Using A Breastmilk Collector
If you’re breastfeeding, it helps to build a little stash of breastmilk for when you may need to be away from baby. One of the newer ways to do this is to use a breastmilk collector. It can be a super-simple method of collecting some extra breastmilk – without the hassle of pumping!
Is a breastmilk collector right for you? Let’s take a look at what it is (and what it’s not) and how it works.
What is a breastmilk collector?
It is a small silicone device that collects breastmilk from one breast while baby feeds on the other. A breastmilk collector uses your body’s natural response to breastfeeding to help you collect more milk. You simply breastfeed as you normally would and attach the breastmilk collector to the opposite breast. The breastmilk collector will create gentle suction to help extract milk while you focus on bonding with your baby. Bonus: It’s perfectly silent and completely hands free.
How does it work?
When you breastfeed, two hormones work together to make it all possible: prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin helps your body make milk, and oxytocin helps release it. It’s oxytocin that tells the muscles of the breast to contract and push milk out of your milk ducts when baby sucks. This is sometimes referred to as a let-down. If you’ve breastfed before, you know milk is often released from both breasts – resulting in leaks and wasted milk on the side baby’s not feeding on. A breastmilk collector takes advantage of the let-down reflex, plus some extra suction, to extract that extra milk. You save the milk in a bottle or storage bag, depending on how soon you’ll use it.
When should I use a breastmilk collector?
It’s best to wait until your milk supply is established (about 4-6 weeks) before using a breastmilk collector. Not only is on-demand breastfeeding the best way to establish and regulate your supply, but you want to get the hang of things before introducing another piece of equipment (breastmilk collector or otherwise). Once you and baby are breastfeeding pros and your milk supply is good to go, you can use the breastmilk collector any time you breastfeed. Start slow to find what works for you. How you use it will depend on your goals for your supply and freezer stash. Using it multiple times a day could boost your milk supply or even lead to oversupply. Check with your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.
How is a breastmilk collector different from a pump?
While some companies market breastmilk collectors as silicone breast pumps, it’s important to know that a breastmilk collector can’t replace a traditional pump. If you’re going to be apart from baby when he or she would normally eat, a double electric breast pump is probably your best bet. Why? A pump uses repetitive suction to trick your body into thinking that a baby is feeding, which is key to maintaining your supply. Some pumps, like the Lansinoh Smartpump and Signature Pro, even have special settings to help stimulate milk let-down and help mimic your baby’s feeding style. A breastmilk collector doesn’t create repetitive suction, so it won’t be as efficient at removing milk from the breast as a pump, but it is great for collecting a little extra milk.
Is this “let-down” milk nutritious for baby?
Yes! Breastmilk, in all its forms, is the most amazing superfood we can offer to our babies. When you breastfeed, the first milk contains less fat than what comes later in the feed because it takes time to draw fat from the back of the breast. As a breastmilk collector only saves the “skim” foremilk, it will have lower fat content than pumped milk that contains both foremilk and hindmilk. Using the breastmilk collector in combination with breastfeeding and/or pumping will help baby get a healthy supply of breastmilk over time. If baby is drinking a lot of milk gathered from a breastmilk collector, consider mixing it with pumped milk to ensure he or she gets enough of those healthy fats.
Will it work for me?
Everyone is different, and results will vary from mom to mom. But because breastmilk collectors are such a simple way to collect some extra milk, it’s worth a try!