Breastfeeding is a complicated science. It is always said to be ‘natural,’ but that would imply that it should come easy and just happen. This could not be further than the truth. It is not easy to breastfeed, and it takes a lot of dedication and persistence. A mom has to work at to make it work for her baby.
It can be difficult to latch the baby on, it can be a difficult ordeal to pump and then there is the ever-present question on if the baby is getting enough. If mom is not pumping it can be hard for mom to be sure of how much her baby is taking in at each feeding and if it is enough. This is why a lot of mom’s choosing to pump their milk. Pumping milk and giving it to the baby through a bottle can help mom get some time alone when someone else can feed the baby and it also allows her to get an idea of how much the baby is taking in. However, there is another problem when mom pumps milk, how does she know it is good?
There are a lot of rules on storing breastmilk and the appropriate way to heat it up and serve it to the baby. Just like any milk, it has the ability to go bad and parents never want to give their babies bad milk because that could make them sick. There are 10 ways to tell if the milk may not be the best, but then there are also 10 things that may make mom worry, yet really are not a big deal at all.
20 Stored Too Long
There are certain guidelines that mom must follow when it comes to storing her breastmilk. This is to ensure that it is always the best quality and that it doesn’t spoil. Breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for 4-days and in the freezer for 6-12 months. The sooner you use the breastmilk, the better.
It is important to follow these guidelines, because just like any other food source, if it is not used within a certain time it will go bad and has the potential to make the consumer very ill. If you find breastmilk in the back of your freezer from 13 months ago, it is always best to never use it.
19 Or Stored Wrong
This fridge is like a pumping mother’s heaven, all of that stored milk just waiting to be used to nourish your little baby. This is likely the fridge of a woman who is planning on donating her milk, and it is properly stored. Just as it is important to make sure you don’t store your milk for too long, it is always important to make sure it is stored correctly.
Milk should always be kept in clean, sterile containers. Some moms choose to store their milk in the little bottles, but most use the bags that come sterilized and are much easier. She should try and make sure that there is no lingering air in there that could cause bacteria to grow.
18 Dirty Pump
When women choose to give their baby breastmilk from a bottle they obviously need a way to get the breastmilk out. A good pump is essential for any mom who wants to give their baby a bottle and it is always a good idea to invest in a good quality one to get the job done. However, in order for the milk to be good for the baby, the pump has to be properly cleaned and stored.
A dirty pump is going to carry bacteria and that will come in direct contact with the milk which could contaminate it. This would mean the milk would now be no good to serve to the baby. Mom will need to wash and sterilize her pump on a regular basis and make sure it is stored away from anything that could contaminate it.
17 Just Like Cow’s Milk, How Does It Smell?
When a lot of people want to see if food has gone bad they give it a good old smell. If it smells weird they don’t eat it. That rule is the same when it comes to breastmilk. Breastmilk is naturally sweet, and it should have a sweet smell, even if it was frozen. When mom pumps her milk fresh, she should take a smell so that she knows what it should smell like.
Just like cow’s milk, if it smells sour or not quite right it should not be consumed. It would be a shame to throw it away, so mom can use it for a milk bath to help clear up any skin issues.
16 Consistency Is Key
Just as smell is important, so is consistency. Breastmilk, when left sitting, will always separate but we will talk about that a little better. However, when you are preparing a bottle and you start to mix it together it should be a consistent looking liquid. You should never shake breastmilk to mix it, it should always be swirled.
When you swirl the milk, and it either will not return to a milk colour, or there are little bits floating in it is a sure sign that the milk has gone bad and should not be used to feed the baby. It should look no different than normal milk when it is good and fresh.
15 Colour Says A Lot
As we just said, breastmilk is milk. There are not any differences really when it comes to how it looks compared to milk of any other kind. There are some variations when it comes to colour, and sometimes milk may not be crystal white. Mom may even know the colour changing slightly from each individual pumping session.
