Breast Milk Storage and Handling

As moms begin to pump, it's important to know how long their breast milk can stay fresh and reusable. How long will breast milk stay fresh in the fridge or freezer? Can you reuse breast milk that's already been poured into a bottle? Plus, the real story on shaking versus swirling your breast milk when heating it back up.

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Episode Transcript

The Boob Group
Breast Milk Storage and Handling


Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription

[Theme Music]

ROBIN KAPLAN: As moms we get to pump for when we go back to work or just a sneak out alone to get a haircut. It is important to know how long breast milk stays fresh and reusable. How long can you save breast milk and what are the best ways to store it? Can leftover milk be safe to use at another time?

Today, I’m thrilled to introduce our expert Michelle Million, a RN, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in San Diego California. Today, we are talking about Breast Milk Storage and Handling. This is The Boob Group Episode 71.

[Theme Music/Intro]

ROBIN KAPLAN: Welcome to The Boob Group broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. The Boob Group is your weekly online on-the-go support group for all things related to breastfeeding. I’m your host Robin Kaplan. I’m also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Centre.

Thanks to all of our loyal listeners who have joined The Boob Group Club. Our members get all of our archived episodes, bonus content after each new show plus special give-aways and discounts. Subscribe through our monthly newsletter for a chance to win a membership to our club each month. Another way for you to stay connected is by downloading our free app available in the Android and iTunes Market Places.

We’ll also have a program called our Virtual Panellists. This is a great way for you to get involved, if you’re not able to be here as one of our panellists in the studio. Throughout the month, we are posting on Facebook and Twitter information about upcoming episodes and topics and also about our featured experts for these episodes. This is a great way for you to post your questions you’d like us to ask our experts and we will do everything we can to incorporate them to our show.

On our recording days, our producer Mj Fisher will be Facebooking and Twitting about our episodes as we are recording which will allow you to engage in the conversation, learn some awesome tid-bits about the topic even before the episodes been released. You can also post questions for our experts and share your experience with our audience. All you have to do is go to our Facebook page which is The Boob Group or to our Twitter account which is our I guess our Twitter Handle which is The Boob Group and use the hash tag #theboobgroupvp – so that’s for our virtual panellists and join in on the conversation.

So, MJ how are we doing in there – lots of people getting involved in our conversation?

MJ FISHER: Yes, we have a lot of moms that are interested in all of our topics today and sharing their stories, giving us tips on certain things about breastfeeding. It’s just really nice to have a community of all of these moms supporting each other in and giving each other information that they might not know. So, you can be a part of our show here without actually being in the studio.

ROBIN KAPLAN: It’s such a fun thing to be working on. I love it. Well, thank you MJ.

MJ FISHER: Thank you.

ROBIN KAPLAN: So, we are joined by three lovely panellists in the studio. Ladies, will you please introduce yourselves.

STACY SPENSLEY: Hi. I’m Stacy Spensley. I am 30 years old and I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach and I have one son named Iver who will be six months in a couple of days.

MARIE BISHOP: Hi. I’m Marie Bishop. I’m 30 years old. I work as a sales coordinator for an insurance company and I have one boy who is four years old and a little girl Lydia who’s four months old.

ELIZABETH FLANDREAU: Hi. My name is Elizabeth Flandreau. I’m 32 years old. I’m a research scientist and I have one daughter. She’s 13 months old.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Wonderful, thanks ladies. Welcome to the show. So, before we get started, we are going to talk about a news headline that just came out a couple of weeks ago. This is from the Matt Walsh Blog. He’s title of his article is, “We must stop these crazed half naked psychopaths from feeding their children in front of other people.” The next sentences – what the hell is wrong with this?

So, essentially this wonderful man wrote an article in response to several different nursing in public harassment episodes that occurred. All during World Breastfeeding Week – what is up with these people? So, when he talks about as though – you know us in the United States we’ve made porn into a billion dollar industry. We put sex into everything – fast food advertisements.

We have our kids; our daughters to idolize teenage pop stars who dress like hookers and this is all of his quote and quote by the way, these are not my words. Then, we suffer from a special brand of insanity called, “Progressive Puritanism” which essentially says, “We were totally obsessed with having women nursing in public. We just freak out about it.” So, he was just talking about how breastfeeding is not sexual and if you think it is – you need to be put on a registry. That one like you registered for when you are having a baby.

He also talked about when he encounters breastfeeding women in public that not once to these women rip their shirts off and run to the crowd screaming, “Look at me. I’m breastfeeding.” I mean usually, you don’t know what they’re doing. He’s third thing was really what is so offensive about breastfeeding? A little bit of breast exposed, you see more at the beach and really it’s just a woman breastfeeding. It’s feeding her baby.

