The benefits of breastfeeding are literally endless and whether you choose this natural, vital and highly recommended mode of milk delivery completely depends on personal choice. Pumping, storing, and thawing breast milk can be tricky especially for new moms, but this extensive guide will set you on the right track. How to store breast milk will be as easy as drinking water 🙂
First things First – Different Stages of Breast Milk
Just like the name suggests, breast milk can be produced by pregnant and non pregnant women, and is the best source of essential fat, protein, vitamins, carbohydrate, minerals and immune factors that formula just cannot provide.
There are three different types of breast milk, but it may also vary depending on the babys sex.
Furthermore, breast milk can contain several different types of fats and may possess a variety of flavors.
Yellowish or deep golden, creamy in color, colostrum is the first stage of the breast milk that is produced during pregnancy, and lasts for several days after your baby’s birth and before the regular process of lactation begins.
It is considerably thicker than breast milk produced later in the process, and is infused with nutrients, antibodies such as immunoglobulins, fat soluble vitamins and protein.
Often referred to as liquid gold, colostrum is generally created three to four months into pregnancy, and in 50ml to 75ml quantities in the first 48 to 72 hours after birth.
This is just the right amount for your newborn as their stomach at this age is not much bigger than a large marble.
This perfect food for your newborn baby provides the essential passive immunity to protect them a wide variety of bacterial and viral illnesses, and significantly contributes to their overall growth and development.
Rich in sugars and high in cholesterol, colostrum is able to provide a superior level of energy to help your baby's growing body and strengthen their nervous system.
Even if you’ve decided to use formula, it is highly recommended that you breastfeed your child for a few days after birth so that they don’t miss out on the myriad benefits of colostrum.
In some cases however, breastfeeding your baby the right away may not be possible owing to a plethora of reasons including premature birth or difficult delivery.
If you find yourself in this situation, you can express and store colostrum before birth aka antenatal expressing or resort to colostrum milk powder.
Antenatal expressing of colostrum is becoming a highly common practice across the globe so much so that some maternity hospitals even have set protocols regarding this practice.
Generally you can begin antenatal expression at 36 weeks gestation, and only at the rate of three to five minutes and two to three times per day for each breast.
Contrary to popular belief/myths, you can still breastfeed if you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type II diabetes during pregnancy aka gestational diabetes.
But you should speak to your doctor if you use insulin or oral blood glucose-lowering medications in order to understand their safety while breastfeeding.
For mothers who can’t produce colostrum naturally can access milk through donor banks.
These facilities collect excess milk from lactating mothers, process it and provide it to infants in need.
Average Intake of Colostrum
Per 24 hours
Day 1 (0-24 hours)
2-10 mL (<½– 2 tsp)
30 mL (1 oz)
Day 2 (24-48 hours)
5-15 mL (1 tsp – ½ oz)
Day 3 (48-72 hours)
15-30 mL (½– 1 oz)
by Day 7
30-60 mL (1-2 oz)
300-600 mL (10-20 oz)
Weeks 2 & 3
60-90 mL (2-3 oz)
450-750 mL (15-25 oz)
90-120 mL (3-4 oz)
750-1035 mL (25-35 oz)
References: ABM 2009, Mannel et al 2013, Mohrbacher 2010.
Foremilk & Hindmilk
To set things straight, Foremilk and Hindmilk are the same type of milk, but the difference between the two lies in the start or end of a feeding.
As you might have guessed, foremilk refers to the milk produced when the baby begins to feed and is high in volume but low in fat.
Contrariwise, hindmilk is the milk produced near the end of the feeding and is low in volume but high in fat.
The change between these two types of breast milk is very gradual, where the fat content of the milk is generally dependant on the emptiness of the breast, so the less the milk in the breast, the higher the fat content.
Both foremilk and hindmilk occur in the transitional and mature milk stage, which change to meet your growing baby’s needs.
When you hear breastfeeding mothers speaking about their “milk coming in’, they are referring to the onset of transitional milk production.
This second stage of breast milk production is a combination of the first stage of breast milk – colostrum and the third stage – mature milk.
This stage immediately follows colostrum and is produced anywhere between two to five days after birth until ten to two weeks after birth.
However it may take longer for first time mothers, but is generally earlier in women who have had a baby before.
Milk color and texture during the transitional milk stage will be a little thinner than colostrum and white or yellowish in color.
Initially, it will appear creamy and yellow, but as more mature milk is mixed in will result in thinner, whiter and more mature milk.
If you’re wondering how much transitional milk you will make, it varies but is generally 15 – 20 ounces a day until it lasts.
Since transitional milk is a combination of colostrum and mature milk, your baby enjoys all the nutrients and health properties of both.
Although the amount of protein in transitional milk will reduce slightly as it transitions from colostrum to mature milk, the amount of fat, calories and sugars will increase to help your baby gain a few extra pounds that might have been lost during the first few days after birth.
During the transitional phase of breast milk production, your breasts will become larger and firmer due to the greater amount of milk production than colostrum aka known as breast engorgement.
