We all know pumping is something we have to do if we working (and nursing) mothers; it’s like going to the bathroom—NOT negotiable. But pumping three times per day can really add up! How can a nursing mom minimize her time away from her desk but still pump enough milk for her baby?
Below, we show you how to use breast milk’s long shelf life to streamline your pumping protocol and get your pumping done in 15 minutes or less. This means getting pumping and getting back to work in the time it takes someone else to have a smoke break.
Breast milk is an extremely durable living substance. When it is tested for quality, it has always outlasted the planned duration of the test.
Here are the most current guidelines for the shelf life of breast milk when stored at:
Room Temperature : 24 hours
In a refrigerator: 8 days
Freezer: 3-6 months
Deep Freeze: 12 months to Indefinitely
Now that we know how long breast milk lasts, let’s see how take advantage of this long shelf life and minimize the time spent pumping at work.
1 electricity-powered double breasted pump (don’t even waste your time with a single pump if you are working)
1 quart-sized zipper-type bag (changed weekly)
Cooler with ice pack for your milk (most pumps already come with this)
Prep your pump and assemble your flanges (breast shields) at home before you leave so that when you arrive in the lactation room, all you need to do is plug in your pump and attach the tubes to the flanges. Don’t waste time attaching the tubes to the machine or assembling the flanges during your pumping session at work. Do that ahead of time and you’ll cut about 5 minutes off your pumping time easily. If possible, leave your pump in the lactation room all day or even all week to save time and energy during the transit to and from your desk.
Sit down, relax and start thinking of your baby. Pump calmly until the milk stops flowing. Then feel your breast tissue for any ducts that still contain milk and place gentle downward pressure on them to ensure complete drainage. Remember to search as far back as your armpit and under your breasts. Doing this effleurage keeps your milk supply going strong for longer than if you just stopped pumping when the milk stopped.
After each pumping session, let the pump continue to run with only the tubes attached. This will dry any condensation inside the tubing that may have formed during pumping. Next, simply rinse flanges with warm water to remove the sugars. There is no need to wash them thoroughly with soap and water after each use because of the 24-hour viability of milk at room temperature. After rinsing, place the flanges in the baggie and the milk in the cooler and return to work.
Repeat this process each time you pump.
After the last pumping session of the day, bring everything home and place the milk and the flanges in the refrigerator. Storing the flanges in the refrigerator at night saves you time (no need to wash) because of breast milk’s eight day viability if refrigerated. Breast milk flowing through the flanges is even less vulnerable to going bad than a bottle of milk sitting in the refrigerator for eight days, so there is no need to worry or feel guilty about not washing your flanges every night, let alone after each pumping session.
In the morning, put the flange baggie in your pumping bag (again, 24 hour rule) and take your milk to the care provider. One day’s pumping should be enough for the next day’s feeding, especially if baby nurses at night.
Repeat each day of the week.
After your Friday afternoon pump, wash the flanges thoroughly with soap and water, making sure to clean every nook and cranny. Place in a new, clean zipper-type baggie, ready for Monday!
This method reduces each pumping session to 10-15 minutes, not counting walking time. We hope this helps nursing moms who work have more frequent and more pleasant pumping sessions at work!