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[Q] If I start expressing breast milk to feed my baby from a bottle, will I have enough milk for her when she nurses?
[A] Pumping doesn't take milk away from the baby; it makes you produce more. Remember, breastfeeding is a game of supply and demand: If your baby (or the pump) consistently demands more milk, your body will supply more. That said, if you were to pump both breasts completely and then try to feed your baby right afterward, there might not be much milk available. To keep this from happening, pump about a half-hour after the first feeding of the morning, when your milk supply is the highest. The milk you pump can either be frozen for future use (say, when you go back to work) or be refrigerated and then given in a bottle at a later feeding.
Also keep in mind that when you first begin pumping, you may not get as much milk as you'd anticipated. But do it faithfully and your milk supply will increase within a few days.
[Q] How much milk should I have on hand when I go back to work?
[A] We recommend storing four 4-ounce bags or bottles for each eight-hour day you'll be working; 20 to 40 bags is optimal. While this may sound like overkill, the reality is that you'll likely go through the milk pretty quickly--babies tend to drink more from a bottle than from the breast because milk flows readily from a bottle. Granted, storing this much milk might sound like a monumental task, but if you pump every day and give a bottle two to three times a week, that leaves you with four to five bags in the freezer every week.
[Q] How long can I store breast milk in the refrigerator? What about in the freezer?
[A] Current guidelines state that breast milk can be stored for five to seven days in a refrigerator kept at 32° F to 39° F; three to four months in a standard freezer; and six to 12 months in a "deep-freeze" freezer kept at 0° F. If you're pumping at work and don't have access to a refrigerator, store your milk in a cooler with three ice packs; this will keep your milk fresh for up to 24 hours.
[Q] Sometimes when I pump, my breast milk seems to have a green tinge. What causes this, and is it safe to give the milk to my baby?
[A] The color you describe is probably a reflection of what you recently ate --perhaps you had a spinach omelette for breakfast or some asparagus with dinner? Regardless of your milk's picturesque palette, rest assured that it's perfectly safe to feed to your baby. By the way, here are some other color culprits:
• Green Gatorade = green milk
• Beets = pink
• Yams = yellow