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January 16, 2016

Donating Breast Milk: The Greatest Gift

 

 

 

Donating breast milk can save a life!

Breast milk is full of antibodies and is considered the ideal food for babies. Although the milk of a baby’s own mother is the ideal, it may not always be available. Donor human milk is the next best choice. Donating your breast milk will help to ensure that premature or ill babies receive this life giving fluid.

 

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Can I Donate Breast Milk?

If you are currently breastfeeding a baby under one year of age and have milk to spare, you could be eligible to be a donor.

 

Women who have given their baby up for adoption, have acted as a surrogate or have lost their baby can also be potential donors.

 

Where Do I Donate?

There are currently 4 breast milk banks in Canada. If you are lucky enough to live in one of these cities, contact the milk bank directly to arrange for donation:

 

Canada also has 7 milk drops. A milk drop collects milk from approved donors for shipping to the nearest milk bank. There are milk drops in the following Canadian cities:

  • Edmonton, Alberta (Grey Nuns Milk Drop)
  • Medicine Hat, Alberta
  • Lethbridge, Alberta
  • Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Yorkton, Saskatchewan
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba

 

If you are interested in donating breast milk, you must first contact the closest milk bank to arrange for their screening process.

 

If you live outside of Canada, click here to find the milk bank closest to you.

 

What kind of screening is required for donating breast milk?

Milk bank staff will ask you a series of questions about your medical and lifestyle history. You will then need to see your healthcare provider to complete paperwork and arrange for a blood test.

 

Collection and Storage of Donor Breast Milk

Donor moms are asked to donate a minimum of at least 4,500 ml (150 ounces). Collect and freeze your extra breast milk in a sterilized hard plastic (food-grade) container or in milk storage bags. Storage containers are available free of charge from the nearest milk bank or milk drop.

Click here for more information on pumping your breast milk.

 

Is Donor Human Milk Safe?

Breast milk can contain bacteria or viruses. To ensure donated milk’s safety, it is pasteurized according to very strict guidelines set out by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). This treatment has very little effect on the nutritional and health benefits of the milk.

After the heating process, tests are done to ensure the milk is germ-free. It is then frozen to -20 C (-4 F).

Since the guidelines of HMBANA have been followed, there has never been a report of pasteurized breast milk from a milk bank causing disease or harm to a baby.
If you are able, please consider donating breast milk. It is the greatest gift you can give!

 


 

thumbnail-cindy-and-jana

About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

 

 

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October 23, 2015

Is it Safe to Buy a Used Electric Breast Pump?

 

While it may be tempting to purchase a used pump, you should be aware of the

potential risks.

** Research has shown that certain viruses and bacteria can be transmitted through breast milk. **

 

Is it safe to buy a used electric breast pump

 

  • Hospital grade rental pumps are designed with a “closed system”; milk can never come in contact with the inner workings of these pumps. Cleaning the exterior of the pump and purchasing a new milk collection kit (the bottle, tubing and flange that touches the breast) is all that is necessary for safety.

 

  • ‘Single user’ pumps, on the other hand are designed with an “open system” meaning that there is potential for milk to accidentally enter the pump itself. There is no way to disinfect these pumps between users, even if a new kit and tubing is used.

 

A brand new breast pump may not always be affordable.

Hand expression of breast milk is a great no-cost alternative. Many women tell us they prefer it to pumping, finding they are able to express more milk! Learn to hand express by watching this video or reading this post.

 

Other suggested reading: Pumping Breast Milk – Everything You Need to Know! and How to Safely Store Your Breast Milk.

 


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About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

 

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September 8, 2015

Work. Pump. Repeat. The Ultimate Guide to Pumping Breast Milk at Work

 

After more than 20 years as Lactation Consultants, we thought we knew a lot about pumping breast milk. Turns out, there is even more to learn!

 

Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work has arrived. The author is a true expert, a mom of two with 22 cumulative months of pumping under her belt, and countless hours spent interviewing working, breastfeeding moms.

 

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We first met Jessica Shortall, author and breast-pumper extraordinaire, on Twitter. She’s smart, funny and on a mission to share her hard-earned expertise. Work. Pump. Repeat goes beyond the basics to include practical tips such as:

 

  • First-day-at-work pump-bag packing list (Don’t forget the wet wipes!)
  • Breast pump friendly fashion advice (‘Heather gray is not your friend.’)
  • Return to work ‘dress rehearsal’ instructions (Preparation = reduced stress.)
  • How to pump in unusual places (Includes the back seat of a moving vehicle, a storage closet and on an airplane.)
  • How to wash pump parts (And what to do if there is not a sink available.)
  • Getting your milk past airport security (Checked luggage or carry-on?)

