Pumps and Milk Storage


In some jobs, a woman can both breastfeed and work. Sadly that isn’t possible for many women. However, it’s possible to express your milk and store it so that a caregiver can feed your baby. A pump is typically used for this purpose. The definition of a breast pump is any mechanical device used to express milk.

Pumps come in all different types. Some use hand or foot control, others are electric or run off of batteries. If you plan on using a pump daily for an extended period than the electric type is best. The pump does not suction out milk but rather cycles of aspiration to encourage let down. The electric models often cycle 30-60 times every minute. A study done by Stanford found that manual massage used with the pump is the most efficient method for expressing milk. One word of caution though. There are still models that use a rubber bulb on the market. These are not safe as the strength of the suction is strong enough to cause energy.

Most pumps will allow for storage of the expressed milk into a sterile container. You need to be sure to look at the prices of these containers. Some pumps are proprietary, meaning you must use their containers. There are a few models that allow an adaptor to be used so you can use the container best suited to your needs. However, these are becoming somewhat rare so you may have to spend some time looking for one.

Storage of Breast Milk

You can keep milk for varying amounts of time depending on the method you use to store it. Use the list below to determine safe storage and the amount of time it can be safely kept.

  • At room temperature (66-72 degrees Farenhite) it can be kept up to six hours.
  • If you use a refrigerator, it will keep for up to 8 days.
  • In a freezer attached to a refrigerator, it’s good for 3-6 months.
  • In a stand-alone freezer, it can be kept for six months.

Tips for Storing Milk

  • Place the milk towards the back of your refrigerator or freezer as this is the coldest spot.
  • Always throw away milk that is past its date.
  • Label all containers with the date and time expressed.
  • Chill freshly expressed milk in the refrigerator within one hour of being expressed if you are not using it in the next 6 hours.
  • Store in small containers as one the milk is thawed it can not be refrozen. Doing this will help you avoid waste.
  • Leave a 1 inch space at the top of the containers if you are freezing your milk.Warm milk should never be added to milk that has already been chilled. You must use a different container.

To Use and Thaw Milk

The safest way to thaw breast milk is by placing it in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours. If you find yourself without thawed milk such as when the baby is using more milk than you expected. Try placing the container under cool running water. Once it begins to soften well switch to warm water. You should warm breast milk by setting the container in another container full of warm milk. You should never warm it on a stovetop or microwave. That practice could cause your baby to get burned, and it tends to destroy some of the nutrients in the milk
In conclusion, it is possible to return to work and still give your baby the best possible start.