When it comes to feeding the newborn, all mothers know that breast milk is the best bet. Of course, if for some reason you are unable to breastfeed, you can always rely on formula. While formula comes with standard detailed instructions for usage and storing, the same cannot be said when it comes to storing breast milk. In fact, there are hardly any specific or standard rules that are followed for breast milk storage. Therefore, we bring you 9 wrong ways of storing breast milk that can prove harmful to your baby:
1. Using Bottles That Might Be Contaminated
Use only BPA-free bottles, glass bottles, and breast milk bags specially designed for this purpose to store your breast milk. Apart from using the right kind of container, it is equally important to ensure it is always clean. A wet or dirty bottle will easily get contaminated. So, wash the bottle properly in soapy warm water after every use and dry it in a clean area. Store these clean and fresh bottles in a dust-free, dry area, away from insect encroachments. Make sure that you rinse the clean bottle once again in sterile water just before storing the milk in it.
2. Over-Freezing The Breast Milk
Your breast milk keeps naturally changing in consistency and nutrients to suit the needs of your growing baby. So, if you freeze the milk for too long and later feed it to your baby, he/she would probably have different nutritional requirements by then (1). Thus, defeating the purpose of breastfeeding altogether, which is to provide nutrition.
3. Refrigerating For Too Long
When you freshly pump the breast milk and store it in the refrigerator, it remains unspoiled for 8 days. Anything longer than that makes it unsafe for consumption. The ideal way is to feed breast milk as early as possible. There is a greater loss of vitamin C in the breast milk when it stays in the refrigerator or freezer for a longer duration (2).
4. Using Regular Ice Cube Trays
Do not make the mistake of using regular ice cube trays to freeze the breast milk as the plastic used to make these trays is potentially harmful. Use breast milk freezing bags and bottles instead.
5. Improper Use Of Freezing Bags
Milk generally expands when frozen. So, avoid filling the breast milk freezing bags to the brim as they may explode after freezing. And, do not use the regular freezing bags. Use only specially-designed, BPA-free breast milk freezing bags as they are safe.
6. Incorrect Ways Of Storage
Once you have collected your milk in the storage bags, make sure that you store them away from other food items and sharp edges of the freezer. The sharp edges might puncture the bags, exposing them to contamination. Placing the milk bags over raw food, like meat, can result in some of the bacteria from the meat transferring to the exterior of the bag. If the raw meat is placed above the bags, some amount of blood might also seep in.
7. Reusing The Remaining Milk
If your baby doesn’t finish the breast milk entirely, then do not store it back in the fridge or freezer. Just throw it out to be on the safer side. Do not try to re-use it as the remaining milk might easily attract bacteria.
While using the frozen milk, make sure that you start with the oldest one first. Try to label the storage bags with the date when it was expressed to keep a track of the duration.
8. Mixing Fresh Milk With Frozen Milk
Never mix freshly expressed, warm breast milk to already frozen milk. By doing so, you’ll end up partially thawing some of the frozen milk, resulting in improper mixing of the milk. Make sure you thaw the milk completely before adding fresh breast milk to it.
9. Improper Way Of Thawing
Do not try to heat or microwave the breast milk to thaw it immediately. Rapid heating can also affect the antibodies in the breast milk. The right way to thaw the frozen breast milk is to place it in a warm water bowl or under warm running water to gently thaw it (3). You can also move it from the freezer to the refrigerator the previous night so that it can be used the next day.
Your breast milk is important for proper nutrition and development of your little angel. So, make sure you follow these guidelines and store it the right way to help your baby reap its health benefits. Good luck!