Should you feed your child with expressed breast milk?

Colostrum or the thin yellowish milk that is produced during the first 3-4 days after delivery, is rich in proteins and antibodies that provide passive immunity to a new born. Colostrum gradually changes to mature milk which is thicker and creamier. Medical practitioners strictly advice to breastfeed the infants for the first six months as breast milk contains complex proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and other biologically active components.

Inability of a baby to consume mother’s milk directly, or a baby who is used to “cluster” feeding sessions (they feed frequently during a short period of time and then sleep for a longer time) or simply because a mom is wanting to go out and keep breast milk available for the baby and definitely in case of working women, there is a need to express start expressing milk.

When to start expressing your milk?

The first 4-6 weeks you are getting to know your baby. You are new to breast feeding too. Do not over complicate matters by trying to learn to express milk. 6-8 weeks is a good time to start expressing milk.

How much to express?

During first to 6 month, exclusively breastfed babies usually need to be fed 4-6 times at least. The average baby drinks about 800- 1000 ml of breast milk every day during this time. You can calculate the number of hours you are going to be away or the number of feeds that you would like to provide through a bottle or a feeding cup (in case of slightly older babies- 6 month plus) and then calculate how much do you need to express exactly? A simple formula is to divide 800-1000 ml by no of feeds and calculate the number of feeds required and build up gradually.

However, every mother is different and the requirements for babies are different so one should get in touch with a doctor or lactational consultant to draft out the best plans.

Methods Commonly Used to express milk:

There are different ways to express milk. The most common being – the manual method and using breast pumps

How to Express Milk by hand:

Here’s an easy and efficient step-by-step guide you can follow:

    • Wash your hands properly
    • Massage your breast for a few minutes or gently rub a warm cloth to loosen up and get the milk flowing
    • Hold your breast in the shape of the letter C, by placing your thumb above your breast and the rest of the fingers underneath it.
    • Try generating a rhythmic movement with your fingers by gently pushing your breast forward and backward in order to get the milk out of the ducts. Don’t be too harsh as you might end up damaging the tissues
    • Hold a sterilised container near your breast to collect the milk
    • Switch breasts once a while. Make sure you are getting out milk from both the sides to keep them from becoming too uneven.

Types of Pumps (Manual and Electric)

There are two types of pumps that are used to express milk: manual pumps and electric pumps.

Electric pumping although effective sometimes ends up pumping too much milk and this results in the release of a lot of hormones in the mother’s body. This can lead to excess milk production, swelling and engorged breast which can be quite painful.

Manuals pumps are more effective and widely used due to the fact that one can control and regulate the supply more efficiently in this method.

Sometimes using these pumps can be quite painful and can cause you stress and misery. Initially pumping may reduce the quantity of milk production. You need to increase the frequency of pumping which will gradually bring it back to the level as per your baby’s need. The idea is to remain relaxed and you will get the hang of it.

Tips to Express Milk by Pump:

    • Use hands free pumping bra
    • Use the correct breast shields
    • Focus on expressing milk so that you don’t hurt yourself
    • Remain calm and happy
    • Have snacks in handy!!
    • Hydrate yourself

How to store and thaw expressed milk:

    • In normal room temperature, for 3-4 hours
    • In the fridge, about 4 days
    • In the freezer for about 5-6 months
  • It is to be noted that one shouldn’t ever microwave the milk. To warm or defrost it, you can place it in lukewarm water. After defrosting make sure to shake the milk before feeding. The defrosted milk shouldn’t be stored again and must be used within two hours. To avoid wastage, pump only the required amount.

What you need to remember:

Avoid pumping during infections. The bacteria can get inside the breast cells and cause painful symptoms. However, the good news is one can continue breast feeding during a bacterial infection like mastitis because the bacteria doesn’t affect the baby. So always ask your gynae when in doubt.

Also please consult your paediatrician on specific need for top feed or any particular vitamin or supplement to complete the nutritional requirement of your little one.

Expressing milk is considered to be less motherly than physically feeding your child in some families. Some of these beliefs and conversations need to be totally ignored by a new mother. Breast feeding and motherhood are personal choices full of learnings and undoing your mistakes. As a mother you need to take charge and do what works best for you.

 

A few other asanas you can try out –

  • Child’s Pose
  • Virabhadrasana
  • Supta baddha Konasana
  • Goddess Pose

Precautions to Take while Practicing Yoga and exercise during your Third Trimester

  • Avoid strenuous workouts and activities that require you to do jumping, skipping, hopping, vigorous running and bouncing
  • Consult with a doctor for safety measures
  • Stop working out immediately if you see any of these symptoms-
  1. Severe Pain
  2. Blood discharge
  3. Vomiting after working out
  4. Feeling completely drained and out of breath or dizzy
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • After working out, give yourself a few minutes to relax and recover
  • Drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration

Although working out has it own benefits, one must take it lightly during the third trimester and limit it to low-impact workouts only. Your baby’s health and your own health must be your first priority at this delicate stage so be very gentle on yourself. Motherhood is a very special journey and even though every step has its own hurdles, it brings you more closure to your baby and helps you build a stronger bond than before every day.

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