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4 Things to Remember When Expressing Breast Milk at Work
PHOTO BY @Pilin_Petunyia/iStock
  • “Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her baby and the earth.” -Pamela K. Wiggins

    Giving breast milk to your baby from birth to two years old is recommended for its health benefits, yet not all moms are able to successfully produce enough breast milk. It becomes even more challenging when a working mother returns to work. Here are some important things you need to remember to get the most out of breastfeeding.

    1. The more you empty it, the more you’ll have
    According to Dr. Gloria Ramirez of the Philippine Children's Medical Center, early imprinting is one of the factors that affect a mom’s capability to breastfeed. If the baby is able to latch on to the breast within the first few hours after birth, the mom might be able to breastfeed for a longer period of time. This is the reason why doctors highly recommend rooming in immediately, with the dad acting as support.

    Dr. Ramirez explains that lactation is hormonally governed; afterwards, when true milk production sets in, it will be based on demand. In other words, the more you empty your breasts of milk, the more you will produce it. It is of utmost importance to empty your breasts after every feeding. If your baby did not consume all your milk in one feeding, then express and store it for future use. When you start going to work, pump till your breasts are empty, preferably at about the same time your baby usually feeds.

    2. A breast massage helps
    Dr. Ramirez says, “Having to go back to work should not be an obstacle to breastfeeding. Ask your company to provide a lactation station. The requirements for one are minimal: a freezer, a comfortable private seat, and a sink where moms can wash hands.”


    There are three different ways to express breast milk: by hand, with a manual pump, or with an electric pump. The least bacteria is found in milk expressed by hand.

    In preparation for expressing breast milk, make sure that your hands are clean to avoid bacteria. Massage your breasts in order to have let-down reflex and make sure that you are relaxed and comfortable.

    According to Sylvia Malabanan of L.A.T.C.H. Philippines, "When done properly, breast massage can be beneficial in increasing the amount of milk expressed by hand or by breast pump, and for helping remove blockages in milk ducts."

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    3. Store and transport milk properly
    Dr. Teresa Maria Ribaño, pediatrician and lactation consultant at Makati Medical Center, shares her "Rule of Three's" when storing breast milk: Three hours, three days, three months.

    "If the milk stays in the room temperature up to 30 degrees, it’s good for three hours.” She added, “If you put it in the refrigerator, it’s good for three days. If you put it in the freezer, it’s good for three to six months.

    "Once you thaw a bag of breast milk, it needs to be used within 24 hours," Dr. Ribaño said. "Once the milk touches the lips or has the saliva of the baby, it needs to be used within one to two hours," she stressed. 

    A full-term baby can safely consume pumped milk within four hours with no need for refrigeration. Keep it bacteria-free for 24 hours by refrigerating it. If baby cannot consume it in 24 hours, then the breast milk has to be frozen. 

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    4. This is how much milk you need to pump
    "You don't need to fill a freezer with breast milk," says mom Whitney Callahan in a Facebook post, to assure her fellow moms.

    In a Filipino setting, a new mom who's returning to work will leave a 2-month-old baby who probably feeds every two to three hours and consumes about four ounces per feeding. If she is away for eight hours, she only needs 12 ounces per day.

    "If mom is pumping to make up missed feedings while away from the baby, she will get what she needs for the next day," Whitney assured fellow nursing moms. "Preparing to leave baby is hard enough without the pressure to fill a deep freezer," she stressed.

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