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Breast Milk Storage - Breastmilk Organizer and Storage Info and Tools

The number one question we get from pumping mamas is about how to store their expressed breastmilk.  A common misconception is that you have to freeze your breastmilk for later use.  While freezing is a good option for undetermined later use, feeding freshly expressed breastmilk or refrigerated breastmilk is an even better option for multiple reasons.

Benefits of Feeding Fresh Breastmilk

  1. Fresh breastmilk has living white blood cells which protect against illness.  It is tailored to protect the baby against illnesses to which the mother has been exposed.  Some of which are contracted by proximity to other siblings, etc.
  2. Breastmilk can be left at room temperature for 6-10 hours which means that if you pump milk before work in the morning, it can be given to your baby during the next two feedings without having to refrigerate and warm.
  3. Breastmilk is good in the fridge for 5-7 days.  Ideally, what you pump Monday, can be given on Tuesday and what you pump Friday, can be given the following Monday.  This completely eliminates the need to freeze and kill living blood cells in breastmilk.  Using breast milk storage organizers such as Breastmilk Bandit Bottle Bands for each day of the week, help you to organize and use your freshly expressed breast milk efficiently.



Using Frozen Breastmilk

While using freshly expressed breastmilk is optimal, frozen breast milk still retains immune properties and nutrition far superior to breast milk substitutes.  Here are some tips for using frozen breastmilk.

  1. Freeze refrigerated breastmilk within 24 hours of expression.  Don't wait several days before choosing to freeze your breast milk.  If you are not going to use it within the next 5-8 days, freeze as soon as possible to avoid using up the life of the breast milk.
  2. Store towards the back of the freezer away from the walls of a self-defrosting refrigerator and away from the drop in temperature that comes from standing with the freezer door open while making your selection.
  3. Know your storage limits.  Refrigerated milk is good for 3-6 months while milk kept in a deep freeze is good for 6-12 months.  Here is a link to breast milk storage guidelines for your reference.
  4. Choose storage options that are good for the environment.  Optimally, freeze in glass bottles but if you choose plastic use re-usable breast milk bottles that have a sealing disc.  Another option that is good for the environment are biodegradable breast milk storage bags like Honeysuckle Breast Milk Storage Bags.  Freeze breastmilk flat and then store inside another zip lock style freezer bag for even more protection.  This way you are only throwing away one bag every once in a while that does not decompose instead of using a plastic bag for every bottle than stays in the landfill.
Warming and Defrosting Breastmilk

Optimally, you can defrost breastmilk by sitting it on the counter at the previous feeding so in the next 3 hours it comes to room temperature.  If you have not defrosted ahead of time, microwave water (not the breastmilk) and then take the container of water out of the microwave.  Place the breastmilk bottle inside the container making sure the water will not displace over the rim.  This process will take about 30 minutes to defrost.  You can also use this method to warm a refrigerated bottle which will take about 10 minutes. 

Checking Breastmilk Temperature

Just like you have seen on television, it is fine to test breastmilk on your wrist, BUT make sure that the milk has been gently swirled in the bottle not shaken as not to kill the living white blood cells that you have taken such great care to preserve.

In summary, no matter which method or container you use to store and serve your breastmilk it is still far superior than artificial infant formula.  If you only occasionally feed a bottle of breastmilk and mostly feed from the breast, there is no need to be overly cautious.  But if you are an exclusively pumping mama or you work 5 or more days a week, I encourage you to use fresh breastmilk over frozen whenever you can.

Happy Pumping,
Tanya

Comments

  1. I was actually unaware of these benefits.Thanks for the information.

    ReplyDelete

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