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Things to look at when expressing breastmilk.

Things to look at when expressing breastmilk.

This week we are going to focus more on your boobs, breastmilk and everything you need to know around this.

Whether you are going back to work or if you just want to stock up on milk so that your partner can help, so that you can have a night off or if you would like to donate your milk to hospitals to feed babies in need. The best way to do this is to use a breast pump.

You get various different types of breast pumps and when looking at getting one you need to keep a few things in mind, some of the most important things to keep in mind is no matter which pump you go for, you should not have sore hands, a sore neck and should not be causing any pain to you when using it.

There are a few types of Breast pumps:

  • Manual pumps- piston types which a lot cheaper & do not have vacuum regulation. These work great for moms who have sore nipples and needs a softer pumping action and more control over it. They do take longer than you electric pumps however.
  • Electric pumps- convenient and time saving. Great for going back to work moms who want to quickly express their milk conveniently and get back to work faster.

If you are going back to work and having to work long hours with a tight work schedule, it is a great idea to invest in double pump. This will shorten the time spent expressing. For example the multi-user electric pump ( Medela Lactina & Symphony) is a really great model to use. The true one handed electric models are versatile which allow you to pump and feed.

A few more tips when looking at your breast and breastmilk:

- When breast are very full or hard, it is a great idea to express a little in order to release the volume so that baby can be able to latch properly and to help you feel comfortable while feeding.

- Before pumping it is always a great idea to wet the nipple & Areola with your own milk so that the skin moves freely inside the pump so that you avoid friction.

- Pumping after a hot shower is recommended, hand expression while showering can also help to relieve the excess milk which makes it a lot more comfortable to latch the baby afterwards.

The main aim of expressing is to maintain your supply. The more frequently you pump, the stronger your supply will be. It is always a great idea to begin 2 weeks before returning to work, as this increases production and gets you into a routine.

Express same time that baby would be feeding or every 2-3 hrs in 24hrs

Breasts develop their own general flow pattern. They start by dripping > squirt > drip then slow down to stop. It is encouraged to pump until the milk stops flowing or dripping.

To prep your breast and yourself start pumping a bit after each feed to increase your milk supply, after your milk stops flowing, pump an extra 3-5 mins a for a few feeds every day and this should help increase milk supply.

Working mothers have most milk on Mondays and least on Fridays and it builds up again over weekend, when she breastfeed more often. When home, if you find difficulty with let-down when pumping. Nurse baby on one breast while pumping the other. Use the milk you express today to give the baby's caregiver tomorrow.

** Milk flows best when you are relaxed. Take deep breaths & keep well hydrated...

Prolactin levels fluctuate throughout the day. Highest in the morning, yielding a greater volume of milk and lowest in the evening with the lowest volume of milk. Pump before waking baby.  

What about pumping when travelling or when sick:  

Please be advised that babies who are very sick in hospital need different Breastmilk handling and storage to full term, healthy babies.

When travelling for a weekend away, some babies mainly sleep for longer than they would normally, so stop regularly keeping in mind the rhythm that the baby has been having all along. It's advisable not to remove your child from the car seat for feeding unless the car has come to a complete stop. When travelling by air, make sure that you ask your airline if you could bring a car seat carrier onboard with you even if you haven't paid for your child's seat. It's best to ask for a window seat near the middle of the plane with your partner  or anyone else who might be accompanying you to be seated next to you.

The best time to feed baby would be at takeoff and landing. Main reasons being this is the time when the air pressure in the cabin is changing quickly and can usually cause ears to pop. Baby's sucking and moving the jaws will help to equalize the pressure in baby's ear.

Mix Feeding :

Before you feed your baby anything else besides Breastmilk, it is advisable to speak to a Healthcare professional (Midwife or Paediatrician). There are many schools of thought and before listening to all kinds of information make sure that you are making an informed choice for your baby and yourself. 

One of the main reasons that you would be advised to give both Breastmilk and Formula would be based on baby's weight, therefore increasing the caloric count that baby is taking in to help with weight gain.

This is usually a temporary solution which means that you still need to be diligently breastfeeding your baby at intervals discussed previously. Start with breastfeeding your baby first and then top-up with formula.

When mix feeding it's also important to notice that once you introduce the use of a teat, it might cause nipple confusion. 

This can also be an opportunity for daddy or grandparents to also feed the baby which gives you time to either shower, catch up on sleep, etc. When bottle feeding, it's a great idea to swop sides so that your arm can rest as well as baby's neck.

Sterilization 

After each use, make sure that you wash ALL working parts of the pump with liquid soap. 

All equipment can be boiled completely submerged in a pot for 10min 

Clean the fat off with a bottlebrush.

Dry with paper towel.

Re-sterilize before pumping. 

Reusable steam sterilizing bags which can be used in the microwave are very useful for moms not at home.

Storage

  • Breastmilk can be stored in a clean, closed container at room temperature for 6 hrs 
  • It can be stored in the fridge (4 C or colder) for 48 hrs
  • Freezer inside a fridge ~ 2 weeks
  • Fridge-freezer with separate doors ~ 3 months
  • Deep freeze ( -20 C, no defrost cycle) ~ 6-12 months

* Label and Date milk before storage, use the oldest first.

* Use BPA free disposable double-lined freezer bags & Breastmilk storage containers

  • Defrosted or thawed milk can be stored for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
  • Thaw Breastmilk slowly, you can also run bottled milk under warm running tap.
  • Sometimes milk also separates & fat floats on the top, you simply need to swirl/shake it gently to mix it again. 

Next week we look at formula feeding and everything around this, we hope you have been enjoying the blogs so far this month!

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