Breast Milk Storage

Pumping and storing your breast milk can offer new moms like you a bit of freedom, relief and reassurance by knowing your baby will have a nutritious meal even when you are separated. Knowing the ins and outs of breast milk storage will help keep the milk sanitary and maintain the integrity of its nutrients.

Here’s what you need to know about breast milk storage:

Always wash your hands before pumping or storing breast milk.

After pumping your breast milk, store it in a glass or plastic bottle or a storage bag meant for human milk. Many pumps are compatible with adequate storage containers so you can pump directly into the container without having to transfer milk.

Breast Milk StorageLabel your breast milk storage container with the date it was pumped and the volume.

Breast milk can remain at room temperature for up to 6 hours, can stay in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, and can be frozen for 3-6 months (or up to 12 months in a deep freezer). If you have trouble keeping these storage lengths straight, just remember the number 5: 5 hours at room temp, 5 days in the fridge, 5 months in the freezer.

Refrigerated breast milk maintains more nutrients and antibodies than frozen breast milk so if you have the choice, use refrigerated milk first. It will go bad first anyways.

When using frozen breast milk, always use your oldest milk first. Develop a system to help keep your milk organized in your freezer. Some moms freeze their breast milk bags in “shingles” so they are easily stackable. You can also put the bags in larger storage bags dated by week or month.

Store breast milk in small amounts – usually 3 to 4 ounces per container. This will make it easier to use in one feeding without wasting any.

Never combine frozen breast milk with fresh breast milk, even to complete a bottle. Instead, serve them separately or pour the fresh milk in the bottle once the frozen milk is drunk.

To thaw frozen milk, run warm water over it until it is your desired temperature or let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Never microwave breast milk because it may produce “hot spots” that could scald your baby and microwaving zaps some of the nutrients from your milk. Also, do not thaw your breast milk by leaving it unrefrigerated.

Once milk has been thawed it should be used within 24 hours. Never refreeze breast milk.

Discard any remaining breast milk in a bottle that your baby drank from. The enzymes in her saliva can break down the nutrients in the breast milk and potentially introduce germs into the bottle.

Stored breast milk may look different from fresh breast milk. It is common for the fats to separate, leaving an “oil and vinegar” effect with the fat floating on the surface. Gently swish the bottle to re-blend the milk but do not shake it vigorously.

Frozen breast milk sometimes smells soapy from the fats. This is normal and doesn’t mean it has spoiled.

Frozen breast milk may also have a different color depending on the stage you were in when it was pumped, your diet and any medications you may have taken at the time.

If your baby will be drinking the milk at a day care facility or school, be sure to label each container with your baby’s name. Give caregivers thorough instructions on how to properly handle breast milk.

Sources: BabyCenter, What to Expect and CDC

 

Loving Moments believes moms should have the knowledge, resources and power to make the healthiest choices for their babies, starting with breastfeeding. In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in August, we are sharing Breastfeeding Basics, our educational blog series that we hope will empower you with information, encouragement and inspiration to meet your breastfeeding goals.

 

Storing Breast Milk to Prepare for Returning to Work After Baby

Storing Breast Milk to Prepare for Returning to Work After BabyThe thought of leaving your baby to return to work a few short months after bringing her into the world is stressful to many new moms. Will your chosen caregiver(s) be attentive enough to her needs? Will she forget you while you’re gone? Are you doing the right thing by returning to work? So many factors make returning to work after baby difficult and then you have to think about storing breast milk so you’re baby has nourishment while you’re away. Today we’re helping you stress less with tips for storing breast milk to prepare for returning to work after baby.

Tip #1: Establish a Strong Milk Supply

Without a strong milk supply it’s hard to fathom pumping extra milk to support your baby while you’re away. Therefore, the first step to storing breast milk to prepare for returning to work after baby is ensuring you have breast milk in the first place. To establish a strong milk supply you’ll want to breastfeed early and often. Studies show that breastfeeding as soon as possible after giving birth helps encourage milk supply, kickstarts your baby’s instinctual desire to nurse, and bonds you and your baby for a lasting breastfeeding relationship, among other benefits. Then breastfeeding on demand for the first days, weeks and months will help you and your baby form a rhythm. Breastfeeding is a system of supply and demand so the more you breastfeed and drain your breasts properly, the more milk your body will produce.

Tip #2: Start Pumping Early

As you’re working on your milk supply, you can start pumping. It may even help your milk supply. If you know you’re returning to work, start pumping early to stimulate your breasts with the pump and get into a routine. The first weeks of pumping may not yield much milk but as you get into the groove and your milk supply slowly increases, you’ll pump more and more milk. The best times to pump are after your first morning breastfeed and after your baby goes to bed for the night once your baby is sleeping for longer stretches. You have the most milk early in the day, which is why pumping in the morning works well. Then pumping again before you go to bed will drain your breasts and give you time to refill before your next nursing session.

