Breast milk is the most natural and nutrient dense milk source and it is the best way to nourish your baby in the early years of his life! It is recommended that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life where your baby only receives breast milk without any additional food or drinks, including water. Thereafter, your baby should receive complementary foods and to continue breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
Breastfeeding is the most natural skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her baby. Mother’s first breastfeeding may start as soon as within the first hour upon delivery. Mastering breastfeeding skills may need some practice and time, especially for first-time moms. However, with the key skill right from the start as below, breastfeeding is indeed easy.
Getting into position that is comfortable for you and baby will ease breastfeeding. Below are several types of breastfeeding holds.
Expressing breast milk
Many working mothers may worry that they may not be able to continue breastfeeding their baby when they return to work. Don’t worry, as mothers can express their breast milk and stock up. Breast milk can be expressed by hand or breast pump.
Expressing by hand
- Wash your hands well.
- Gently massage your breast, stroking downwards towards the areola.
- Hold your breast with one hand, not too close to the nipple. Lift your breast slightly, and gently press the breast inwards towards your chest.
- Lightly compress your thumb and fingers together in rolling motion towards the nipple.
- Relax your fingers for a couple of seconds then repeat the same motion. Do not squeeze the base of your nipple, as this will stop the flow of milk.
Expressing by breast pump
Breast milk can also be expressed by using breast pump. Before you start, remember to sterilize all equipment and wash your hands. Every breast pump has different instructions when using, remember to refer the product manual before your start using breast pumps. If you are still in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or lactation consultant.
Storing breast milk
After expressing, store the milk appropriately. Each container should be labelled with the date and stored at the right temperature.
|Method of Storage||Duration of Storage|
|Room temperature (25-37°C)||3-4 hours|
|Air-conditioned room (15-25°C)||8 hours|
|Refrigerator (2-4°C)||72 hours|
|Freezer compartment inside refrigerator (one-door fridge)||2 weeks|
|Freezer section of refrigerator with separate door (two-door fridge)||3 months|
|Separate deep freeze||6 months|
|Thawed in a refrigerator||24 hours (do not refreeze)|
Parenting a new baby is an exciting time in life but it can be tiring and challenging. However, during the duration of breastfeeding, moms may encounter difficulties. Do not hesitate to look for help when you need it. Breastfeeding is like any newly learned skill and it does get easier with time.
An educational contribution by Malaysian Paediatric Association.