So, he pretty much says, “People just grow up.” So, I’d love this. I loved that it was written by a man. I have no idea if he has children or if he has a breastfeeding in his family. I don’t know but whatever, he just nailed it and from my perspective. So, I wanted to throw it out to our panellists in our studio as well. I don’t know if you’ve read this article.

But, how do you feel when you hear someone’s talk about – how normal breastfeeding is and it’s a man who’s sharing this information. Would your partners kind of stand-up the way that this man did? So Stacey, what was your reaction to it?

STACY SPENSLEY: I did read it yesterday, I think. I laughed. I commented my friend had shared it on Facebook and my comment was, “I’ve been doing it wrong. I haven’t been ripping my shirt off. That must be why I never get attention because I’m clearly not showing enough skin.” So, I thought that was possibly.

I think my only kind of comment is I was visiting my in-laws and my father-in-law wants, he’s like, “Do you want a blanket to cover up with?” I did, it was early and I was still trying to be kind of like we weren’t great at latching. I finally said, “You know what Jim, if it bothers you, just don’t look.” He didn’t say anything again.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Awesome. So, how about you Marie?

MARIE BISHOP: I really love that article and it kind of reminds me of my husband and the way he’s a huge breastfeeding supporter. He’s the one who’s like when we’re out in public – he’s looking, that person’s looking at you. That person’s looking at you like and? But, I think that article really hit the mail on the head. It’s kind of indicative of our like – victim blaming culture that we have in the US.

So my husband and I are both like, “You know what? Let’s normalize it.” We’re not covering. We’re not going to do that because I don’t know if anyone has ever experienced trying to cover your child that creates a bigger scene than just nursing them. So, it was a funny take on. I really liked that it kind of put it on like a hardy mode whether some out there that are just like kind of take people the wrong way because it is such a like in your face like, “I’m kind of in your face about it.”

But, I know a lot of people can get offended when its like, “Okay, this woman’s nursing. Just deal it. Deal with it where it’s kind of like gives more of a bit light hearted approach that I think can get people think in a little bit more.

STACY SPENSLEY: Yeah, even women who aren’t necessarily breastfeeding but just they promote breastfeeding. They believe in breastfeeding. They want to normalize it. It really spoke to them as just a breast-feeder supporter as well as – my husband was actually the one who sent me the link. He was like, “You’ve got to read this. This is hilarious.” So, I think it really spoke to everybody out there.

MARIE BISHOP: When you’ve got ads like fast food on TV where you see a woman who is clicking barbeque off of her chest – maybe, that’s okay but, when I’m feeding my child isn’t? That’s where the disconnect is kind of weird

ROBIN KAPLAN: Absolutely! How about you Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH FLANDREAU: I was actually not at all surprised that it came from a man. It seems like a lot of these stories that we hear off unfortunately are other women pointed and out and thinking that it’s inappropriate. I don’t know if these are women who themselves were uncomfortable breastfeeding or unable to breastfeed or how they may be ashamed for doing it or I don’t know. But, anyway I definitely appreciated the humorous aspect.

I’ve been on the side where I was uncomfortable watching someone breastfeed when I was a teenager. I went to my neighbour’s house to baby sit her daughter and she wanted to feed her quick before she left and she said, “Do you mind?” I said, “Of course not.” But, I really didn’t realize how the feeding was going to happen. So, I walked to the other side of the room. So, not to see my neighbour’s breast.

But, I think that’s a perfect example of like, “I was uncomfortable. So, what did I do? I moved.” I just can’t imagine saying to another person like, “I’m uncomfortable. You stop what you are doing for breastfeeding.” I think my husband would have had a similar reaction that I did. If he was uncomfortable seeing someone else breastfeed he would have walked away and so, yeah – he might not have written an article like this but he definitely would support any woman who was being harassed.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Absolutely! How about you Michelle?

MICHELLE MILLION: I was really grateful to see a man writing it for sure. I come from a non-confrontational family and approached to pretty much all of things. The walk on egg shells, I’m brilliant on walking on egg shells. So, nursing in public even since being a Common Lactation Consultant, nursing in public is still challenging for me. My daughter’s 18 months and still nursing and wants it when she wants it. She points and yells and makes more of a scene if I don’t give it to her.

So, even just yesterday – we were with an Amish couple, that’s another story altogether. But, we were at a pizza place and she wanted it. I hadn’t seen her all day. So, that’s the first thing she goes to. So, I’m like, “Can I just bust them out?” I was with my father-in-law and my husband. My father-in-law was like, “Okay, well we’ll just and he’s wife, my mother-in-law’s is a league leader and very pro-breastfeeding. You know he’s still my father-in-law, the relationship’s different.

