Breastfeeding 107 – Storing Breast Milk

Even if you do not go to work after your baby is born and become a stay-at-home-mom, you might find pumping and storing your milk helpful.  You have to use either a hand pump or an electric pump to express your milk and store it in the refrigerator. Here are the advantages of storing breast milk:

  1. If you have to go out, so that you can have milk with you.
  2. You can store your excess milk for future shortages.
  3. You will produce more milk by pumping the milk after you are done nursing your baby.
  4. You can use in case of emergency, such as taking medication.
  5. Other family members, such as your husband or caregivers can feed your baby so that you can rest or sleep for longer times.
  6. Other family members or caregivers can feed your baby, when you have to go out.
  7. Working mothers can store their milk  to be fed to baby when they are at work.

If my son was with me when I went out, I never pumped my milk. It was always easier for me to breastfeed him.  I have breastfed him everywhere without having to think, whether the pumped milk was going to be enough, if I was going to find a place to warm the milk, if my son was going to cry while waiting for the milk. I put on my nursing cover and just breastfed him.  I preferred nursing rooms if available. If not I nursed him on the street, in the mall or at the park.  Problem started when my son got a little bigger and he wanted to open up the nursing cover I used while nursing him and see what was going around. After that, I had to use the baby bottles from time to time.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:

1 – Pump

A: Manual:  It is always to keep an inexpensive hand pump at home.  I used a hand pump for a while before I got back to work. For a short term, to keep one or two bottles a day, this pump is ideal. I had bought a Avent Isis On the go Pump.  I used its bag and bottles for a long time, even when I was using the electric pump.  I used the insulated bag to keep my son’s food when we go on a long trip.

 

 

B: Electric Pump: When it was time to go back to work, I looked at different options, such as buying and renting. I researched many brands like Medela and Ameda’s hospital grade pumps. I finally bought Comfort Select Dual Breast Pump by Evenflo at Target.  I call this product “the best buy”. Compared to other products,  despite its price, it is a durable, highly portable product that works with batteries. Since it has two pumps you can pump both breast at the same time and save some time.  The products pumping strength remains the same. Pump is very comfortable, it does not cause pain or discomfort.  I used this pump more than 1 year.  I have used it at many different locations including many airports. It still works and is waiting for my second baby. It is a product, I definitely recommend.

2 – Containers:

A: Bottles: There are bottles for one time use or multiple uses. It is better if you buy a bottle set from brands like Avent or Gerber. I used those for daily storage.

B: Plastic bags: These are great for storing milk in the freezer. You can date them with sharpie and stock them on the top of each other in the freezer to save space.  It is easy to thaw in hot water and they are practical to use. Once you pump into a bottle, you can put them in these bags in one time use portions.

3 – Portable insulated bags and coolers:

If you are a working mother, because you will not be able to walk around with a bag full of something white and frozen, you need a container. If your pumping bag has an isolated section, that is even better.  Since I traveled for work for longer periods, I carried the bag of the manual pump or I bought a cooler by Igloo and brought my frozen milk back in it.  I also recommend a insulated baby bottle covers to store the milk when you are out so the milk does not go bad due to heat or changes in temperature.

4 – Ice Packs:

I used to place ice packs inside the cooler or insulated bag, especially when it was hot to preserve my milk from going bad.

*** One time, I had to Fedex my milk due to an emergency when I was away from home for work. I had placed the milk bags inside highly industrialized freezer top freeze them, wrapped up tightly with ice packs and sent it out when Fedex in an insulated bag. I went to the Fedex office as close to the last pick-up time as possible and sent it overnight with earliest delivery option. Milk  arrived to Chicago without getting thawed out at all from North Carolinaby 10 am. Even though I worked full time and was out of town for 2-3 days at a time, I breastfed my son with my milk until he was 8 or 9 months without having to supplement with baby formula.  This is something I am proud of.  At that time there was no fear of liquids at the airports. I used to carry my Igloo bag, full of frozen milk bags from one airport to another.  We would consume the milk in the bags within two days, since they were a little thawed out by the time I got home.  We did not refreeze them.

How long to store the milk and the important points:

  • Room temperature: Consume it within 4 hours.
  • Refrigerator: Consume the milk you pumped and placed in the freezer within 2 to 3 days.
  • Freezer: Store it no more than 3 months.
  • Refrigerated milk stored in thermos or insulated bag with ice packs: Consume it within 12 hours.
  • Once you put the milk in the bottle and feed your baby with it, never store and rehat to feed your baby again.  The bacterias transferred from your baby’s mouth into the milk will cause it to spoil. The same way, the baby formula that was used to feed the baby once with a spoon should not be stored and fed  again.
  • If you have thawed a bag of milk, do not refreeze it.
  • Make sure to date the milk bags
  • To make it easier, newer milk bags should be placed in the back of the freezer and older ones should be in the front.
  • Pay attention to the temperature of the freezer. If the refrigerator or the freezer is too full it might not cool or freeze well.  Make sure the refrigerator and freezer is air tight.
  • Make sure to store in bags that the are portioned for one time use and thaw out only what you will use.
  • If you are heating the milk in the microwave, check the temperature  and shake or stir to even it out.  I always thawed the milk by placing it in a hot water basin and heated it in a bottle heater.   Since I freeze them in plastic containers, I do not use the microwave.

The most practical way to warm up a cold milk when you are outside is to stop by Starbucks or a cafe and ask for some hot water, place the bottle in hot water.  Milk will warm up in hot water.  Some cafes used to charge me 50 cents for use of the paper cup.  Since this was such a fast process, I only gave them a certain look and did not worry too much about the 50 cents charge. I told them I would be heating my baby’s milk.

You can also buy a baby bottle warmer for cars. It takes long time to warm up with warmer that you plug to car charger. If there is no place to stop on the way to get some hot water then this product comes very handy.

I don’t  know what else is left in regards to breastfeeding. This series has finally come to an end at this time.

Breastfeeding Series:
Breastfeeding 101 – Amazing Mother’s Milk
Breastfeeding 102 – First experience after birth
Breastfeeding 103 – Tips for correct breastfeeding techniques
Breastfeeding 104 – Comfortable and healthy nursing positions
Breastfeeding 105 – Increasing mother’s milk supply
Breastfeeding 106 – Troubleshooting for nursing problem
Breastfeeding 107 – Storing breast milk
Breastfeeding 108 – Why does refrigerated breast milk smells sour
Breastfeeding – Other questions

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