Do you breastfeed your newborn and you are returning to your job? If yes, then you may be considering breast milk storage for your baby that he can consume while you are away from him. It’s a good idea because you will be able to fulfill your baby’s milk need even when you are not around him. If you haven’t stored breast milk before, you may need some tips for breast milk storage. Here are few tips for you to perform this task properly.
Tips for Breast Milk Storage
Breast milk storage requires careful consideration of temperature, containers, and hygiene practices. Follow these tips to ensure your breast milk remains safe and fresh:
Use clean and sterilized containers
To maintain the quality of your breast milk, start by using clean and sterilized containers. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling any storage containers or breast pump equipment. Use bottles, milk bags, or storage containers specifically designed for breast milk, which are safe, BPA-free, and easy to clean.
Label and date your breast milk
To keep track of your breast milk stash, label each container with the date of expression. This practice ensures you use the oldest milk first, avoiding wastage. Use waterproof labels or permanent markers to prevent the ink from smudging during storage.
Store breast milk in small portions
Consider storing breast milk in smaller portions to minimize wastage. Most newborns consume small volumes initially, and larger quantities can lead to unnecessary leftovers. Storing milk in 2-4 ounce portions also allows for easier thawing and reduces the risk of bacterial growth.
Choose the right storage temperature
The temperature at which you store breast milk plays a vital role in preserving its quality. Follow these guidelines:
- Refrigerator: Store freshly expressed milk in the coldest part of the refrigerator, preferably at the back. The temperature should be between 32°F and 39°F (0°C and 4°C). Avoid storing milk on the refrigerator door, as it is subject to temperature fluctuations.
- Freezer: If you don’t plan to use the milk within a few days, freeze it to extend its shelf life. Use a dedicated freezer or the freezer compartment of your refrigerator. Keep the temperature at or below 0°F (-18°C) for optimal storage.
Use the “first in, first out” rule
Adopt the “first in, first out” rule when storing breast milk. Use the oldest milk first to ensure you rotate your stash and minimize wastage. This method helps maintain the freshness and nutritional value of stored breast milk.
Be cautious when combining freshly expressed milk with chilled or frozen milk
To avoid spoiling fresh breast milk, take care when combining it with chilled or frozen milk. Ensure both portions are at similar temperatures before gently swirling or swirling the containers to mix them. Avoid shaking vigorously, as this can break down the milk’s components.
Thaw frozen breast milk safely
When thawing frozen breast milk, employ these practices:
- Refrigerator thawing: Place frozen breast milk in the refrigerator overnight or for several hours until fully thawed. This method preserves the milk’s nutritional content but requires advance planning.
- Warm water thawing: If you need to thaw milk quickly, place the frozen container in a bowl of warm water. Ensure the water level is below the lid to prevent contamination. Gently swirl the container to speed up the thawing process. Once thawed, use the milk immediately and discard any leftover milk.
- Avoid using hot water or microwaving: It’s important to note that using hot water or microwaving breast milk is not recommended, as it can destroy essential nutrients and create hotspots that can scald your baby’s mouth.
Practice proper hygiene during milk expression
Maintaining proper hygiene during milk expression is essential for ensuring the safety and quality of breast milk. Follow these guidelines:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before expressing milk.
- Clean and sterilize breast pump equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use clean and sterile storage containers for expressed milk.
- Avoid touching the inside of containers and bottles to prevent contamination.
Avoid refreezing thawed breast milk
Once you’ve thawed frozen breast milk, it is not advisable to refreeze it. This is because freezing and thawing breast milk multiple times can lead to a breakdown of its nutritional composition and quality.
Know the storage duration guidelines
Understanding the recommended storage duration for breast milk can help you make informed decisions about its usage. Here are some general guidelines:
- Refrigerator storage: Freshly expressed breast milk can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. However, using it within three days is ideal for maintaining its freshness and nutritional content.
- Freezer storage: Breast milk can be stored in a freezer for up to six months. However, using it within three months is recommended to ensure optimal quality.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts of storing Breast Milk?
- Clean and sterilize all the equipment used for expressing and storing breast milk, including bottles, pump parts, and storage containers.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before expressing and handling breast milk.
- Label each container with the date and time the milk was expressed.
- Store breast milk in clean, BPA-free containers specifically designed for breast milk storage.
- Store breast milk in small quantities (2 to 4 ounces) to minimize wastage.
- Keep breast milk in the refrigerator if you plan to use it within 4 days.
- Freeze breast milk that you don’t plan to use within 4 days. Use freezer-safe bags or containers specifically designed for breast milk storage.
- Place the breast milk containers at the back of the refrigerator or freezer, where the temperature is more consistent.
- Thaw frozen breast milk by placing it in the refrigerator overnight or by running it under warm water.
