Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Storing expressed breast milk?


This week, Rocks in My Dryer is hosting a BACKWARDS Works-For-Me Wednesday, in which you ask a question and get your readers' best solutions.

So my question for you all is this...

In your opinion, what is the best, safest way to store expressed breast milk?

I am happy to say that this stage is behind us with our preemie daughter. However, it's also an area where I think I kind of "floundered around". I was a champion milk producer (I was once referred to as, ahem, a cow by someone at the hospital...) and I struggled to store/transport all that milk.

Since I fear my methods were just all over the map, what do you all suggest to people currently facing this challenge? What's the safest, most efficient way to store and transport expressed breast milk for your NICU baby? What "works for you"?

Please help us all out by leaving a comment!

13 comments:

MamaMay said...

I don't know about premee, but I do have 2 little ones and did express milk and donate it.

I actually put it in an ice cube tray and froze it that way. I knew how much each cube was in ounces (3/4 an ounce) so if hubby needed to make a bottle then he could by heating up a number of milk cubes.

Ryann said...

The NICU provided us with 3 oz plastic bottles to store the expressed milk in. We had to label it with a barcoded label that was specific to our daughter. Luckily we had a large freezer in the garage that we could store it all in. Since I pumped enough at the beginning to store at the hospital (since she didn't use any for quite a while) we didn't have to transport too often. I put a few weeks worth of those bottles into a storage tote, dated the tote and put the whole tote in the freezer. The bottles had markings on them, so we could eyeball how much to thaw. We would thaw a days worth at a time, mix with the fortifier from the NICU and used that in the feeding tube. Since she never really took a bottle, we never wasted any. We could pour exactly what we needed into the syringe and bolus feed through the NG and then directly into the G-tube once we decided on that route. I still have a few of those 3 oz bottles in my cabinet... I guess I'm saving them for when Addy wants to give her doll a bottle (although since she never took a bottle, maybe she won't know to do that with her dolls!)

Thanks for the great post. I look forward to reading the other responses.

3XMom said...

I always froze it in breastmilk bags in a separate stand-alone freezer we have in our basement. Best tricks - if you are away from the baby (travelling) don't freeze the milk - if it thaws you need to use is asap or lose it. Keep it refridgerated, and freeze when you get home. As someone who never had alot of milk (always JUST barely enough), I would literally cry if I lost any!

Anonymous said...

I didn't have a nicu baby but as far as storing I would use the milk storage bags and depending on the age of the baby put only two or four ounces in them. That way I didn't waste any defrosting more than I needed. I would lay the bags flat to freeze instead of standing them upright. Then I would put them in shoe boxes marked by month. That way I know which box to grab from and it keep them in mostly chronological order.

Awesome Mom said...

Lansinoah bags! The hospital gave us plastic bottles but they were not as good because the air in the bottle would cause freezer burn and the bottles were hard to stack and store nicely. I would pour the milk into the bags, burp all the air out and then place the bags flat. Once they froze then I would be able to store them like files in a box in a freezer.

JessieLeigh said...

There are some great tips here. Thanks, ladies! Keep 'em coming!

I think the bags a couple of you have mentioned would be especially great options for space constraints.

Great point, 3xmom, about making sure the milk doesn't thaw. I think that was one of my greatest challenges... I pumped about 37 oz a day and would be trying to freeze it in the top portion of a mini-fridge at a Ronald McDonald house. It was a total comedy of errors. And I was forever afraid I hadn't maintained proper temperature. I probably should have just refrigerated it until I could transport to the big hospital freezer...

W and Js mommy said...

I did not have a great experience with breastfeeding and resturning to work with my first born. This time around i asked lots of questions of moms who work and breastfeed.
I was given a plastic storage contatiner that was purchased at Babiesrus..It is the BEST spacesaver. It is spring loaded so it compresses your milk storage bags to almost paper thin! I write on the front in RED sharpie the date and the ounces. ALl my working mommy friends LOVE it! That way I don't have a million little bags or bottles filling up our freezers! I too make just enough and am thankful for a good way to store the "extras" for DATE NIGHT! Love the BLOG

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

I didn't have a preemie, but I did express milk for my daughter when I was at work, and I donated milk to the milk bank in our area. I used Lansinoh bags and put those bags, once frozen, into a second freezer bag. Then, I put the bagged bags into a stand alone freezer. ;) That milk was "safe" to donate for up to 6 months, and I was told for my daughter I could use the milk for up to a year.

justsurvive said...

store it at the back of your freezer. the temp is more stable than the front because the door doesnt get opened and shut all the time.
i also agree with ice cube trays. perfect to measure.

Nancy Brown said...

any bag works as long as you are sure it is nice and tight. Also you can freeze it flat and save space. You can pile the bags on top of themselves. I never had "enough" to worry about. I wish I was a cow when it came to pumping for my preemie

Rachel said...

I also don't have NICU experience, but did nurse with my sweet baby girl. I also advise not to freeze until you are ready because once it defrosts you have only 24 hrs - but in the fridge you have several days.

I used the bags also and put about the same amount in each one that way we weren't defrosting and wasting any.

Next time around I plan to try the ice cube method - I've read where a lot of them are around 1oz per cube and then you can just defrost however many cubes you need. Be sure to put each week in a separate bag so you don't waste any due to the 3-6 month rule depending on your type of freezer. I would cry if I did.

butler5 said...

Recently I have been expressing quite a bit, my other child was in the hospital so my 3 month old still needed to eat. I used the breast milk bags until I needed to buy some myself. THOSE are expensive. I decided I would try snack size zipper bags and they work great. I buy the generic and double bag them to be sure we are safe. I lay them flat in the freezer to freeze then store them inside an old square plastic container. It is easy to put them in the order they should be used that way.

BusyMom said...

I used the Avent manual pump (people laugh when I tell them, but I worked full-time and nursed both of my children for a full year plus - I think it works as well/better than automatic - only difference is two sides vs one at a time) so I stored most of my milk in the bottle in which I expressed it. I used a glass crayon to record the date that it was expressed on the lid. I froze 2/3 of everything. The next day, I would take two frozen and one fresh milk with me. That way I also always had fresh milk that wouldn't require defrosting if my husband needed to feed the baby at home. The important thing is to rotate the milk.