In addition, this fullness may seem uncomfortable initially, and might make it harder for your baby to latch on correctly.
But on a brighter note, your baby will be able to latch in with practice and hopefully with the help of your lactation specialist.
To ease the pain, it is recommended that you express a small amount of milk by hand in order to soften the areola in order to make it easier for your baby to latch.
You can also use cold cabbage leaves, but speak to your doctor if the pain persists.
During the phase of breast engorgement, it is normal to experience a mild fever sometimes referred to as milk fever, which should only last a couple days.
You will feel much more comfortable once your baby has latched on properly and begins to breastfeed steadily.
At this time, you might feel a slightly tingly sensation to let you know that the milk is pushed out of the milk producing cells and into the milk ducts that make it available to your baby.
Mature milk in most women starts to appear close to the end of the two week period after childbirth.
In terms of volume, this milk although more thinner than transitional breast milk, it's similar to skim milk.
This is only until the fat is gradually released in the feeding and it becomes more rich and creamy.
It is usually white in color, but can also be blue tinged or light yellow depending on your diet and surprisingly on the color of foods that you eat.
During this stage, your breasts might feel smaller and softer than they did during the transitional stage.
This is normal and provides just what your baby needs, i.e. in terms of growth, nutrition and development.
90 percent of mature milk is water, and the other 10 percent is comprised of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which are essential for both growth and energy.
The amount of breast milk you make when you completely move from the transitional stage to the mature breast milk stage will be according to your breastfeeding habits and baby’s needs.
But generally, the more you pump your breast milk and breastfeed, the larger quantity of breast milk you will produce.
You will produce an even larger quantity if you’re tandem nursing or breastfeeding twins.
Contrarily, you will produce less mature milk if you do both – formula feed and breastfeed simultaneously because you aren’t pumping enough to maintain your milk supply.
Furthermore, the amount of mature breast milk you create will also vary significantly as your baby grows.
As an example, when your baby is one month old, they may be consuming two to three ounces of mature breast milk during each feeding translating to approximately 24 ounces of breast milk production each day.
This amount will rise as your baby grows so if you’re feeding exclusively when your baby reaches six months old, you will most likely be making thirty six to forty eight ounces of mature milk per day to meet their nutritional needs.
Although the exact elements of mature milk are still unknown, esteemed scientists, researchers and medical professionals claim that it is made up of over 200 components including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.
An important to note about mature milk is that it will continue to change in accordance with your baby.
It may be watery and thin at the beginning of a feeding as turn slightly thick as the fats kick in.
The concentration of nutrients may also be high in the morning compared to the afternoon feeding.
Further, the composition of nutrients in your mature milk will change gradually as your baby grows, but nevertheless is still valuable to your baby.
The stage of mature milk basically lasts until you stop breastfeeding or you become pregnant.
Do Mothers make the same Breastmilk for Boys and Girls?
There are of course several complexities associated with breast milk, but these are one of the reasons why breast milk is the way it is.
Elements in Breastmilk change in line with your baby’s needs and age, but possibly even according to their gender.
Many leading medical professionals in accordance with their research claim that boys produce milk that’s higher in fat and protein, while girls higher in calcium and higher milk volumes.
This will of course depend on your diet, and the types of fat and nutrients consumed will be have some effect to the same nutrients in the breastmilk.
This will also affect the flavor of breastmilk so if you’d like your baby to have the taste of vegetables, it may be a good idea to start practicing that yourself.
You can read more about it here.
What is Weaning And The Right Time?
The word “Weaning” is used to describe the process when your baby stops breastfeeding and gets all his/her food from other sources such as formula from a bottle or mashed fruit from a spoon.
Weaning can also refer to when the baby goes off bottle feeding, but it is more specifically used when a baby stops breastfeeding.
To wean and when totally depends on you, but from a medical perspective it is recommended that you breastfeed for at least one year.
You can also allow your baby wean naturally as they get older aka known as baby-led-weaning.
This interest in baby-led-weaning becomes evident when your child begins to lose interest in nursing.
This can happen anytime when your baby gets used to solid foods approximately around four to six months.
Toddlers generally get more interested in solids as they become active, and some get distracted when nursing.
If you’re ready to get the weaning process started, there are a few things you can do to make the whole process run smoothly.
First, go slowly and try skipping a feeding, and offer a bottle or cup instead.
Reducing feeding gradually will give your child time to adjust, and also diminishes your milk supply without leaving your breasts engorged or causing mastitis.
Next step is to reduce nursing times. This simply means that if you were nursing your baby for approximately ten minutes, cut it down to 5 minutes.
Depending on your baby’s age, you can try adding a snack such as a cup of formula or unsweetened apple sauce to the breastfeeding meal at least until your baby is a year old.
If you have an older child, you can try to postpone feedings, meaning delaying an early evening feeding until bedtime.
To get your baby used to a bottle, try putting a few drops of breastmilk on their tongue or lips before putting the bottle nipple in their mouth.
What about Breast Milk Nutrients?
Even though breast milk is rich in nutrients, it does lack some important ones such as Vitamin D.
