if you’re going back to work, you should pump during your absence and store the entire quantity of milk.

How long can I store the milk?
At room temperature (between 17°C and 25°C) milk keeps for up to eight hours, less at warmer temperatures. You can store mother’s milk for up to 72 hours in the fridge.
And if you freeze it in small portions it’ll keep for up to six months – although once it’s thawed you have to use it immediately or throw it out.

Any more questions?

If you have questions related to breastfeeding and motherhood, as an insured member of SWICA you can call the doctors and healthcare professionals at sante24 for expert advice, free of charge, and around the clock. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86.

Swica is also supporting the Stillkampagne 2017 breastfeeding campaign which is running from May to July in German-speaking Switzerland. You’ll find more information at