Breastfeeding can be an amazing moment shared between both mom and baby, and doctors always recommend that women exclusively breastfeed. Instead of directly breastfeeding their babies though, many women today have turned to pumping their milk and storing it in bags or bottles in either the fridge or freezer.
When it comes to feeding our babies we women tend to think that we have it all figured out and that it just comes naturally, but do we really know the risks associated with pumping and storing our own breastmilk? Breastmilk, surprisingly, has to be stored at just the right temperature, thawed out a certain way, bagged the right way, and even labeled properly. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in the process of bagging, storing, and thawing out our milk.
We want to make sure that we are keeping our babies safe and assuring that they get all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients that they need to grow, so of course we may not be doing these things intentionally, but mistakes are made. So in this list we will go over 15 mistakes that a lot of first time moms unknowingly make when storing their breastmilk.
14 A Breeding Ground For Bacteria
Bottles, if not properly sterilized, and storage bags can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. When we put our milk into these things for storage we need to make absolute sure that they are 100 percent clean and safe to use. Otherwise baby could end up very ill from drinking contaminated breastmilk. We might not even realize we are doing this one, but literally anything could cause the bottles and bags to become contaminated so we need to our best to make sure that they stay as clean as possible. A lot of pumps these days come with bags or bottles that go right onto the pump and the woman using it can then pump directly into the bag or bottle. This helps big time with contamination because we can take the bag right out of the package put it directly on the pump and not have to worry too much about germs hitting the inside of it.
13 Never Put Leftovers Back Into The Fridge
Baby just finished eating and with a full tummy he or she falls asleep peacefully, we pick up the bottle that we just fed to our babies and notice that there is still a few ounces in it. So what do we do with it? It seems like it would be a waste to just throw it all away, especially since we worked so hard to pump it. Well research has shown that when it comes leftover breastmilk it is best to just chuck it. When we restore used breastmilk we are leaving a lot of room for bacteria to begin to grow, and because the milk had with gone so much with the first storage we left it with little to no vitamins to begin with. So when we re thaw it out again there will be absolutely no vitamins left for baby to consume, but rather just a bottle full of bacteria.
12 Thawing Is Trickier Than You Think
Thawing out breastmilk can be tricky, we need to first make sure that we are thawing out the oldest milk we have stored first, so that we are not letting anything sit in the freezer for too long. Women should place the milk that they plan to use in the fridge the night before they use it to give it time to thaw out a little bit over night. They should then place the bag of milk under warm water and allow the water to thaw out the milk and then feed it to baby. It is important that women never use their microwaves or stoves to heat up the milk, as that could lead to burns and vitamin loss, both of which can be very bad for their babies.
11 Don't Put The Bottle On The Shelf
Storing your breastmilk in the door of the fridge can make it harmful for the baby when we feed him or her the breastmilk. This is because the door of the fridge is not the coldest area of the fridge and it can lead to the breastmilk not being cold enough, thereby allowing bacteria to begin to grow in the milk. This is also an area of the fridge where things are most likely to be knocked over and spilled, and it would be a shame for all of that milk to just be spilled out onto the floor after we took so long to pump it. Also in the doors of the fridge, the breastmilk is much more likely to come into contact with other foods, therefore contaminating it and making it dangerous baby to consume.
10 Milk CAN Lose Vital Nutrients
When a woman breastfeeds her baby, her milk adapts to the baby's needs in order to provide the baby with the proper amount of vitamins and proteins. If a woman feeds her baby a bottle of milk that she pumped over a week ago then it will no longer have the correct amount of vitamins that the baby needs, because the babies needs have since changed. That being said, breastmilk also loses vitamins the longer that it is stored. Doctors say that milk should be stored for no longer than 6 months in a freezer or 5 days in a clean fridge. Many women make the mistake of stocking up on milk and it then being stored for too long, going bad and loses all of those vital nutrients that their babies so desperately need, which can be dangerous for baby.
9 Microwaves Are A Serious No-No
Microwaving milk that a woman has stored away, whether in the fridge or in the freezer, is dangerous for the baby for a couple of reasons. When we microwave milk it creates hot spots that can burn the baby's mouth leaving them hurt and afraid to drink from the bottle after that. Microwaving breastmilk also depletes the milk of all of its important vitamins, proteins, and immune cells. This can also lead to the milk being infected with bacteria because let's face it, our microwaves are not exactly clean. Women are urged to never microwave their milk as the risks greatly outweigh the benefits. They should instead find other more effective ways to thaw out their milk. Microwaves also give off small amounts of radiation, which over time may lead to some health problems.
