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The lifeline for a baby in the early days of life - breastmilk - is what keeps him or her nourished for the first 6 months of his or her life. It is so well loaded with nutrients that the child does not really need anything more to keep him or her sustained for those few months. Now breastfeeding is indeed a bonding experience for both the mother and the child. However, it is not always possible that the child would be breastfed live.
The aforementioned thing may be due to the fact that the mother is working and may not always be available next to the child. In some cases, the child may be born premature and may not be in a position to suck the milk. In either of the cases, the only way out is by pumping of breast milk by the mother and storing the same. The milk is then fed to the baby. Now this concept of pumping breast milk is not that popular in the Indian context. That is why most people are unaware of the same. Read on to know all that you need to know about breast milk pumping.
What Is Breast Pumping?
Broadly speaking, the act of extracting milk from the human breast is known as breast pumping. For this, one would need a pumping device and has a host of options available to choose from. This would involve manual pumps which a woman can pump using her hands or foot. However, these days, most women prefer the use of an electronic pump that usually runs on batteries. Varieties of that which run exclusively on electricity are also available. These days, the lactating rooms in offices, malls and airports have exclusive places for women to relax and pump their milk effortlessly.
When To Start Pumping Breast Milk?
This is something that you must start off as early as possible in order to obtain the best results. In fact, if someone starts pumping breast milk in the first few days after her delivery, chances are that she will end up with a surplus amount of milk.
Even if you wait for 3 or 4 weeks after your delivery to start off with breast milk, it should not be an issue.
How To Pump Breast Milk?
Indeed, there are many advantages of pumping breast milk. Many women find it more convenient as this ensures that your lactation does not hamper your day-to-day work. Many infants also prefer the consumption of pumped breast milk. However, it is important that you should pump your milk effortlessly. For that, proper instructions should be followed. Read on to know more about the same.
1. Be comfortable
Just like every other thing associated with pregnancy and lactation, you must learn to listen to your body here as well. Do not do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Your body will tell you how much of pumping is too much and if you should pump more. You should not compare your pumping to that of others and should learn to be comfortable.
2. Choose the right size
Understand that the breast shield should surround your nipple well. However, there should be enough room left so that your nipple does not rub against the shield. That would make the nipple sore and you will be very uncomfortable about it. Thus, for your safety and comfort, you must ensure that there is enough room for your nipples to move back and forth during the act of pumping.
Breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon and the flow is best when there are appropriate simulations. Hence it will be a good idea for you to massage your breasts before you start pumping. During pumping, if you suddenly notice that the milk flow has gone down, you can consider massaging your breasts. In most cases, massaging your breasts during pumping helps to increase the milk flow.
4. Double pumping
As the name suggests, what you have to do here is to use two pumps to pump both breasts at the same time. This is a good idea as it is seen that women who do this are often prone to producing more milk. Medically, the reason for the same may be attributed to the fact that the prolactin levels are higher when you do this. In case you are not comfortable with the idea of double pumping, you may well consider repeatedly switching over from one side to the other during the pumping session.
5. Choose your comfort vacuum
Understand that every woman has a maximum vacuum level at which she will be comfortable with the pumping. By varying the vacuum level, try to identify your level. This is the level at which the breast milk pumping happens most efficiently and that is why it is advisable that once you have correctly identified the same, you should stick to it.
How To Store Breast Milk?
Having established the importance and benefits of pumping breast milk and knowing how to pump it out, the next major thing that comes into the picture is how you can store the same. Honestly, the medium of storage of breast milk will depend on what is the duration of time for which you would want to store the breast milk.
1) For a matter of hours
If you know that the breast milk that you have pumped will be consumed within 6 hours, you do not need to take any special precautions and can store it at room temperature as well. The only point to be noted here is the fact that the room temperature should not be more than 25 degrees Celsius. If the breast milk needs to be kept for more than 6 hours but less than a day, you can easily store it in a cool box.
2) For a matter of days or weeks
Breast milk should ideally be stored at the back of the fridge where it is usually the coldest. In order to avoid contamination, make sure that it is kept far away from meat, eggs or any other form of uncooked food. This will keep the breast milk safe and healthy for about 5 or 6 days. If you keep it in the freezer compartment, the breast milk will stay safe for about two weeks.
3) For months
If due to some reason you would want the breast milk to stay unaltered for up to 6 months, you can consider storing the same in a home freezer. Make sure that the temperature of the freezer is minus 18 degrees or lesser.