Storing excess breast milk is extremely helpful for first time mums. Not only does it help relieve pain from engorged breasts, but it also helps them get a break from direct latching. For working mothers, it ensures that their bub can still get the benefits of breast milk even when they’re not around to breastfeed.
If you plan to express breast milk and store it in the freezer for later use, here are some essential tips to remember:
Sanitise your breast pump and nursing tools before use
Avoid contaminating breast milk by ensuring your breast pump, milk containers and storage bags, and other nursing paraphernalia are clean and dry before and after your pumping session. For ease of use, look for an all-in-one steriliser, like the Eonian Care Electric Steriliser, Dryer and Baby Bottle Warmer 3 in 1, which automatically sterilises and dries feeding bottles and accessories. This leaves all your tools ready for use after every wash.
Store breast milk good for one feeding
When expressing milk, try to empty both breasts. But remember that your milk container or bag should only contain what your baby consumes in one feeding. During your newborn’s first week, their stomach capacity for every feeding is between 45-60 millilitres (ml). At one month, it goes up to 80 to 150 ml, roughly the size of a chicken egg. By the time they reach six months, their feeding intake can go up to 180-230 ml.
Use the ‘first in, first out’ rule
After pumping, leave some air space at the top of the bag or container as milk (or any liquid for that matter) expands when frozen. Seal the container and label it with the date and time you expressed the milk. The Eonian Care Breast Milk Storage Bags and Baby Bottles & Feeding Solutions Value Set come with write-on labels so you can easily keep track of your breast milk. Both are pre-sterilised, BPA free, and fridge and freezer safe.
When taking the milk bags out of storage, remember the “first-in, first out” rule: Consume the milk bag labelled with the oldest date and time expressed.
Store breast milk at recommended temperatures
When placing milk in the fridge or freezer, store it in the far back where it’s coldest. This also prevents intermittent rewarming due to the constant opening and closing of the freezer door. Breast milk in the freezer is good for three to six months, while a chest freezer can hold milk for up to a year.
When storing breast milk at room temperature, ensure that it is in a sealed container on a bowl filled with water. This can last up to four hours. If it’s in an ice box or cooler (with frozen ice packs), it can last up to 24 hours. In the fridge, breast milk can be stored for up to three days.
Whichever method you choose, ensure your stored milk is safe for your baby by following these guidelines (save or screenshot for future reference!):
Thaw breast milk properly
If you’re not pressed for time, you can thaw frozen breast milk by transferring it to the fridge and leaving it overnight. You may also thaw it by swirling the container in a bowl filled with warm water.
Avoid using a microwave to thaw or heat bottles of breast milk as it can result in uneven heating, which could scald your baby or damage the milk. Never defrost milk at room temperature. For an easier time, use the warmer function of the Eonian Care Electric Steriliser, Dryer and Baby Bottle Warmer 3 in 1. It can defrost, heat up, or keep your breast milk warm for a comfortable feeding experience.
Use thawed breast milk within 24 hours
If the milk touches the lips or already has the saliva of your baby, it needs to be consumed within one to two hours. Do not re-freeze or re-thaw breast milk. This is why it’s important to divide breast milk into portions good for each feeding.
Whether you’re storing breast milk at home so your little one can feed while you’re away or you’re pumping at work to ensure your milk supply remains the same, knowing how to properly store and thaw breast milk makes everything easier. It may take a little work, but once you have the basics and routine, you can ensure no drop of liquid gold is wasted.