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How to pump and store breast milk for when you’re away

How to Pump and Store Breast Milk for When You’re Away


Breastfeeding is a special time in a mother’s life. But what happens when you have to go back to work or leave your child with a caregiver? You can still provide your baby with breast milk by pumping and storing it for later use. In this article, we will discuss how to pump and store breast milk to make sure your baby is getting the best nutrition even when you’re away.

Why Pump and Store Breast Milk?

There are many reasons for pumping and storing breast milk. It allows you to continue to provide your baby with breast milk while you are away. Breast milk provides the best nutrition for your baby and contains antibodies that protect your baby from diseases. Pumping also helps to maintain your milk supply and prevent engorgement. Additionally, if you have an oversupply of breast milk, pumping and storing allows you to have a stockpile for later.

How to Pump Breast Milk

You will need a breast pump to pump breast milk. There are manual and electric breast pumps available. Electric pumps are more convenient and efficient, especially if you’re pumping frequently. However, manual pumps are quieter and more compact, which is ideal for travel. Follow these steps to pump breast milk:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Find a comfortable and quiet place to pump. You can use a nursing cover if you feel more comfortable.
  • Assemble your breast pump according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Place the breast shield over your nipple and align it with your breast.
  • Turn on the breast pump and adjust the suction and speed settings to your comfort level.
  • Pump for about 15-20 minutes or until your breasts feel empty.
  • Remove the breast shield and clean the pump parts with warm, soapy water or in the dishwasher. You should also sterilize the parts if you are pumping frequently.

How to Store Breast Milk

After pumping, you can store breast milk in a variety of containers, such as:

  • Breast milk storage bags
  • Glass containers with lids
  • BPA-free plastic bottles

Follow these guidelines for storing breast milk:

  • Label the container with the date that the milk was expressed. Use the oldest milk first.
  • Store breast milk in the back of the refrigerator or freezer where the temperature is coldest.
  • Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator or in a bowl of warm water.
  • Do not refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed.


Pumping and storing breast milk is a great way to provide your baby with breast milk even when you’re away. It takes practice to get the hang of pumping, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work perfectly the first time. Make sure to follow the guidelines for storing breast milk to ensure that your baby gets the best nutrition possible. With a little practice and patience, you can successfully pump and store breast milk for your baby.

FAQ: How to Pump and Store Breast Milk for When You’re Away

1. Why Pump and Store Breast Milk?

There are many reasons why a mother might need to pump and store breast milk. For example, she may need to return to work or school, have a medical appointment, or want to leave her baby with a caregiver for a few hours. Pumping and storing breast milk allows the baby to continue receiving the benefits of breast milk even when the mother is not available to breastfeed.

2. When Should I Start Pumping?

You can start pumping breast milk as early as a few days after birth, once your milk has come in. However, it is recommended to wait at least a few weeks until breastfeeding is well-established before introducing a pump.

3. What Type of Breast Pump Should I Use?

There are two types of breast pumps: manual and electric. Manual pumps are less expensive and portable, but may not be as efficient as electric pumps. Electric pumps are more expensive but can be more effective at emptying the breast. Your choice will depend on your budget and pumping needs.

4. How Do I Pump and Store Breast Milk?

Before pumping, make sure you wash your hands and the pump parts with soap and water. Use a comfortable breast shield size, and start with a low suction setting. Pump for about 15-20 minutes, or until milk stops flowing. Store the breast milk in a sterile container with a tight-fitting lid, and label it with the date. Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

5. How Often Should I Pump?

You should aim to pump as often as your baby would normally breastfeed, typically every 2-3 hours. However, this will vary depending on your individual situation.

6. What Should I Do with Leftover Breast Milk?

Leftover breast milk can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months. If you have some leftover breast milk in a bottle, you can offer it to your baby at the next feeding. However, if your baby does not finish the bottle, you should discard the remaining milk.

7. How Long Can Breast Milk Be Stored?

Breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. However, it is recommended to use fresh breast milk whenever possible.

8. Can I Combine Different Pumping Sessions into One Bottle?

Yes, you can combine milk from different pumping sessions into one bottle as long as the milk is the same temperature. Make sure to label the bottle with the date of the first expressed milk and use or freeze within the recommended time frame.

9. Is It Safe to Reheat Breast Milk?

Yes, it is safe to reheat breast milk, but it is important to do so properly. Never microwave breast milk, as this can create hot spots and destroy some of the valuable nutrients. Instead, place the bottle in warm water and gently swirl it until it reaches the desired temperature.

10. Can I Donate My Stored Breast Milk?

Yes, it is possible to donate stored breast milk to a milk bank. However, the milk must meet certain criteria, such as being stored properly and being free from certain medications or illnesses. You can contact a milk bank in your area for more information on the donation process.

