Breastfeeding in the party season – continued!

So you have your party booked, the dress is picked and now you have to ensure baby is ok. Whether it is just the evening or your first night away as a breastfeeding mummy you have some planning to do. You will want to leave your sitter with some expressed breastmilk (EBM) to ensure baby has all the food they need in your absence.
Baby breastfeeding

*Please note- Get your baby to try taking EBM from a bottle before the big night… get dad involved in the weeks running up to it so you are confident that baby is happy to take from a bottle in your absence.

Let’s start with expressing - a few things to think about and some tips…

In the first few weeks after birth your breasts were given the 'blueprint' for your milk production and storage capacity. You and your baby have established a supply and demand and the frequency of feeds, whether you offer one, pair or cluster of breastfeeds will influence your expressed milk volume.

If your baby feeds frequently you may find it a little more difficult to find a time to express. If they only have one breast a tip to try is to express whilst he feeds.

Your breasts start to replenish the supply after you finish feeding and it takes about 45 mins to do. So you could sneak an expressing session in. The amount you will get is variable mum to mum breast to breast.

When expressing some mums find it difficult to get the right triggers to get the milk to flow.  It might help to watch a video of your baby on your smart phone, look at a picture, or better still have your baby near you when you express. Some mothers also find it helps to have an item of clothing baby has worn or to massage and warm the breast whilst pumping or hand expressing.

When it comes to the pump  finding the right pump for you is important. If it’s just for the occasional use the Medela Harmony hand pump is a good choice as it has the 2 phase technology, doesn’t need batteries, quiet and ideal if you need to take it with you. If you want a mechanical / battery / mains pump then the Medela swing Breastpump is also ideal.

If you have plans to do a lot of expressing then a double pump may be more suitable and the swing maxi, and freestyle are two great pumps for personal use.

Make sure that you have the vacuum set to the most comfortable for you and that you choose the correct breast shield size.

How much milk do I need? 

Unfortunately the breasts do not come with a volume gauge, but look at the frequency that your baby feeds to get an idea of his needs.

If he is a frequent feeder this may indicate that he has a moderate stomach capacity and can only hold so much, it could also be that you also have a moderate milk capacity in the breast. If he has longer gaps between feeds it may indicate he can hold a greater volume of milk in his tummy, and also that you produce more volume. On the whole a starting point would be if you were feeding 2-3 hourly 90-120mls at each feed, 3-4 hourly 120-150mls.

A recommendation would be to store the milk in 100mls volumes and you may find that having 350-400mls for a night out useful in the fridge. If lo is still showing cue to feed after the first 100mls your babysitter can add 30 - 50mls extra rather than you decanting 150 and throwing half away if he only wants 90mls. It is a trial and error and EBM is liquid gold and the last thing you want to do is throw it down the sink.

Storing Breastmilk 

You can store breastmilk in the freezer for up to 6 months but there are things that are important.

Make sure your bottle or pump and save bags are labelled with the date and volume you expressed.

If you know that you are going to use your expressed milk in the next few days you can store it at the back of the refrigerator for 3-5 days using it fresh after expressing you need to feed within 4 hours of expressing if left at room temperature.

*Please note once you remove it from the freezer it has only a 24 hour shelf life- this is because it will start breaking down.

Ideally warm to body temperature - so it's only warm not hot. Warm in a jug of hot water or a milk warmer.  Do avoid using the microwave - not only does it make hot spots but it also destroys those wonderful minerals and immunological factors