 

Best of all, she shares it in her down-to-earth, no-judgement style.

“For me, one of the most helpful techniques in my journey of pumping in many strange places was just knowing that so many women had done this before me, and were doing it with me, so to speak. There’s a masochistic sorority made up of women who pump at work. In my experience, there’s no one-upmanship—we are not trying to outdo each other with our crazy stories. There is, instead, a desire to laugh and cry together over the lengths we have gone to in order to keep providing breastmilk to our babies. None of this is particularly fun, but there is a real badge of honor that goes with the territory, and while most people will never know what you did for your baby (or where you did it), your fellow working mothers know, and we salute you for it.”

“So . . . go forth, working mama. Pump your milk in strange places. Get mad about it if you need to. Text your girlfriends while it’s happening to share in your misery. Remember that you’re doing this for your kid, and the thought of that little person just might get you through until you’re home, holding that baby (and/or a glass of wine) and remembering why you put yourself through such craziness.”

(Reprinted with author’s permission. Work. Pump. Repeat, p. 120-121.)

 

Hats off to all working women who provide pumped breast milk for their babies. This practical, no-nonsense book, Work. Pump. Repeat: The New Mom’s Survival Guide to Breastfeeding and Going Back to Work will help to make it just a little easier.

 

You can find Jessica’s book on Amazon here.


 

thumbnail cindy and jana

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

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May 18, 2015

Pumping Breast Milk – Everything You Need to Know!

 

Expectant couples frequently ask “We are planning to breastfeed. What type of pump should we buy?” 

 

Everything you need to know about pumping breast milk.

 

Do I need to pump?

Many breastfeeding mothers will never need to express their milk. Other mothers will choose to store some milk for an unplanned separation from their baby. Still others will find themselves needing to express on a regular basis.

Hand expression can be very effective for occasional milk expression and it is free! You can learn more about hand expression here.

For those who prefer to use a pump or those needing to pump on a more regular basis, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

 

When is pumping recommended?

  • For mothers who have to return to work or are separated from their baby.
  • For mothers with a premature baby, an ill baby or a baby who is not ready to feed at the breast.
  • If baby is unable to effectively nurse at the breast. In this case, your breasts may need some extra stimulation in order to keep up your supply.
  • For mothers with low milk supply wishing to increase their supply. Note: If your milk supply is low but your baby latches and sucks well, breastfeeding more frequently will be more effective and more enjoyable than pumping.

 

When is pumping not recommended?

  • When the breasts are overly full in the first week postpartum. If your baby is nursing well, continue to nurse frequently and your breasts will adjust to the amount the baby takes.
  • To evaluate the volume of milk the baby is getting at each feed. The amount pumped is NOT a good indication of milk supply. A baby is much better than a pump at accessing milk. A baby uses both suction and compression whereas, a pump uses only suction.

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When is the best time to pump?

If you are pumping to increase your supply, the best time to pump is immediately after a feed. This will ensure that your breasts are as full as possible the next time baby is ready to feed. Try not to focus on the amount of milk you collect. Regular expression will tell your body to make more milk; pump as many times per day you can.

 

 

How often and how long do I need to pump?

If your baby is not feeding at the breast, pump every 2 -3 hours during the day and at least once at night (a minimum of 8 – 12 times in 24 hours). Pumping during the night is especially important as the prolactin level, a hormone that helps to make milk, is higher at that time.

 

 

What type of pump should I choose?

There are manual pumps, personal electric pumps and hospital grade pumps available. Your reason for pumping will determine which type of pump is right for you.

Before purchasing any breast pump, check to see which company makes the pump. Look for a pump made by a company that solely manufactures breast pumps and other breastfeeding equipment. In our experience, pumps made by Medela and Ameda Egnell have worked well for mothers.

Manual pumps

320px-Avent_isis_breast_pumpManual pumps are the least expensive option. They work well for occasional milk expression. They do not stimulate the breast well enough to build up a milk supply or maintain a supply if the baby is not at least partially breastfeeding.

Mother’s appreciate a manual pump’s convenient size and simplicity of use but tend to find the repetitive motion required very tiring.

