If you are a new mother who is looking for how to collect breast milk to be frozen, here are some tips on how to do so!
It is possible that you will need to pump or express breast milk at some point during your breastfeeding journey. The milk you store can be used later if you do not intend to use it immediately.
Breast milk collection and freezing reasons
Milk is expressed for many reasons by women.
The Breast milk that has been expressed correctly can be frozen and stored for at least six months. Pumping and freezing breast milk may be a good option if:
- Your child would like to continue receiving your breast milk while you return to work or school.
- Breast engorgement causes pain and swelling.
- The purpose of creating a breast milk supply is to use it when you are no longer nursing.
- When breast milk is flowing very fast, you want to slow it down.
- While you are away from your baby, you would like to give him or her breast milk.
The Best Way to Freeze Breast Milk
A milk bank or premature baby may require stricter collection and storage procedures if you are pumping breast milk. For proper collection and storage guidelines, consult hospital staff or milk bank representatives.
Using breast milk for your healthy, full-term baby at home is as simple as collecting and freezing it at home.
Choosing a collection container
You can choose any container you like. Make sure you use a freeze and thaw-resistant container when freezing breast milk. Breast milk can be stored in a variety of containers, including bags, bottles, trays, and plastic bottles.
Consider how long you want to keep your breast milk in storage when you choose the right container. You can store some breast milk storage bags flat, and then stack them, which saves space because they’re mainly designed for freezing. Sandwich bags shouldn’t be regular plastic ones because they can leak.
If you plan to store your breast milk for a while, glass and hard plastic are the best. Food should be stored in clean, BPA-free containers. It may be necessary to have additional collection containers available depending on how much breast milk you pump.
Prepare your supplies
Make sure you have the right supplies. You only need a clean container to hand-express breast milk. Getting ready for pumping means preparing your pump, pump flanges, tubing, and collection container(s). To prevent bacteria from getting into your breast milk, make sure all your pumping supplies are clean and dry.
Clearly label breast milk
The breast milk container should be labeled. The time and date of the collection should be marked on the storage bag or container before you express breast milk.
Hands should be washed. Before pumping, expressing, or handling breast milk, wash your hands. During the process of collecting breast milk, germs can enter your body from your skin. Keep everything as clean as possible to prevent contamination.
Breastfeed or pump
Breast milk can be expressed by pumping or by hand. Pump or hand-express your breast milk into your breast milk storage container using a breast pump or hand expression technique.
Breast pumps should be used for about ten minutes each. It usually takes 20 to 30 minutes to express yourself by hand.
Be careful not to overfill
Keep your storage container from being overfilled. Don’t fill your collection container all the way to the top if you’re collecting and storing breast milk in the same container. The extra space on top is needed because breast milk expands in the freezer.
The container can burst if it is filled to the brim. Breast milk should be stopped adding to the container when it reaches approximately two-thirds full or three-quarters full. Continue pumping in a second container if you need more.
Pour your breast milk into storage containers after you have completed collecting your breast milk from the collection container. The storage containers should not be filled to the brim, as instructed above. This space is necessary for the expansion of your breast milk.
Containers should be sealed
Store your container in a sealed container. Seal the container with the proper airtight zipper seal or cap once you have poured the desired amount of breast milk into it.
If you store your bottles in the freezer, you shouldn’t use a bottle nipple since it cannot provide an airtight seal.
Freeze your breast milk
Breast milk should be frozen. As soon as you collect your breast milk, place it in the freezer. The coldest part of the freezer is the back, where you should store your milk.
You should freeze breast milk within 24 hours of putting it in the refrigerator first. You can freeze your milk for up to 24 hours if you don’t have a refrigerator or freezer available.
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Freezing breast milk for how long
You can store frozen breast milk for a certain amount of time depending on the type of freezer you have.
- A refrigerator/freezer unit with its own door can store breast milk for up to six months if it is attached to another refrigerator.
- Within a refrigerator, there is a freezer compartment that can be used to store breast milk for about two weeks.
- It is possible to store breast milk in a stand-alone freezer for up to one year without defrosting it.
The use of frozen breast milk in child care
Make sure you ask about the breast milk policy of the babysitter or daycare your child attends. Remember to include your name and the name of your baby when you label your breast milk.
Breast milk thawed from frozen
Following the thawing and warming instructions for frozen breast milk will ensure that it is safe for use.
- Make sure the dates are correct and follow the storage guidelines above. Depending on the guidelines, you should begin by thawing the oldest collection.
- You should not refreeze thawed frozen breast milk.
- Overnight in the refrigerator is the best way to safely thaw frozen breast milk. Place it under warm running water or in a container of warm water to thaw faster. The breast milk shouldn’t be thawed at room temperature.
- Breast milk can be used right away or stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- Microwaves and boiling water aren’t safe for defrosting or warming breast milk.
Breast milk defrosting instructions
Make sure your baby’s breast milk is safe when defrosting:
- It usually takes 12 hours for breast milk to defrost in the fridge. You can also place the frozen milk bag or bottle under warm running water (to a maximum of 37°C). Room temperature defrosting of frozen breast milk is not recommended.
- In the case of previously frozen breast milk, you may store it at room temperature for up to two hours, or at a maximum of 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Breast milk should not be thawed in a microwave or heated in boiling water. As a result, your baby may experience hot spots that can scald him or her.
- Your baby should be fed thawed breast milk within two hours of it being left at room temperature.
- It is never a good idea to re-freeze breast milk after it has been thawed.
Warming breast milk that has been stored
When breast milk is warmed to body temperature, it can be consumed by healthy, full-term babies. Others don’t seem to care, some have a preference.
- You can warm breast milk by placing it in a cup, jug, or bowl of lukewarm water for several minutes until it reaches body temperature (37 °C or 99 °F). Alternatives include using a bottle warmer. Avoid overheating your milk by not allowing the temperature to rise above 40 °C (104 °F).
- Mix any separated fat in the bottle or bag by gently swirling it, without shaking or stirring.
How come my breast milk smells odd?
Breast milk can smell differently after being refrigerated or defrosted. It helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria by breaking down fats and releasing fatty acids.
Mums’ stored milk has been reported to smell rancid or soapy. This article provides safe-storage guidelines, so as long as you follow those, you’ll be fine.