If you wean your baby before they turn a year old, you will have to provide these extra nutrients then you can slowly transition to a wider variety of foods once they reach toddler-hood.
If you’ve tried all that you could and even consulted your pediatrician without any success, maybe your baby isn’t ready for the weaning stage.
Best advice at this point is to give it another shot in a month or so because weaning is inevitable.
What is Expressing Breast Milk?
Expressing breast milk is a term that describes the act of rhythmically compressing your breasts so that milk comes out and without your baby sucking.
This milk is then collected into a container for future use, and has several advantages.
Some of the reasons you may want to consider expressing milk include:
- You are going to be away from your baby such when going back to work but still would like them to have breastmilk
- Your breasts are engorged
- Your baby isn’t able to latch on well especially the case with premature babies
- Your partner is going to help with feeding your baby
- You want to boost your milk supply
- You have multiple births and aren’t able to breastfeed more than one baby at a time
- You want to feed your baby breastmilk in pubic without nursing them
How much milk and how often you express completely depends on your goal for expressing.
It may take a while for your milk to start flowing so it’s best to choose a time when your breasts feel fuller such as in the morning.
The way to choose to express breastmilk depends on personal choice, but some women claim it’s easier to express milk by hand than by pump especially in the first few days or weeks after giving birth.
When should I start to Pump my Breasts?
First thing to remember here is breast pumping is not the same as breastfeeding because it requires the use of a pump and not manual action.
In the case that your baby does not nurse postpartum, pumping approximately after six hours is highly recommended in order to maintain constant milk supply.
Some women start pumping right before they're going to begin work or in the event they will be away from their baby for a short period.
Try not to wait until the day you will be away to begin pumping as this might cause frustration in case your body doesn’t respond to the pump.
Furthermore, also consider the fact that it will take some practice and patience for you to produce enough milk and time for your baby to get used to the bottle.
But it is always a good idea to wait a while before introducing a bottle to a baby so that they get the best of breastfeeding and to avoid “nipple confusion”.
While some babies experience this, most transition easily from breastfeeding to a bottle.
How to Pump Breast Milk?
The biggest reason to pump breast milk is for future use and means that you don’t have to be on call when breast milk is required.
Regardless of the method you use, it is best to practice pumping for a few weeks considering that you don’t want any hindrances at the last moment when your baby needs this highly nutritional food the most.
Expressing Milk By Hand
One of the biggest benefits of expressing milk by hand is that it can be done anywhere and does not require the use of a pump or battery power.
It also allows you to target specific areas of the breast such as those that might initiate mastitis.
However, it is a skill that does require some practice so it is best to first master breastfeeding before attempting expressing milk with hand.
Now that you’re ready to get started, here’s the entire process of expressing milk by hand in detail.
Wash your hands thoroughly and get a container to collect the breastmilk. Make sure that is cleaned thoroughly as well.
Next, massage your breast with long firm strokes towards the nipple.
Also known as milk ejection reflex, the let down reflex is when you stimulate the muscle cells in your breasts to squeeze out the milk. You do this my manipulating the areola.
When you feel your milk about to come out, place your thumb on the upper side of your breast and the rest of your fingers under your breast.
Your fingers should be placed at the edge of the areola.
Press your fingers towards your chest wall, and then press them together.
The milk might not flow out right away, but after a few compressions it will start to squirt.
Continue by pressing your fingers against the chest wall as long as the milk continues to flow.
It is important to move your fingers around your breasts during hand expression.
Once you get enough practice, you could express both breasts simultaneously.
Lastly, empty the breast milk into a container.
Expressing Breast Milk by Manual Pump
There are two types of breast milk pumps available and even though both feature the same concept of expressing breast milk, one might be more convenient to use than the other.
These pumps are a great choice when you want to continue breastfeeding, but also want to express milk simultaneously.
Many moms claim that manual pumps aka hand operated pumps are easier to use when your breasts are full and are convenient enough to be used with one hand.
I have also listed a few great breast pumps, mostly appointed with flanges that go right over your breasts and areola for drainage directly into a cup.
How to express with a manual pump
A manual pump is made up of three parts. This is the horn aka flange. You want to make sure it is big enough to fit your nipple without touching the sides. If your nipples are fairly big a 27m flange is a good choice.
Before you pump, wash your hands well with soap and water.
To begin pumping, grasp the handle with your thumb in front.
Next, center your nipple in the breast flange.
Be sure to hold the flange to your breast to make an air seal.
Start squeezing the handle and is recommended that you begin pumping with fast yet gentle squeezes.
You can massage your breasts simultaneously if you’d like to accelerate milk flow.
It is a good idea to switch breasts every 5-7 minutes.
When you have finished pumping, simply remove the pump from your breasts.
Detach the collection bottle, and store breast milk appropriately and wash the breast pump thoroughly.
Best Manual Breast Pumps
1. Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump – This breast pump is a top seller across the board and for several good reasons.
It boasts a lightweight design and is discreet and portable and 2 phase expression technology to make it easier to pump breast milk.
