For nursing mothers who work, exclusive breastfeeding can be difficult. This is why pumping &storing breast milk for use at a later time is a good idea. However, there are dos & don’ts for breast milk storage so please read this article to find out.
1. What kind of container should you use to store expressed breast milk?
Before expressing or handling breast milk, wash your hands with soap and water. Then store the expressed milk in a clean, capped glass or hard plastic, BPA-free container. BPA stands for bisphenol A, a chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. Some research has raised health concerns about BPA because it can seep into food or beverages from BPA-made containers.
You can also use special plastic bags designed for breast milk storage but don’t store breast milk in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags designed for general household use.
2. What’s the best way to store expressed breast milk?
Using waterproof labels and ink, label each container with the date you expressed the breast milk and place the containers in the back of the refrigerator or freezer, where the temperature is the coolest. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator or freezer, store the milk temporarily in an insulated cooler.
Fill individual containers with the milk your baby will need for one feeding. Also, breast milk expands as it freezes, so don’t fill containers to the brim.
3. Can you add freshly expressed breast milk to already stored milk?
You can add fresh milk to refrigerated milk you expressed earlier on the same day. However, thoroughly cool the freshly expressed breast milk before adding it to previously chilled or frozen milk.
Don’t add warm breast milk to frozen breast milk because it will cause the frozen milk to partially thaw.
4. How long can you keep expressed breast milk?
This depends on the storage method but consider these guidelines:
a: Room temperature. Freshly expressed breast milk can be kept at room temperature for up to six hours. However, use or proper storage within four hours is optimal.
b: Insulated cooler. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in an insulated cooler with ice packs for up to one day.
c: Refrigerator. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of the refrigerator for up to five days in clean conditions. However, use or freezer storage within three days is optimal.
d: Deep freezer. Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored in the back of a deep freezer for up to 12 months. However, using the frozen milk within six months is optimal.
Keep in mind research suggests that the longer you store breast milk—whether in the refrigerator or in the freezer—the greater the loss of vitamin C in the milk.
It’s also important to note that breast milk expressed when a baby is a newborn won’t completely meet the same baby’s needs when he or she is a few months older. Also, storage guidelines might differ for preterm, sick, or hospitalised infants.
5. How do I thaw frozen breast milk?
Thaw the oldest milk first. Place the frozen container in the refrigerator the night before you intend to use it. You can also gently warm the milk by placing it under warm running water or in a bowl of warm water.
Also, don’t heat a frozen bottle in the microwave or very quickly on the stove. Some parts of the milk might be too hot, and others cold. Some research suggests that rapid heating can affect the milk’s antibodies.
While further research is needed on whether previously frozen milk that’s been thawed can be frozen again and safely used, many experts recommend discarding thawed milk that isn’t used within 24 hours.
6. Does thawed breast milk smell or look different from fresh breast milk?
The colour of your breast milk might vary, depending on your diet. Also, thawed breast milk might seem to have a different odour or consistency than freshly expressed milk. It’s still safe to feed though.
However, if your baby refuses the thawed milk, it might help to shorten the storage time.
Hope you learned something new? Please share with parents you know, particularly nursing mothers who also have to juggle their jobs with feeding their babies.
Also read: What Cereals Are Safe For Babies?