Some mamas decide very early in the pregnancy they will pump once the baby is born. Others end up having to pump due to a variety of reasons that were not anticipated. Whatever the reason is, pumping is an excellent way to give baby the liquid gold. But pumping can be rewarding, frustrating and tiring all at the same time.
When it comes to pumping, there are a ton of rules, regulations, and tips out there to ensure you and baby are healthy and safe. We have compiled a list of 20 steps to help you prepare and store the liquid gold so that it is perfect for your baby when the time comes.
Some of these steps are super obvious to some while some of these are surprising to others. There is a ton of pumping advice out there, and we are sure that everyone is willing to give you their opinion, but we have the scoop. These are tips that every pumping mama should know and be aware of! We know that pumping can be overwhelming, but we have all of your questions answered.
Read below to find out how to store and prepare your breastmilk!
20 Pump Milk Into Clean Bottles
It is crucial to pump your milk with clean pump parts into a clean bottle. Failing to do so can result in bad milk for your baby. You can store your breast pump parts in the fridge between pumping sessions and wash them at the end of the day (this saves so much time!)
When baby is done drinking his bottle, it is important to clean all parts of the bottle so that when you are pouring your milk into it that there is on bacteria or old milk in the bottle.
We know dishes can be a drag, but it is important for the safety of your baby that you keep everything clean.
19 Store Milk Flat To Save Space
According to Romper, laying your milk flat for the first day of freezing can help them become thinner and easier to store. This is great if you plan on storing a lot of milk.
Once the breast milk is frozen flat, you can easily save space and make it easy to file the milk bags per date. You can stack the bags flat on top of one another, or you can use an empty soda can box and put them in upright.
Not only does this save space in the freezer, but freezing the milk flat also helps the milk thaw faster. Your milk will thaw faster when it is frozen in a thin rectangle rather than a big block.
18 Deep Freeze Milk For Longer Use
According to Mama Natural, breast milk can be stored in a deep freezer for between six months and a year. This is a great option if you have a lot of milk that you want to save but won’t use within six months.
When it comes to defrosting milk from the deep freezer, you use the same techniques as with milk frozen in a regular freezer (listed above).
Putting milk in a deep freezer can help save space in your regular freezer and help limit the waste of your liquid gold. You will be able to store quite a bit of milk in a deep freezer.
17 Use Correct Storage Bags/Bottles
According to Ameda, you can store breast milk in hard BPA-free plastic bottles, glass bottles with leak-proof lids, or breast milk freezer bags.
It is important to steer clear of using sandwich bags as well as thin disposable feeding bottle liners. Storing your milk in the proper bags ensures that the milk will not leak/spill, is safe to drink, and will stay fresh for as long as possible.
Breast milk bags are not reusable (simply because they come pre-sterilized for one-time use), but they are cheap to buy in bulk and do not require any cleaning.
16 Test Out Temperature Of Milk On Wrist
Once you have warmed up the milk, Romper suggests testing out the temperature of the milk by sprinkling a bit of milk on your wrist. It is suggested to use your wrist because it is the most sensitive part of your arm.
The milk should feel warm, but not too cold or too hot. Milk that is too hot may scald your little sweetie and milk that is too hot may burn his mouth. Every single time you warm him a bottle, it is crucial to test out the temperature.
Even if you use the same bottle warmer every single time, it is better to be safe than sorry.
15 Be Aware Of What Is In Your Milk
Do not assume that your milk is not affected by what you consume on a daily basis. If you decide to have a girls night out and get a little tipsy, it is best to pump and dump (solely to relieve the pressure) or buy alcohol screening tests at your local Target or Walmart.
If you consume any type of illicit substances, it is best to always pump and dump unless it is a prescribed medication okay-ed by your doctor.
Do not start any vitamins, herbs, and supplements without consulting your doctor first. It can be dangerous for your baby or can make her tummy upset.
14 Mix Milk From Various Sessions
According to KellyMom, milk from different pumping sessions/days can be combined in one container. It is important to not add warm milk to the container of cold milk.
It is important to cool the new milk before combining so all of the milk is the same temperature upon heating. This is a great trick if you have several bags in the refrigerator that do not have a lot of milk in them and you can combine them for one feeding.
Of course, make sure the milk is not expired. You can add thawed milk to refrigerated milk as well.
13 Don't Fill Bags More Than 3/4 Full
VeryWellFamily states that breast milk expands in the freezer, so you need to leave extra room at the top of the bags. You should stop adding breast milk to the bags when it is approximately 2/3 or ¾ full.
If you still have more left to store than it is best to grab another bag to put it in. If you do not leave room for your milk to expand, it can cause your bags to bust open which will make your pumped milk not as safe to use.
Being aware of how much you put in your bags can save you a lot of hassle later on.
12 Store Milk In Back Of Fridge/Freezer
According to Parents.com, it is important to keep breast milk in the back of the fridge and/or freezer. It is best to keep it in the back because your milk will be less exposed to the changing temperature of the door opening and closing.
Also, according to VeryWellFamily, the air in the back of the refrigerator is colder than the air in the front. It is best to keep your milk as cold as possible when storing to eliminate the growth of bacteria.
This tip is one of the most important ones when it comes to the storage of breast milk!
11 Warm The Milk Using A Bottle Warmer
When speaking about warming up the breast milk, it is best to safe than sorry. According to WorkingMother, using a bottle warmer, putting the bag/bottle in a bowl of warm water or even running the bag/bottle under running warm water are great ways to warm up refrigerated milk.
So why not use the microwave? When it comes to breast milk, the microwave is a huge no-no. TheHealthSite states that microwaving breast milk can lower the overall immunological and nutritional properties in that liquid gold.
