All the things you need for expressing milk
We've compiled a comprehensive guide for mums who are planning to store milk for later use. Here is a list of all the things that will make your life easier when expressing milk:
1. A good breast pump is a must!
Breast pumps make a real difference.
When I was a first-time mum, I didn't expect much of a difference between breast pumps. I was gifted a second-hand Spectra S1+ Hospital Grade Double Electric Breast Pump by my sister. I didn't get to set it up before baby's arrival, and when we came home from the hospital, it was hectic. I then realised I was missing the charger! It took a week to order one in and have it delivered. But after hand-expressing for 3 days, I couldn't wait and bought myself a new Medela double electric breast pump.
Unfortunately, I'm the type who can't seem to easily get milk out with a pump. With Medela, I spent 25 minutes pumping and massaging one breast to 'fully' drain it. In total, I spent 50 minutes during every pumping session.
In contrast, I spent less time on the Spectra pump to get the same amount of milk. That's when it finally clicked in my head. Breast pumps are not created equal.
Should I get an electric breast pump?
I recommend getting an electric breast pump if you exclusively express milk, or plan to express at least twice or more a day.
Spectra S1+ Hospital Grade Double Electric Breast Pump
But I only offer baby expressed breastmilk once a day
If you're mostly nursing in the day and you offer a bottle of expressed milk to baby at night, you probably do not need to invest in an expensive electric breast pump. An effective manual pump like the Haakaa breast pump is cheap and efficient. Use it to catch letdown whenever you nurse. On average, mums are able to collect up to 30 ml of breastmilk during each session.
The only downside to Haakaa manual pump that you may experience is that you do not collect as much milk output as your milk supply regulates. So, you may not find it as effective after 1-2 months.
2. Breastmilk Storage Containers
To store all that liquid gold, you will need breastmilk storage containers that are freezer-safe (if you're intending to store them in a freezer). Plastic sandwich bags are not recommended because they may not be designed to be in contact with food for long-term storage and for freezer storage. Due to this reason, chemicals from the plastic may leach into the breastmilk.
If you're expressing a lot of milk for storage, it makes sense to use oxo-biodegradable breastmilk storage bags.
If you're expressing just enough for the next bottle feed, you can use bottles to store the milk and skip the bags.
3. Lanolin Nipple Cream
Expressing milk can make your nipples sore, especially when the breast pump suction pressure is too strong. Applying this on my sore nipples had been my lifesaver from the day I gave birth until I stopped breastfeeding.
We sometimes make the common mistake of turning up the suction to increase milk output. But, it doesn't work that way. Make sure you choose the suction level that is just right for you.
4. Find the correct shield size for you
Are your nipples sore from the friction when pumping? Do you want to maximise your milk output?
These are your breast shields that come with an electric breast pump.
It will usually come in a standard size of 24 mm. Not all nipples fit in this size.
If your nipple is rubbing the sides of the breast shield tunnel to the point of causing discomfort, or if you see excessive areola being pulled into the breast shield tunnel, it's an indication that your breast shield may not fit you. You will have to measure and find the correct breast shield size.
5. Pumping bra to multi-task
We recently did an online poll and 50% of you said that pumping bra is a must-have. The other half thinks that it's just okay.
It really depends if you can easily get milk out with a pump. Some mums can attach the pump and effectively 'drain' their boobs without massaging them. I, on the other hand, couldn't get much out without breast massage, so a pumping bra wasn't of much help.
6. Bottle-warmer to warm milk up
Okay, so you've stored milk safely in the freezer. Now, you need to use it. How should you prepare frozen breastmilk?
To thaw: Place the frozen breastmilk in the fridge section until it thaws. Use it within 24 hours. Alternatively, you can place the frozen breastmilk under warm running water until it thaws.
To heat it up: An electric bottle warmer will be more efficient to warm milk up. Alternatively, place the thawed milk in a container of warm water to heat it up to approximately 37 degrees celsius.
7. Baby bottles
The best advice with bottle-feeding is: "You won't know which your child will like until he tries it". Instead of buying a lot at once, buy one of each brand and do your own testing when your baby arrives.
8. Nursing cover
Pumping can get quite lonely. If you pump quite frequently in the day, no harm in getting a nursing cover so you can pump in front of your family and friends and enjoy their company.
Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover
9. You need a bottle cleanser
Skip your regular dishwashing liquid, and use a natural baby bottle cleanser to wash all your baby bottles, teats and pump parts.
You don't want any nasties coming into contact with your baby's bottles and accessories. It's a safer alternative to dishwashing soap which contains harsh ingredients that's best avoided (associated with skin irritants, endocrine disruptors, eczema and allergic reactions).
We hope this list is helpful to all the mums out there. Power to you pumping mums! xx