While the colour does vary, there are some definite red flags that mom should want to watch out for. Any black or green tinted milk should be completely discarded right away. That is an indicator of mold which is probably a result of an unclean bottle or pump. Clean and sterilize these items and try again to see if it changes.
14 Breastmilk Curdles Too!
A lot of people won’t mess around with dairy products, if something is past its date or it looks funny they toss it. The reason why is because dairy that has gone bad can make you very sick and no one wants that. This is true when it comes to breastmilk. We don’t want to be feeding our babies milk that has gone bad.
A sure sign that any dairy product, even breastmilk, has gone bad is that it curdles. This is when the fat in the milk lumps together to make little balls of solid. This milk will need to be thrown away immediately.
13 Give It A Taste
A lot of people are curious to what breastmilk tastes like, but for some reason they are too afraid to give it a try. There is nothing wrong with adults tasting breastmilk, it will not harm them, and it may even be good for them. Tasting your own breastmilk may also help you determine if it has gone bad or not.
Tasting milk to see if it has gone bad won’t work unless you know what it should taste like. If you know what your milk is supposed to taste like than you will know when it doesn’t taste right. Breastmilk should taste sweet and the best way to test it is to try it as soon as it is pumped so you know what fresh milk is like.
12 When Baby Says ‘N’
Even though our babies can’t talk they are often trying to tell us a lot if we would only pay attention to them. When a young baby can not talk and is refusing the bottle of milk it may be a sign that the milk has gone bad. Milk is sweet so that babies will like it and if it doesn’t taste good their initial reaction will be to refuse it.
There are many reasons why a baby may be refusing a bottle though, so this one is tricky. Mom should tick off the other boxes on this list to rule out that the milk has gone bad before just assuming their baby is going through a bottle-refusal stage.
11 The Milk Was Forgotten!
Being a mom is a busy job, there are very few moments to sit down and relax. This means that there are many moments where mom may be forgetful. If you add in the fact that she is probably a bit sleep-deprived than it is the worst combination. Breastmilk is fine to sit on the counter at room temperature but only for a few hours.
It is quite common for mom to pump milk and then have to leave it to tend to her baby or other needs, but she must remember to go back and to properly store this milk. If she forgets than that milk will need to be thrown away or used for other purposes other than feeding.
10 Drinks are Not A Big Deal
We have covered everything that may mean the milk is bad, so we need to cover things that are really not a big deal. There is a lot of misinformation out there on what mom needs to do to make sure her milk is fine, and we are going to start with alcohol. Nursing moms tend to stay away from alcohol, or they may ‘pump and dump’ to make sure none of the alcohol gets to her baby.
The good news is she doesn’t need too. Experts say that if you are sober enough to drive than you are sober enough to nurse. What we ingest does not get directly turned into breastmilk. It gets filtered through so your little one is not going to get a lot of the alcohol you consume.
9 Red stuff Is Not A Big Deal
Blood can be very concerning, especially if it shows up in your breastmilk. Moms are reluctant to give their baby milk that is tinged pink or red. The truth is, you don’t really have to worry about blood in your breastmilk and usually this is still fine to give the little one. You may want to speak to the doctor to find out the cause of the blood, but it is normally not a big deal.
The only issue mom may run into is that your baby may refuse the milk because it will have a stronger iron taste to it. This taste is made worse when the milk is cold, so it is better to serve it to them freshly pumped for it not to go to waste.
8 Medicine Is Not A Big Deal (Usually)
Moms get sick too, we are not immune to the flu season. Mom’s are also usually tired and busy which can lower the immune system making it easier for them to catch a cold. Since we can’t take sick days we are always searching for something we can take to get us through the day with our little ones. A lot of mothers who breastfeed are hesitant to stay away from medication. They don’t always have to.
There are a number of medications that a nursing mother can take that will have little to no effect on the baby. All she needs to do is ask her doctor or the pharmacist and they can point her in the right direction.