Tip #3: Organize Your Frozen Breast Milk

Keep your breast milk organized so you and your caregiver can easily access milk as necessary. You may need to grab milk quickly before dropping off your baby at daycare, or your nanny may be managing a hungry baby while trying to find the oldest bag of milk. Freezing milk in flat “shingles” or “bricks” can help you stack and store breast milk neatly. Keep your bags labeled so you can pull out and use the oldest frozen breast milk first. Many moms use shoe boxes or resealable bags to group frozen milk by weeks or months for simple access.

Tip #4: Talk to Your Employer

Before returning to work talk to your employer about your plan to pump at work. Discuss where pumping will take place to ensure you have a clean, comfortable, private space to pump several times a day. Also discuss the time commitment involved in pumping as you may be away from your desk, meetings and other work activities multiple times for awhile. Remind your employer of the benefits of breastfeeding for working mothers including less sick days for babies and children (for their entire childhood!), less healthcare costs and better employee morale because moms feel their employers care about the health and wellbeing of their families.

Tip #5: Stick to the Plan

Once you return to work, dedicate yourself to both your paid job and your role as a mother. That means you’ll have to take pumping breaks at your designated times. It may be hard to pull yourself away from work at times or you may face adversity from your superiors and co-workers. Know that you’re making the healthiest choice for your baby, yourself and your family and stick with the plan to ensure your baby has the best nutrition every day. You should pump enough at home or work to cover your baby’s milk demands for the following day.

Storing breast milk to prepare for returning to work after baby is hard but completely worth it. Keep our tips and mind to ensure your milk supply is strong, you’re pumping adequately and you have a plan in place with your employer. You can do it!

 

 

6 Clever Ways to Store Frozen Breast Milk

Freezing your breast milk is a wonderful way to ensure your baby has the very best nutrition on the planet.  Your baby may drink stored milk on a regular basis, occasionally or you may be saving up milk for a trip away from baby or an emergency situation.  Whatever the case may be for you you’ve probably come to realize: freezing breast milk can take up quite a bit of space in your freezer and it can be difficult to find the oldest portion.  Today we’re looking at six clever ways to store frozen breast milk.

1)  Glass Storage Bottles

Small milk bottles or canning jars are a terrific way to store frozen breast milk.  Glass preserves the nutritional integrity of breast milk better than plastic because it is less porous and therefore not as susceptible to contamination.  Glass containers may take up more space but it’s worth it if your baby is consuming daily portions of frozen breast milk.

2)  Color Coding

Using those colorful round stickers you often see at garage sales, develop a color coded system that corresponds to the dates of your stored frozen breast milk bags.  If you know you are only looking for a bag with a certain color dot, it will be much easier to whip out milk when you need it.  Keep the color chart posted on your freezer door so other caregivers will have access to it.

3)  Re-sealable Gallon Storage Bags

This is an easy trick for keeping breast milk bags organized by date.  Put all of your pumped milk into individual sterilized bags and then put the bags for each week into a re-sealable gallon storage bag.  This not only offers double sealed protection, but it also makes it easier to find the oldest dated bags.

clever ways to store breast milk4)  Storage Bins

Clever moms have found all sorts of ways to store frozen breast milk in “shingles.”  First, you have to freeze your breast milk bags onto a flat surface.  We recommend using something already in your freezer such as an ice cream carton or frozen waffle box.  Once the breast milk is solid, it will be flat (like a shingle) and easier to store.  Then your storage options are numerous.  You can use anything from a plastic bins to shoe boxes to store your milk in date order.  One super creative mom uses a gift bag with a slit at the bottom.  The newest milk goes on top and she has easy access to slip out the oldest milk from the bottom.  Brilliant!

5) Ice Cube Trays

This idea is great for storing small portions of breast milk.  Sterilize an ice cube tray and then fill each cube slot with breast milk.  Cover it and freeze the cubes.  Once they are frozen you can store them in sealable bags and defrost them as needed.

6)  Breast Milk Storage Unit

You can also buy a breast milk storage unit that stacks your milk bags and allows access to the oldest date at the bottom.

We hope you find our clever ways to store frozen breast milk tips helpful!

Breastfeeding Positions

Breastfeeding Positions If you’ve begun nursing, you have probably undergone a few frustrating arm positions to try and hold your little one in the most comfortable spot. And while there are a number of ways to safely hold your baby while breastfeeding, mothers must be aware of the strain they could potentially be putting on their child’s neck.

