Pumping and Milk Storage

Pumping breastmilk

Hand expression

  • Most effective way for removing milk in the first few days when colostrum is thick and your breasts are swollen
    • Best way to ensure you're saving all of the precious colostrum, as you can collect every drop into a medicine cup or spoon
  • Start by holding your breasts with your thumb and middle finger near the edge of the areola in a C shape.
    • Then press back toward your chest, compress the breast while moving your fingers toward the nipple slightly, and release.
  • This link has a good video example: hand expression

Types of breast pumps

  • There are lots of different pumps out there and typically you can find videos on how to use them online.
  • See our article on breast pumps here - Breast Pumps

When should I start pumping?

  • This will be different for everyone! Some may need to pump briefly in the early days to relieve pain/fullness, others will be pumping to increase or establish their supply if their baby isn't latching well.
  • If you plan to pump and bottle feed your baby at any point it is recommended to start pumping around 3-4 weeks of age
    • This is also a good time to start introducing the bottle once every 1-2 days to allow infant time to get used to it
    • Allows another caregiver the opportunity to feed, which can give the breastfeeding parent a little break
  • Best time to pump is in the morning after a longer stretch of sleep because milk volume is highest at this time
    • I recommend nursing both breasts first, then pump both breasts afterward
    • Start saving that milk in fridge or freezer (depends on how soon you want to use it) 

Breastmilk Storage

  • General rule of thumb = 4 - 4 - 6!
    • 4 hours at room temperature, 4 days in the fridge, and 6 months in a freezer
    • For more info, click here
  • Freshly
    • If baby doesn't finish the whole bottle, it is generally safe to refrigerate what is left and use within 1-2 hours.
  • Fresh breastmilk can be refrigerated for 4 days
  • Frozen breastmilk
    • Do not re-freeze breastmilk that has previously been fully thawed.
  • If in a
    • It is safe for up to 1 year in a deep freezer!

Thawing breastmilk

  • Thaw oldest milk first!
  • Thaw in refrigerator overnight, in a container of warm water or under warm running water
  • Thawed milk can stay in the refrigerator for 24 hours safely
    • Start counting down once milk is completely thawed, not when you take it out of the freezer