When do I start saving my breastmilk?



This is one of my most commonly asked questions at my weekly breastfeeding support group. How soon your baby’s caregiver needs this milk stash will determine how aggressive you have to become in saving milk.


Remember: Baby comes first, pump comes second Mistakenly, moms try to pump in-between feedings, but this can backfire since babies’ hunger doesn’t always follow clocks (or a schedule). Instead, pick 1-2 feeds and pump immediately following breastfeeding. Expect to collect less volume since you just fed. But by doing this consistently, over the next few days to weeks, you’ll see how it adds up quickly without disturbing your breastfeeding relationship.

I suggest pumping after the first one or two morning feeds when milk is plentiful from the extra dose of prolactin that happens at night. If mornings are too busy for you, pumping after one morning feeding and after the last feeding before you go to bed will have you building your stash in no time! Single pump on one side and breastfeed on the other Moms who typically only feed on one breast per feeding can do this as a way to collect expressed milk easily. Ideally, latch the pump on first and try to go hands-free by using a bra or tank to hold the flange on the breast. That way, you can still breastfeed on the opposite side as usual.

If hands-free pumping is not possible, then latch baby first, followed by the pump, and hold one in each hand (like a mother who breastfeeds twins). Football hold works nicely with this technique. Feel free to switch the baby to the side that the pump was just on because the breast is never truly ‘empty’ and baby is more effective than a pump at getting the milk out. Older baby who sleeps through the night already ADD a “feeding” or pump session over time. Example: if your 7 month old always sleeps from 8 P.M. until 6 A.M., sit down and pump right before you naturally go to bed around 10:30 P.M. “Feeding” the pump each night with this additional pump session won’t disrupt the nursing relationship and will help you find the time to make milk to store for future separations.

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