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Pumping & Storing

Milk Storage Guidelines- Tips and Tricks for Understanding Plus Utilizing

Some of the rules for saving breastmilk can seem tricky and hard to explain. Yet we simplify it to help mother’s conform to the norms and help people get the basics down of how to save breastmilk should it be hand expressed, pumped or leaked out. The picture above is of a magnet that I found recently at the mother baby clinic where I took my new arrival, Daniel. I have two different types of these magnets on my refrigerator at home and they both say almost the same thing in two almost slightly different ways. I liked this one better because the picture also illustrates how room temperature can be a range from 60-77 degrees farinheight. It is very interesting because for me, saving breastmilk at room temperature is often the most appealing way to go because it means skipping a step in the bottle preparation process of reheating the milk. But, saving milk this way also has the connotation of having to waste the most milk because once it has sat out for four hours it is unfortunately, no good. There are other little tips and tricks relating to this mode of breastmilk storage. For example, if a baby drinks out of the room temperature milk or it touches something that is unclean it is really only good for an hour at that point, but not an additional hour past the 4 hours.

A popular way for a lot of mothers is to save milk at the freezer temperature. This is a nice method because despite variances in multiple methodologies of saving breast milk, the freezer recommendation has pretty much always been consistent where it can last for up to 6 months at precisely 0 degrees fahrenheit. One of the issues that I have with this method though, is in order to maximize the 6 months storage time, how much time do you have to place it in the freezer? Of course, immediately after pumping, especially if going to the milk bank since there are so many other factors that can affect preservation of breastmilk including, which pump you use, the quality of your breastmilk, possibly diet and exposure to air. Lots of bags on the market make this step easier. Some people prefer to get the milk frozen into cube form which can have its positives and negatives. The greatest positive is that since it is saved at a nice small amount and also consistently, you are able to get exactly what you think you might need out of the freezer when feeding your baby consistently with exclusive bottle feeding and have to get a certain amount in him or her just like when you are using formula. I tried this method with my first, one thing to note about this method is that if you are doing paced bottle feeding, the most compatible method of bottle feeding when a mother is hoping to continue her breastfeeding method (of course lower flow bottles can sometimes help too), however with paced bottle feeding usually the baby gets to decide when he or she is almost done with the feeding either by exhibiting signs of satiation or blowing bubbles in the breastmilk in relation to holding the bottle level and exposing some air into the nipple. Through paced bottle feeding I have realize that there really is no way for a baby to swallow air into his or her stomach except through integration of air directly into the breastmilk. This is why so many bottles have an air protection valve which is why I like to think of the milk as “heavy,” when I am holding the bottle as a breastfeeding mom and also put the valve on top and then visualize the air floating away out the bottle like a little balloon. There are so many visualizations one can do with bottle feeding including as you heat the bottle, allowing steam for resonate off of the milk as a way of warm water transferring a deep radiator heat into the bottle. Personally, my son is doing great with the bottle because it is just another method, another nipple to expose him to, rather than solely focusing on the training and teaching that I did at the breast during the early days, he can be a multitasker in different times and spaces gracefully switching back and forth between breast and bottle while dexterously utilizing his lips and gums in an organized fashion.

Aside from the cube method of saving stored breastmilk in the freezer… there is also the method of placing it in a bag. Currently I mostly use the medela bags with the medela pump bottles and noticed when you dump the breastmilk into the bag while creating a good catch with the bag surrounding the bottle, some of the milk can get stuck in the bottle due to medela’s method of exposing the milk to less air. How great medela! And, how curious?! At the same time. I look forward to trying lots of different bags including the trusty up and up brand, perhaps a vitamin sealed package bag and even the willow bags that make my milk look extra yellow. But still, a tummy is still better than a bag, and I would rather fill my baby’s tummy than a big old bag everyday anyway. Breastfeeding is going great, I do like feeding in the quiet wee hours of the night when everyone is asleep because it feels like me and my baby are good companions.

Refrigerator is another method where you can save milk up to 3 days at a point of 39 degrees or cooler. This is a great rule of thumb because it sets a limit and also illustrates one of the (not exactly exception), but rather, supporting points to the rule of thawing out breastmilk from the freezer. As long as there is some ice in your breastmilk, which means it is kept colder and able to last an additional 24 hours. Of course this method might not matter as much if you take your breastmilk out of the freezer before the six months is up. You can also thaw breastmilk at room temperature by waiting up to 2 hours.

Refrigerator is another method where you can save milk up to 3 days at a point of 39 degrees or cooler. This is a great rule of thumb because it sets a limit and also illustrates one of the (not exactly exception), but rather, supporting points to the rule of thawing out breast milk from the freezer. As long as there is some ice in your breastmilk, which means it is kept colder and able to last an additional 24 hours. Of course this method might not matter as much if you take your breastmilk out of the freezer before the six months is up. You can also thaw breastmilk at room temperature by waiting up to 2 hours.

These exceptions bring up other questions such as do not refreeze, or rather do not drastically change temperature in any way or continue to save. Example in place would be if you warm it up and the baby doesn’t finish it so you put it back into the freezer for baby to finish later, or you warm it up and it is too hot so you quickly try to cool it down by putting it on ice or running cool water over it.

