Breastfeeding is recommended for the first three to six months of a baby’s life. This is because studies show breast feeding to have a wealth of benefits both to mother and child.
Babies that are breastfed for at least three months get 23% less ear infections, have 42% less skin problems, are 64% less likely to get intestinal infections, 72% less likely to suffer respiratory diseases such as asthma, 27% less likely to suffer from diabetes, and 36% less likely to die from SIDS. Breastfed babies are also reported to have less diaper rash, constipation, diarrhea and infections. Some studies suggest breast feeding may even higher IQ.
Mothers who breast feed are less prone to type 2 diabetes as well as breast and ovarian cancer. Breast feeding also has two extra very cool perks for any new mom. First, breast feeding burns an extra 200-500 calories a day which helps shed baby weight faster, and two, breast fed babies’ diapers don’t stink as much!
One of the few disadvantages of breast feeding is often felt to be restriction. While a bottle fed baby can be left with another family member while the mother is free to do other things a breast fed baby is tied to the breast, literally. However a breast fed baby can be bottle fed. Breast milk can be pumped, used in bottles and even stored for later use.
This is especially helpful for travel, working moms, mother’s attempting to increase breast milk supply, and/or any other situation that requires breast milk without mom’s breast present.
This simple step by step guide on how to store breast milk will cover the safety precautions, do’s and don’ts of, and the process of storing your milk for later use.
1. Prefrigerating Breast Milk for Storing.
For short term storage of breast milk refrigeration is the best route to take. Breast milk does need to be kept cold or like cow’s milk it will spoil. Breast milk does however spoil-less quickly than regular milk due to the antibodies that are present within it. These same antibodies are what make breast milk so healthy for your baby.
Breast milk will keep three to four hours only at room temperature and three to five days in the refrigerator. If you are not sure you’ll use the milk in this time period it should be frozen. You will learn how to freeze breast milk in step two of this how to guide.
To store breast milk in the refrigerator:
1. Pump and label the milk.
Once pumped breast milk should be stored in sterile and air tight containers. To prevent waste use containers the average size of one feeding for your baby. This is typically two to four ounces. Be sure to label the milk clearly so you know how old it is.
2. Place in refrigerator kept within the temperature ranges of 32 F to 39F (0-3.9 C)
Do not keep over eight days at the most. See step three for re-heating instructions.
2. Freezing Breast Milk for Storing.
Freezing breast milk allows for longer term storage and bulk reserves. This is useful in the event a mother becomes ill or requires medication unsafe for breast feeding. A stock pile of milk in the freezer allows breast feeding to continue safely during this time. As a note a mother who will be feeding stored milk rather than breast feeding for any extended amount of time will need to continue to pump and dump to retain milk supply.
Freezing breast milk does destroy a certain amount of the antibodies within the milk, however it is still healthier than formula. Frozen breast milk will keep up to even a year if kept in the proper temperature range.
To store breast milk in the freezer.
1. Pump and label milk as instructed in step one of this how to guide.
When packaging breast milk for freezing be sure to leave some room at the top of the container as frozen liquids expand.
2. Store the milk in the following temperature ranges for desired store times.
-Two to four weeks: Can be kept in a freezer compartment within the refrigerator that range below 32 F but above -19 F
-Three to four months: Can be kept in a self container freezer unit connected to a refrigerator. Temperature range between 0 F and -19 F.
Six months to one year: Must be stored in deep freeze. Temperature should remain below -19 F. Do not store in door.
3. Reheating Stored Breast Milk.
Stored breast milk will have a different appearance than fresh milk. This is normal. The milk will separate and have layers. Thawed milk also sometimes tastes or smells soapy. This is due to the break down of fats and is also normal. Most babies do not mind this. If milk smells rancid or you question whether its good it is better to throw it away.
Frozen milk is best pulled twenty four hours in advance and left to thaw in the refrigerator. It can also however be run under warm water.
Breast milk should not be reheated in the microwave. This is not only because the heating destroys some nutritional content of the milk but because it creates hot spots and heats the milk unevenly.
You can use a breast milk warmer or simply warm some water on the stove and place the bottle within it to reheat the milk. Do no bring breast milk up to the boiling point. Always be sure to test the temperature of the milk on the underside of your wrist before feeding it to your baby.