We have collected a few safe breastfeeding holds that allow your little one to nurse comfortably without turning his or her neck.

 

 

The Cradle

Place your baby’s head in the crook of your arm and support their back with your forearm and bottom with your hand. This allows your little one to lie sideways while facing you, with your breast directly in front of them.

 

The Football

Position your baby under your arm like a football and support their head with your hand and their body with your forearm. Like the cradle position, this allows them direct breast access.

 

Breastfeeding Positions The Side

One of the more relaxing positions, this allows you to lie down on your side with your baby facing you. Use pillows to prop up your head and shoulder and nurse comfortably with your baby resting by your side.

 

 

No matter what position you choose, remember to always stabilize your child’s head and neck and speak with your lactation specialist to learn to best course for you. Every mother is unique and specific actions may be recommended for you and your child.

 

Happy Nursing!

Breast Milk Storage

If you have decided to use a breast pump to ensure your child a nutritious feeding when you’re apart, you have probably begun wondering how to properly and safely store your breast milk. Your breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby and it’s full of components to help strengthen their health.

Make sure to protect its nutrients by using the appropriate containers and storing practices.

 

Breast Milk StorageWhat is the best type of breast milk storage?

Remember to efficiently wash your hands before pumping or handling breast milk. Once your hands are clean and dry, store breast milk in a clean glass or plastic container with a secure lid or cap. While there are specifically made breast milk storage bags, we would recommend against them if possible as they leak, spill, and are easily polluted.

DO NOT store any expressed milk in disposable bottles or bags such as plastic water bottle containers or zip-lock baggies.

 

How should I label and store my containers?

It is essential to label all breast milk storage with the date it was pumped and stored with a water-resistant ink and label. Place the container(s) in the back of the refrigerator or freezer and make sure not to store them on the door.

Never fill your containers to the brim: breast milk expands during cooling and freezing.

 

How long will my stored breast milk stay good?

Different storing methods, containers, and cooling systems will make exact storing times vary. However, there are a few general recommendations that can be put to use for healthy babies:

 

Using a refrigerator: Breast milk can be safely stored in the back of your refrigerator for 5-8 days.

Using a freezer: Breast milk can be safely stored in the back of your traditional refrigerator-freezer for up to 3-6 months.

Keeping at room temperature: Recently pumped breast milk can remain at room temperature for up to 6 hours. However, if the room is particularly warm the milk should be transferred to a refrigerator or freezer.

 

Is it safe to add fresh milk to previously stored breast milk?

Yes, although the freshly expressed milk should be cooled before adding: adding warm breast milk to cold will potentially thaw the already frozen or chilled milk.

Do NOT combine milk that is expressed from different days; store these separately.

 

Whatever option you choose, make sure to set up a meeting with your doctor prior to storing your breast milk. Specific steps and recommendations may be made that would be best for you as a mother.

Baby Bottles and Breastfeeding: How to Work Bottle Feeding Into Your Nursing Routine

Baby Bottles and Breastfeeding: How to Work Bottle Feeding Into Your Nursing Routine

Did you receive a breast pump as a baby shower gift, or did you plan on buying one after testing out breastfeeding first? Many expecting moms assume that breast pumps are most useful for women who plan to work shortly after giving birth, but the reality of breastfeeding is that breast pumps are a helpful tool for stay-at-home moms too. If you pump breast milk and feed your baby a bottle at night, you can not only cut down on nursing time (and maybe get back to sleep) but you can also get your baby used to taking a bottle. Even if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, you should introduce your baby to a bottle between three and five weeks after birth.

“I wish I had known to pump breast milk sooner and get my husband used to feeding our daughter a bottle regularly — it didn’t occur to me that she might reject it.”

One mom expressed the above sentiment on a Babycenter.com forum dedicated to sharing bits of motherhood wisdom to expecting moms. When talking about breastfeeding, there’s a lot of focus on how to get a good latch, how often to nurse, and why your nipples will hurt through the first few weeks—but not a lot of focus on breast pumps, bottles, and how to combat nipple confusion. By mixing up nursing sessions between breast and bottle (after five weeks of solely breast!), your little one will feel more comfortable taking a bottle instead of demanding only your breast.