I feel breastmilk storage guidelines are one of the biggest public health issues in our society today for a variety of reasons. One is that our value in breastmilk is being placed in how well we can save breastmilk and deliver it to the baby without wasting it. Breastmilk doesn’t always have to do with abundance, but rather, gratitude between family and baby. Mothers often have to rest due to maternal exhaustion in the early days and it is so nice to have someone give a good bottle of milk to help mom recover while also letting caregivers feel brave and confident to care for the newborn in a loving and authentic way being creative and true to ourselves while seeking out information and guidance.

Also the ability to use good storage guidelines with breastmilk or formula can be so uplifting to a mother who has to go back to work. For example I want to get these guidelines in place from the early days so I know I can work with a confident mind and well fed baby. Being able to talk and discuss about these guidelines with family care providers or friends is literally rewarding and keeps the free and easy aspect of relating to breast milk out in the open, social and the weaning process readily available once baby is ready. That’s why I am grateful to breast milk guidelines.com for coming out with this cute magnet with medela…

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Pumping & Storing

Tales of Pumping

So often we hear stories of breastfeeding and not of pumping. Pumping is simpler we think, and thus less interesting. It’s more of a one and done, mechanical motion, so why write about it? It is true that breastfeeding should be a bit more of the focus when it comes to writing and discussing feeding our little ones, but that doesn’t mean that pumping needs to be overlooked. Mothers are constantly pumping for their babies, whether on the job, in the NICU/hospital or at home. We need to highlight that type of work and effort too!

One of the issues with focusing on pumping is that when we focus on pumping we get driven to focus so much on the amount we have pumped.

I still related to, and kinetically remember the feeling of producing what was to me, a high volume of milk in one setting and feeling elated. On a different day, I might pump far less and struggle with different, sadder feelings. It is important to not get too focused on amount driven pumping. When we are feeding our babies at the breast, the focus is different- we look at the latch, the connection, maybe the time, maybe the feeling of fullness in the breast but not the amount.

In reality, pumping and breastfeeding share a lot in common- both are emptying the breast and feeding a baby. So maybe not concentrating on the quantity of the amount pumped should be practiced. Rather allow your mind to go to another happier place, thinking of your baby, that you are doing good for your body and congratulating your efforts to maintain your milk supply and continue breastfeeding either way. Then, the milk supply will follow on its own accord.

One thing I like to talk about in regards to pumping is just how different everyone is. Because I had a NICU baby, and was pumping a lot in the beginning, I joined some social media support groups called “exclusively pumping mamas.” Although breastfeeding changed and improved for us, and I don’t pump as much anymore, I am still apart of those groups because I find them interesting. On the other hand, I know other moms that are avid breastfeeding moms and have hardly pumped at all. Some say their body never really responded to a pump and yet their children have still grown up on mainly breastmilk. I think it is fascinating how people have so many different views when it comes to pumping and yet still share the common thread of being a breastfeeding mom.

The truth about pumping is that different people have different pumping situations that may work better for them than others. For example, some mother-baby nurse friends at the hospital have access to a sharable hospital grade pump at work and thus don’t have to pack their pump with them to work, they can just bring the tubing. Not everyone may have this available to them. Others may have co-workers that are highly supportive, others may not. Some may have a comfortable pump space, others may have to make do with what is offered to them. Either way, everyone has the law protecting their right to pump at work or school every 3-4 hours for 30 minutes unpaid during the first year after birth. But it is great, when one can look beyond the law, and maybe to the culture with a sense of gratitude of what is keeping you going in regards to pumping? Is it your co-workers, your pump space, your pump, or maybe your baby motivating you!

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Pumping & Storing

How Partners Can Help with Pumping Routines

Partners can be a useful source of emotional and practical support when starting a pumping routine. One of the most important things you can do is to remember to be open to help and utilize your partner’s gifts. Every partner is a bit different- some techies, some care-bears, others just curious. Knowing your partner and tying in a relational aspect to the pumping routine can make it a bit more personal, caring and even fun! Otherwise it’s just a pretty cool pump-right?

Did you know that the loving bond between you and your baby is the most powerful effector of your milk supply?

Some practical tips of what your baby’s other parent can do include entertaining the baby nearby or sending you adorable videos of your baby to your pump space when you are separated from you baby. Did you know that the loving bond between you and your baby is the most powerful effector of your milk supply? Connecting your partner in this powerful loop can be very rewarding, meaningful and even enrich the relationship between baby and their other parent. This can be another source of the so-called bond mixed with the practical element of supply and demand. Your partner should be informed about the benefits of nursing and pumping and how it may ultimately affect supply and demand, but that is sort of another article.

You never know what surprises the act of involving your partner in the pumping process will bring- maybe a bit more joy in playtime with them, or a child’s new curiosity about what is a “pump.” Other more practical ideas include having your partner help with things you usually provide to your home in that time you have to spend pumping, even if that includes self-care. They can bring you a snack, a water, put on music or help warm your feet up.

Open your mind and the possibilities are endless. But even when your partner is not around, remember that your connection to the pump and your child are important. There can also be other ways to involve support people in this practice of so-called “bonding,” with the pump, family and baby as one unit. Putting on a happy face and remembering that spending a little extra time pumping each day can help your supply, but can also can be hard, even daunting. So never force yourself to go that extra inch. Just remember you and your family got this and the pay back is yet to come!

This article was originally published at http://theloop.nayahealth.com/2017/12/13/how-partners-can-help-with-pumping-routines/.