8 Labelling Shouldn't Be Avoided
Labeling the bags and bottles that we use to store our milk is especially important for very many reasons. If we do not label the storage bags or bottles then we do not know the date and time that it was pumped, which could lead to us using old or expired breastmilk. This could also lead to other people not knowing what is in the bag and then consuming it. Although drinking breastmilk wont hurt anyone that might mistake it for regular milk, if they find out what it was that they were drinking they will probably be pretty grossed out and mad. It is best for everyone, especially baby, if we just make sure to always label storage bags and bottles before putting them into our fridges or freezers.
7 Be Cautious With Milk Cubes
A lot of moms who have babies that are breastfeeding have started to put their milk into ice cube trays to make something nice and cool to help soothe their babies gum. This however can pose as a serious health risk for baby. Freezing breastmilk into ice cube trays leaves the breastmilk open to the air where bacteria will feed and live off of it. This can, of course, cause our babies to become very ill. It is not recommended that we put our breastmilk into ice cube trays unless we first make sure that the tray is extremely clean and sealed tightly to keep anything that might cause it to become contaminated away from it.
6 Throw Out The Ziplock Bags
There are specialized bags and bottles made just for storing breastmilk for a reason, yet some moms still feel the need to use whatever they have handy. Ziplock bags seems to be a go to for many moms, but this is not safe for so many reasons. Storage bags that are made just for breastmilk have a double zip lock on them to prevent leaking and contamination they also have labels on them, whereas ziplock bags only have one lock on them and are much more likely to break open, leak, and to become contaminated. There is also no specific place on those bags to mark down the day and time that the milk was pumped. It is always safest to just spend the extra couple of dollars and get some storage bags because no one wants to risk either their milk being dumped, or their babies getting sick from contaminated milk.
5 Milk Filled To The Top?
Most women think that when they pump their breastmilk into the storage bottles or bags that they can safely fill them up to get the maximum amount of milk. This, however, is not true. Women should always leave a good amount of space at the top of the storage containers. This is because when milk freezes it expands, so it the bag or bottle is totally full when the breastmilk begins to freeze it could very well end up leaking out of the top, or breaking the bag or bottle open. This can also lead to contamination or full loss of the stored milk as it pours out over the insides of our fridges and freezers, leaving the baby with an inadequate supply of breastmilk, or contaminated breastmilk.
4 The "Pump And Dumps"
Most moms who pump have been there, we go out for a much needed ladies night for the first time since having a baby. We have a few drinks with our friends when suddenly our bosoms begin to throb and we realize that it is time, once again, to get to pumping. So we make our way to the nearest ladies room and begin to pump we store the milk in our cooler bag that came with the pump, just until we get home, where we can safely throw it away. But what happens when we forget to throw it away? Some women may accidentally store the milk that they had pumped while drinking alcohol and then give it to their babies, unknowingly. This can be very very dangerous for the baby and it is best to just not pump while we are out for a night of drinking, just to be on the safe side.
3 Public Fridges Are Risky
For women who are pumping their milk, once they return to work, they will need a place to store the milk that they pump throughout the day. This leaves a lot of women to store them in the fridges at work. This can be especially dangerous. If not labeled properly, putting our milk into a public fridge may lead to a coworker thinking it is either milk or creamer and using it. Gross right? Well, storing in the fridge at work can also lead to a lot of contamination from our co workers food. If storing our milk in a fridge at work we should always make sure that there is no other foods surrounding it and also that we double bag it to ensure that nothing gets near it.
2 Not Keeping Track Of Time
Leaving breastmilk out for extended periods of time can be very bad for baby. This is because breastmilk goes bad so fast, and when left in room temperature it becomes a breeding ground for all types of germs and bacteria. Doctors say not to leave breastmilk out in room temperature for any longer than four hours. Beyond four hours the bacterias will begin to grow. If we feed our babies breastmilk that has been sitting out for more than four hours they will get sick shortly after consuming it. So it is best to always freeze or refrigerate our breastmilk immediately after pumping it to avoid the growth of bacteria and maintain our babies health because our babies safety is always our first priority.
1 Always Wash Your Hands
When women pump it is very important they keep their hands clean as they touch the pumps. It is also just as important that when handling the storage containers mom wash and sanitize their hands before hand. Not washing our hands before pumping and storing our milk can lead to whatever germs we have on our hands to then contaminate our breastmilk. Although those germs may not have been harmful to us, they can harm the baby, and the last thing we want is for our newborns to end up ill by our own hands. The same can be said when we are thawing the milk or making a bottle for baby. We should constantly be washing our hands when it comes to feeding our baby to avoid anything serious from happening.