The pump is appointed with a soft touch ergonomic swivel handle that makes manual pumping a joy.
All parts of the pump are BPA free, making it extremely safe to use for your baby.
The package of the Medela Harmony Breast Pump includes 2 membranes, 1 cap, 1 nipple with collar, 1 bottle stand, 2-5 ounce bottles with lids and 1 manual pump.
2. Silicone Breast Pump – This pump allows you to never waste a drop of your precious breastmilk.
It boasts an eco-friendly design, and is crafted of food grade silicone and is PVC, BPA and phthalate free.
Its light and compact design makes it a perfect mate for the road, and the package even includes a bonus lid for convenient storage of milk in your refrigerator.
3. Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump – Brought to you by one of the biggest names in the kids arena, this manual breast pump by Phillips offers superior comfort when pumping owing to its unique design.
It is compatible with other Phillips feeding products such as Classic and Natural bottles and even breast milk storage containers.
Boasting a lightweight and compact footprint, the Avent Comfort breast pump is super easy to hold and position on your breast.
4. Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump – This breast pump by Lansinoh stands out from other breast pumps in its segment for several reasons.
For starters, it is fitted with an ergonomic wave nipple, and an easy to express handle to reduce fatigue when expressing milk.
Next, this pump features two modes for expression and stimulation resulting in more milk in less time.
It is compatible with several other Lansinoh pumps and the package includes samples of the breast milk storage bag.
5. Freemie Equality Double Manual Concealable Breast Pump – This manual breast pump by Freemie showcases high quality standards and is a pleasure to use.
The package includes a set of cups that are compatible with most popular electric pumps.
So, what's the best manual breast pump? read more here...
Expressing Milk with Electric Pump
An electric breast pump is convenient to use and is generally powered by batteries or via an electric outlet or both.
Owing to the convenience they provide, they are more expensive that manual pumps and are great if you want to express milk for a baby in special care.
I have recommended a few great electric breast pumps that boast a compact design and can be operated by one hand.
How to express with an electric pump
Breast pump generally comes in two parts.
Place the flange in the right spot and one you’re comfortable with.
Make the necessary adjustments on the base unit such that rhythm and speed.
Switch the machine on and it will start to simulate and express milk.
Some pumps allow you to express directly into a bottle to avoid spillage.
Store the excess breast milk in the bottle itself with the leak proof lid.
Best Electric Breast Pumps
1. Spectra Baby Rechargeable Breast Pump – Tipping the scales at just 3.3 lbs, the Spectra Baby single breast pump is a hospital grade pump that comes with a rechargeable battery.
This closed system is sage for you and your baby, and is appointed with a night light and timer, and is extremely powerful yet adjustable.
The digital programs of this pump allow you to set the speed up rhythm and speed that is most suitable for your body.
The pump starts off in massage mode and switches back and forth as needed.
It can be used with the integrated battery or plugged into an electrical outlet.
2. Medela Pump Advanced Breast Pump – Designed for daily use, this double electric breast pump is outfitted with bottle holders to help prevent spills.
It is specifically designed for those moms who wish to express breast milk several times a day.
Powered by 8 AA batteries (not included), this pump can be used anywhere on the go, making it a great choice for both home and office environments.
3. BelleMa Effective Pro Double Electric Breast Pump – This electric breast milk pump features right left and dual operations and comes complete with independent controls.
Adding to this, it features 2 phase pumping expression and stimulation, and nine adjustable vacuum power up to 240 mmHg.
FDA approved and BPA free, the BelleMa breast pump is outfitted with soft silicone cushions for comfortable and gentle massage pumping and double pumping abilities.
4. Philips AVENT Single Electric Comfort Breast Pump – This pump offers one of the most comfortable pumping actions owing to its unique design.
It is fitted with a soft and warm stimulation cushion that helps comfortably stimulate breast milk flow.
Easy to use, transport, lightweight and compact, the Advent electric breast pump by Phillips is made entirely of BPA free material, and offers you a choice of 3 expression settings (low, medium and high) designed to smoothly stimulate milk flow.
5. KidsTime Electric Breast Pump – Made of food grade PP material and BPA free, this electric breast pump boasts quite operation, and is designed in line with US and European standards.
If you’re looking for an electric breast pump that does the job well albeit at an inexpensive price, the KidsTime electric breast pump is worth exploring.
Storage - Where should I Store it?
The answer to this really depends on how fast you’re going to be using your breastmilk.
You can store it in clean bottles in the fridge for up to 8 days, and for up to 2 weeks in a freezer compartment in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and 3-6 months in a self contained freezer.
Take note that some of the white blood cells in breastmilk are destroyed when freezing so refrigerating the milk if you’re going to be using it within 8 days makes sense.
You can also make breast milk cubes by simply placing your milk in clean ice cube trays.
Each cube measures an ounce when fully formed, which is great if you’d like to have smaller amounts on hand for that extra feeding if your baby finishes their regular feeding but is still hungry.
Also note that frozen milk does tend to expand so do not overfill the breast milk bags or bottles but rather allow room for this expansion.
