Be it because mothers are producing too much milk, want to build up breast milk storage, or just feel comfortable having some breast milk on hand to bottle-feed babies when it is inconvenient to breastfeed, breast milk storage is necessary for most moms. However, in the early days of pumping and storing breast milk, knowing the ins and outs of cleaning, timelines on how long milk can be stored, or even knowing the right storage receptacles to use can be a lot to remember. But if new moms can get the basics of storing breast milk down, they will be pros at pumping and storing in no time.
While it may seem straightforward to pump and store breast milk, there are cleanliness issues, timelines to know, and storage basics that need to be remembered. As such, it is not uncommon for new moms to have to reference material frequently to know how to sanitize pumping equipment in between pumping sessions or how long expressed breast milk can be stored. But with time comes experience. And the more that new moms have to pump, the quicker it becomes second nature to store breast milk.
Here are the basics of storing breast milk for new moms.
Use Proper Storage
After moms have pumped their breast milk, the first thing they will do is remove the bottles that collected the milk from the pump. Then it is time to determine the means of storage for the expressed milk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are two main methods when it comes to breast milk storage. They are breast milk storage bags or “food-grade containers” that are either glass or BPA-free plastic.
The choice is strictly up to new moms and what they are most comfortable with.
While it may be tempting to use any freezer bag, versus a bag specific to breast milk storage, this is not an option. According to What To Expect, this is because the breast milk storage bag is not only thicker to prevent leaking, but it is also BPA-free and certified by the FDA to be safe when storing breast milk in the refrigerator and freezer. Regular resealable bags are not.
Limit How Much Is Stored
Once the receptacle has been chosen to store the breast milk, care should be taken to limit just how much is in each storage container. This is because if too much is stored, it is likely to be wasted. And all of that work to pump the milk to save it will have been for not.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breast milk should be stored in two to four-ounce servings. This is because most babies are able to consume this amount in one feeding. If more is needed, there are smaller amounts available to provide and this helps to keep the waste to a minimum.
Breast Milk Label
Mothers may think that they will remember which breast milk is the oldest versus the newest when put in the refrigerator for storage. But when tired or in a rush, that may be completely forgotten. As such, labeling all expressed breast milk is necessary so that the correct stored breast milk is provided to babies every time.
Labeling is even more important when it comes to frozen breast milk. This is because when a stash is built up, it is impossible to know the order in which breast milk should be thawed.
As such, before putting breast milk into storage bags or containers, putting the date the milk was pumped on them will let moms know what to grab from the freezer so that the milk is used in a timely manner.
Determine If Chilling Or Freezing
Moms need to determine if pumped breast milk will be used right away or if a later date is the plan. This will let them know if it should be put in the refrigerator or in the freezer for storage.
According to the Office on Women’s Healthif women are planning to use breast milk within four days of pumping, it can be stored in the refrigerator. But, if the plan is to use it beyond that timeframe, the breast milk should be put into a storage container and immediately put into the freezer for later use.
A time that can be anywhere between 6 and 12 months from pumping depending on whether a regular freezer or deep freezer is used.
Source: Centers for Disease Control, What To Expect, American Academy of Pediatrics, Office On Women’s Health