Whether pumping or expressing, breast milk – efficient storage of the milk outside the breast is extremely crucial as inappropriately stored breast milk can pose serious health issues to the little one.
So what are the key points to keep in mind when storing breast milk?
1. Breast milk needs to be stored in clean and sterilized milk bags or containers, specifically designated to store breast milk.
2. Whatever container you use, make sure it is filled only up to 3/4th of its capacity as milk will expand when frozen. It is a good idea to store milk in quantities that your baby feeds in. for example, if your baby consumes 5 ounces in one go, try and secure 5 ounces of milk in each container. For extra quantities that you can pump, add them to a new container.
3. Each bottle you create should have a date clearly mentioned on to it, so that you can use an older bottle sooner.
4. Thaw milk overnight in the refrigerator. Do not add fresh milk in to a container with frozen milk.
5. Breast milk may surprise you in how it looks – it is absolutely normal for milk to vary in colour, density or scent, depending on your dietary and lifestyle habits. Sometimes, it can even have a bluish hue and be absolutely normal. It can also vary throughout the day, so it shouldn't concern you too much.
6. When warming milk, do not microwave it or heat it directly. Keep the container in a bowl full of WARM (not hot) water, also known as a water bath, or specialized equipment for heating milk for infants
7. It is normal for the some components of milk to separate and float atop. DO NOT SHAKE the bottle – stir it with a sterilized stirrer or swirl it gently.
8. The maximum duration for storage of milk is as per table given below:
9. These guidelines may slightly vary for special requirements by some babies. Always confirm with your pediatrician regarding storage instructions.
10. Also noteworthy is the fact, that freezing tends to destroy some antibodies in the milk. So refrain from freezing unless advised by your practitioner.
11. Pumped milk should ideally be used immediately, or secured in the refrigerator ASAP. Make sure to utilize the back of the main part of the refrigerator to secure milk containers.
12. If your refrigerator has a separate door/compartment for the freezer, milk can stay good up to 3 – 6 months. If it is a chest or an upright freezer, milk stays good till 12 months. Use milk that has been frozen for a maximum of 3 or 6 months, as milk stored for longer periods is drinkable, yet compromises some bit on quality.
13. When thawed, always taste one bit of the milk first to ensure that it has not gone sour. However, due to storage of milk outside of the breast, milk may have a somewhat soapy smell due to the change in its natural fats. That is a perfectly normal phenomenon and should not worry you at all.
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