Do you wish to express and store your milk? You might be returning to work, but want your baby to continue reaping the benefits of breast milk. Or maybe you would like to give your partner a turn at feeding the baby. Whatever the reason, if you choose to express milk, then it is imperative that you store the milk correctly. Below are some breast milk storage guidelines for breast milk expression and storage.
I remember I had to go back to work shortly after the birth of my daughter; like so many other mothers I didn't have a choice in the matter. I didn’t have the luxury of enjoying one-on-one time with my baby girl, except for the first month after her birth. I hated having to be away from her so soon, and I remember worrying myself sick about her nursing habits while I was away. Fortunately, I had an aunt who offered to look after her so that I’d have some peace of mind, knowing she was in good hands, experienced hands!
My doctor advised hiring a breast pump from the nursing facility at the hospital. The breast-pump turned out to be the best decision I could have made. When I had too much milk, I would pump more and freeze the extra breastmilk for the low supply days – and so my breastfeeding experience began to improve. Finally!
There are such a large variety of breastmilk storage options available to nursing mothers today. Storing your breastmilk may have seemed like a daunting task at first, but with the vast amount of information available at our fingertips - thanks to the internet - nursing fears should not be as crippling anymore. You can meet your baby’s nursing needs regularly, and you can find solutions for your breastmilk supply problems at the touch of a button.
If you choose to express milk, it is vital that you store the milk correctly. Below are some breastmilk storage guidelines for breast milk expression and storage.
Hand Expression of Breast Milk
There are two primary methods of expressing milk; by hand or by utilizing a pump. Many women find that expressing milk by hand is simpler than expressing using a pump and saves on the cost of the additional equipment. However, other women find it challenging to learn hand expression techniques and prefer to use a pump.
To learn these breastfeeding techniques, it can be useful to get some guidance from a trained breastfeeding adviser. Using a breast pump can also take some practice to get right. Whichever method you choose, it is imperative that you make sure you are comfortable and that you have plenty of time. A helpful tip is to drink a glass of water while you are expressing, as this encourages milk flow.
Before you get started with breast milk expression and storage, it is important to have all the right equipment ready.
A breast pump (optional).
Bottles and teats.
Sterilizing fluid or tablets for cleaning the equipment.
A sterilizing unit.
Storage bags, such as lansinoh breast milk storage bags, or breast milk storage containers.
Labels for dating bags or containers and a pen.
Refrigeration & General Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
To make sure you the milk is safe to drink, it is essential that you use the following guidelines:
Always wash your hands before nursing, expressing or handling breastmilk storage products. Inspect all equipment, storage bags/containers, etc. before expressing to check for damage.
Once you are comfortable, express using your preferred method of choice, and express directly into your storage container/bottle/bags.
Using your fingers, squeeze all the air out of the storage bags, and seal well along the perforated line supplied.
Always put the date and time on your breastmilk storage bags before putting them away in the deep freeze or fridge.
Always store your bags upright in the fridge, or freezer unless otherwise specified.
Make sure the breast milk is in sterilized, airtight breast milk storage containers or bags.
Store the breast milk at 4°C or lower.
Store the breast milk for no longer than five days. If you haven't used the milk within five days, you need to discard the breast milk.
If your refrigerator has an ice compartment section, then you can store the milk there for up to two weeks.
Keep your breastmilk away from other food items, preferably in a separate area of your fridge or freezer where they will not come into direct contact with other products.
Breastmilk Storage Bags or Containers
Prices of storage products vary depending on the requirements and range from affordable, convenient, disposable breastmilk storage options to more pricey re-usable storage products. They are available at most major supermarkets, second-hand stores, baby chain-stores and online.
The range of storage containers varies depending on your needs and requirements.
Here are the most widely preferred options:
Freezer friendly breastmilk storage bags or containers ( reusable or disposable)
Cooling only (fridge storage) bags or containers in reusable and disposable options.
2 in 1 breastmilk storage bags for your fridge and freezer
These are but to name a few options, you may want to consider when looking for a safe, long or short term storage option for your breastmilk supply.
For safety reasons, always check the date/time of the storage bag/container before thawing.
For frozen breastmilk, put in the fridge overnight to thaw. You can then place the cold (thawed) bag in a container filled with warm water to slowly heat it up. Never microwave or put thawed/cooled breastmilk bags directly into hot water. Some of the valuable properties will be lost. Remember breastmilk is alive and should stay that way (by avoiding high temperature and harmful rays) to retain all of its benefits.
Store the milk in an appropriate container that has been sterilized and is airtight.
Breast milk can be stored for up to six months in a freezer and thrown away if not used by this time.
Never leave the breastmilk bags/containers on any surface to naturally thaw/cool or heat to room temperature; this may allow bacteria etc. to grow.