Storing Your Breastmilk and More

Tips for Storing Breastmilk

Moms can pump if needed when her milk first comes in and the breast is too engorged for baby to latch on, otherwise she shouldn’t stress about pumping so soon after delivery. After a couple of weeks when things have settled down, mom can start pumping to get breastmilk stored in her freezer if desired. The breastmilk supply is most plentiful in the morning, so mom can pump after the baby nurses. Even if she only gets an ounce, if she does that every day for a week, she has 7 ounces stored by the end of the week.

If mom pumps an ounce today, she can put that in the refrigerator. When she pumps another warm ounce the next day, she should let it chill in the refrigerator. When both one ounce containers are cold, then they can be combined and stored in the freezer. You should never put warm milk on top of cold or frozen milk. Always chill them first.

It’s helpful to have different amounts of breastmilk stored in your freezer for different situations. You can take a clean ice cube tray and pour your breastmilk in it. When the cubes of milk freeze, pop them out and put them in a freezer strength Ziploc bag. Each cube is about an ounce. If you have 6 cubes in the bag; you have 6 ounces. If mom is out to lunch with her girlfriends and dad or grandma is home with the baby and baby is starting to get hungry but mom is on her way home, they can just unthaw one cube to hold baby off and then mom can finish the feeding by breastfeeding when she comes home. Or maybe the baby has taken 4 ounces for a feeding and is still hungry but the caregiver doesn’t want to unthaw an entire 4 ounce bag, they can just unthaw one cube of milk to top baby off without wasting several ounces that mom has worked so hard to pump and store.

As mom is storing breastmilk, the bags should always be dated and the oldest milk used up first. Breastmilk can be stored in plastic bottles but it is much more economical to freeze in breastmilk storage bags. And remember to never microwave breastmilk because it can give it hot spots and burn baby’s mouth or also break down some of the protein nutrients.

If a bag or bottle of breastmilk is warmed up for baby to eat, anything left over needs to be thrown away after about an hour. So only warm up the amount you are sure baby will take so mom’s breastmilk is not wasted. It truly is liquid gold!

Frozen Milk … A New Study

The most frantic phone call received by a person working with breastfeeding mothers is … “The power went out! Do I have to throw out all my frozen breastmilk?” For years mothers have been told that their milk is only good for 24 hours once thawed.

A recent article called, “Effect of Environmental Conditions on Unpasteurized Donor Human Milk”, which was published in the first issue of the new journal Breastfeeding Medicine from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, examines the safety of refreezing human milk that has been frozen and thawed.

Donor milk was frozen for 2 months, then thawed to room temperature. Some batches were left at room temperature, others were placed in the refrigerator and some were refrozen and thawed several times at varying lengths.

After measuring bacteria levels in the milk, the authors concluded, “Based on these data, it appears that unpasteurized milk that has been thawed in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours may be safely refrozen….This should allow for…the salvage of milk that mothers might otherwise have been told to discard.”

– D.J. Rechtman, M.L. Lee and H. Berg, Effect of environmental conditions
on unpasteurized donor human milk. Breastfeed Med 2006: 1(1): 24 – 26.

Tip of the Month

In many women, it is common for one breast to produce more milk than the other. This happens for anatomical reasons, such as the number of milk ducts. It can also result when mom or baby has a preference for one breast over the other. While this can cause some breast size difference, it is usually not noticeable. If you are bothered by the discrepancy between the two, you can try certain techniques to increase production on the slower producing breast.

Try starting your breastfeeding sessions on the smaller breast first. This will encourage baby to thoroughly empty the breast, thus causing it to produce more milk. Also consider pumping for 5 – 10 minutes after a feeding, only on the side that produces less milk. Finally, try adding an additional pumping session between feedings, but only on the smaller breast.

–, May 2007

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to call or email me anytime with your concerns. I am here to assist you in any way I can.

(402) 707-1696 or contact me.