Ex­press­ing at work

What you need to know about ex­press­ing breast­milk at work

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

IT MAY BE a skill you never thought you’d need to ac­quire, but whether you express milk by hand or us­ing a breast-pump, it takes time and a bit of per­se­ver­ance to get right. Keep go­ing, though, be­cause when you go back to work, it’ll mean your baby has a reg­u­lar and re­li­able sup­ply of breast­milk, even though she’s not phys­i­cally with you. Here’s ev­ery­thing you need to know about ex­press­ing milk at work.

WHEN TO EXPRESS

“If you’re breast-pump­ing with the aim of hav­ing milk in stock, pump one hour af­ter the end of a morn­ing breast­feed­ing ses­sion,” says Michelle Pitt, a qual­i­fied well­ness coach and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of Medela South Africa, a com­pany that man­u­fac­tures breast pumps. “I sug­gest pump­ing in the morn­ing, as you’re not as tired then as you’ll be in the af­ter­noon or evening, and your milk will flow more eas­ily.”

HY­GIENE FIRST

It should go with­out say­ing that your hands must be thor­oughly clean be­fore you be­gin a ses­sion of ex­press­ing, re­gard­less of whether you’re hand-ex­press­ing or us­ing a breast pump. Wash your hands well with soap and wa­ter. The con­tainer that you’ll be col­lect­ing and stor­ing your milk in should also be clean and dry. If you’re us­ing a pump, “all the parts of the breast pump should be cleaned and dis­in­fected be­fore use,” says Michelle. “And if your baby is sick or was born pre­ma­turely, fol­low the hos­pi­tal guide­lines strictly.”

HOW TO STORE YOUR EX­PRESSED BREAST­MILK AT WORK

You’ll need clean glass or hard plas­tic BPA-free con­tain­ers that seal se­curely with a lid or cap. You’ll also need some la­bels and a wa­ter­proof marker. Fill each con­tainer with enough for one feed (the age/size of your baby and her ap­petite will de­ter­mine this). Clearly la­bel the con­tainer with your name, and the date and time you ex­pressed the milk. If you’re

IF YOU’RE SEP­A­RATED FROM YOUR BABY, YOU COULD LOOK AT A PIC­TURE OF HER, LIS­TEN TO A RECORD­ING OF HER VOICE, OR SMELL A PIECE OF HER CLOTH­ING

go­ing to be giv­ing the milk to a child­care provider, also write your child’s name clearly on the la­bel. Put it right at the back of the of­fice fridge, where it’s coolest (and also out of the in­ter­est area of most peo­ple who may be shar­ing the fridge). If your of­fice doesn’t have a fridge, you can use a small, well in­su­lated cooler box with ice packs in it. Freshly ex­pressed milk is fine at room tem­per­a­ture (no warmer than 25°C) for up to six hours. If you want to add ad­di­tional ex­pressed milk to a half-full con­tainer some time later in the day, first al­low the freshly ex­pressed milk to cool (ei­ther in the fridge or by us­ing ice packs) be­fore adding it to any al­ready chilled breast­milk. The milk doesn’t have to be re­warmed be­fore it’s fed to the baby, al­though some moms like to take the chill off a bit. You can do this by sim­ply putting the sealed con­tainer into a larger con­tainer of warm wa­ter. Don’t use a mi­crowave – this could cre­ate “hot spots” that could burn your baby’s tongue.

IF YOU’RE FREEZ­ING BREAST­MILK

Don’t fill the con­tainer to the very top, as breast­milk ex­pands as it freezes. Use thawed breast­milk within 24 hours. Don’t re-freeze breast­milk.

CAN I BOR­ROW SOME­ONE ELSE’S BREAST PUMP?

No, says Michelle. “Sec­ond­hand breast pumps could po­ten­tially ex­pose you and your baby to sev­eral health risks which far out­weigh the small amount of money you’ll save by buy­ing a sec­ond­hand breast pump or bor­row­ing one. Breast pumps come into di­rect con­tact with body fluid, and any of the pump parts that are ex­posed to the pre­vi­ous mother’s milk could har­bour viruses that were in that mother’s sys­tem.” While there are sev­eral com­mon and se­ri­ous viruses that can be trans­ferred in breast­milk, “of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to us in South Africa is HIV, which can sur­vive in a droplet of milk stuck in a piece of tub­ing or the pump mo­tor,” Michelle points out. And it won’t work to re­place or ster­ilise pump parts in a sec­ond­hand or bor­rowed breast pump, ei­ther. “This doesn’t get around the prob­lem of viruses or pathogens that may be present in parts of the pump that can’t be seen, cleaned or ster­ilised, such as the elec­tric pump mo­tor,” says Michelle. Check with your med­i­cal aid whether they cover the pur­chase of a breast pump, as some do.

TIPS FOR SUC­CESS­FUL EX­PRESS­ING

Fol­low­ing a rou­tine may help you to stim­u­late a good milk flow. If you es­tab­lish a fixed time of the day to pump, your body can pre­pare for the ex­tra de­mand on your milk sup­ply. It’s eas­ier to express milk when you’re re­laxed. Take your time. Feel­ing rushed will im­pair your let-down. You could try deep-breath­ing ex­er­cises, re­lax­ation ex­er­cises from your an­te­na­tal class or pos­i­tive vi­su­al­i­sa­tion. Find a pri­vate spot with­out any dis­trac­tions. Have ev­ery­thing you need within your reach. Ap­ply warm com­presses to your breasts to en­hance let-down and milk flow, or mas­sage your breasts if this works bet­ter for you. Re­lax your shoul­ders and make sure your back and arms are well sup­ported. If you’re sep­a­rated from your baby, you could look at a pic­ture of her, lis­ten to a record­ing of her voice or smell a piece of her cloth­ing. Have a drink and a snack handy for be­fore and dur­ing the ex­press­ing ses­sion. Ex­press­ing milk, whether by hand or us­ing a pump, should never be painful. If you feel any pain, stop im­me­di­ately and ask your lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant for ad­vice, as you may not have the tech­nique quite right or you may not be us­ing the pump cor­rectly.

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