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Tips for Pumping with an Electric Breast Pump and Milk Storage for Your Healthy Baby

Hints to Make Pumping Easier

  • Find a private, warm, comfortable place to pump.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Have clean pumping supplies handy.
  • Place a warm, moist cloth on each breast before you pump.
  • Lean forward and gently shake your breasts.
  • Use your hand to gently massage the breast.
  • Moisten your pump flange/shield before placing on your breast to create a better seal.
  • Breast flanges come in various sizes and need to comfortably fit your nipple to properly drain the breast. Larger or smaller breast flanges may be included with your pump or may be purchased as needed.
  • Follow the pumping instructions included with your pump.
  • Pumping should always be comfortable. Do NOT turn pump settings too high to try to obtain milk more quickly.
  • While pumping: listen to relaxing music or look at a picture or video of your baby.
  • Use breast massage during pumping, and hand expression after pumping to maximize milk production.

How Long to Pump

  • Continue to pump until your milk stops flowing, generally around 15-20 minutes per breast or a total of 15-20 minutes if double pumping.
  • Try to pump when your baby would normally nurse. Going long periods without pumping may decrease your milk supply.
  • If pumping is not: comfortable, productive, or you are not certain which breast flange size is correct for your nipples, call a lactation consultant for help.

Human Milk Storage

Milk Storage Guideline for your healthy, full-term baby.

Storage Containers

  • Glass or hard plastic containers are ideal for freezing breast milk, but freezer bags designed for milk storage may also be used.
  • Containers should be clean. Clean in hot, soapy water, rinsed and dry.
  • Leave room at the top of the container for milk to expand.
  • Label all containers with your baby’s name and date and time milk was pumped.
  • Store milk in portions your baby normally drinks to minimize waste. Store some milk in smaller size portions for unexpected delays.

General Guidelines

  • Wash hands prior to expressing milk.
  • Do not add warm breast milk to frozen milk.
  • Keep milk from one day separate from other days. Several expressions within 24 hours can be combined if, you chill fresh milk prior to adding it to frozen

Milk Storage Guidelines

Breast Milk Room Refrigerator Freezer Section Upright or Chest Freezer
77° F (25° C) or cooler 40° F (4° C) or cooler 0° F (-18° C) or cooler -4° F (-20° C) or cooler
Fresh Use within 4 hours Use within 4 days Use within 6 months Use within 12 months
Thawed Use within 2 hours Use within 24 hours Do not refreeze Do not refreeze
  • Milk can be stored in insulated cooler bag with ice for 24 hours.
  • Store milk at the back of the refrigerator or freezer, not in the door.
  • When freezing milk, it is best to do so within 6 hours but not more than 3 days of pumping. Freezing the milk quickly reduces bacterial growth.

Thawing and Warming Milk

  • Expect milk to separate during storage with cream on top. Gently swirl milk before serving.
  • The color of your milk may vary from day to day and change depending on your diet.
  • Use oldest milk first. Use thawed milk stored in the refrigerator within 24 hours.
  • Breast milk may be given when cool, room temperature or warm.
  • Thaw milk by placing in refrigerator overnight or place container under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water. Do not re-freeze breast milk once it is thawed.
  • Never microwave breast milk or use stove top to heat milk.
  • Milk left in a container after a feeding should be discarded within 1-2 hours.

Works Cited

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk. Retrieved 21 August 2020.

WIC Breastfeeding Support, Explore the Stages of Breastfeeding. Retrieved 21 August 2020.

Lawrence, Ruth A. & Lawrence, Robert M. “Breastfeeding, A Guide for the Medical Professional”, Eighth edition, ELSEVIER, 2016.

Spangler, Amy “Keep It Simple”: 5th edition, 2019.

Wambach, Karen and Riordan, Jan “Breastfeeding and Human Lactation”, Fifth edition, Jones & Bartlett, 2016.