So, I appreciated the way he was very supportive in his silence. He turned around and he just kind of waited and so, it is fun. It’s usually the men in my family are pretty much silently supportive. My husband obviously is a little bit more of outspoken about it. But, seeing a man who is taking this subject and bringing it to his blog and this is what he’s focusing on today and he’s getting up norms about it. It was very, very special and highly grateful to men take up arms for women.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Well, thanks ladies. I appreciate your opinions. So, today on the Boob Group we’re discussing: “Breast milk, Storage and Handling.” Our expert, Michelle Million is a registered nurse as well as an IBCLC – an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant here in San Diego. So, thanks for joining us Michelle. Welcome to the show.

MICHELLE MILLION: Thank you for having me.

ROBIN KAPLAN: So Michelle, what are the parameters for how long breast milk can stay fresh ranging from room temperature to deep freeze and this is the same for full term babies compared to pre-term babies?

MICHELLE MILLION: Well, first before I get in to how long it stays fresh. I want to stress that these numbers are referring to the freshness of milk only if it’s being collected and handled properly. To minimize contamination, it’s very important to pump with clean hands in clean collection containers and clean pump parts. So, don’t go straight from sorting your money or snaking your shower drain to expressing your breast milk, forgot washing your hands.

The parameters for full term and pre term are a bit different. Starting with full term, I’ll give you sort of the ideal parameters along with the acceptable parameters so that it becomes a number range. There consistently – these numbers are being tweaked often because we don’t really know for sure when the safety cut-off is but we know what is safe. We don’t necessarily know what’s not safe but we know what is safe.

So, fresh milk is good at room temperature at 78 degrees -- so this is a San Diego Room Temperature. For four to eight hours – so, four being an ideal; eight being acceptable in a warm room 80-90 degrees. It’s about two to four hours and if it’s hotter than 90 then you get both you and your milk in the fridge.

Refrigerated milk is good for three to eight days. If your parents want to take your new born baby to the amusement park or something and they wanted to take it in a well insulated bag with ice packs. You can count on that milk for about 24 hours. Frozen guidelines depend on the type of freezer – your dad’s old beer fridge in the garage with the freezer compartment up in the corner is good for about two weeks.

A freezer with its own drawers is good for four to six months and a deep freezer can keep milk safe for about six to 12 months. When storing milk in the fridge or freezer, do not store it on the door. Place your milk in the back and the bottom where the temperature is least likely to fluctuate. Since there are so many numbers in there, I’m going to tell you to print out a chit sheet and put it on your fridge because if I can remember, I had to look it up to remind myself.

The guideline for pre-term babies or any with a compromise immune system, they have less tolerance for bacterial contamination. So, you’re going to be sticking with those ideal numbers – so the first number in those ranges, the ranges that I was giving. So, no more than four hours for fresh breast milk at room temperature. No more than three days – although some will say seven days in the fridge. No more than three months for frozen breast milk and no more than six months in your deep freezer.

The guidelines for thawed milk in the fridge are the same for both which is about 24 hours after it completely fuzz.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, meaning it’s no more ice crystals whatsoever.


ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, cool. How can you tell that your expressed breast milk is still fresh? Are there signs that it’s actually spoil?

MICHELLE MILLION: Pretty much the same way you do for your almond or coconut or cow’s milk that you have on your fridge, just smell it and taste it. It’s barely obvious.

ROBIN KAPLAN: All right. Does everyone’s express breast milk last the same amount and time or does some women’s express breast milk store spoil more quickly?

MICHELLE MILLION: All the variation of breast milk foiling is usually in the handling and the collections. It will change depending on how you expressed it and how you store it and how you thaw it. Keep in mind the thawed milk smells a little different than fresh. So, pay attention to the type of smell – if it’s a gag-inducing rancid or is it just soapy or metallic.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay. So ladies, how long do you keep your expressed breast milk in the fridge or freezer and have you ever re-heated it and it smelled kind of funky. How about you Stacey?

STACY SPENSLEY: We don’t do a tunnel bottles because lucky for me, I work at home. So, I’m not away from my baby that often but we make sure to give him a bottle from time to time to make sure that he’s supposed to take them. So, we usually stash a little bit in the fridge and try to use it within the week just to make sure. Then, frozen – I donate my milk and so it doesn’t last long in my freezer because it gets sent to other homes.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Nice. How about you Marie?

