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Proper Storage of Breast Milk

Introduction

So you figured you will be having a busy day at the office and you need to save some food for your baby or your husband is taking your baby to a friend’s hangout and you want to pack some food for him to take along in case your baby gets hungry.

Whatever reason you may have for storing breast milk, you want a method that will ensure the milk stays nice and fresh so that your baby can get the most nutrients from the milk, or even worse, the milk doesn’t go bad.

We at Safer Hands Initiative have got you covered, so we have compiled a list of helpful hacks that will help you ensure your milk stays nutritive and safe to consume for your child.

Firstly, ensure you wash your hands with soap and water before you begin pumping or handling breast milk. You may also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands so as to kill off any germs on your hands (chances are they will be there). Germs in your baby’s food will only make it easier for the food to get spoilt. Besides, you don’t want your baby ingesting harmful micro-organisms. So wash your hands.

Next, you want to ensure you are using a proper container to store the baby’s milk. You don’t want to store breast milk in a leaking container, or one that contains previous contents that were not completely washed out. These are likely sources of contamination. Consider using a glass or plastic that is sterile (preferably new or properly washed and dried out). Also, make sure your container has a tight-fitting lid, to prevent stuff in the surrounding (like air and water) from entering and contaminating your baby’s food. A clever rule of thumb is; it takes longer for “cleaner” food to get spoilt.

Storage

After ensuring you have safely stored your breast milk, the next thing is to determine how long you want to store it for.

  • For freshly expressed or freshly pumped breast milk that is going to be consumed within 1 to 4 hours, you can store it in an insulated flask which can be placed in cool and dry room (room temperature is usually around 25oC).
  • If it is not going to be consumed on the same day, you can store it in a refrigerator (about 4oC) for about 4 days.
  • Breast milk that is not going to be fed to your baby for any period longer than 4 days should be stored in the freezer (-18o C) for up to 6 to 12 months.

Ask a professional before feeding your baby breast milk that has:

  • Been kept at room temperature for more than 5 hours.
  • Been in the refrigerator for more than 5 days.
  • Been frozen for more than 6 months.

Other tips:

  • Never refreeze breast milk that has been frozen before and melted.
  • You can use ice packs in a cooler to store the bottled fresh breast milk for up to a day.

Written By Timilehin Alabi

Timilehin Alabi is a content and research writer, a microbiologist, and a volunteer at Safer Hands Initiative. His email contact address is toluwase2alabi@gmail.com

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