Breast Milk Storage Techniques

Breastfeeding is an integral part of a mother’s journey towards nurturing her newborn. But what happens when a mother needs to be away from her baby? Storing breast milk is definitely the answer. But how can a mother do so safely and ensure the quality of her liquid gold remains intact? The following products can assist in this endeavor:

Breast Pump

  • A good quality breast pump should be at the top of the list for every nursing mother. Not only does it allow for the mother to pump milk and store for later, but it also helps to maintain a milk supply if the baby is not nursing as often. A highly recommended option is the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump which is easy to use and is electrically operated.
  • Storage Bags or Containers

  • Proper storage bags or containers play a vital role in preserving the quality of stored breast milk. These can either be disposable or reusable. The Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags are a popular option among nursing mothers and come pre-sterilized. For a reusable option, the Kiinde Twist Pouches system is convenient and efficient with its innovative twist-lock feature for easy transfer of milk from pumping to storage bags.
  • Bottle Warmers

  • A bottle warmer is an essential tool for a nursing mother especially when the baby is being cared for by a caregiver or has to be fed during the night. The Dr. Brown’s Deluxe Bottle Warmer can warm breast milk and keep it at the appropriate temperature without exposing it to dangerous temperatures that could destroy important nutrients.
  • Bottle Drying Racks

  • After a mother has pumped her milk or if the baby has been fed, a bottle drying rack is a great way to keep bottles organized and stored hygienically. The Boon Lawn Drying Rack has a fun and quirky design and can easily fit on a kitchen counter. It comes with removable grass sections that can be washed and dried easily to keep bottles and their parts separate.
  • Labels

  • Keeping track of the date and time when a mother has pumped her milk or when it was stored can be overwhelming for new mothers. Labels can help solve this problem. The Simple Wishes Breast Milk Storage Labels can be easily peeled off from its dispenser and attached to the storage bags or containers. It includes spaces for the mother to fill in details such as time, date and volume of milk stored.
  • Cooler Bags

  • If a mother needs to transport her breast milk from one place to another, a cooler bag is a must-have accessory. The PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag can keep breast milk cold for up to ten hours without the need for ice packs. Its design is stylish and compact, making it easy to pack it into a diaper bag or purse.
  • Sterilizers

  • Ensuring that all parts of the breast pump and storage containers are clean and sanitized is an important way of preventing the growth of bacteria that can cause illness or infection. The Philips AVENT 3-in-1 Electric Sterilizer can eliminate 99.9% of bacteria without the use of harsh chemicals which makes it safe for babies.
  • Nursing Pads

  • Nursing pads are a comfortable and convenient product designed to absorb breast milk leakage which can be an embarrassing situation for new mothers. The Lansinoh Stay Dry Disposable Nursing Pads have an adhesive design to keep the pads securely in place and have soft lining for added comfort.
  • Milk Storage Guidelines

  • It is important for a nursing mother to have guidelines on how to store and handle breast milk. The CDC Guidelines on Storing and Handling Breast Milk is a user-friendly resource which provides mothers with all the necessary information required to store breast milk safely until the baby is ready to feed.
  • In conclusion, storing breast milk is crucial for a nursing mother. Products such as a breast pump, storage bags or containers, bottle warmers, bottle drying racks, labels, cooler bags, sterilizers, nursing pads, and milk storage guidelines can go a long way in ensuring that breast milk is stored safely and efficiently. By investing in these products, mothers can continue to breastfeed even when they are away from their baby.

    Pros & Cons of Pumping and Storing Breast Milk


    • Allows flexibility for working moms: Pumping and storing breast milk allows working moms to continue providing their babies with breast milk even when they are away from them.
    • Provides support for breastfeeding: Pumping and storing breast milk can help maintain milk supply and prevent engorgement, leading to a successful breastfeeding journey.
    • Allows others to feed the baby: Pumped breast milk allows family members or caregivers to feed the baby, giving the mother a break and promoting bonding opportunities for others.
    • Provides convenience: Having a supply of stored breast milk readily available can make feeding time more convenient and reduce stresses associated with breastfeeding on demand.
    • Allows for travel without worrying about breastfeeding: When traveling with a baby, pumping and storing breast milk can free up the mother from worries about breastfeeding on the go and allow her to enjoy the trip without compromising the baby’s nutrition.


    • Can be time-consuming: Pumping and storing breast milk can be time-consuming and require effort to maintain a consistent milk supply and a solid feeding schedule.
    • Can be inconvenient: Packing, storing, and transporting breast milk can be cumbersome and takes up valuable space in a work bag or luggage.
    • May not be tolerated by some infants: Not all babies may take to bottle-feeding, which can cause frustration and undermine a mother’s efforts to provide breast milk.
    • Requires careful handling: Stored breast milk must be handled with care to avoid contamination and ensure that it remains safe for baby consumption. Proper cleaning and storage of breast pump parts and storage containers are essential.
    • Can be expensive: The cost associated with breastfeeding supplies such as breast pumps, bottles, and storage containers can add up, especially if the mother needs to replace parts or upgrade equipment frequently.

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