 

Electric pumps

Electric pumps are available in a wide price range.

Inexpensive electric pumps may work for breastfeeding mothers who want to express occasionally. They are not usually adequate to keep up a mother’s milk supply if the baby is not at the breast (e.g. if baby is in NICU).

Battery operated electric pumps tend to work well only when the batteries are fresh. It is better to purchase a pump that can be plugged in.

The top-end electric pumps for purchase will work well for women who have an established milk supply and are away from their babies for long periods (e.g. return to work).

 

Hospital grade electric pumps

Hospital grade electric pumps are available for rent. This type of pump is recommended if:

  • You need to build your milk supply.
  • You want to maintain your milk supply when your baby cannot be at the breast for long periods (e.g. baby in NICU).

You will need to purchase a kit for your rental pump.  The kit is milk collection parts that connect to the pump. Some pumps allow you to use 2 kits and pump both breasts at the same time (“double pump”). Double pumping may lead to a higher overall milk volume.

Some of the mothers we have worked with like double pumping because it takes half the time. Still others prefer to single pump to allow one hand to be free. There are some hands-free pumping options now available.

When a baby breastfeeds, he uses both compression (from the tongue against the breast) as well as suction. Breast pumps work via suction only. Combining pumping and hand expression may therefore be best at stimulating milk supply.

 

Instructions for pumping

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Assemble your pump equipment and anything else you need to make yourself more comfortable (e.g. glass of water, your phone, a snack).
  3. You may want to stimulate your “let down” prior to pumping (see below).
  4. Center your nipple in the flange (see below re: fit)
  5. Start the pump on the lowest setting. Gradually increase the suction. If it is painful, decrease the suction.
  6. To increase the amount of milk you are able to pump, you may want to gently squeeze or compress the breast near the chest wall while pumping.

 

Encouraging your “let down” reflex

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A hormone called oxytocin is responsible for starting milk flow from the breast. Tiny muscles contract around the cells that produce milk, squeezing the milk into the ducts. Some mother will begin to leak with let down; others may feel a heavy or a tingling sensation. Still others do not notice any changes.

To encourage your “let down” prior to pumping you could try:

  • Looking at a photo or thinking of your baby.
  • Holding a piece of baby’s clothing or a blanket that has your baby’s smell.
  • Placing a warm, moist cloth over your breasts.
  • Gently massaging your breasts.
  • Rolling your nipple between your first finger and your thumb.

 

Fitting a pump flange

The pump flange is the part of the kit that is held against your breast. A good fit will help pumping to be more comfortable. Flanges come in different sizes. The size refers to the diameter of the opening for your nipple.

Most pump kits come with a 24mm flange. You can purchase other sizes (e.g. 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, 26mm) if the standard size is not right for you.

To check the fit of the flange, place it on your breast and turn on the pump.

If the flange is too small, your nipple will rub against the sides of the breast flange, causing discomfort.

If the flange is too large, you will see your areola (the brown area around the nipple) be drawn into the flange.

A well fitting flange allows your nipple to fit comfortably when drawn into it.

**Please refer to the instruction manual specific to your pump for cleaning and sanitizing instructions. If your baby is in NICU, ask for specific instructions for pump kit care.


Pregnant? There are ways to make breastfeeding easier. Download our FREE ebook 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding.


References and More Information:

  1. Expressing Breastmilk On The Job.” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.
  2. Newman, Jack, MD, FRCPC, and Edith Kernerman, IBCLC. “Expressing Breast Milk.” nbci.ca. International Breastfeeding Centre, 2009. Web.

 

If you would like to learn more about storing your breast milk, see 10 Tips for Breast Milk Storage and Creating a Stash of Breast Milk.


thumbnail-cindy-and-janaCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



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Photo courtesy of Flickr: treehouse1977

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May 5, 2015

10 Tips to Ensure Safe Breast Milk Storage

Breast milk is an amazing fluid, full of anti-bacterial properties. Evidence shows that these properties remain, even when breast milk is expressed and stored.

 

If you are storing breast milk for your healthy full term baby, these tips will help. Please check with your healthcare provider for special instructions if you are storing milk for a premature or ill baby.

10 Tips for Breast Milk Storage

 

Tip 1:

Be sure to wash your hands before hand expressing or pumping.

