Below are my responses to questions I am frequently asked. These are my personal responses and what I have found to work well for me and my gorgeous daughter. Remember I am a mother not a healthcare professional in this field so you are encouraged to use your discretion and seek clarification from your healthcare professional.
How long should I express for?
I find that there are many factors that influence expressing time- The time of the day- (I usually make more in the morning), whether I express from a double pump, milk supply, etc. As mentioned above I like to make more in the morning and stay one feed ahead. I aim to make a minimum of two 80ml bottles per expressing time. Depending on your supply, you may be able to make more per expressing time and this is great as it will take pressure off you. My goal is to produce 800mls plus a day and aim to express 5- 6 times a day with some sessions producing larger quantities. I do not express past 30 minutes, but average pumping sessions would last 10-15 mins or so per breast, however, it can be longer if I need to or want to. It also would depend on the age of your baby. Some days my daughter has 700 or so mls, another day almost 900ml or even more. Every baby is different and has different needs. At the start she took a long time to feed and required a lot less milk. The hospital gave us a formula to help work out the required amount of breast milk for her age and size.
How should I store my milk?
If I have expressed milk into a closed container I store it at room temperature (no warmer than 23 degrees) for 3- 4 hours. If I am not going to use it in this time but I want it later in the day I refrigerate it towards the back of the fridge and warm it before use (I will use refrigerated milk within 2 days then either discard it or freeze it). When I have excess milk, especially at the beginning when she required less and I made much more than she would use, I would freeze it straight away to be used at a later date, however, my personal choice is to not use this frozen milk once it is over three months old. I also thaw frozen milk before use. I do not at any stage microwave breastmilk. If milk is in a bottle and it hasn’t been used within the feeding time and she has decided not to have anymore, I then also discard this milk. There is more information about storing milk on the Australian Breasting Association website including milk storage recommendations or you can ask your healthcare professional.
Why do people express milk for their baby?
There are many reasons why mothers express milk for their babies. They could include, unable to attach, cleft palate, tongue tie, personal choice, trauma, disorder, heart problems, breast refusal, syndromes, not wanting to feed in public, return to work, baby is in hospital, baby has trouble sucking, etc.
My breasts feel swollen, engorged or lumpy what should I do?
My tip is to express longer than usual to relieve the tightness in the breast or help reduce lumps. I also recommend that you massage the breast before, during and after expressing. A warm shower has also helped me as has using heat packs. Drinking fluids has also assisted. If you are still feeling uncomfortable or nothing is giving you relief make sure you seek medical treatment/support.
Which Pump should I use?
If you are going to exclusively express I recommend a double electric pump. There is no way I could do this for this long with a hand pump!! I will be adding my recommendations for which equipment and brands I prefer shortly… so stayed tuned. 🙂