Are you returning to work soon and wondering how to start storing all of the breast milk you will be pumping? Do you have an oversupply and want to start stashing milk away for later? Either way then this post is for you! I am discussing storage guidelines, storing breast milk in the fridge and freezer, defrosting milk, and of course breast pumps!
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When it comes to breast milk remember that you are following all safety precautions so that your baby is getting the best breast milk possible!
First up, Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
Storing Breast Milk in the Fridge
Fresh milk: 3 – 8 days, (Ideal is 3 days)
Previously Frozen milk: 24hrs
Storing Breast Milk in the Freezer
Freezer: 6 months
Chest Deep Freeze: 12 months (Ideal is 6 months)
Before returning to work spend some time thinking about how you want to store your breast milk after you have pumped it. I stored my milk in 3 different ways.
Large Mason Jars
I preferred to pour all collected breast milk into a large mason jar over the course of the workday. When I got home in the evening, I would then partition the milk out into either breast milk storage bags or leave it in the large mason jar to give to my daughter’s caregiver. The great thing about storing breast milk in these is that I was able to easily gauge how much milk I was pumping since they have measurement marks on the sides!
A 16-oz jar is perfect if you are expecting to need to pump 4-4oz bottles which is the amount I needed when I went back to work at 8 months. Size up or down for your own specific needs!
Milkies Milk Trays
Freezing milk in these trays was awesome when I was getting an ounce here or there using my manual pump. It was also nice if I had a little bit over a typical feeding. When storing these breast milk sticks store them in a large gallon bag labeled with the date of the week you pumped the milk. It’s not as exact as the individual freezer bags but it’s close enough! The nice thing about these trays is that you can use them to freeze exact 1-ounce amounts of breast milk AND then later you can use them to freeze Stage 1 Baby Food!
Freezer bags are probably the most common way to store breast milk. They are easy to label and store. Just be sure to freeze them flat so that you can stack them easily in your freezer in either a small shoebox or these breast milk storage organizers. Don’t forget to label the bag with the date and amount!
Smart Mom Tip:
If you are going back to work you are going to want to check with your childcare provider to see how they want breast milk stored. Some daycares prefer breast milk to be in pre-portioned breast milk storage bag labeled with the date, child’s name and amount of breast milk. Other caregivers might be okay with a mason jar filled with the previous day’s milk. Some might even prefer for the milk to be already filled in the number of bottles the baby is expected to drink for the day. Check with your baby’s caregiver to decide which storage solution is right for you.
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To Defrost Frozen Milk
- Defrost in the fridge overnight or for 12 hours
- Or, defrost in a bowl of cool water
- Note: Do NOT defrost by leaving out at room temperature.
To Heat Refrigerated/Defrosted Milk
- If using breast milk storage bags, just plop the bag into a bowl of hot water. The milk will heat up really quickly
- If you want to use a bottle warmer use this one! It was super inexpensive and worked just great!
So, how do you go about getting that breast milk to store? Well, you pump of course!
I’ll be honest, I really dislike having to pump. It takes time out of my busy day. It’s boring. Basically, I would rather just feed my daughter myself, the old-fashioned way. But, since I work away from home, and like the occasional cocktail, pumping is a necessary evil. Along with pumping comes the boring task of storing said pumped breast milk.
- 5 Pumping Essentials for the Working Mom
- Increasing Breastmilk Supply
- 5 Must-Have Items for Breastfeeding Mamas
The first is use an electric pump
If you have insurance you should qualify for a free breast pump. The Hygeia Enjoye is the pump I use. I like it okay. I haven’t tried others so I don’t feel that I can really recommend it one way or another. I hook it up, adjust the speed and strength of the pump and just sit and wait while it does its thing. Have I ever mentioned I sit in a supply closet in my classroom to pump? Pumping is extremely glamorous. Not.
All in all, my pump gets the job done.
Or you can use a manual pump
While I absolutely hated pumping I loved my little manual pump. When my daughter would breastfeed I would attach the sucker to the opposite boob. It suctions on and catches the milk from your letdown. This is milk that regularly just ends up getting soaked into a nursing pad so it’s great to be able to catch it and use it later.
I regularly got at least 1 ounce and in the mornings would get more like 3-4 ounces.
This was a great thing to use when I was stocking up on milk before going back to work. Over the course of a day’s feedings, I would collect enough for one or two 5 oz bottles. I did this daily for a few weeks before going back to work. I froze the milk and had a nice little freezer stash all without having to add in an extra pumping session.
I also used this as a manual breast pump if I was feeling overly engorged and just needed a little bit of relief but didn’t want to go through the work of setting up and cleaning my electric pump.
This silicone breast pump is dishwasher safe, can hold up to 4 oz of breast milk, and can even be used as a cup once Baby is old enough to drink from it. It is also hands-free. Although, watch out if your baby is kicking or waving her hands about. I had it go flying once with 2 ounces of breast milk in it. Whoops!
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