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Human Milk Collection, Storage and Transport

(757) 668-7000

While your baby is in the hospital you can still provide your milk for your baby. You will need to use a hospital grade electric pump to get your milk supply started and to keep up your milk supply until your baby is ready to breastfeed.

What we will provide for you:

  • breast pumping kit
  • White patient identification labels
  • Orange human milk labels
  • Storage container with a lid
  • Plastic sealable bags
  • Microwave sterilizer bag
  • Dots for lids (For NICU: use orange dots for the first two weeks of life)

You will need to get an electric pump like the one you use in the hospital. If you have insurance, the pump rental may be covered. You can call your insurance company to be sure. For NICU mothers: If you are enrolled in WIC, they may lend you an electric pump free of charge. If you need help getting a pump, please see the lactation consultants. There are pumps for you to use when you come to the hospital.

Collecting your milk:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Put the pieces of your double - pumping kit together. Use the bottles provided by CHKD.
  • Place the flanges over the center of your nipple on each breast and turn on the pump.
  • Pump both breasts for 15 minutes. If you have a lot of milk, you may need to stop and change the bottles before 15 minutes. (Fill only half full if your baby is in the NICU)
  • Do hands-on breast compressions while pumping to extract more milk and boost your milk production.
  • Turn off the pump and remove the flanges from your breasts.
  • Complete the orange label with your baby’s name, date and time of collection and your signature. Put the label on the container.
  • Put the white ID label on the container.
  • Put the container in a plastic sealable bag. You can put up to 3 containers in one bag.
  • Put the milk in the refrigerator until you are ready to come to the hospital. If your baby is not eating or you are not able to come to the hospital within 24 hours, place your milk in the freezer.
  • You should pump 8-12 times in 24 hours. Pump every 2-3 hours throughout the day. You may be able to have one stretch at night, not to exceed 4 hours.

Bringing your milk to the hospital:

  • Put your frozen milk in an insulated tote bag or in a cooler.
  • Use freezer gel packs. Keep these in the freezer when not in use.
  • Try to keep the milk frozen on the way to the hospital. If your milk fully thaws, we must use it within 24 hours or throw it away. Milk can be refrozen if only partially thawed.
  • Give your milk to your baby’s nurse so it can be put into our freezer.

Caring for yourself:

  • You must pump often to keep your milk supply.
  • Take your pain medicine if you need it.
  • Eat all of your meals and snacks. Drink at least 6 glasses of water or juice a day.

Caring for your breast pumping kit:

  • Disconnect the tubing from the milk collection parts.
  • After each use, take the pieces apart and rinse with cool water. Next, wash with hot soapy water. If pumping in the NICU, please utilize Medela quick clean wipes provided.
  • Dry the parts and store in a clean plastic bag.
  • For NICU Moms: Your parts should be sterilized once a day using the provided Medela quick clean micro-steam bag.  

Helpful hints: 

  • Pump where you can be comfortable.
  • Breast massage before and during pumping may increase milk flow.
  • Keep your baby’s picture with your pump.
  • Ask your baby’s nurse for one of the blankets he/she was wrapped in. Wear the blanket like a scarf while pumping so your baby is “close.”

On the day of your baby’s discharge:

  • All of your frozen milk will be returned to you before your baby is discharged from the hospital. Bring an insulated tote bag or cooler and frozen gel packs so you can safely transport your frozen milk to your home.
  • Put your containers of frozen milk in your home freezer as soon as you get home.  

Lactation Consultants are available at CHKD to help you. Please call them at 757-668-7405.

Freezer Storage for Fresh Human Milk

Type of Freezer TemperatureDuration of Storage 
Freezer compartment of a refrigerator5ºF or -15ºC2 Weeks
Freezer compartment of refrigerator withseparate doors0ºF or 18ºC3-6 Months 
Chest freezer or upright deep freezer-4ºF or -20ºC 6-12 Months 

For all types of freezers: Store milk towards the back of the freezer where the temperature is the most constant.

CHKD lactation consultants are available to help you. Please call them at (757) 668-7405 if you have any questions.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 05/2018

(757) 668-7000