BREASTMILK STOR­AGE: DOS AND DON’TS

If you have ques­tions plagu­ing your mind about the stor­age of your breastmilk, pump­ing and the ideal time to safely store your sup­ply, Dr Yo­gesh Ku­mar Gupta, con­sul­tant, Pae­di­atric In­ten­sive Care Unit (PICU) at For­tis Hos­pi­tals, Bengaluru, puts your worr

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS -

Safely store your pumped milk

Ev­ery­one is well aware of the im­por­tance of breast­feed­ing ba­bies, for as long as pos­si­ble. In an ideal sit­u­a­tion, it is rec­om­mended to ex­clu­sively breast­feed a baby for the first six months of his life. But what hap­pens when a mother has to re­sume work after her six-month ma­ter­nity leave comes to a close? If she still wants to breast­feed, she’s go­ing to re­quire to pump and store her milk. And that’s where the ques­tions be­gin. The stor­age of one’s breast milk can be con­fus­ing. But the thing to re­mem­ber is once you start pump­ing, it’s im­por­tant to know how to safely store your ex­pressed milk. Con­sider these do’s and don’ts for the op­ti­mal way to store your breastmilk for longer.

HOW AND WHERE CAN I STORE THE EX­PRESSED BREASTMILK?

It is rec­om­mended that you choose a Bisphe­nol A-free (BPA) con­tainer. Make sure the con­tainer is clean and has a capped glass with hard plas­tic. Be­fore ex­press­ing milk, make sure that your hands are clean; al­ways wash your hands with an­tibac­te­rial soap. Al­ter­na­tively, you can use stain­less steel con­tain­ers that are eas­ily avail­able, but more im­por­tantly, can be eas­ily ster­alised just by boil­ing. Apart from normal con­tain­ers, there are plas­tic bags avail­able in the mar­ket, specif­i­cally de­signed for the col­lec­tion and stor­age of breastmilk. How­ever, ex­tra care should be taken while using stor­age bags, as they might tear, leak or be­come con­tam­i­nated. If using stor­age bags, plac­ing them in hard plas­tic food stor­age con­tain­ers can help keep them safe. Never store breastmilk in any dis­pos­able bot­tles or plas­tic bags. When you have se­lected an ap­pro­pri­ate con­tainer, make sure you la­bel it when the date. This way, you an thaw and use up the older ex­pressed milk. Re­mem­ber, take the con­tainer out

of the freezer 30 min­utes prior to feed­ing the baby. If you no­tice that the milk hasn’t prop­erly thawed, place it in a con­tainer with warm wa­ter, to bring the milk down to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore use. Re­mem­ber, never boil the milk as it will lose its pro­teins and im­munoglob­u­lins, spe­cific an­ti­bod­ies that fight in­fec­tions.

HOW DO I KNOW IF THAWED MILK IS OKAY TO FEED MY BABY?

The colour of your ex­pressed milk de­pends on your diet, so it varies from woman to woman. It is not the pre­req­ui­site to de­cide if the milk has been thawed. How­ever, the thawed milk might have a dif­fer­ent or odd odour. More­over, if the milk and wa­ter in the stored ex­pressed milk sep­a­rates, do not mis­take it as ef­fec­tively thawed. You will be re­quired to stir it with a ster­ilised spoon be­fore you feed your child.

WHERE CAN I KEEP THE EX­PRESSED BREASTMILK CON­TAINER?

Apart from using proper con­tainer, there are other things to be taken care of. After ex­press­ing the milk, you must store the con­tainer in freezer or in the back of the re­frig­er­a­tor. You can make use of wa­ter­proof la­bels and ink to la­bel the con­tain­ers with the date you have ex­pressed the breastmilk. This can help your fam­ily mem­bers in iden­ti­fy­ing the suit­able con­tainer when you are away from home. How­ever, if you do not have the ac­cess to re­frig­er­a­tor, you can store the con­tainer in a room with AC or a cooler. One point to be noted is that, never fill the con­tain­ers to the brim as the breastmilk ex­pands when it freezes, the con­tainer might over­flow when stored.

WHAT IS THE LIFE SPAN OF THE STORED BREASTMILK?

The po­tency of ex­pressed breastmilk gen­er­ally de­pends on how safely you are ex­press­ing and stor­ing the milk. The con­tainer also plays a role in it. At room tem­per­a­ture: Freshly-ex­pressed breastmilk can be

kept at room tem­per­a­ture for up to six hours. How­ever, use or proper stor­age within four hours is op­ti­mal. If the room is es­pe­cially warm, the limit is also four hours.

In­su­lated cooler: Freshly-ex­pressed breastmilk can be stored in an in­su­lated cooler with ice packs, for up to one day.

Re­frig­er­a­tor: Freshly-ex­pressed breastmilk can be stored in the back of a re­frig­er­a­tor for up to five days in clean con­di­tions. How­ever, the use of freezer-stored milk is best within three days of stor­age. Deep freezer: Freshly-ex­pressed breast milk can be stored in the back of a deep freezer for up to 12 months. How­ever, using the frozen milk within six months is ideal. Can I mix freshly-ex­pressed milk to the stored milk? Will it spoil? Yes, you can add the freshly ex­pressed breastmilk to the al­ready stored milk. How­ever, when do­ing so, avoid adding warm ex­pressed milk to the al­ready stored cool milk. In or­der to ef­fec­tively mix the fresh and stored milk, you first need to cool the fresh milk be­fore adding it to the stored milk. Adding freshly ex­pressed milk to the chilled milk can spoil the mix­ture. Re­search sug­gests that the longer you store breastmilk—whether in the re­frig­er­a­tor or in the freezer—the greater the loss of vi­ta­min C. It’s also im­por­tant to note that breastmilk ex­pressed when a baby is a new­born won’t as com­pletely meet the same baby’s needs when he is a few months older. Also, stor­age guide­lines might dif­fer for preterm, sick or hos­pi­talised in­fants.

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