How to Pump Your Milk
Pumping milk is when you squeeze milk from your breasts by hand or by a pump, store it, and save it in a container so you can feed your baby later. It’s a great way to relieve engorged breasts, but it’s also good if you need to be away from your baby for a few hours but still want him or her to have the benefits of your breast milk. In addition, your baby’s father can feed the baby pumped milk, helping him to feel more involved.
It’s possible to pump breast milk by hand, but it’s time consuming, inefficient, and often messy, and many women prefer to use manual or electric breast pumps instead. To use a manual pump, you put a suction cup over your breast and pump milk into a container by using the squeeze mechanism on the pump. With an electric pump, you put the suction cup on your breast, turn the machine on, and let it do the work for you. It typically takes 15 to 40 minutes to pump your milk from both breasts.
As soon as you have pumped your milk, you need to store it correctly in sealed bottles. Remember to put a date on the bottle before storing it in the freezer or fridge. You can store pumped milk in the coldest compartment of a refrigerator for up to a week and for up to four months in a freezer set at 0°F or colder. Freezing does destroy some of the milk’s antibodies, but frozen breast milk is still a preferable alternative to using commercial formula. Fresh breast milk will keep in the fridge for only 24 hours.
To thaw and warm the milk, place the bottle in a bowl of warm water. Don’t’ use the microwave because this kills nutrients. Never refreeze any milk that your baby has only partly drunk – just throw it away.