Guidelines On Proper Breast Milk Storage
There comes a time when a mother has to consider storing some breast milk for the baby. Maybe you have to go back to work or you anticipate spending some time away from the baby. Regardless of the reason, it is essential that you have some extra breast milk stored away. Plus, it ensures that you have a more flexible timeline.
After you’ve purchased your breast pump and effectively expressing the milk, the next step is to safely store it. The safety and nutrition of the milk can easily be affected by the conditions in which you store it in. Hence, it is imperative that you store breast milk properly.
As complicated as breast milk storage can be, it is not a concept that is entirely hard to grasp. Below, is a comprehensive guideline on breast milk storage. Let us take a look.
Where To Store The Breast Milk?
You can either store the breast milk in the freezer, the refrigerator or an insulated bag. The place you choose to store your milk depends on how long you’d like to preserve the milk. Milk stored in the freezer that is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below, can last as long as 6-12 months. However, it is better not to store the milk for that long.
If you choose to store the milk in the fridge that is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the milk should last for as long as four days. Please note that breast milk tends to expand once it freezes. Hence, avoid filling the storage container/ bag to the brim. This should help reduce the chances of milk spilling over.
Milk stored on the counter is only good for up to four hours. However, ensure that the counter you choose to store it in/on is away from direct sunlight. High temperatures will only encourage the growth of bacteria. Insulated or cooler bags can preserve the milk for up to 24 hours maximum.
Please note, if you chose to store the milk in the fridge or the freezer, always place it in the back. The furthest part of the fridge and the freezer are colder and exhibit a more consistent temperature. Also, always use the milk in order of storage. That is, use the older ones first, before using the freshly stored ones.
Use The Right Breast Milk Storage Container
Generally, the containers you choose to use should range from plastic bottles or breast milk bags. Please note, plastic bags that are often used for household chores are not to be used. Disposable bottle liners and glass bottles should be avoided as well. Glass bottles can easily break or crack.
Moms’ picks: The Best Breast Milk Storage Bags
Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Twist Pouch
NUK Seal N Go Breast Milk Bags
Dr. Brown’s Breastmilk Storage Bags
Whichever container you choose to store it in, ensure that sterilized and clean for use. Also, the lid of the container should be sturdy and should seal the milk inadequately. That said, the place you choose for breast milk storage will also dictate the type of container you use.
- Freezer: Avoid using simple breast milk storage bags as they can easily burst after the milk freezes, Moreover, the milk might get contaminated from being stored in plastic for too long. You can use plastic bottles/bags that are BPA- free and seal tightly.
Instead, opt for glass containers that won’t easily break or crack.
- Fridge: When storing breast milk in the fridge, you can opt for a breast milk bag or plastic bottles that seal well.
Store Your Breast Milk in Small Batches
It is essential that you store your milk in small batches to help reduce wastage. This is because you cannot refreeze milk that you’ve already thawed. Moreover, thawed milk can only last as long as an hour or two.
Also, you can only warm your milk once. Reheating the milk more than the recommended number, which is once, can help encourage the growth of bacteria. This will only put the baby in harm’s way.
Label Your Breast Milk Containers
Whilst storing your milk, label the containers with the proper date and time. This way, you can use up the old milk first, and leave the fresh milk for later. Moreover, you’ll be able to identify the milk that has already gone bad. Labelling also helps avoid unnecessary confusion when it comes to proper breast milk storage.
Plan Ahead Before Thawing The Milk
Never rush when it comes to thawing the breast milk. If you heat the milk instantly, say in a microwave, you’ll end up killing all the necessary nutrients that the baby needs.
Instead, plan and ahead so that you can give the milk enough time to thaw properly. You can do this by placing the frozen or thawing milk in some warm water. Leave it there until it’s ready for use. You can always opt for a bottle warmer, which comes in handy in times of urgency.
Other health experts recommend placing the milk in the refrigerator door overnight. This way, the milk will have probably thawed.
Has My Breast Milk Gone Bad?
The last thing you want is to feed your baby with milk that has already gone bad. There are a few signs that can let you know if the milk has gone bad. First, check whether or not the milk smells okay or not. If the smell is off-putting or rancid.
Next, check how it tastes. If it tastes sour, then it’s probably bad. Also, look out for clumps in the milk as well. If the state of your milk resembles that of pus or mucus, then there’s something wrong.
In conclusion, breast milk storage should be handled carefully. Milk can easily go bad depending on how you choose to store it. Moreover, the longer the milk is stored, the more likely it is to lose its nutrients. Hence, by considering the proper conditions, you can help preserve it so its safe for the baby to consume.