How to pump and store breast milk on the go

Lactation consultants answer breastfeeding moms’ most pressing pumping questions

How to pump and store breast milk on the go

Moms have a lot of options when it comes to feeding their baby. They can choose to breastfeed, pump breast milk, use baby formula or combine a few of these options.

Most use a combination, says Jaclyn Haak, director of nursing inpatient for Sanford Women’s in Fargo, North Dakota.

“Even a mom who is directly breastfeeding still has to pump every once in a while,” Haak said.

Work and other activities can make it difficult to only breastfeed.

“Most moms work outside the home and/or maybe just want to be able to get away for a minute.”

Some moms prefer to pump.

“Some moms have a baby that struggles with latching, and some moms just don’t enjoy latching their baby at breast and they prefer pumping,” Haak said.

Ultimately, the decision should be one that fits that family’s needs. “It’s really about whatever works for that family,” Haak said. “That’s what they should choose to feed their baby.”

Tips for pumping breast milk

Simple adjustments can make it easier to use a breast pump. Here’s what Haak recommends:

  1. Pump regularly: “Unless you’re pumping to tell your body or having a baby nurse, your body’s not going to make that milk,” Haak said. “You have to pump milk as a use-or-lose-it situation.” Sanford Health experts recommend pumping at the same times that the baby would normally feed, or about eight times per day.
  2. Relax: Haak recommends finding a way to distract yourself, since stress can make it harder to pump. Put on soothing music or read a light article to reduce tension before pumping.
  3. Seek support: Call Sanford Health’s lactation support hotline, visit a support group or talk with your provider for help. “No question is a stupid question,” Haak said. “We’ve heard all of them, and we expect that you have questions as a new mom. Nobody should be hesitant to reach out because this is a really easy way for us to help.”

How to store breast milk

Moms can use bottles or storage bags to preserve milk after pumping.

Haak says that bags make an ideal choice, since they can be flattened and stored in the freezer. “Then, they’re stackable, and you’ve saved so much space when you do that.”

Once you’re ready to store it, make sure to include the date and time on the expressed milk. How long the milk lasts will depend on temperature and where it’s stored.

“It’s good at room temperature, freshly pumped on the counter for about five hours,” Haak said. “It’s good in the fridge for about five days. It’s good in the freezer for about five months.”

After that, the milk is still usable, though it may start to lose some of its nutritional benefits.

“The milk doesn’t necessarily go bad in the freezer after that,” Haak said. “It’s just some of the nutritional components start to decrease.”

How to choose a breast pump

While breast pumps can be costly, Haak says that “you get what you pay for.” Cheaper pumps may not have as much suction as higher-end models.

Sanford Health Equip offers a variety of products to fit your lifestyle including medical equipment to meet your needs. Members of the Equip team answer frequently asked questions:

What type of pumps does Sanford Health Equip carry?

Products can vary by store, but Sanford Health Equip generally carries:

  • Double electric breast pump products
  • Single electric breast pump products
  • Replacement parts, including original and updated supplies

How does Sanford Health Equip help patients when choosing a pump?

Sanford Health Equip team members are available to explain the features and benefits of each pump. “We know that deciding which pump to use can be a challenging decision so we try to provide our patients with as much information as we can,” said the Equip team.

The pumps are also displayed so that patients can see and interact with the products in person. “We have all of the supplies out on a display as well so they can actually engage with pump and not just read about it,” the team said.

Are pumps covered by insurance?

Most insurance plans recognize breast pumps as a covered benefit, though the coverage will vary by company.

“For instance, coverage can vary from 100% covered to pumps that are subject to co-pays and deductibles.”

Coverage may be limited to one breast pump per period of time. “As an example, some insurance plans only cover one breast pump per two years.”

Sanford Health Equip verifies insurance coverage for each patient and encourages patients to do the same.

Find more information about Sanford Health Equip’s products for breastfeeding moms, including breast pumps and supplies, by finding a location near you.

Learn more

Posted In Children's, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Women's