Making a Milk Bank, the quick guide

A milk bank is not only useful for moms who are going back to the office. It is also for those who want to go out for exercising, spending a day away from home or must take a medicine that is not compatible with breastfeeding.

Ideally, you should start form three weeks to a month before you need it, so your body get used to the feeling of pumping milk with a pump, and your production gradually increases.

It is normal that, at the beginning, only little milk comes out, even less than 30 ml (one ounce), but over the time, thanks to the stimulation of your baby and the extractor, you will be producing more.

What do you need in a milk bank?

  • A manual or electric milk extractor. If it is for your office, I recommend a double and electric milk pump, so the extraction will be faster and you can do it on both breasts simultaneously. These extractors usually include a useful thermal box lunch for storing and transporting your milk.

Double and electric milk pump extractors are ideal for the office because they’re faster than manual ones.

  • Hermetic bags or bottles for storing the milk.
  • A permanent marker.
  • A lactarium. Every woman has the right to have a clean and private space to pump her milk at workplace.
  • A fridge. Ideally in the office, but if there is not one, you must put your milk in the thermal box lunch and storage it in the freezer as soon as you get home.

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How to do a milk bank?

  • Prepare the atmosphere. Choose a quiet place with a comfortable chair where you can stay for about 20 minutes. Ask someone to take care of your baby or do it while your kid is sleeping, so you can be relaxed.
  • Watch the hygiene. Always wash your hands and be sure that the extractor and the containers are clean.
  • Take out your milk between breast-feeding schedules. Do it after your baby has eaten so it won’t be hungry. A good timing is 30-60 minutes after the first intake in the morning. As the days go by, you should integrate more extraction sessions. It could be after the midday intake and at the end of the day.
  • Calculate how much milk you will need. Between one month and six months of age, a baby consumes about 25 ounces (30 ounces from 7 to 11 months) on average. Count how many times your baby eats over 24 hours and divide 25 ounces by that amount. For example, if your child eats 10 times in 24 hours, divide 25 by 10 and you will know that each feeding bottle you will need must have 2.5 ounces on average. Now calculate how many intakes your baby will have in the period you’ll be away from home and you’ll know how many ounces you’ll need to leave.
  • Freeze you milk. Once you have your milk in a bottle or a bag, write down the date and time of extraction with a marker. Try to freeze it in small quantities (one or two ounces) to avoid waste. Store it in the bottom of the freezer.
  • Defrost the one you froze first. The easiest way is to put the milk in the refrigerator the night before you’ll use it. You can also put the bag or bottle in a bowl with warm water or under running warm water. Avoid putting it in bain-marie or microwave because that could kill milk nutrients or burn your baby.

Basic rules of consumption

  • If you defrost, you shouldn’t freeze again. According to “The League of the Milk”, refreezing breast milk can cause nutrient breakdown and increases the risk of bacterial proliferation. If your baby doesn’t finish a defrosted bottle, you can give it to it in the next scheduled meal.
  • Milk lasts for three to five hours at room temperature, depending on the weather (the more heat, the faster it decomposes).
  • Freshly extracted milk can last for three to five days in the fridge at an ideal temperature of 4°C.
  • Frozen milk can last up to 6 months; however, it is not recommended to freeze it for so long because breast milk properties change as your baby grows.

It is normal that at first you get very little milk, but little by little, and thanks to your baby and the extractor stimulation, you will produce more.

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version

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