situations where you are unable to breastfeed your baby This is when expressing and storing breast milk becomes important. Here are some tips that will help you express and store breast milk safely, easily and most important hygienically, so that you can be assured that your baby is being fed right.
Why Breast Milk?
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life. It provides the right nutrients for your baby’s growth and is known to protect her from a multitude of health conditions as it contains antibodies. It is also easier to digest than formula milk.
When to Start Expressing Breast Milk?
There is no doubt that the best way to feed your baby is suckling her, as it encourages a special bonding with your baby apart from the nutritional benefits. But in some situations, you may be unable to be present physically at your baby’s feeding time. If you have just rejoined work, you cannot be there for every feed. Breastfeeding becomes difficult if your baby is premature or unable to suck well, or you have pain and discomfort. In such cases, expressing breast milk, storing it and feeding it to the child through a bottle is a good way to ensure that her nutrition levels are not compromised upon.
Best Ways to Express Breast Milk
The first thing to keep in mind before you attempt to express breast milk is to wash your hands thoroughly. Hygiene is of utmost importance as your baby has a very delicate immune system at this age.
How to Express Breast Milk by Hand
>Expressing by hand is obviously the most budget-friendly option available, since all you need is a clean sterilised container
to store the milk collected. Expressing breast milk by hand requires a certain expertise and can be perfected with practice. The key is to focus on the milk ducts behind the nipple rather than the nipple itself.
How to Pump Breast Milk Using Electric & Manual Pump
Most people find it easier to use a milk pump. Milk pumps can be both electric
. Both come with a suction cup and an attached bottle. In an electric pump, once you attach the suction cup and switch on the machine, it will automatically extract milk into the bottle. In a manual pump, you have to pump the handle attached, to extract the milk.
Tips to Express Breast Milk Efficiently
Prepare yourself mentally before expressing milk. Sit in a comfortable position in a calm and relaxed environment. Do whatever you can to soothe you, may be a warm bath or soothing music or even a warm drink.
Usually, expressing milk can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. But it is always better not to use time as a yardstick while expressing milk. Pump milk as long as there is a good flow. Remember to alternate between the breasts. If you find the flow slowing down in one breast, then that is a cue to switch to the other. Breast pumps are designed to mimic the sucking action of babies, and are not supposed to be painful. So, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, you are not doing something right. Consult your doctor or health practitioner. It is also a good idea to enlist the help of a partner to pump milk, especially if you are using a manual pump, as you can relax.
Storing Expressed Breast Milk & Cleaning Milk Bottles
Storing the expressed milk in a clean and safe environment is crucial, as it directly affects your baby’s health. Get your doctor to explain to you the right ways of freezing and reheating the expressed milk as well as the time within which it has to be consumed. Ensure that the container you choose for storing milk is washed well with warm water. It is even better to sterilise it.
Clean the pump parts well with water to remove all surface milk. Use a brush exclusively to wash the pump. Rinse well with warm water. Take care to air dry the parts well and store in sealed covers or containers.
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