Also, microwaving breast milk can leave patches of hot and cold milk, which can be dangerous for baby.
10 Store Milk In Small Quantities
According to PumpStation, freezing your milk in 2-5 oz portions can help ensure that you will waste less milk, avoid overfeeding, and save time by having your milk thaw quicker.
You can store these small amounts in breast milk bags or buy ice cube trays and pour the milk in there. Or you could keep the milk in the freezer trays, your choice! Once frozen, you can pop them out and put them in a labeled freezer bag.
We love this idea because it is useful in so many ways! This is a great way to save time and make sure that liquid gold doesn’t go to waste.
9 Know How Long It Lasts
According to Kid's Health, your breast milk is good in the back of your refrigerator for up to five days, at between 32-39 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to the freezer, your milk is food for up to six months in the back of the freezer if kept at zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Your milk is good in the freezer compartment inside the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It is crucial to follow these rules so that your milk is safe for your little baby. It is important to understand breast milk storage rules and even write them down if you have to.
8 Store Milk On The Go
If you need to travel outside of the house with breast milk, it is best to get yourself prepared. MotherLove suggests if you are traveling by car to use a cooler bag with some ice packs or a cooler with ice.
If your milk is frozen, it is advised to pack the cooler with dry ice or ice. If you are taking a trip to Target, you can put your refrigerated breast milk in the insulated cooler pocket of your diaper bag with an ice pack.
If you plan on flying with your milk, it is important to know that breast milk can be packed in with your luggage and packed. MotherLove suggests printing out a copy of the TSA regulations and bringing it with you just in case you bump into any issues at the airport.
7 Heat Then Cool For Lipase
According to SDBFC, lipase is an enzyme that breaks down the fats in your milk to help baby digest it. When excess lipase occurs this happens much more quickly and causes your milk to taste soapy or sour after a period of time.
The milk is perfectly safe to drink, but some babies dislike the taste of it.
The good news is if your baby hates the taste of this, there are ways to go about dealing with the issue. According to Pumpables, scalding your milk will kill off the lipase which will help it retain its flavor and smell. Scalding the milk in a saucepan (until 180’ F) then cooling the milk and storing as soon as possible can help with this issue so that baby drinks the pumped milk.
6 Go Crazy With A Sharpie
Since breast milk is only good for a certain period of time, it is crucial to label your milk with the month and day it was pumped. This can help ensure that you do not give baby milk that has gone bad.
When labeling milk, it is a good idea to take note of the time you pumped it.
According to MadeForMums, a mothers breast milk at night contains calming chemicals to help baby sleep and natural stimulants in the morning milk to get baby going. If you pump milk at 10pm, it is best to serve that milk in the evening to your little one instead of in the morning.
5 Once Out Of The Fridge/Freezer
According to VeryWellFamily, there are several rules when it comes to using breastmilk. Freshly pumped milk can stay out at room temperature (at around 77’) for between 5-8 hours.
The goal is to use the milk ASAP so there is no risk of bacteria getting into the milk. When it comes to refrigerated milk, the rule of thumb is that it can stay out at room temp for no longer than four hours.
Frozen breast milk that has been thawed in the refrigerator but not yet warmed up can stay at room temperature for up to four hours. Frozen milk that has been taken directly from the freezer should not be stored or defrosted at room temp.
Frozen milk that has been defrosted and warmed up should be immediately used or put in the fridge.
4 Swirl Milk...Don't Shake
According to BreastFeedingPlace, breast milk is made up of living cells and when you shake the milk it denatures the molecules and breaks the proteins into parts.
When the proteins of the milk stay intact, they protect the lining of your babies’ gut.
It is important to help your baby have good gut health early off in life. After heating up the milk, instead of shaking it, it is suggested that you gently swirl the milk. This helps ensure that the temperature in the milk is even and that the milk is not damaged.
After all of the work that you go to pumping that liquid gold, why ruin it by a simple mistake?
3 Defrost Frozen Milk In Fridge Overnight
According to Medela, frozen breast milk can be defrosted in the fridge in about 12 hours or overnight. Another option is to hold the bag or bottle under warm running water or leave it sit in the bag/bottle in a dish of warm water.
It is a huge no-no to allow frozen breast milk to defrost at room temperature. It is important to note that you cannot thaw or heat frozen breast milk in boiling water or the microwave. Once your milk has been defrosted, it is important to know that you cannot re-freeze the milk again.
2 Use Older Milk First
According to VeryWellFamily, it is important to defrost the oldest container of breast milk first. The same rule goes for using refrigerated milk.
Using the oldest bag in the fridge/freezer ensures that milk does not get wasted by going expired. The goal is for all of the milk to get used, so grabbing the newly pumped bag puts the oldest milk at risk for going bad before being used.
No pumping mama wants to waste that liquid gold! Making sure you label your bags and keep them in order can ensure that you do not run into having to throw away any milk.
1 Only Warm Milk Once
Today’s Parent states that once your baby starts drinking his bottle, bacterial contamination occurs in the milk from his mouth. This means that you should not reheat the milk. We know how terrible it is having to throw away that liquid gold, so it is best to store milk in smaller portions.
One of the last things you want to happen is your milk being contaminated and it affects your precious bundle of joy. If baby doesn’t finish his milk within an hour, it is best to toss it, to be on the safe side. We know how hard this can be, but it is better to be safe than sorry!
References: Ameda, The Health Side, KellyMom, Working Mother, Mama Natural, Parents.com, Made For Mums, KidsHealth.org, Romper, PumpStation, SDBFC.com, Today's Parent, Very Well Family, Pumpables, Mother Love, Medela and BreastfeedingPlace.