For working moms, breast milk storage is essential, especially on those times that they are far away from their little ones. So having the proper knowledge about storing milk and how long can breast milk sit out are vital. A lot of time and effort is needed to get breast milk for your baby, so you should not waste any effort that you exert by just having a lack of knowledge on the proper amount of time for the milk to sit out before it is no longer safe for your little one.
Proper pumping and storage of breast milk
Before pumping and storing your milk, you should be aware of breast milk pumping and storage guidelines. This guide can help you have safer milk for the baby and can make your life easier.
Different ways of breast pumping
There are several ways and methods of pumping process available.
• Hand expression
The first on our list is the hand expression. This process requires your skill and coordination. From the name itself hand expression, you will use your hands to squeeze and press your breast to get more milk. All mothers should know this method in case of an emergency.
• Manual pump
In this process, you need your hand and wrist to use and pump a handheld device to get milk. A higher risk of cancer is possible when you use this method.
• Electric breast pump
This is considered the easiest methods for some mothers. This one requires a battery or a proper place to plug in the device. Using this device, you can pump both of your breasts at the same time, which means more breast milk in less amount of time.
Before pumping, make sure that you clean your hands with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is needed when water is not available. You also need to ensure that the bottles and the pumping area you are going to use are both clean. Make sure that you wash your nipples and breast properly. If you are having a hard time getting your milk to flow, you can do the following tips:
• Think about your baby. You can also bring her photo or clothes with his scent on it. This will help you become motivated and inspired to have more breast milk for your little one.
• You can also apply a moist and warm cloth to your breast.
• Massage your breast slowly and gently
• You also need to rub your nipples gently
• This may sound odd, but visualizing and thinking of the milk flowing down from your breast can help you acquire more breast milk.
• You need to relax and think of a calming ambiance.
How long can breast milk sit out?
According to the study, four to six hours is the best time span for a freshly pumped breast milk to survive at room temperature. But as long as you can use or refrigerate the milk immediately, that would be better. It is not advisable to combine breast milk with the different temperatures at the same bottle. For example, you are going to pour your freshly pumped milk in a container which is already cold inside the refrigerator, that is a big no-no. Also, make sure that you don’t combine milk that is pumped on different days. In addition to how long can breast milk sit out, that also depends on where you store the milk. If you are going to store fresh breast milk in the refrigerator, that will take three to eight days to sit out while the thawed milk is good for 24 hours. If the freezer is your option for storage, that will take six months while in the deep freezer, six to twelve months is the time span to sit out. It is always advisable to freeze your breast milk immediately after expressed to avoid any contamination.
The containers also play an essential role in how long can breast milk sit out. When storing milk, make sure that you use clean and specially made for freezing breast milk containers. Clean glass and BPA-free bottles with tight-fitting lids are the right choices for storing human milk. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to use bottles or containers containing BPA (recycle #7). Plastic bags and disposable bottle liners are not permitted to use in storing breast milk.
Guides in freezing human milk
The following guides in freezing human milk affect how long can breast milk sit out. So you should also take this in your consideration when storing milk for your baby.
• Make sure that the container has a label wherein you put the date when the milk was expressed. This is for us to be aware of the milk is spoiled or if it is still okay to consume.
• Make sure that you freeze the milk in a small amount like two to four ounces for later use
• When storing the milk, make sure that you leave an inch from the milk top of the bottle for some reason. Keep in mind that it will get bigger once it was frozen.
• Ensure that you store the milk at the back of the freezer. It is not advisable to put the milk on the door or the shelf because it can thaw out.
Thawing of milk
Now that we are already aware of how long can breast milk sit out, it is also the best if we know how to thaw out the baby’s milk.
• Check the date of the stored milk. Make sure that you thaw out the oldest expressed milk first.
• You need to take note that breast milk is better not to be warmed. Preferably, it is best to serve cold or at room temperature.
• If you prefer to warm the milk, you need to ensure that the container or bottle is tightly sealed when warming. Also, you should not put the breast milk inside the microwave to thaw it out. It can create spots that can damage the milk and harm the baby. You have to test the milk temperature before giving it to your baby. Ensure that it was warm and not too hot.
• Do not shake the breast milk
• Drink the milk within 24 hours of thawing.
• Avoid refreezing of human milk after thawing
Whether you are going to work, having some emergencies to attend or you just prefer not to do the breastfeeding process, knowing how long can breast milk sit out should be on your priority. As mothers, we want to make sure that our babies can get the proper food and nutrients that they need. It is always best to chill and freeze your breast milk right after you expressed it. After all, nothing is more important than our baby’s health, right?