Breastfeeding Part 4: Pumping/Storing Milk

Posted On: 2010-04-01

Breast milk is like liquid gold... so valuable and so easy to go to waste. The most frustrating thing for me is spending all that effort and accidentally spilling a bag of milk, allowing milk in the fridge to go bad, or when my son refuses to finish a bottle. All of these scenarios are devastating to a degree but we get past it. Pumping and storing milk is a great luxury for breastfeeding parents. This allows the mom a break and also allows others to bond with the baby during a feeding.

Pumping can be done before or after your baby has nursed or if working, in place of a feeding. One thing to consider is that there are different types of milk at the beginning of the nursing or pumping period than there is at the end. At the end there is hindmilk, it's fattier and includes enzymes that help break down and digest the milk. Keep that in mind if you have a baby that spits up often or has GERD. My son had GERD and I was advised not to pump unless it is for a missed feeding (so no before/after nursing). The reason is because if I pump either before or after, I would be artificially increasing my milk supply to more than what he eats. That in turn would cause him to get less of the hindmilk because there would be more of the first part of the milk before he'd reach the hindmilk.

I pump and store the amount of milk in which he is eating to make it easier for babysitters to know how much to feed him. This also helped when he began to eat more because I would just send a 5oz bag with a 3oz bag for when he was eating 4oz each feeding. I always send extra milk!

Always label the milk bag with the date and quantity. The quantity is actually difficult to tell once the milk has been poured into the bag because of the shape of the bag. In addition, I would put a "c" if the pumped milk may have contained caffeine. The reason I did that was because caffeine causes reflux issues so I would only keep that milk if there was nothing else available. Most of the time I would just pump & dump though.

My son has been primarily breastfed from the breast because he has been with my full time since he was born. Family members have watched him on occasion and that is when he is bottle fed. I tend to keep all of the milk I pump frozen because the opportunity of needing it right away is minimal. Since he is not bottle fed very often I tend to pull a bag and feed him with a bottle and then pump the missed feeding so that my milk stock gets appropriately rotated. I tend to not let my frozen milk get older than 3 months.

Stocking up is easier to do once your baby begins to sleep through the night. I typically like to pump several hours after my son has gone to bed for three reasons 1) by the time he wakes up, if at all, I will already have enough built up to feed him and 2) It helps add to the stock of milk and finally 3) helps me continue to lose weight because it burns calories to keep producing milk. With those things considered it is such an amazing opportunity and benefits all involved.

Remember to bring your pump with you so you can pump if needed. 

More on this topic coming this week:

Mon- Part 1: Breastfeeding Supplies

Tues- Part 2: Pumping Supplies

Wed- Part 3: When Milk Comes In

Thur- Part 4: Pumping/Storing Milk

Frid - Part 5: Tricks and Tips