If you are unable to breastfeed your baby directly, it is important to remove milk during the times your baby normally would feed. This will help you to continue making milk.
Before you express breastmilk, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Make sure the area where you are expressing and your pump parts and bottles are clean. Breasts and nipples do not need to be washed before pumping.
If you need help to get your milk to start flowing, you can:
|Type||How it works||What's involved||Average cost|
|Hand expression||You use your hand to massage and compress your breast to remove milk.||
You use your hand and wrist to operate a hand-held device to pump the milk.
||$30 to $50|
|Electric breast pump||Runs on battery or plugs into an electrical outlet.||
$150 to over $250
You can rent an electric pump from a lactation consultant at a local hospital or from a breastfeeding organization. This type of pump works well for creating a milk supply when a new baby can’t feed at the breast. Mothers who have struggled with other expression methods may find that these pumps work well for them.
Under the Affordable Care Act, your health insurance plan must cover the cost of a breast pump. You may be offered a rental or a new one for you to keep. Your plan may provide guidance on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, how long the coverage of a rented pump lasts, and when they’ll provide the pump (before or after you have the baby). Learn more about your breastfeeding benefits at healthcare.gov and talk to your insurance company to learn their specific policies on breast pumps.
You can keep germs from getting into the milk by washing your pumping equipment with soap and water and letting the equipment air dry.
Store your breastmilk in clean glass or hard BPA-free plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids. You can also use milk storage bags, which are made for freezing human milk. Do not use disposable bottle liners or other plastic bags to store breastmilk.
Storage bottles or bags to refrigerate or freeze your breastmilk also qualify as tax-deductible breastfeeding gear.
|Place||Temperature||How long||Things to know|
|Countertop, table||Room temp (up to 77°F)||Up to 3 to 4 hours is best.
Up to 6 to 8 hours is okay for very clean expressed milk.
|Containers should be covered and kept as cool as possible. Cover the container with a clean cool towel may keep milk cooler. Throw out any leftover milk within 1 to 2 hours after the baby is finished feeding.|
|Refrigerator||39°F or colder||Up to 72 hours is best.||Store milk in the back of the main body of the refrigerator. When at work, you can place your expressed milk in the refrigerator. Use a canvas or insulated bag that blends in with your coworkers’ lunch bags, and place it at the back of the refrigerator.|
|Freezer||0°F or colder||Up to 3-6 months is best.||Store milk toward the back of the freezer where the temperature is most constant. Milk stored at 0°F or colder is safe for longer durations, but the quality of the milk might not be as high.|
|Room temperature (60°F to 85°F)||Refrigerator (39°F or colder)||Any freezers|
|Thawed breastmilk||Up to 1 to 2 hours is best. Up to 3 to 4 hours is okay.||24 hours||Do not refreeze.|
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Content last updated: July 21, 2014
Breastfeeding fact sheet
Your Guide to Breastfeeding
This easy-to-read publication has how-to information and support to help women breastfeed successfully.