Tip 2:

Choose storage containers made of glass or BPA free hard plastic. Plastic storage bags designed for breast milk can also be used.

Tip 3:

Clean the hard-sided storage containers with hot soapy water and rinse well before using.

Tip 4:

Freshly expressed breast milk can be stored for 4-6 hours at room temperature (16-29 degrees C) and for  4-8 days in the refrigerator (4 degrees C). Store expressed breast milk near the back of the refrigerator rather than on the door to keep it as cool as possible.

Tip 5:

It is normal for the milk fat to separate and rise to the top of the milk. Mix it well before using.

Tip 6:

Breast milk can be stored for 3-4 months in your refrigerator’s freezer (if the freezer has its own door). In a chest deep freeze, breast milk can be stored for up to 12 months. To keep the milk as cold as possible, store it at the bottom of a chest freezer or the back of a refrigerator freezer.

 

Tips for storing breast milk.

 

Tip 7:

If your thawed breast milk has a soapy smell, it may be due to the breakdown of milk fats. This milk is not harmful, but your baby may not like the taste. Scalding your milk (heating until it just until bubbles form around the edges) then quickly cooling can deactivate the enzyme responsible. You can learn more in this article by KellyMom.

Tip 8:

If you are regularly pumping, this tip will save some time! Rather than washing your pump kit every use, store the pieces that have touched your milk in a ziploc bag in the fridge between pumpings. Once a day, wash them with hot soapy water, rinse well, then sterilize by boiling for 5 minutes.

Tip 9:

Leave about 1 inch of space in the storage container. Milk expands when it freezes. To waste less of your precious milk, freeze milk in small amounts and thaw only what you need.

Tip 10:

Label your expressed milk with the date before storing. Try to use the oldest milk first.

 

References:

  1. International Lactation Consultant Association (2014). Clinical Guidelines for the Establishment of Exclusive Breastfeeding. Raleigh: International Lactation Consultant Association
  2. Jones F. (2011) Best Practice for Expressing, Storing and Handling Human Milk in Hospital, Homes, and Child Care Settings. Fort Worth, TX: Human Milk Banking Association of North America Inc.
  3. Mohrbacher, N., Stock, J. & Newton, E. (2012 Update). The Breastfeeding Answer Book Schaumburg IL: La Leche League Intl.

 

More answers from Cindy & Jana: Answers to the Top 9 Questions about Bottling Breast Milk.


About the authors:IMG_9687 4

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.


 

 

 

 

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April 10, 2014

How to do Hand Expression of Breast Milk

Hand expression is a valuable skill for breastfeeding moms. It takes a little practice but once learned, many women may prefer it to using a pump. It is simple, no equipment required!

Hand expression can be useful:

  • to express a drop of milk onto the nipple to entice your baby to feed.
  • noname-2to soften the breast if you are overly full. Softening the breast by moving the swelling away from the nipple and areola may also be useful. Please see below *.
  • to express milk to store for later use. You can learn about how to safely store breast milk here.
  • to relieve breast fullness or to obtain milk when you are separated from your baby.
  • in combination with pumping to increase your milk supply. At the breast, a baby uses both suction and compression. Pumping provides suction only and hand expression provides compression. Combining the two methods more effectively stimulates milk supply than using one or the other.

How to do hand express (scroll down to see a video demonstration):

1.  Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
2.  Stimulate your letdown by massaging the breasts, stroking the breasts or rolling your nipple.
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3.  Place your thumb and first finger on either side of the nipple about 1½ inches (4 cm) from the base of the nipple.

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4.  Push your thumb and finger straight back toward the chest wall.
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5.  Roll your thumb toward the nipple like you are making a thumbprint. Try to avoid sliding your fingers along your skin as you may become sore.
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6.  Continue this motion, rotating your hand position around the breast to express milk from all areas.

7.  Some women will need to have their fingers closer or farther from the base of the nipple, depending on the anatomy of their breast. It may take a bit to discover the best position for your fingers to obtain milk.

8.  If you are collecting the milk you express by hand, you will want to express into a wide mouth container. Your milk may flow from more than one pore at a time, creating a spray.


Pregnant? Download our free ebook 5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding. 


 

 

Moving swelling away from the nipple and areola

If you are having difficulty latching in the early days due to fullness, softening the brown area around the nipple (areola) with counter pressure can make latching easier. You do not need to soften the whole breast, just the area where the baby is going to latch.