- For up to 24 hours in a cool box with ice packs
- At room temperature for up to 6 hours (no more than 25 degrees Celsius)
- In a fridge for up to five days (at 4 degrees Celsius or colder). Keep it at the back of the fridge and away from eggs, meats or uncooked foods.
If you’re going to be travelling or just want a dedicated fridge to store breast milk, the inexpensive Gourmia GMF-600 fridge cooler is a great choice.
Available in three colors (blue, red and white), the Gourmia portable breast milk cooler is powered by a solid state thermoelectric cooling system and can hold up to four 500ML bottles.
Compact at just 11" x 7-1/4" x 10”, this 4 liter fridge is appointed with a removable shelf and a recessed self locking door handle, and plugs in easily into your home outlet or car cigarette lighter when you’re on the road.
- In the freezer compartment of your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- In a dedicated home freezer for up to 6 months (at minus 18 degrees Celsius or lower).
- Lastly, be sure to seal the containers tightly, and tag the bottle or bag with the date you expressed the breast milk.
Breast Milk Storage Guidelines
Expressed Milk (Fresh)
Ice Packs/Insulated cooler
Refrigerator (fresh milk)
Refrigerator (thawed milk)
Frozen Milk (Do not refreeze!)
Freezer inside refrigerator
Self-contained freezer unit of a refrigerator/freezer
Separate deep freezer
Types of Storing Solutions
When it comes to storage options for breastmilk, it boils down to two choices – bags and containers.
While each solution has its pros and cons, do not choose disposable containers or bags that are designed for household use.
Apart from breastmilk bags and bottles, you can also store expressed milk in an all in one system that allows you to pump, store and feed all from the same container.
In order to help you decide which storage option is right for you, I’ve highlighted the pros and cons of each system below, and even suggested a few great bags, bottles and all in one systems available.
Breast Milk Storage Bags
While they may look considerably similar to traditional Ziploc bags, bags designed to hold breast milk are significantly different for several reasons.
First, they are BPA free, thicker and freezer friendly. Furthermore, they can withstand warm to nearly hot temperatures, making them perfect for thawing and warming breastmilk.
One of the biggest benefits of breastmilk bags compared to bottles is obviously their space saving design, making them a great choice for stockpiling purposes.
They can be placed flat on top of each other for optimal space inside your freezer.
Compared to breastmilk storage bottles, they feature a thin design hence are easier to thaw so you don’t have to wait to thaw overnight in a chiller first.
Just like most baby items, bottles need to be sterilized before each use, but this isn’t the case with bags given they are disposable so the trash is where they would after each use.
When storing breastmilk, it is highly important that you label the container or bag appropriately with the date you expressed the milk.
Most if not all breast milk storage bags have a dedicated space for labels, allowing you to easily manage your breastmilk usage.
But just like most other things, breast milk bags aren’t perfect! Given that they are disposable, you will have to continue to buy them as long as you express and store breast milk.
One aspect with most bags especially cheap quality is that they are prone to leaks usually through the seam or top zipper.
Breastmilk bags are designed specifically to protect the anti-reflective qualities and nutrients of human milk, which is why they are a tad bit thicker than commonly sold bottle liners.
Sometimes pouring milk form a disposable breastmilk bag into a feeding bottle might be challenging, resulting in wastage of precious drops of nourishment.
And this may be a hard one to swallow if you’re a mom with limited milk supply.
Top 5 Breastmilk Storage Bags
1. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags – One of the best and for a myriad reasons is the Lansinoh breast milk storage bag.
These bags lay flat in the freezer, and are a great choice if you place your breast milk in a shared freezer along with other frozen foods.
Their slim design allows for 10 bags to be stored in one take away container, translating to 60 ounces of milk in a small space.
In order to maximize space, it is best to remove as much air as possible from the bag prior to freezing and laying them flat so the milk will fill the bag evenly.
Lansinoh breast milk bags are fitted with a double zipper resulting in minimal amount of leaking during thawing.
Although they are designed to hold up to 6 ounces of breast milk, some moms claim to have filled them with up to 7 ounces.
Considering that my baby is not a heavy drinker, I prefer to go light with up to 4 ounces of breast milk per bag.
Most breast milk bags I’ve used claim to be self standing, but the Lansinoh bags are among the ones that actually live up to the task.
This allows you to store the bags in your fridge or freezer without having to use a tall glass and worrying about spills.
With their easy to pour design, you can transfer milk easily and efficiently from the Lansinoh breast milk bags to a feeding bottle, while minimizing spillage.
Given these bags are extremely thin, and another great feature is these bags arrive in a tissue-style dispenser so you only pull out one at a time.
And lastly, these bags are extremely inexpensive and easily available so there’s no reason not to use them.
2. Kiinde Breast Milk Storage Twist Pouch – This is basically an all-in-one system that really makes it getting your baby that pumped liquid gold a whole lot easier.
It is fitted with a single yet disposable screw top pouch to chill or freeze, pump into, and even heat and feed the baby with a well designed silicone nipple.
