It sat on my sink in its little container looking curdled, separated, and lumpy, plus it kind of smelled funny. Hmmm? This is breastmilk and they want me to feed it to my baby? I didn’t think this was going to go very well.
As it turns out – it’s normal. Even when stored, frozen and defrosted correctly breast milk separates; a little shake will have it looking smooth and creamy again. As for the weird smell…well Bub didn’t mind so who was I to complain!
An important part of expressing breastmilk is correct and hygienic storage procedures, so your little one’s health and safety is ensured, as well as receiving the goodness of your breastmilk.
Here are ten straightforward tips to help you refrigerate, freeze and defrost your breastmilk for easy storage.
1. Make sure all your containers have been thoroughly cleaned and sterilised. Milk is a favourite place for bacteria to grow so make sure there is no residue left in your storage containers.
2. There are many different containers, bottles and bags for you to store your breastmilk. Consider your freezer space and lifestyle to decide what works for you. See our range of breastmilk storage options here.
3. If you are refrigerating your breastmilk for short term storage, place it towards the back of the fridge. Placing it on the door means that the temperature might not remain stable, allowing harmful bacteria to grow.
4. You can keep freshly expressed breastmilk in the fridge for 3 days (72 hours). Consider freezing it if you need it to last longer.
5. Frozen breastmilk can be stored for three months as long as your freezer door is separate from the fridge. Make sure you date each storage container or bag clearly.
6. To safely defrost frozen breastmilk it is best to place it in the fridge and let it defrost slowly. It can be stored in the fridge for 24 hours.
7. But if you’re like me and life doesn’t always run according to plan, you can hygienically defrost breastmilk in a jug of warm water. You do need to use this for the next feed though (within four hours).
8. Once breastmilk had been defrosted it can’t be refrozen. So as much as it pains you to waste your hard work, if you can’t use it then it goes down the drain.
9. Never defrost or heat breastmilk in the microwave. Most microwaves do not heat evenly and you can end up with pockets of cold milk and pockets of boiling hot milk. You can get bottle warmers which will efficiently and evenly heat milk to your desired temperature.
10. Finally, always remember to test the temperature of the milk on your wrist or inner arm before feeding your baby.
I hope these suggestions will be helpful and encourage you to have a go at expressing, as you never know when stored breastmilk will come in handy.