Over a million millennials are becoming moms each year. Whether this is your first baby or fifth, it's important to prepare yourself as much as possible. What you learn during your pregnancy could save you valuable time and stress once the baby is born.
Do you know how to properly store breast milk? If not, that's okay! These breast milk storage guidelines can help.
With this guide, you can learn everything you need to know about breast milk storage before your bundle of joy is born.
Get started with these helpful tips today!
Before Handling Breast Milk
Before expressing or handling breast milk, take a moment to wash your hands. We collect germs on our hands throughout the day. You'll want to make sure to minimize the spread of germs before you get started.
Use soap and water if you can. If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol instead.
Some moms choose to express milk by hand. You can also use an electric or manual pump if you prefer. If you decide on using a pump, take the time to examine your kit.
Ensure the kit and tubing are completely clean before you get started. Otherwise, make sure to dispose of any moldy tubing.
Are you using a shared pump kit? Clean everything before you get started. That includes the power switch, countertop, and pump dials.
Use a disinfectant wipe to make sure everything is clean before you begin.
After you're done using the pump kit, make sure to clean and sanitize everything. Store your pump kit, feeding items, and baby bottles away once they're clean. Cleaning and storing everything can help protect your breast milk from potential contamination.
Storing Breast Milk
Once you've expressed the milk, you can either use glass containers, plastic containers, or breast milk storage bags. Make sure the packaging is air-tight to avoid contamination and to keep the milk fresh.
Don't use any bottles that are made with the recycle symbol 7. There's a chance these materials were made using BPA-containing plastic.
BPA can disrupt the endocrine system. Its ability to imitate the body's hormones means it can interfere with your natural hormones. Some research indicates BPA can seep into food or beverages if you use containers made from BPA-containing plastic.
Make sure to avoid storing breast milk in a disposable bottle liner. Avoid using plastic bags as well.
Instead, buy breast milk storage bags intended for this purpose.
When storing freshly expressed or pumped breast milk, it can stay up to:
- 4 hours on a countertop at room temperature (77°F)
- 5-7 days in the refrigerator (40°F)
- 3-4 months in the freezer (0°F)
With thawed, previously frozen milk, it can stay up to:
- 1 to 2 hours on the countertop at room temperature (77°F)
- 1 day in the refrigerator (40°F)
- Never (don't freeze human milk after you thawed it)
Use any leftover milk within 2 hours after feeding your baby.
It's not enough to use proper breast milk storage temperatures. Here are a few more things to consider when storing milk away.
First, make sure to label every storage bag or container. Note the day the breast milk was expressed.
Avoid placing the stored milk in your refrigerator or freezer door. Each time you open and close the door, you're causing a brief temperature change. Instead, make sure to place the breast milk storage bags well within the refrigerator or freezer.
Do you have milk that you likely won't use within 4 days? Freeze these storage bags right away.
Freezing the milk will maintain its quality.
Are you worried you're freezing too much breast milk? Remember, you can't refreeze thawed breast milk. To avoid waste, use smaller bags.
Try storing small amounts, such as 2 to 4 ounces of milk. This is the amount that's often offered during a single feeding. That way, you can avoid throwing out milk the baby won't finish.
If you intend on freezing breast milk, look at the bag or container. Leave about an inch of space from the top. Milk expands when you freeze it.
Do you intend on delivering the milk to a childcare provider? Properly label the breast milk storage bags with your child's name. Let the childcare provider know about any requirements you have regarding breast milk storage.
Do you have a trip coming up? You can store breast milk in an insulated cooler bag. Make sure to pack plenty of frozen ice packs to keep the milk cool.
Once you reach a hotel or your destination, put the milk in a refrigerator, freeze it, or use it immediately.
You should use this milk within 24 hours.
Now that you understand the proper breast milk storage guidelines, let's discuss how to safely thaw the milk.
Make sure to grab the oldest storage bag from the freezer. Otherwise, the quality of the milk will decrease. You don't want to leave milk sitting in the freezer too long.
You can let the frozen milk sit in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. Otherwise, consider setting it in a container of lukewarm or warm water. You can run it under lukewarm water as well.
Don't use the microwave. Thawing or heating milk in the microwave can destroy the nutrients inside. It can also increase the risk that you'll burn the baby's mouth.
If you decide to dethaw the milk in the refrigerator, use it within 24 hours. For milk that was brought to room temperature or warmed, use it within 2 hours.
Remember, you should not put breast milk back into the freezer after dethawing it.
Feeding Your Bundle of Boy: How to Properly Store Breast Milk for New Moms
Learning how to store breast milk for later use can save you valuable time in the long run. Make sure to keep these breast milk storage guidelines in mind. With these tips, you can avoid contaminating your breast milk before feeding your beautiful newborn.
Do you have the gear you need to start pumping? A portable pump can make your life a lot easier!
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