8 Important Questions Women Ask Us About Breastfeeding

At Medela, we receive a lot of questions about breastfeeding. After all, every mum wants to know that she is doing everything possible to give her baby a great start... and breastfeeding is top of mind for many of us...

So, we thought that it would be useful to collect and answer some of the questions that we hear most from mums. We hope that you find these answers helpful as you embark on your breastfeeding journey with your little one!

First, Let's Start with the Basics

Every mum produces milk of varying amounts and produces it at different times throughout the day. So, there is no set amount you should be expressing.

The average baby drinks about 800ml per day from one to six months in age. Some babies will drink all this over 4-6 feeds per day, whilst other babies need 9-12 feeds per day to drink the same amount.

Our breasts hold different amounts in our cells where the milk is made and stored, so one mum may express out 90ml per pump whilst her friend may express 60ml.

The key thing to remember here is that we are all different. You will work out how frequently you need to express to get what your baby needs. Try not to compare yourself to anyone else as we are all individuals in everything we do.

How Will I Know if My Baby is Getting Enough Milk?

A rough guide is to think about how many times your baby breastfeeds per day and divide this by 800 -1000ml. For example, if your baby feeds about 10 times per day (10 ÷ 800/1000 = 80-100ml per feed).

Of course, when it comes to breastfeeding, remember that the fat content of breast milk changes based on whether it is the beginning or end of the feed. It also changes throughout the day.

So, you may find your baby needs more milk at some feeds and less at others. This is normal. This is what they have been doing whilst feeding at your breast anyway. You just haven’t been able to see it!

What Are the Benefits of Double Pumping?

Double pumping (expressing from both breasts at the same time) is beneficial as it provides you with up to 18% more milk… and, by draining both breasts, it also saves you time!

Double pumping’s effectiveness is also important because a well-drained breast tells your system to produce more milk, whereas milk that’s left behind after ineffective pumping signals that more milk is not required. That’s why frequent and effective milk removal is so crucial for your milk supply.

How Do I Know What Size My Nipples Are?

This is the most COMMON question we get and it’s important that you know how to measure your nipples! When you are using a breast pump, the breast shield (funnel) is designed to draw your nipple into the tunnel and allow your milk to flow into the breast milk bottle. It can be painful if your nipple is touching or grazing the inside of the tunnel during this process, as it creates friction.

As such, we have a wide variety of sizes when it comes to breast shields, as women’s nipples come in all shapes and sizes, just like our shoe sizes! Medela has breast shields in 5 sizes; S, M, L, XL, XXL, to find your correct size and for a guide on how to measure your nipples, read here.

How Do I Clean My Breast Pump?

As your pump parts come into contact with your breast milk, it’s important that you clean and sterilise these parts after each use. This includes all parts apart from the pump itself and the tubing (only air should be travelling in the tube).

To clean a harmony or swing pump, remove the breast shield, unscrew the connector from the bottle, separate the valve from the membrane and remove both from the connector. Clean with warm, soapy water and sterilise how you wish.

Medela has microwaveable sterilising bags that are easy to use and remove 99.9% of bacteria in under 3 minutes!

If you have the swing maxi or freestyle pump, remove the breast shield, unscrew the connector from the bottle, remove the back of the connector, and separate the membrane from the back of the connector. Wash all of the pieces in warm, soapy water and sterilise.

How Often Will I Need to Pump?

How often you wish to express depends on how many breastfeeds per day you wish to replace with feeding your baby expressed breast milk.

A rough guide is to think about how many times your baby breastfeeds per day and divide this by 800 -1000ml. For example, if your baby feeds about 10 times per day (10 ÷ 800/1000 = 80-100ml per feed).

How Long Does Breast Milk “Stay Good” in the Fridge or Freezer?

Breast milk can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours, up to 3 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer. Previously frozen and thawed breast milk can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours and at room temperature for 2 hours.

What Can I Use to Store My Breast Milk in?

There are lots of different ways you can store your breast milk; it just depends on your situation. If you’re low on space, Medela’s breast milk storage bags are great for freezing or refrigerating as they can lie flat or stand up. We also have a double seal to prevent any spillage and have a space for labelling (handy for when you can’t remember when you pumped your breast milk).

You can also store breast milk in the fridge or freezer in containers of 80ml, 150ml, or 250 ml. If you are out and about for work, travel or a spot of shopping, Medela’s Cooler Bag with ice brick is also supper handy, and it comes with four breast milk bottles too!

What questions do you have about breastfeeding? We’d love to answer them! Let’s have a chat and support each other here or on the Medela Australia Facebook page!