Breast Milk Collection & Storage in the Newborn Intensive Care Nursery
When it is not possible for your baby to breastfeed directly, using mother’s fresh or frozen milk ensures optimal nutritional and immunological benefits. Initially, you are pumping to stimulate the hormonal response for milk production. The first few weeks are crucial for maintaining a regular pumping schedule to optimize milk production. Hospital grade pumps can be rented at Newborn Connections and personalized lactation services are available to assist you throughout your baby’s hospital stay.
When to Pump
- First 12-24 hours after birth
- 8-10 times in 24 hours including at least 1 pumping at night
- Pump both breasts simultaneously for 10-15 minutes or as directed by the lactation consultant
- Use a double-pumping hospital grade pump
- Pumping can alleviate discomfort from full breasts
- Wash your hands
- Choose a comfortable, relaxing location, such as the Pumping Room in the NICU
- Suggestions to help you relax (which will aid in let-down):
- Apply warm, moist compresses or wet warm plastic diapers on your breasts for 3-5 minutes; 10-15 minutes if engorged, or take a warm shower
- Massage your breasts using the same technique you use for your monthly breast exams
- Play calming, relaxing music
- Close your eyes and use visualization techniques and deep breathing
- Think of your baby or look at baby’s picture; smell something of your baby such as a blanket
- Always start on the minimum setting and increase gradually over a few days to a pressure that allows you to obtain milk but is not uncomfortable. The “maximum” (on the Lactina pump) or “normal” (on the Classic pump) settings should not be used if it causes discomfort.
- The first milk, colostrum, may only be a few drops or millileters. This is normal. Save this milk.
- Use sterile collection bottles provided by the NICU. Date and time each pumping.
- Sit in an upright comfortable position.
- Center the nipple in the cone. Some women may need larger sized cones.
- Hold the cones or bottles to maintain even pressure. “Hands-free” pump bras are available at Newborn Connections.
- Pump both breasts for 15 minutes or 20 minutes for twins.
- Once the mature milk is present, (3-6 days) pump 2 minutes more after milk stops flowing or per the lactation consultant instructions.
- Lean forward occasionally to facilitate milk flow into the collection bottles.
- Remember to stop pumping when the milk is 1 inch from the top of the bottle. Overfilling the bottle could cause milk to be suctioned into the motor of the pump. You can change bottles if the breasts are not yet empty.
- Make sure your equipment is clean before each use.
- Only wash the cone and collection bottle valve. Use hot, soapy water to wash the cone, rinse it well, dry and store it in a clean location. Cover the cone with a clean towel.
- Once your milk is flowing, sterilize your equipment once a day. You may use a dishwasher, boil pieces for five minutes, or use special microwave pump sterilization bags. It is not necessary to wash the tubing. Do not get the "air filter" wet as this decreases the amount of suction.
- The breasts can be wiped with a clean warm cloth. Avoid using a loofah or shower sponges when bathing as they harbor bacteria.
Storage of Human Milk
- Refrigerate or freeze your milk after expression. Be sure to label every container of milk with the date and time.
- Fresh milk can remain at room temperature for a maximum or 4 hours.
- If the milk will not be used within 24 hours, it should be frozen
- Frozen milk will keep for 6 months.
- Transport all expressed milk in a cooler with ice.
- Expressed milk at one pumping can either be combined or separated into bottles based on the quantity of your baby’s feedings. Your NICU nurse can guide you to prevent waste.
Stimulating Milk Production
- Rest as much as possible; it is OK to stay at home sometimes to rest and pump.
- Carry a water bottle and drink at least 8-10 cups of water per day.
- Kangaroo hold or touch your baby whenever possible, especially before pumping.
- Eat frequent, nutritious snacks.
- You may drink “Mother’s Milk Tea” 4-5 cups per day.
- Contact the lactation consultant for questions and support.