How To Pump And Store Breastmilk When Breastfeeding

Editorial Team

I am sure we have heard a lot about breastfeeding and how it is important for us to breastfeed our babies exclusively for 6 months so much that we have probably gotten tired about hearing about it. The truth is the we cannot over emphasis the need to breastfeed our babies to us because breastmilk is not just food to our kids, it also serves as medicine and helps protect our babes against a lot of infections.

While some women would like to breastfeed their kids exclusively for as long as needed there is always that clause of what of when I resume back at work for working mums. A lot of working mums believe that exclusive breastfeeding can only work for stay at home moms. But the truth is I am a good example of a mum who did exclusive breastfeeding for her baby for six months even after resuming at the third month. Let me tell you the secret to me being able to do this even while I was working.

The first step for me was finding someone who would respect and support my decision to breastfeed my baby exclusively. While i was lucky to have my mum be that person some don't have that luxury which means either your mum doesn’t really see the need to rely only on breastmilk or maybe she is unable to help you take care of your child for various reasons. It is then important that whoever is going to be taking care of your child respects your wishes and follows them.

The second step for me was how I was going to be able to express my milk, the first thing i did was get a good breast pump after getting that I watched and read on the best way to pump breastmilk. This is what I learnt to do ,

  • Sit comfortably, with your back straight.
  • Support your breast from underneath.
  • Ease your nipple into the funnel, making sure that your nipple is in the centre of the funnel.
  • Keep the funnel close enough to maintain a seal with your skin, without forcing it on to your breast.
  • Be patient
  • Pump until the milk flow slows down, and then switch to the second breast. When the flow slows on the second breast, go back to the first. Finally, finish on the second when the flow slows for the second time.
  • If you are pumping both breasts at the same time (double pumping), turn the pump off for 30 seconds or so when the flow slows. Then turn it back on and carry on until it slows again. Using a double pump can be tricky at first, but keep practising, and it will get easier.

Expressing by hand is the cheapest option, as you don't need anything more than a clean container, such as a jug, to catch the milk, and bags or lidded containers to store it in. The trick is to put pressure on the milk ducts behind your nipple, rather than squeezing the nipple itself. Manual pumps also use a suction cup, though rather than an automatic action, you repeatedly squeeze a handle to extract your milk.

The next step is how to store your milk, best to put breastmilk in plastic feeding bottles with secure tops to ensure it's properly sealed. You can also use plastic bags made especially for storing milk. Remember to write the date on the bottle or bag before putting it in the fridge or freezer, so that you use up the oldest ones first. Freshly expressed milk can be stored for up to five days, in the main part of a fridge or up to two weeks, in the freezer compartment of a fridge.

Freezing milk destroys some of its antibodies, which your baby needs to help fight infections. So it's best not to freeze any that you plan to use within the time limits. Frozen breastmilk is still healthier for your baby than formula milk. When you want to unfreeze your milk, place the bottle or bag in a bowl of warm water, run it under cool then warm water from the tap or defrost it in the fridge overnight.

Once the milk is unfrozen, use it straight away and if your baby doesn’t finish the milk, throw it way because the milk will have mixed with your baby’s saliva and may not be hygienic for next time. 

The truth is I did the majority of my pumping at work and very few people knew, all I did was find a very private area at work to express milk and store in a cool with ice packs to carry until i got home and put it in my fridge. Although you can store in the freezer for 6 months, I pumped and used the next day because i still wanted it to be a bit fresh when giving my baby.