- Gently swirl the thawed milk to mix the separated fat layers before feeding.
- Don’t add freshly expressed milk to already refrigerated or frozen milk.
- Don’t thaw or heat breast milk in the microwave, as it can create hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth.
- Avoid shaking breast milk vigorously, as it can damage the beneficial components. Instead, gently swirl it to mix.
- Don’t refreeze breast milk that has been thawed completely.
- Avoid using plastic containers with the recycling number 7, as they may contain BPA.
- Don’t store breast milk in the refrigerator door, as it experiences temperature fluctuations due to frequent opening.
- Avoid storing breast milk in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags that are not designed for breast milk storage, as they may leak or break.
- Don’t reuse single-use breast milk storage bags or containers.
- Avoid storing breast milk in the same refrigerator compartment as raw meat, eggs, or other potentially contaminating substances.
- Don’t store breast milk at room temperature for more than 4 hours.
Can I store Breast Milk in Feeding Bottle?
Yes, you can store breast milk in a feeding bottle. Make sure to use bottles specifically designed for breast milk storage and feeding. These bottles are typically made of BPA-free materials and have secure lids to prevent leakage. Remember to clean and sterilize the bottle before using it for storing breast milk. Label the bottle with the date and time of expression and store it in the refrigerator or freezer as per your intended use.
How long to store Breast Milk after Feeding?
After feeding, it is recommended to discard any leftover breast milk within 2 hours from the start of the feeding. Breast milk can become contaminated with bacteria from your baby’s mouth during feeding, and storing it for an extended period can increase the risk of bacterial growth. If the breast milk has been at room temperature (around 77°F or 25°C) or higher for 2 hours or more, it should be discarded.
What Foods help produce Breast Milk?
Certain foods are believed to help stimulate and increase breast milk production. While individual responses may vary, here are some commonly recommended foods to support lactation:
- Oats: Oatmeal is often considered a galactagogue, which means it can promote milk production. It contains iron and fiber, which are beneficial for breastfeeding mothers.
- Fenugreek: Fenugreek seeds or supplements are commonly used to boost milk supply. They contain compounds that may increase milk production.
- Fennel: Fennel seeds and tea are believed to have lactogenic properties. They can be consumed as a spice or in herbal tea form.
- Brewer’s yeast: Brewer’s yeast is rich in B vitamins and minerals, and it is thought to enhance milk supply. It can be consumed in powdered or tablet form.
- Leafy green vegetables: Vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli are excellent sources of nutrients and may contribute to overall milk production.
- Garlic: Garlic has been traditionally used to increase milk production. Incorporating garlic into your meals or taking it as a supplement may have a positive impact.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds are nutritious snacks that contain healthy fats and protein, which can be beneficial for breastfeeding mothers.
- Salmon: Fatty fish like salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for both the mother and baby. They can be included in a balanced diet to support milk production.
In conclusion, mastering the art of breast milk storage is essential for every breastfeeding mother. By following these expert tips, you can ensure that your liquid gold remains safe, fresh, and packed with all the essential nutrients your baby needs. Remember to prioritize cleanliness, proper labeling, and temperature control when storing breast milk. Additionally, be mindful of the storage duration guidelines to make the most of your milk supply.
By incorporating these tips into your breastfeeding routine, you can confidently provide your baby with the best possible nourishment. Happy breastfeeding and milk storage!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I add freshly Expressed Warm Milk to already Chilled Milk in the Refrigerator?
It is generally safe to combine freshly expressed warm milk with chilled milk in the refrigerator, as long as the temperature difference is not significant. Ensure both portions are at similar temperatures before gently mixing them.
How do I know if Breast Milk has gone bad?
Breast milk that has gone bad may have a sour or rancid smell and a different appearance, such as clumps or separation. If you suspect your breast milk has spoiled, it’s best to discard it to ensure your baby’s safety.
Can I store Breast Milk in the door of the Refrigerator?
Storing breast milk on the refrigerator door is not recommended. The door is subject to temperature fluctuations each time it is opened, which can affect the milk’s quality and safety.
Can I freeze Breast Milk in Glass Containers?
While it is possible to freeze breast milk in glass containers, it’s important to choose containers specifically designed for freezing, as glass may crack or shatter when exposed to extreme temperatures.
Is it necessary to Warm Refrigerated Breast Milk before Feeding?
Warming refrigerated breast milk is not necessary, as many babies accept it cold or at room temperature. However, if your baby prefers warm milk, you can place the refrigerated bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before feeding.
Can I store Breast Milk in Storage Bags?
Yes, breast milk storage bags are a convenient option for storing breast milk. Ensure they are specifically designed for breast milk storage and are made from BPA-free materials.