Breastfeeding Journey: Breastmilk Storage

I'm a working mum. And I breastfeed my Skye exclusively. 3months and counting. (Update: We reached the 3-year milestone)

One of the many questions I always get is how I store my breastmilk for ze bebe. Of course, most people are wondering how I was able to preserve my milk and keep it safe for my bebe's consumption.

I do follow this rule:

This one is specific for Philippine weather. :) I am glad that Filipino experts created this for us Pinay moms. Of course, we have hotter and more humid weather thus affecting the breastmilk's life span. This infographic is a great guide and this is what I follow.

Anyway, allow me to share with you my practice and some tips:

1. I pump every 3 hours at work. I use a hospital grade double electric breastpump for faster pumping and better output. Usually, I'd get 3-5oz of milk per pumping session. My pump is compatible with the universal bottleneck size so no need to use collecting bottles. I directly attach the storage bottles to my pump and I'm good to go.

2. The best place for me to store my milk at the office is at the freezer of our 2 door refrigerator at the pantry. My office has a nursing room called the Diana Room but it's on a different floor. I find it inconvenient for me to go there just to pump so I use our company's clinic to collect the milk and store my milk at the pantry. And since I put the milk at the freezer, I usually bring home frozen milk. (Update: Our office provided a personal ref for us pumping mums so I no longer store my milk on the freezer and don't bring home frozen milk anymore.)

3. I have a cooler bag that I got from BabyMama. I use it for transporting the milk. Of course I have 3 ice packs to keep everything cool. (Update: I recently discovered that you can get cheap insulated bags on Japan Home and SM Department Store. I got a smaller insulated bag from Japan Home for Php 88.)

4. Once home, I'd put the frozen milk on the freezer (usually these are the milk I collect in the morning) and the non frozen ones (usually those I collect in the afternoon and early evening) I put in the refrigerator for next day consumption. We have a 2 door ref that I specifically bought for breastmilk storage.

5. I make her consume the milk on the refrigerator first. If those are not enough for her next day consumption (she usually consumes 11oz – update: now 20 oz!) I'd bring down the oldest latest bottle from the freezer to thaw overnight so the people at home won’t have a hard time thawing frozen milk while pacifying a hungry infant. Note that I usually leave around 15oz (update: now 22oz) milk at the refrigerator just to be sure. I'd arrange my storage bottles in the ref so that the people in the house would know what to give her first. Usually, I'd prioritize the thawed milk because they must be consumed within 24hrs after its totally thawed. Unless I have aging milk in the ref (4 day olds). Aging milk (5 day olds) are transferred to the freezer. Milk in the freezer are my emergency milk. I want my daughter to consume fresh milk all the time so we make her consume the latest milk always. I do all the inventory and I make sure that the milk on the ref are properly labelled so the people here at home won't have a hard time in getting the milk. I just usually number the bottles (1,2, etc) so they'd just get the bottles according to the numbers.

6. Some mummies prefer to use breast milk storage bags. Its good actually. Easier to store and less hassle because you throw it away after each use. But that's actually my issue. Its not reusable. Meaning, it'll cost me money. So I use storage bottles. I invest in them. I was supposed to get the Avent storage set but I was able to find a cheaper alternative. That I'll share with you on a different blog post. Anyway, storage bottles are good. If your baby is not "nipple sensitive", meaning she'd feed on a regular bottle and nipple then it's easier because all you have to do is attach nipples on the storage bottles. But my Skye uses Avent Natural feeding bottles, so we need to transfer the milk from the storage bottle to her feeding bottle. It means more bottles to clean but hey! Atleast I get to reuse them.:)

7. I make sure I label my milk. I use a masking tape and a typical pentelpen in labelling. I put the date and time of collection. And I attach the label on top of the bottles so I could easily read it. Sometimes I'd re-label especially the ones on the ref (the ones that must be consumed immediately). I'd put numbers on them so they'd know which to get first especially if we don't have to follow FIFO.

8. I also have a breast milk inventory. I use my iPad app called First Years for my inventory. I know how much milk I have left and how old they are. Convenient. (Update: Not doing this anymore, it is important though that you do this for a couple of months just so you could monitor how much you are producing and how much the baby is consuming. But once everybody in the house get the hang of it, okay na to relax.)

9. I do taste my milk. If I am not sure on the freshness of the milk, I taste them. But if the people at home are doubtful of the milk and they don't want to taste it, I don't feed it to my child. I tasted my fresh milk so I would know the difference. If I tasted something not right, even if its not sour, I dispose the milk. As a mother, it's always better to be safe than sorry. I know that its liquid gold and we had so much difficulties collecting them but if doubtful, do not give it.

10. I put 2-3oz of milk per bottle and store them. So that 1 bottle is enough for a feeding. Coz once the milk is out and transferred to the feeding bottle, the life span is only 4-6hours. If there are loads of milk left, we put it on a glass of water to keep it cool and extend the life span to 6hrs. If not, if the milk is just on the bed or the tabletop, it’s 4hours max else we don’t give it to the baby.

So there you go. My very own practice. So far so good. Me and baby are both happy. Even the people at home seem to get the hang of it. :) So we’re ebf strong at 3months. And I hope it’ll continue until she self-weans.

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