Confused about the best way to keep your milk safe after pumping? You don’t have to be. Here are few simple guidelines that can keep you right on track.
1.) It’s 3 am and…your baby doesn’t need to be fed for another couple of hours. Don’t bother getting up to go to the fridge. Your freshly pumped milk stays good at room temperature for 4-6 hours.
2.) I’ve had a pumped bottle in the fridge for 4 days…Go ahead and use it! Or freeze it. Breastmilk will stay fresh for up to 8 days (although I feel safer in the 4-5 day range) in the fridge. Make sure that whatever you choose to store your milk in, you write the date that you pumped it. This is essential so that you know exactly how many days it’s been in there. Let’s be real, all of those bottles and pump times start running together, so it’s definitely worth the extra 15 seconds to keep your babe safe. Also, consider training up your significant other to date the storage containers if he will be helping, that way you can avoid all confusion. You may also consider double-checking your fridge temp to make sure it is 39F or lower.
3.) Milk, on milk, and more milk…have a large supply? Celebrate that and move it right on into the freezer. It’s good for up to a year as long as your freezer stays between 0-4F. It’s always nice to have extra milk on hand and even if you don’t use it all, milk banks are always in need. You can save it for when you go back to work, on a long weekend with the girls, or when dad is babysitting. Keep in mind though, the longer it’s frozen, the more nutrients it tends to lose.
4.) I’m going camping for the weekend…More power to you. I’ll be in my bed. You can store that milk in your ice chest for up to 24 hours. Be sure and put it on the bottom, so every time hubs needs a snack it doesn’t cool off.
WHAT ABOUT TYPES OF STORAGE?
Good Question. You can use any clean glass or hard plastic container, so long as it’s BPA-free. They also make glorious breast milk storage bags for all of our convenience. Just make sure to be extra careful so that there are no tears in the bags. If there is a tear and you go to thaw your milk, you might lose that precious liquid gold. Hard-sided containers are safer, but often take up that extra space we all need.
How much milk per bag?
Another good question. Start by filling each bag with the approximate amount that your baby is currently taking. Most likely anywhere from 2-4 ounces. It’s always nice to have a few on hand that are only 1 oz so that if he/she is going through a growth spurt or you spill some on the floor you don’t have to thaw an entire bag. Also, don’t fill the bag all the way to the top. It won’t be good. Leave some room for expansion.
However you choose to store it, and however long you choose to breastfeed, be proud of yourself. It’s hard work and it’s an accomplishment. All these plastic baggies, glass bottles, scribbled expiration dates, and used-up fridge/freezer space is alllll worth it for that little squirt you’re raising!