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Milk Production, Expressing and Storage

With some practice and patience, just about every woman can breastfeed her baby. The experience is different for everyone. Ask the nurses at the hospital for help. Many hospital nurses welcome you to come back for help after you have gone home.

Expressing Breast Milk

You can express breast milk so your baby can drink it when you are away from home. Use a breast pump that is hand-, battery- or electrically operated. Expressed milk can be refrigerated or frozen and saved.
You'll need 10 to 30 minutes to express your milk, depending on the type of pump you have. You'll need to express a few times a day (around the time you would normally nurse). You also need a refrigerated place to store the milk and a comfortable, private place where you can relax enough for milk letdown to occur.


You must take several steps to store breast milk safely.
Pump or express milk into a clean container.
Label the container with the date and amount of milk collected.
Freshly pumped breast milk can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours, but it's best to refrigerate milk as soon as possible.
You may store breast milk safely in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours.
Freezing breast milk. For longer storage, freeze breast milk. You can keep it in a refrigerator freezer for 6 months or in a deep freezer (-20F;-29C) for up to 12 months. Fill container only 3/4 full to allow for expansion during freezing. Freeze milk in small portions, such as 2 to 4 ounces (57 to 114ml), because these amounts thaw more quickly.
Thawing frozen breast milk. Take some care when you thaw frozen breast milk. Here are some useful suggestions.
Put the container of frozen milk in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes, or hold the container under warm running water.
Never microwave breast milk; it can alter its composition.
Swirl the container to blend any fat that might have separated during thawing.
Feed thawed milk immediately, or store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Combining fresh breast milk with frozen breast milk. Yes, this is possible. First, cool breast milk before combining it with previously frozen milk. The amount of thawed breast milk must be more than the amount of fresh breast milk. Never refreeze breast milk!

Switch Breasts during a Feed

Switch breasts during a feeding, but wait until your baby finishes with one breast before switching to the other one. The consistency of breast milk changes from thinner to richer as the baby nurses. At the next feeding, start your baby on the breast you nursed last. Doing so maintains milk production in both breasts. If your baby only wants to nurse from one breast each feeding, simply switch to the other breast at the next feeding.

Bottlefeeding and Breastfeeding

Your milk supply may be reduced if you try to combine bottlefeeding with breastfeeding. Your milk supply is driven by the baby's demand. If you bottlefeed with formula part of the time, your baby will not be demanding the breast milk from you, and your body will slow production of it.
Feeding Your Baby Articles:
Feeding Basics | Bottle feeding | Breastfeeding | How Breastfeeding Affects You | Milk Production, Expressing and Storage | Common Breastfeeding Problems | You Should Also Know
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