7 Rules of Breastmilk Storage - A Breastfeeding Pinay Nanay's Guide
Your maternity leave is over and now you have to report back to work. If you wish to continue feeding your baby breastmilk, follow these guidelines on proper breastmilk storage to assure your baby receives the optimal effects of drinking mother's milk.
Mothers are encouraged to start expressing milk only when their supply has been established. This happens around six weeks after starting. Ideally, a mother must refrain from feeding her baby stored milk when she is available to nurse directly.
However, there is no doubt that having stored milk is a boon, especially to mothers who need to leave their babies while they go to work. Luckily, in these modern times, there is a wide array of tools and support facilitating breastmilk storage. There are, however, a few things one should remember when storing breastmilk.
Breastmilk storage tip 1. Know what spoiled milk tastes and smells like.
Leave a few ounces of your expressed milk out in the open for 24-48 hours. Get all the baby’s yaya and other caregivers (like grandparents, uncles and aunts) to taste and smell. This teaches them to detect what spoiled breastmilk is like and not confuse it with the smell of the lipase in breast milk.
Breastmilk storage tip 2. Store milk where it is coldest for a longer shelf life.
Those without a refrigerator can store milk good for a day’s use by putting sealed milk containers in bowls/clay pots filled with water. Milk may also be stored in the deepest part of the refrigerator or freezer. Ideally with breastmilk storage, the milk stash should also be in a separate compartment or container so these won’t be contaminated by everything else in the refrigerator.
Breastmilk storage tip 3. Teach yaya about proper handling and feeding of the stored milk.
Milk containers always have to be properly labeled with time and date of expression for your yaya to be able to use the “first in, first out” method. Teach yaya about proper thawing and how much to give per feeding. Print the guidelines found on the “Next page” for easy reference, if necessary.
Click “Next page” for guidelines on breastmilk storage.
Breastmilk storage tip 4. Follow storage guidelines
In her blog, www.chroniclesofanursingmom.com, Jenny Ong discusses the rationale of different storage guidelines based on the Philippine setting. The maximum range of viability prescribed for milk stored in the refrigerator is 3-5 days. Milk frozen in the freezer can last between 3-6 months, while those stored in a separate deep freezer can last up to a year.
However, a baby’s needs changes monthly, so mothers are alerted not to feed their babies stored milk that is 2-3 months old, unless necessary. The lipids in milk also start breaking down even when kept frozen, resulting in reduced quality.
Breastmilk storage tip 5. Know what causes milk to spoil.
Things like where the milk is stored, how often the refrigerator is opened and even the season can all affect how fast milk can spoil. Your lifestyle and habits should allow you to personalize your own storage guidelines. If one can, being conservative with limits will reduce the likelihood of milk being wasted or the baby being given spoiled milk.
Breastmilk storage tip 6. Freeze, but do not refreeze.
Frozen milk is a lifesaver for working moms and milk donation recipients. Expressed breast milk can wait a day or two, provided it is properly cooled before being frozen. Thawed milk should be used within the day, however, and should not be refrozen anymore as thawing (essentially, warming) already triggers bacteria growth.
Breastmilk storage tip 7. Only combine milk of the same temperature.
In cases where necessary, milk expressed at different times within the day may be combined in one container only after all the milk has been cooled to the same temperature. Unlike formula which goes bad within an hour after preparation, breastmilk remains potent and healthy hours after it was expressed, and even after it is contaminated by a baby’s saliva. This should help mothers relax a little about their stored breastmilk and trust that nature’s gift is made of hardier stuff.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MEC AREVALO
If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below.