But what happens if your baby does reject the bottle? There are a couple of steps you can take help coach your little one into taking a rubber nipple again. The Palo Alto Medical Foundation shares some of its expert advice for new breastfeeding moms: don’t change bottles if your baby is refusing the rubber nipple while nursing. The foundation stresses that your little one isn’t frustrated with whatever type of bottle you’ve been using; the problem is that your baby probably wants only to nurse from your breast. To help get your baby to take the bottle again, keep pumping breast milk and offering the bottle as a nursing alternative, but try to do so in places that will not remind your baby of breastfeeding. If possible, have a person other than yourself bottle feed your baby. If you’re not visible during these feeding moments, your baby will be more likely to accept the bottle. Until you get over the bottle-refusing hump, try keeping your schedule as consistent as possible and remaining hopeful that your little one will return to bottles too.

Did you experience this problem while breastfeeding? Leave your advice for new moms in our comments.

 

How to Effectively Pump Breast Milk While on Vacation

How to Effectively Pump Breast Milk While on Vacation I’m going on a week-long vacation without my 10-month old.  I have plenty of stored breast milk for him and I plan to pump while I’m away.  But do I need to pump as often as I would normally feed him?  I fear that will not be possible during vacation.

Congratulations, first of all, that you have so much stored breast milk at home.  I understand your fear of keeping a tight pumping schedule on vacation—so often vacation time is unstructured! Depending on where you are going and how flexible your plans are, you may be surprised how easily it is to express your breast milk.  If you are going out of the country, make sure you find out if the electric outlets in your hotel will fit your breast pump or if you need to purchase an adapter.  Also, if you have a double set-up breast pump, use it for a quick, efficient way to express your milk. Cutting down pumping time makes it easier to take a break from your vacation plans without missing anything.

If you cannot plan your pumping times around the times your baby typically nurses, try to express the same amount of times in a 24-hour time period you would at home.  For example, if you normally nurse your baby 5 times a day, try to pump the same number of times in a 24 hour period. You might have an easier time expressing your breast milk if you try to stick to the same time schedule you would at home, but it’s not necessary to match the times exactly. You may find that you can sneak in a pumping at 2 am instead of the 2 pm time slot.  Remember that as long as you are regularly expressing breast milk, you should not experience any trouble breastfeeding again once you’re home.

You may also want to give some thought to storing your breast milk.  Many hotels provide their guests with refrigerators in the room and breast milk may be stored for up to eight days in a refrigerator.  If you don’t have the luxury of refrigeration, you may want to invest in a portable ice chest.  Just remember to check the breast milk and make sure it’s been properly cooled. You may also want to consider putting the milk on dry ice and shipping it home at the end of your trip.  Enjoy your vacation!

 

Photo attribution

Breastfeeding For New Moms: Breast Milk Storage Capacity

Breastfeeding For New Moms: Breast Milk Storage Capacity

Breastfeeding moms have already made the most important nutrition decision concerning their babies—breastfeeding provides unparalleled nutrition benefits for both mom and baby! If this is your first time nursing, you’re sure to have many questions about breast milk supply, let down, and feeding frequency. Even if you’ve nursed before, did you know that your breast milk storage capacity might not be the same as before? Believe it or not, breastfeeding is not the same experience for each child.

Even though the two might seem related, breast size and milk storage capacity are not linked. Breast tissue does not impact storage capacity. According to this infographic produced by Nancy MohrBacher, there are three breast milk storage capacity classifications that cover the range of nursing mothers.

Small breast milk storage capacity: you are providing enough breast milk to keep your baby full and happy (a baby consumes a standard 30 ounces of breast milk a day) but need to feed more frequently than other moms. Signs that you have small breast milk storage capacity include frequent feedings (about 12 a day) and regularly at night, your baby feeds from both breasts, and you have trouble double pumping. Be sure to stay hydrated and focus on your baby’s feeding cues to help with let down and nursing frequency. Each of your feedings produces an estimated 2 ½ ounces of breast milk.

Medium breast milk storage capacity: your baby might feed from both breasts, but not necessarily. Because you produce just under 4 ounces of breast milk per feeding, your baby will nurse around 8 times a day to get the full 30 ounces he or she needs to gain healthy weight. You might feed at night, but not on a regular basis.

Large breast milk storage capacity: you produce about 5 ounces of breast milk per feeding, so you have less (6) feedings per day than other moms might have. Also, your baby will typically nurse from just one breast at a time. Because you produce larger amounts of breast milk at a time, you are able to skip middle of the night feedings!

There is no right or wrong ability when it comes to breast milk storage, moms. As long as your pediatrician notes that your baby is gaining healthy weight, be confident in your ability to nurse your baby. Milk-making glands in your breasts determine how much breast milk you’ll be able to produce at one time, so listen to your body’s cues and figure out the best breastfeeding plan for you and your baby.

 

Happy nursing, moms!