There’s no hassle of transferring milk between bag and bottle such as dribbles, drips or spills along the way.
All the bags attach to all major brands of breast pumps through adaptors (sold separately), and are secured by screw on lids.
PVC and BPA free, the Kiinde pouches are disposable and recyclable, and all you need to do is wash the nipples at the end of the day.
Crafted of dual material and boasting robust construction, these pouches provide superior protection for your breastmilk, and can be ordered in several pouch quantities and capacities.
3. NUK Seal N Go Breast Milk Bags - There’s a lot to love about the NUK Seal N Go breast milk bags, specifically that they are 100 percent leak proof guaranteed.
In addition, they feature gravity-fed pour spouts that literally eliminate spills during transfers.
This is all topped off by a dual zipper seal for superior security and a tamper evident top.
In all honestly, I’ve tested over a 100 of these bags, and one did leak during thawing.
But this might also have occurred due to overfilling the bag.
So although the capacity of these bags is 4 ounces, its best to fill them only with 3 ounces worth of breast milk.
4. Medela Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags – Brought to you by one of the biggest names in the childcare arena, this set of Medela breast milk bags have a capacity of 5 ounces each and are compatible with all Medela breast pumps.
They boast an easy to close zipper top design, and are leak and spill proof.
BPA free, these Medela bags feature a protective oxygen barrier that makes them perfect for the fridge or freezer.
5. Philips AVENT Breast Milk Storage Bags – BPA free, leak proof and fitted with a dual zipper, the Phillips AVENT breast milk storage bags are completely hygienic and arrive pre-sterilized and with a tamper evident seal.
These self standing bags are easy to use, and feature a wide opening for easy filling and pouring.
If you’re looking for breast milk bags that are extremely durable and at a great price, the Phillips AVENT are the ones to buy.
Breast Milk Storage Bottles
Unlike breast milk bags, bottles are bulkier and as such do take up a significant amount of space in your fridge or freezer if not organized properly.
But their notable feature is that they are reusable and high quality. Breastmilk bottles when properly maintained will last you for several babies.
Breast milk bottles can be had in two types – plastic and glass and the one you use completely depends on personal preference.
Plastic bottles are lightweight and ones made of glass are bit heavier.
Glass bottles are also prone to breakage and take longer to thaw than their plastic counterparts.
On a brighter note, glass bottles generally last for years to come so they are a good option if you plan on having more babies.
Top Breastfeeding Bottles
1. Medela Breast Milk Collection and Storage Bottles – This set of 6 breastfeeding bottles are crafted of safe plastic and without the use of BPA.
Next, they are compatible with all Medela and Calma breast pumps so you can pump directly without any spillage.
They work great for the freezer or fridge, are dishwasher and microwave safe and come with screw on lids for leak proof travel, storage and freezing.
2. Ameda Breast Milk Storage Bottles – These breast milk bottles make it easy to pump and store milk, and can be used for the freezer or refrigerator.
With a capacity of 4.4 ounces, the Ameda bottles are made of Polypropylene and are BPA free and are fitted with lock tight sealing lids.
The package includes a 1Month+ Slow Flow nipple and is recommended by millions of moms across the globe.
4. Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bottles – Designed to be used in the freezer or fridge and made of BPA and BPS free top notch plastic, this set of 4 Lansinoh bottles are perfect for longer safer breast milk storage.
They work great with Lansinoh breast milk pumps, which offers two modes namely stimulation and expression and comes with two comfort flanges for a great fit.
How to Freeze and Unfreeze Breast Milk?
There are several ways to freeze and unfreeze breast milk, but this is what works best for me.
Freezing Breast Milk
1. After you’ve finished pumping, immediately pour your breastmilk into plastic bags or clean bottles. Don’t forget to leave some room at the top in lieu that breast milk expands.
2. Great tip is to store your breast milk in smaller portions so that it freezes and thaws faster.
3. Label each container or bottle with the date, and take note that breast milk can be frozen for four to six months.
4. Don’t remove the breastmilk until you’re ready to feed it to your baby.
Unfreezing Breast Milk
When thawing breastmilk, there are a few general guidelines to remember.
1. You should try and use your oldest milk first unless freshly expressed milk is recommended.
2. Sometimes you will notice your milk separate into layers while in storage as the cream or fat tends to rise to the top just like cow’s milk so don’t be alarmed.
3. Refrain from thawing in the microwave or very hot water as this might decrease the health properties of the milk or cause hot spots that may burn your baby’s mouth.
4. Your breastmilk at times might smell soapy after being frozen and thawed, but this doesn’t mean that the milk has gone bad.
This foul smell is generally the result of the breakdown of milk fats during the freezing process or lipase activity when the milk is frozen.
Most babies will drink it right away, but if they balk from the taste, heat the milk to scalding i.e. bubbles around the edges not boiling immediately after expression, then quickly cool and freeze it.
This will get rid of the lipase enzyme and consequently the taste and still makes a great choice compared to formula.
5. Do not refreeze your breastmilk after thawing, and use it within 24 hour after thawing.
Thawing Breast Milk
1. Place the frozen milk in the fridge the night before you’re going to use it. Thawing this way will take approximately 24 hours.
