Everything you need know about Storing & Transporting Breast Milk
Breast Milk is the most vital source of Nutrition and Immunity for the baby hence it’s very important that you keep your baby on Breast milk for as long as you have the flow. Formula food is certainly a good supplement but wouldn’t its not preferred replacement unless you are out of Milk supply and the thumb rule to ensure there is Milk supply is to continue feeding or Expressing the milk. Most working mothers have the challenge of expressing the Milk, Storing and transporting them chilled and they end up doing the unimaginable, they express it and simply pour it down the sink so they can keep the supply up. The Article tells you all about Storing and transporting breast milk so you don’t have to throw away any milk and you can continue to chill and heat the milk on the Go.
Expressing the Breast milk is just half of the work, the challenge is in preserving the milk and it can be pretty simple if you follow the below instructions. If you are at home it is straightforward however if you work or travel frequently, We understand the stress involved in planning that trip or even organizing the feed when you are out and about or even if you have to drop of your baby off at the baby day care centre. Most mothers pack breast milk and drop it off at the day care centre with the baby and they express again at work so they can feed their hungry baby on the way back home.
Before we tell you all about transporting them chilled and best methods to warm them up on the go we shall talk about the best storage methods
Choice of the Right Storage Container
The first step when you want to store and transport frozen breast milk is to pick the right container. There are three options to store breast milk:
- A Glass Bottle.
- A Plastic Bottle.
- Zip loc plastic bags specially made to store and transport Breast Milk.
The choice of a container depends on your traveling habits. Ideally, you would like to have a Container which is ready to use, instead of trying to pour into a different bottles but the bottles are expensive and you can only have a hand full of bottles. The Zip loc breast milk bags are a good option if you are looking for a cost effective option. Most bags on the market are one-time use to avoid contamination although there are some people online who recommend sterilizing the bags for reuse. These bags also have a provision for you to write on so you know when the milk was expressed if it’s a bottle, you would have to use a sticker. Some of these bags and bottles are designed such that they can be attached to Milk pumps directly. The Disposable bags are the most popular storage option since it wouldn’t need a lot of preparation, unlike bottles which you need to ensure you have them well sterilized and it can be quite a stretch for working mothers.
How can I keep breast milk frozen while traveling?
Thanks to a range of Flexible Dry ice packs that can wrap around the bottle easily combined with insulated cooler bags, Travelling with a baby has never been easier. The Temperature in cars can get very hot and it’s important you carry milk in a cooler bag. It’s always safer to be prepared and if you are stuck in peak hour traffic 30 min delay can matter and you may have to throw away the milk if it’s bad. Hence we recommend you to have a batch of frozen dry ice packs ready to go in your freezer and all that you need to do is to pack your cooler bag with the milk along with the Dry ice packs and away you go. We recommend you to have a set of instant ice packs stored in the side pocket of your cooler bag in case of for emergencies, they are easy to activate and if its one of those odd days where you have forgotten your frozen dry ice packs, you can use these instant ice packs to keep cool, Although they may only last for an hour at the most. They also double up as a first aid icepack in case your baby happens to have a bump.
How long can you keep Breast Milk in the Fridge or Freezer?
When it comes to breast milk, it is important to keep track of the date and time you expressed the milk so you know the expiry of the milk. Unlike most frozen food from the supermarket, these don’t have an indefinite shelf life.
Breast milk may last from around 4 hours and even up to 6 months, depending on how you store them. If you store the milk at room temperature at around 25° C, you may be lucky for the milk to last 4 hours. If the room temperature is at 15°C, it may last up to 12 hours.
However, leaving it at room temperature for a long time isn’t recommended, Its best to put the milk in the fridge as soon as you have expressed them so you can take the guess work out. If you leave them in the fridge compartment it may last up to 3 days which is ok if you aren’t traveling, However, if you plan to travel, it’s then better to put them in the freezer immediately after its expressed. In such cases, depending on the conditions, breast milk may last from up to 6 months. Keeping them cold at a constant temperature is the key to make it last longer. If it is just a freezer compartment we suggest that you store them right at the back away from the door so it’s not affected every time you open and close the door.
How can I use Breast Milk when it’s Frozen
The next common concern is how to use breast milk when it’s frozen. The defrosting process is important, as it has to be at the right temperature. As much as you would like to put the frozen container in the microwave or in a pot of boiling water, the best method is to allow it thaw out naturally so the proteins in the milk aren’t broken down by drastic cooling and heating process. If you plan to use the frozen bag of milk, you may move them out of the freezer to the fridge compartment the previous night so they thaw naturally and when you see there aren’t any ice crystals, you can now put them in a pot of boiling milk and when you see the the fat has melted completely and you can see oil floating, you now know your milk is ready to use. If you microwave the milk we suggest you to do it in small increments of 20 Seconds at a time.
If you are traveling, we suggest that you let the container of frozen milk sit at room temperature and It may take up to 6 hours depending on the room temperature. Once the frozen milk melts thoroughly, we suggest that you warm the milk right when it’s chill and not to let it reach room temperature. If you think you aren’t ready to feed yet, stick the milk back in the cooler bag to keep it chill and ready to use. Another option when you are traveling is to have a set of instant heat packs in your cooler bag pocket which can be easily activated and used on demand. Once the instant heat pack is warm enough simply wrap it around the bottle and cover it with a towel to retain the heat within.
The above recommendations would certainly help you keep the baby on breast milk for longer with more nutrition and immunity.
With over 5 years as an avid blogger, Jacquii has a passion to research new developments that has helped her refine her knowledge in the field of Cold Chain. Her extensive knowledge in Cold chain products and solutions including the know how’s about complex products like Phase Change Materials, Physics especially, Thermodynamics has greatly assisted several large corporations to put together effective cold chain solutions including some life saving solutions that helped to deliver chilled vaccines in remote locations, Organ transplant etc. Thanks to Jacquii, Cryolux has been able to spread the knowledge of cold science across several social platforms and hope to better it with your continued support.