  • Imagine where the baby’s lips will be when feeding; this will determine the placement for your thumb and first finger. For example, if you will be feeding in the football position, your baby’s lips will be horizontal across your breast. If you feed in a cross cradle position, your baby’s lips will be in a vertical position on your breast.
  • Push straight back towards the chest wall and count to 10. This will temporarily move the swelling away from the nipple.

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  • Expand the area you are softening by moving your fingers slightly to each side and repeating the process until just the area where the baby latches is softened.

References and More Information:

  1. Hand Expressing Milk.” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 21 Nov. 2015. Web.
  2. Hand Expression.” Unicef.org.uk. The Baby Friendly Initiative. Unicef UK, n.d. Web.
  3. Newman, Jack, MD, FRCPC, and Edith Kernerman, IBCLC. “Expressing Breast Milk.” nbci.ca International Breastfeeding Centre, 2009. Web.

 

Related posts: Pumping Breast Milk – Everything You Need to Know! and Creating a Stash of Breast Milk.

 


thumbnail-cindy-and-janaCindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.



 

2 comments

March 21, 2014

How to Safely Store Your Breast Milk

Doing a Google search about safe storage of breast milk can lead to confusion. You will see varying storage guidelines. We have chosen our sources carefully and recommend the shortest storage times to err on the side of caution. Longer storage times are acceptable only under very clean conditions.

 

How to Safely Store your Breast Milk. Up-to-date guidelines by Lactation Consultants.

 

 

Breast milk is an amazing liquid. It has properties that help to curb the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi. For this reason, the storage guidelines are much different than formula. Careful handling and storage will help your expressed milk to retain its full nutrition and health benefits.

 

These guidelines are for storing breast milk at home, for a healthy full term baby. If you are storing milk for a premature or ill baby, please check with your healthcare provider for special instructions.

 

 

Choosing a storage container

Recommendations for storage containers differ slightly, depending if you are storing it in the refrigerator or the freezer.

 

 

  • Refrigerator:

Choose glass, hard plastic (BPA free) containers or storage bags specially designed for breast milk. Thin plastic bottle liners are not recommended as they could easily be punctured. If you use plastic storage bags, keep them in a covered hard plastic container to prevent accidental damage.

  • Freezer:

Choose glass or hard plastic (BPA free) containers with an airtight lid. These containers are not easily punctured and give the best protection for nutrients. Breast milk expands when it is frozen so be sure to leave a little space in the container. Expressed breast milk is precious; freeze it in small volumes (1 – 2 oz./ 30 – 60 ml) to avoid waste.

 

 

How long can I store freshly expressed breast milk?

 

  • At room temperature (16-29 degrees C/ 61 – 84degrees F)

Freshly expressed breast milk, can be left unrefrigerated for 4-6 hours (in a covered container). Freshly expressed breast milk has living cells that kill bacteria. (One study found the amount of bacteria in freshly expressed breast milk actually decreased after sitting on the counter for an hour!)

 

  • Insulated cooler bag:

If you are expressing milk when you are away from home, store it in an insulated cooler bag, surrounded with ice packs; it will be safe until you get home (up to 24 hours!)

  • Refrigerator (4 degrees C/ 39 degrees F):

Breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator for 4-8 days. Place the milk near the back of the fridge to keep it as cool as possible. Please note: It is normal for the fat to separate and rise to the top of refrigerated milk. Gently mix before using.

 

 

How long can I store frozen breast milk?

 

The guidelines for frozen milk vary according to the type of freezer.

 

  • Freezer located inside the refrigerator:

2 weeks

 

  • Refrigerator freezer with its own separate door:

3-6 months

 

  • Chest freezer:

6 – 12 months

 

Note: Milk stored at the bottom of a chest freezer or at the back of a refrigerator freezer will stay coldest.

 

 

How should I thaw breast milk?

 

  • It takes about 12 hours to thaw breast milk in the refrigerator. If you need it to thaw it more quickly, place your container in a bowl of warm water or hold it under lukewarm running water. Ensure the water does not touch the storage container’s lid.
  • Do not use the microwave to thaw breast milk as it can affect its nutritional value. It may also heat unevenly, creating have hot spots which could burn your baby’s mouth.
  • Thawed breast milk can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours. It is not safe to refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed.
  • If your thawed breast milk has a soapy smell, it may be due to the breakdown of milk fats by an enzyme called lipase. (Some mothers have a large amount of lipase in their milk.) This soapy smelling milk will not harm your baby, but your baby may not like the taste. To prevent this breakdown, you could try scalding your freshly expressed breast milk. Heat the milk on the stove until it just starts to bubble around the edges; quickly cool it and freeze it. This heat treatment will deactivate the lipase.

