Tips for Pumping and Storing Breast Milk

There are several reasons why mothers may want to pump and store breast milk for their babies.  For some, they are returning to the workplace, for others pumping and storing milk simply offers convenience and flexibility for their busy schedules. In certain cases, pumping and storing milk helps to address supply problems. Lastly, this method can provide opportunities for dads and other family members to bond with babies by participating in feedings.

Whatever one’s reasons are for pumping and storing milk, it is important to know the fundamentals of properly and safely doing so. 

Here are a few tips to consider when pumping milk:

  • Always start by washing your hands
  • Ensure that the tools you are using to pump milk are clean to avoid the risk of bacterial contamination
  • Consider pumping in the morning, many moms produce the most milk during this time of day
  • Massage areas of your breasts that feel firm before pumping, doing so can help improve the letdown of milk
  • Relax and make yourself comfortable, stress can hinder letdown
  • Use hospital-grade breast pumps if you are not expressing milk manually
  • Keep a consistent schedule. Pump at the same times every day.  (If returning to work it is best to express your milk during the same time you would normally feed your baby. Inform your employer about the importance of keeping this schedule- exercise your pumping rights).

When storing breast milk, it is advised that you follow these tips:

  • Store breast milk in clean containers designed specifically for this purpose
  • Do not store breast milk beyond the recommended or optimal time for safe storage (It is important to note that storage guidelines may differ for premature infants)
    Room temperature (The medical definition of room temperature is a temperature of from 59° to 77°F (15° to 25°C) – no more than four hours
    Refrigerator– up to 3 days
    Freezer-up to 6 months
  • Label each container with the date that you expressed milk
  • When thawing frozen milk, it is best to do so overnight in the refrigerator or by holding the container under warm, running water.
  • Do not defrost frozen milk in the microwave, doing so can damage the composition of breast milk

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is a designated Baby-Friendly USA facility that promotes breastfeeding. Our hospital provides several social and clinical programs designed to support pregnant and nursing mothers.   Some of our programs include breastfeeding education classes, CenteringPregnancy and breastfeeding support groups.  To learn more about our breastfeeding initiatives, please visit https://jamaicahospital.org/clinical-services/ob-gyn/baby-friendly/