Breast milk is the best food for an infant. And it is a well-known fact that babies need to be fed frequently. But this shouldn\’t stop from joining back work or going out with friends or traveling as you could easily express and store breast milk that can be fed to your baby while you are away. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for expressing and storing breast milk.
Do maintain good hygiene
Always wash your hands before you start expressing breast milk. If you are using a breast pump, wash all the parts in hot, soapy water and sterilize before every use.
Choose the right storage bottle
Avoid using disposable plastic bags and bottle liners. Instead, pick food-grade glass containers for milk that is to be refrigerated or hard BPA-free plastic containers for frozen milk.
Do label the containers
To minimize confusion, label every container with the date and time of milk expression. If you are sending this milk to your baby’s crèche, make sure it is labelled with your baby’s name as well.
Do examine stored milk before giving it to your baby
Chilled breast milk may separate into layers but when it is heated, the milk should have a uniform consistency. Separated clumps or a stringy appearance could be a sign of spoilt milk. Spoiled milk may also have a foul odour and sour taste. Please discard if the milk is split.
Do store milk in small portions
Store only as much milk as required for a single feed. Containers that hold 60-100 ml are ideal as this volume would be sufficient for baby\’s single feed ensuring there is zero or minimal wastage.
In case you want to freeze the milk, note that breastmilk expands on freezing. Hence your containers need to be slightly larger.
Do store milk at the right temperature
Here’s a guideline for how long expressed milk can be kept.
- At room temperature – up to 6 hours or 4 hours in warm weather
- In an insulated cooler – up to 1 day
- In Refrigerator – 2- 3 day
- Deep freezer – up to 6 months
Don’t store breast milk in the door of the refrigerator
The temperature of foods stored in the door of the refrigerator is subject to fluctuation every time you open the refrigerator. Always, store expressed milk at the back of the refrigerator as this is the coldest section.
Don’t thaw frozen breast milk in the microwave
Thawing it on a stove or in the microwave may result in uneven heating and predisposing the baby to burns. Either move the milk to the refrigerator section and let it thaw overnight or place the container in a basin of lukewarm water and let it thaw on the counter.
Once frozen milk has been thawed, it cannot be refrozen. Also, any thawed leftover milk after 24 hours should be discarded.
Don’t add fresh warm expressed milk to frozen milk
It is okay to mix milk from different pumping sessions but you should not mix fresh milk with frozen milk. Add fresh milk only to milk that is stored in a refrigerator or insulated container. When doing so, first chill the milk to lower its temperature and then mix the two.
Breast milk has all the nutrients and antibodies required for your baby’s optimal growth and development. By expressing and storing it in compliance with these guidelines, you can ensure that your baby never has to rely on bovine milk-derived formulas or other types of milk.
If you are a hyper-lactating mother, consider expressing it and donating it to a human milk – facility, such as NeoLacta Lifesciences. Your donated breast milk could help mothers with premature babies or babies whose mothers have difficulty feeding them owing to reasons such as sickness, medical contraindications, inadequate lactation, surrogacy/IVF and many more.
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