2. For quick thawing of breastmilk, run the bottle or bag under warm water or place it in a bowl of cold water until the milk is defrosted.
Cleaning Breast Milk Bottles
Breastmilk is rich in nutrients and much more than regular milk and as such may leave behind stubborn residue.
Although all components of breastfeeding bottles can be washed in a dishwasher, it is best to place the bottles and lids in boiling water for roughly 10 minutes prior to first use.
Additionally, use a breastmilk removal soap such as Medela Quick Clean remove residue up to 3 days old.
Clinically tested, this soap is safe and hypoallergenic and does not have any added fragrance or taste.
How long does Breast Milk stay fresh?
If your baby doesn’t consume a full bottle of expressed milk that has not been heated, it is still good for 24 hours if you put it in the fridge right away or for 4 hours at room temperature.
Contrariwise, if it has been heated, it can be refrigerated for up to 30 minutes or for 2 hours at room temperature and offered again, but discarded after that.
You can keep breast milk fresh for even longer if you refrigerate it for three to five days and then freeze it.
How long can Refrigerated Breast Milk sit out?
This completely depends on how and where you store it. Normally, it stays fresh for three to four hours under normal room temperature.
But breastmilk that has some bacteria content can last up to eight hours in cooler room temperatures.
How to warm Refrigerated Breast Milk?
There are several ways to warm breastmilk, and regardless of the steps you use, it is important that you do not overheat the milk for your child to accept it or for it to lose its beneficial properties.
First Method – Transfer from Freezer to Refrigerator
1. Simply place the frozen milk you wish to thaw near the front of the refrigerator as it is slightly warmer than the rear.
2. Allow it to thaw overnight or roughly eight hours to thaw completely.
3. To check whether the milk is thawed, use a spoon or stirrer and run it though the milk and feel for any frozen chunks.
If you do find any frozen chunks, you can either thaw it in the refrigerator for another couple hours or if you need milk quickly place under cool to lukewarm water.
Second Method – Running Water
1. If you’re thawing breast milk right from a frozen state, hold the container of breastmilk under cool running water.
The amount of time the breastmilk will take to thaw using this method depends on if you’re milk is frozen in bags or bottles.
2. Start by using water slightly cooler than room temperature, then gradually switch to lukewarm or hot water.
3. Use cold water only until most of the breastmilk has thawed.
4. If the breastmilk was stored in the refrigerator to begin with or if it was thawed in the refrigerator, do not microwave it, instead run it under warm water.
Third Method – Warm Water Bath
1. Grab a medium saucepan and fill it with half way with water.
2. Next, heat it on the stove until it begins to steam, but before it reaches a boiling point.
3. Place the breastmilk bag or bottle inside the container and swirl it around or place it in there.
4. Warming breastmilk from a thawed state with this method should only take a few minutes, but double that if it’s from a frozen state.
Fourth Method – Bottle Warmers
Perhaps the most efficient and innovative method to be conceived yet, bottle warmers allow you to heat your bottle over the right and constant temperature setting.
Fact it that uniform heating with the first three methods is impossible, and not to mention precious amount of time spent.
Breastmilk bottle warmers are not only a time saver in this regard, but also are great companions while travelling.
Without further ado, here are some top breastmilk bottle warmers.
1. Kiinde Kozii – For safe and easier warming and according to CDC and USDA guidance, the Kiinde Kozii bottle warmer does the job well.
It comes with an auto shutoff features that shuts down the device automatically once the desired temperature is reached.
It is appointed with an easy to use interface complete with an easy to use timer, and can safely heat formula, breastmilk, storage bags and breastfeeding bottles.
2. Chicco NaturalFit – If you’re looking for a bottle warmer albeit at the best price and one that does what it’s supposed to do, the Chicco NaturalFit makes a great choice.
It comes with an auto shutoff features and is good for both bottles and baby food jars. Fast, safe and simple to use, the Chicco NaturalFit weighs less than 4 lbs, making it highly portable.
3. Philips AVENT Fast – Brought to you by one of the leading names in the childcare arena, the Avent Fast by Phillips does just that i.e. gently and evenly heats up bottles and bags with no hot spots.
Boating a compact design, it is able to heat 4 ounces of milk in less than 3 minutes and features a defrost setting to thaw breast milk and baby food.
4. Dr. Brown's Bottle Warmer – Made of safe plastic, this bottle warmer is able to heat several bottles and bags before the steam chamber needs to be replenished with water.
It is appointed with an LCD panel, and shuts down automatically after 10 minutes of inactivity.
Furthermore, you can set the desired temperature level, and be alerted with an alarm once it is reached.
5. Born Free Tru-Temp – This bottle warmer is compatible with several bottles including Avent Classic, Avent Natural, Chicco, Medela and Joovy.
It is outfitted with a dial, which allows you to dial in the size of the bottle and automatically calculate the warming time.
Adding to this, the Born Free Tru-Temp features auto shutoff, and is able to warm a 5 ounce bottle in less than three minutes and four to six minutes for a 9 ounce bottle.
