The decision or the need to express breast milk may come down to various reasons. Many mothers use expressed breast milk to care for their sick or premature baby, to help build up breast milk supply, the freedom of mind that you have a stash of frozen expressed breast milk in the freezer, and when you need to go back to work. However, many mothers get disheartened when they are unable to express enough breast milk using a breast pump as there isn’t much literature on the subject to help ease their mind. Often mothers panic when they are only able to express a little bit of breast milk and write it off as supply issues – this is not the case. It’s about understanding expectations and knowing what to do. Here are some tips to help mothers express breast milk and ease their minds.
What to Expect When Expressing Breast Milk
The thing we need to understand is that when expressing breast milk is that you cannot compare the amount of breast milk you express against instructions or measurements on a bottle or formula. Realistically, you may be able to express around 20-50mls of breast milk between breast feeding sessions. Mornings are ideal for higher volume of expressed breast milk while you may find that the evenings are less in comparison. If you are having trouble expressing, don’t panic as this may shock your body – instead, relax, think loving thoughts, connect with your baby, reflect on memories and let down your milk. This can greatly help.
Choosing the Right Breast Pump
Babies have it easy as they are able to use negative and positive pressure to aid in sucking the breast milk out of your breast, however not all electric breast pumps are able to do so. That is why hospital grade breast pumps such as the Medela Symphony Electric Breast Pump is so popular – it was designed in collaboration with the University of Western Australia to mimic a baby’s natural sucking motion, which involves both positive and negative pressure allowing you to double your volume. You can also help it along with some hands on pumping.
Understand the Dynamics of Breast Milk and Wastage
When your baby was born, your breast milk production worked overtime. However, as the weeks go by you need to plan your expressing sessions and plan ahead of time to make sure you have a ready supply of breast milk when the need comes. It’s also good to understand your baby’s feeds so that there is no wastage of precious breast milk. According to research, your baby will need an average of 750-800ml of breast milk per day during the first to sixth month of age. During this time, you need to figure out by trial and error how much he or she drinks during a feed. Accordingly, you should section out your expressed breast milk storage options. Many mothers opt to store straight into small feeding bottles that are easily fitted into the likes of the double pump kit available with the hospital grade breast pump – the Medela Symphony. Some also utilise breast milk storage trays where they take out 30ml cubes of frozen expressed breast milk and opt to thaw those alone for a feed.