7 Separation Is Not A Big Deal
A lot of women store their breastmilk and then when they go back to it they are met with a jarring sight. It will appear like the milk has gone bad as there will be a clear distinction between two different colours and consistencies. There will be a thick white layer on the top and a clearer layer on the bottom. This is not a big deal and does not mean the milk has gone bad.
This is simply the separation of the fat from the milk. It is perfectly fine, and all mom will need to do is swirl the bottle the mix it back up. The amount of white milk on the top is not an indicator for a milk that is low in fat so don’t worry about that either.
6 More Spit Up Is Not A Big Deal
A lot of mothers get concerned if their baby spits up more than usual, and they shouldn’t. A baby who is spitting up is not always a reason to worry that your milk has gone bad. You may want to speak to the doctor to rule out any type or reflux, but it is normally just a normal part of baby feeding. There are many reasons a little one may spit up more often.
The baby could have eaten too fast or too much at that one time. The baby could be getting used to a new bottle or perhaps mom did not burp him enough. These are all logical reasons as to why your little one may spit up a little more than usual.
5 Caffeine Is Not A Big Deal
Another substance mom worries about when they are breastfeeding is caffeine. Moms need our coffee, we run off of it and it would be a shame if we were unable to drink it when nursing. The good news is that you do not need to cut out caffeine at all, even if you are breastfeeding.
Breastmilk is made from your blood and not directly from the food you eat. Experts say that mom can have up to 300mg of caffeine a day, which is equal to about 5 cups of coffee. Of that amount only 1% or less is actually transferred to your breastmilk, so drink up and get ready to face your day.
4 Gassy Food Is Not A Big Deal
A lot of the reason’s women think their breastmilk has gone bad is because of outdated information. This information is normally passed down from mothers and grandmothers who are just trying to help. Bless their hearts, but their information is now outdated and no good. Women who are nursing are told to avoid any foods that are known to cause gas.
This means broccoli, cabbage and beans are all off the menu when nursing. That is no longer true. These foods may cause an increase in gas in babies, but mom should not avoid any food unless she notices a reaction from the baby. These foods have wonderful nutrients and vitamins as well, so it would be a shame for mom to miss out on those unless there was a noted problem.
3 Small Feeding Is Not A Big Deal
A baby is an unpredictable creature and it is impossible to tell how much milk they are getting. Some babies nurse for a lot period of time, and others are more ‘snackers’ and they will nurse in short sessions throughout the day. I have experienced both of these kinds of babies. A baby who does not nurse for very long does not mean that your milk is not good.
This is not a sign that your baby does not like your milk and that is why they are not latching for very long. Every baby nurse differently and they may have a stronger suck which allows them to feed a lot quicker than others.
2 Can’t Pump A Lot? Not A Big Deal!
A lot of women have a love/hate relationship with pumping. It is a great way to get milk for others to feed the baby, so mom can get a break, but it can cause a lot of anxiety in mom. If not a lot of milk comes out in a pumping session, mom may begin to get nervous that her body is not producing enough. A breastpump will never work as good as your baby.
The amount of milk pumped should never be used as an indication of supply because it is just not accurate. Some women just don’t respond well to pumps. I tried to pump with my first and would get nothing out, but she was getting all she needed so there was no need for all the worry and anxiety it caused me.
1 Baby #2 Is Not A Big Deal
Who would have thought there would come a day when you would be so interested in baby poop? Yet, the day has come, and nursing moms can obsess over it in an effort to make sure the milk is the right amount and the best quality. Poop from a breastfed baby is normally a mustard-yellow and has little seeds in it. However, it can also be shades of yellow and green and it can be completely normal.
The only time a mom should worry is when it is white, black or has blood in it. That is when it is time to go to the doctors. Also, it is normal for breastfed babies to go a few days without pooping. Breastmilk is all natural and so there is less ‘waste’ to be expelled.
References: Kid Simplified