Breast Milk Storage: Do's and Don'ts
- Include the first and last name and when the milk was expressed to the label of the bag or container. Adding the estimated number of ounces is a big plus.
- Fill bags or containers only under their recommended level or maybe a little less especially if you’re going to be freezing milk.
- Store bags as flat as possible in your freezer. For best organization, place the plastic breastmilk bags in the storage box in your freezer.
- Remove any excess air before sealing the bags.
- Use a permanent marker to mark the storage bags.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly and the tools you use such as breast pumps
- Never reheat breastmilk in microwave.
- Avoid overfilling the storage bag
- Don’t forget to double check the labels
- If milk doesn’t smell good and doesn’t look right, do not feed it to your baby.
- Avoid refreezing breast milk but you can only if its partially thawed and is still slushy or has ice crystals in it,
Returning to Work and Pumping
When you’re a nursing mom, leaving your little one and returning to work is hard and truly unfortunate.
Although most breastfeeding moms begin the process of weaning before they return to work, there are several moms who choose to nurse much after they enter the workspace.
The biggest reason for this is that moms knowing the myriad benefits of breastmilk don’t want their baby to miss out on a single drop.
If you’re one of the many moms who’d like to have your child enjoy breast milk even when you’re away at work, here are a few tips that will make it a smooth process.
- Buy the best breastmilk pump
- Select the best place to pump
- Hire a great childcare provider
- Arrange breaks at regular intervals
- Establish a good milk supply
It is best to purchase or rent a breastmilk pump three weeks prior to returning to work. Reason being so that you can pump and store breast milk to have on hand when you’re away.
This will also get you acquainted with maintaining your pump, and determine how much time it takes for you to express milk.
In addition, expressing your milk beforehand will reduce the simulation time you get when you’re away from your baby.
Most mothers’ milk supply will reduce slightly at this point due to the stress involved with leaving your baby.
Some suggestions on how to make the transition include:
Keep a Stash – You will feel much better knowing that you have saved breastmilk ready to go when your baby needs it.
This doesn’t mean that you need to have enormous supply, but just enough for a few feedings.
The best practice to achieve this is to pump for an extra 5 minutes after a feeding or pump with your other breast into when your baby is breastfeeding.
Store these feedings in small portions and remember your breasts tend to be fuller in the mornings.
Approximately 20 ounces is the supply you should aim to store especially if you don’t want your child to have formula or they are simply allergic to it.
Hiring a Childcare Provider – Even with the best resources at your fingertips and the surplus of help available, this task is far from easy. Leaving your baby with someone you know will be less stressful than someone you really don’t.
Best candidates for this job include family members such as grandparents or dad, and if this isn’t an option, an ideal person would be a reputable nanny.
The person you choose should support your views on breastfeeding, and it’s even better if that person can babysit at your home.
Putting your baby in a daycare center wouldn’t be the best option considering they need all the care and attention they can get.
But if you do have to go that route, look for a daycare center that is experienced in providing childcare to babies and one that has top notch ratings.
Also you should feel comfortable knowing that breastfeeding does protect your baby from some of the nastiest airborne germs that are generally spread via day care centers.
Test the Waters – When you’ve got the right help and decided on the best place to pump, it’s time to ensure everything it running smoothly.
There are several questions you will need affirmative answers to including if you have access to an electric outlet for your breast pump and refrigerator to store your milk among others.
While you’re at home, you should allow your caregiver to feed your baby so that they get acquainted with them and vice versa.
How often to Pump when you’re at Work?
This truly will depend on several factors. You generally have two options to choose from – whether you will be pumping milk for the baby to be used the very next day or looking to combine breastfeeding and formula.
If your baby is happy with formula or if your schedule at work doesn’t allow you to pump enough milk, combining formula with breastmilk is a viable option.
However, if you’d like your child to feed exclusively on breastmilk, then ideally you should express milk for as long as he or she is breastfeeding.
For example, if your baby is 8 weeks old and is nursing every 3-4 hours, then expressing breast milk for 3-4 hours makes sense.
But if you return to work when your baby is approximately 6 months old and eating formula and solid foods and going 4-5 hours between feedings, pumping every 4 hours is ideal.
Optimal Scheduling Tips
- Set your alarm at least half hour early – nurse your baby even if they are half asleep.
- Don’t skimp on breakfast even if you’re extremely busy. Even if it’s a bagel with cream cheese and try to include a nutritious drink like juice or milk.
- Try to nurse again before you leave for work.
- Pump mid-morning and again at lunchtime if possible.
- Make it a habit to nurse as soon as you pick up your baby.
- Eat a nutritious dinner and nurse frequently during the night.
Breastmilk is filled with a plethora of essential nutrients to help your child grow. But in order to preserve these nutrients, it is important that you store it appropriately.
I have highlighted all there is to know about the best storage options available and also included tips on how to breastfeed when you return to work so that your baby doesn’t miss out on a single drop of precious liquid.
3. Benefits of Breastfeeding