 

 

More tips for safe storage:

 

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water before handling or expressing your milk.
  • Label expressed milk with the date and try to use the oldest milk first.
  • Clean your storage containers with hot soapy water and rinse them well before use.
  • Sterilize the containers if your baby was born prematurely or if you are unsure whether or not your water supply is safe. To sterilize, place the containers in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • Cool freshly expressed breast milk before combining it with already cooled breast milk in your refrigerator.
  • Cool freshly expressed breast milk before combining it with already cooled breast milk in your refrigerator.
  • If you wish to combine freshly expressed milk with already frozen milk, cool the fresh milk before adding it to the frozen. There should be less fresh milk than frozen milk.

 

References:

  1. International Lactation Consultant Association (2014). Clinical Guidelines for the Establishment of Exclusive Breastfeeding. Raleigh: International Lactation Consultant Association
  2. Jones F. (2011) Best Practice for Expressing, Storing and Handling Human Milk in Hospital, Homes, and Child Care Settings. Fort Worth, TX: Human Milk Banking Association of North America Inc.
  3. Mohrbacher, N., Stock, J. & Newton, E. (2012 Update). The Breastfeeding Answer Book Schaumburg IL: La Leche League Intl.

 

Other posts you may enjoy: How to Hand Express Your Breast Milk and Pumping Breast Milk – Everything You Need to Know!

 


IMG_9687 4About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

2 comments

July 26, 2013

Creating a Stash of Breast Milk


A mother of a newborn wrote to us with the following question:

“I want to build up a stash of breast milk to have on hand for if/when I manage to go on a date with my hubby or an emergency comes up. I am wondering the best way to go about it. I am worried that if I pump a bottle, I am taking away what my baby needs.”

 What a great question! Moms committed to providing breast milk for their babies may want to have some milk in the freezer as an emergency back-up or for a planned night out.

 

How can I express milk without taking it from what my baby needs?

Breast milk is most plentiful is in the morning so women often find it easiest to express their milk then. However, you could express immediately after any feed.

Remember that a baby is always able to get more milk from a breast than a pump, so don’t be alarmed if you only get small volumes.

Women’s breasts will be quite tender in the first couple of weeks after giving birth. You may want to delay pumping until after that time.

How much of a stash do I need?

 Every mom will need to decide how much she thinks she will need. Some moms never express to have extra milk on hand and that’s OK too.

We really do not know how much an individual baby will take at a given feed. Comparing your baby’s intake to a bottle fed peer would not be helpful.  Studies show that breastfed babies drink less volume as they are able to metabolize it more easily. You may want to suggest that your caregiver start with small amounts in a bottle and add more as needed to avoid wasting your precious breast milk.

How long will expressed milk last?

In a refrigerator, freshly expressed breast milk will last up to 5 days. Remember to store expressed breast milk near the back of the fridge rather than on the door to keep it as cool as possible.

In a chest style deep freeze, frozen breast milk will keep for 6 months or longer. Milk stored at the bottom of the freezer will stay coldest when the freezer is opened.

A refrigerator freezer with its own door will keep your milk for 2 to 3 months.

How do I store my stash?

There are many different choices for storing your expressed breast milk. It is recommended to use either glass or BPA-free hard plastic containers. Label the milk with the date it was expressed and use the oldest first.

Since expressed breast milk is “liquid gold”, you may want to freeze it in small volumes (1 – 2 oz./ 30 – 60 ml) to avoid wasting it. Thaw only what you need.

How do I thaw expressed breast milk?

Never use a microwave to defrost or warm up your milk as it can create hot spots. Frozen milk can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight or under warm running water. Once thawed, it should be used within 24 hours. To warm from fridge temperature, run under warm water or place in a container or a pan of water that has been heated on the stove.

Keep learning by reading these posts: How To Hand Express Breast Milk and Pumping Breast Milk – Everything You Need to Know.


IMG_9687 4

About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking for expert guidance through the first crucial weeks after childbirth.

 

 

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 (Photo courtesy of Flickr:  joshDubya)

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