Sunday, July 3, 2011

Breastmilk Storage Tips

According to the Le Leche League, breastmilk should be stored:
  • at room temperature for 4 hours (ideal), up to 6 hours (acceptable) (Some sources use 8 hours)
  • in a refrigerator for 72 hours (ideal); up to 8 days (acceptable)
  • in a freezer for 6 months (ideal) up to 12 months (acceptable)
Over the past two months, I've pumped well over 200 ounces of milk and learned what works best for me through lots of trial and error.

1. Use a good storage bag.
Storage bags take up way less space than bottles.  I've used Medela, Nuk, and Lansinoh storage bags.  I can't stand Medela bags because the zipper is difficult to close and the plastic isn't as thick.  (This is why I exchanged the four boxes of Medela bags that I received from my registry.)  My favorite are the improved Nuk bags that have a really sturdy double zipper.  I simply pour fresh milk into a good quality bag, write the date and number of ounces on the tab, and gently place it in the freezer.

2. Freeze your milk flat.
Okay, apparently freezing the bags flat is a well known fact that took me a LOT longer to learn than most.  (Thanks, Katie!)  Obviously flat bags take up less space and can be neatly stacked. 

25 oz frozen upright vs 25 oz frozen flat

3. Invest in a deep freezer for long term storage.
I just bought this freezer on sale from Target.  It was $40 off this weekend and I was able to pay for it in full using the gift card my teacher sorrorrity gave me.  Since we only have my car, it was quite a pain trying to squeeze the freezer in my back seat along with Jackson safely in his carseat.  We had to take it out of the box for it to just barely fit.

4. Use small gift bags to store bags of milk.
This video provides step by step instructions how to do so.  It is ingenius!  Cutting a slit through the bottom of the bag allows you to pull out the oldest bag and keep placing the newest bags on the top.  I love a nice organized system!

I am well on my way to a freezer full of hard earned milk.  My older, bulky bags are sorted by date and will be used first once school begins.  All I have to do now is put the fresh milk on the rack until it freezes, then place it on top of the most recent bag.  I explained the system to Jesse just in case I am ever gone longer than expected and he needs to use it.  Hooray for organization!

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