MARIE BISHOP: Well, I do work fulltime so we’re doing bottles all day while I’m at work. I ask my husband what he’s protocol his and he does the bottles – when he heats the bottle, he only has about for about an hour and half before he switches them to a new milk. But, we do what I put in the fridge after about three days if there are leftovers in the fridge; I automatically move it to the freezer and cycle newer milk.

I do donate a lot of my milk so it goes into my freezer, my small on top of my fridge freezer for about a week or so. Then, I build up a supply in my mom’s deep freeze in the bottom section she gave it to me by generally that it gets donated within a couple of weeks of having a bulk amount.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, how about you Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH FLANDREAU: I also work full time and so, my milk is almost never in the refrigerator for longer than 24 hours. I pump at work and I keep my milk in a refrigerated cooler and I put that whole thing into the refrigerator itself so that my ice pack is still frozen at the end of the day while I’m travelling home and things like that. So, I feel like that is reliably cold enough that it can last.

Then, my baby usually drinks it whenever I pump that day – she usually drinks the next day. If she doesn’t then label that bottle as used first on the following first – so it’s never longer than maybe 48 hours. On Fridays, I freeze that milk so that I’m cycling my frozen supply. Now that I’m kind of winding down my pumping, my freezer supply is sort of dwindling.

So, I will take out of frozen milk the night before and I always instruct my care givers to give the frozen milk at the beginning of the day – so, that if she ends up not drinking all the milk – what’s leftover is the fresh because that obviously as you’ve just heard can last for a few days whereas the frozen milk is only good for 24 hours of the thawing.

ROBIN KAPLAN: All right, sounds good. Michelle, what causes express breast milk to smell so beer or metallic?

MICHELLE MILLION: This particular smell can be attributed to the excess Lipase. Lipase is an enzyme in breast milk that breaks down fat and also is assist in fighting bacteria. It’s one of the reasons breast milk is easier on the digestive system so it’s a good thing like this is a good thing. When it does its job a little bit too well, it can significantly alter the smell and taste of stored milk.

So if a mom’s noticing the smell on her milk after it’s sort of forgiven a length of time, she can try a few things. But, if the baby takes it then she can carry on with no stress.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Wonderful and why does express breast milk in the freezer sometimes smell spoiled or even a little gross even if it’s only been in there for a few weeks?

MICHELLE MILLION: Well, first I want to ask if the smell is rancid or if it’s just soapy or metallic. If it’s soapy and metallic then it could be excess Lipase like we’ve discussed. However, if it smells like rotten milk then I would want to first to investigate the handling and the storage. But, there might be someone who is following all the guidelines perfectly.

They wash their hands and their pump parts. They immediately put their milk in the freezer in the very back on the bottom which is right on top of the [unclear] that they caught last fishing trip. So, the freezer it smells and can sneak into cracks and the openings in your breast milk containers or bags – so, that person might benefit from switching to twist top hard containers as suppose to the bags that might leak a bit.

There also might be some variation in how well some one person’s breast milk stores compared to another base on fat content and enzymes and other properties. But, most often if you’re dealing with truly spoiled milk you’re going to want to address the problem of using different containers to see if it is smells and taste from your freezer or examining your collection and storage techniques.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, that’s great advice. A very popular question on our Facebook page was can you reuse express breast milk in a bottle if baby has only finish part of it. If you can, how soon do you have to use it? When does the clock start ticking? Do you refrigerate it in between feeding? So, many questions about this, no one wants to throw away breast milk. It’s just like the worst thing ever to pour that down the drain. So, what are the parameters around this?

MICHELLE MILLION: There are some variations in lactation community on this topic. Many resources will tell you just to discard it immediately. But, if you’re someone dealing with low supply or like me, you have a hard time pumping as much as your baby consumes while you’re gone – the mantra of, “When it doubt, throw it out” isn’t good enough.

So, here are options and information and I’ll kind of leave it up to you. If you’re thinking about re-using a bottle of breast milk that’s already been given to your full term healthy baby and I want to add that I recommend avoiding this for babies younger than a month because your breast milk’s pretty much the entirety of their new system under a month. Then, consider this information. It comes straight from the Kelly Mom article we’re using express breast milk so it’s very detailed information.

So, breast milk I expect the area breast fresh breast milk is the best that fighting bacteria followed by refrigerated, frozen and thawed. The longer it’s been frozen, the less fight it has. So, consider the technique of handling storage and preparation because that will definitely affect the amount of bacteria present in the milk at first. The clock begins when the bottle enters the baby’s mouth.

Some resources will say that you’re safe if you want to put it back on the fridge because little missive baby isn’t ready right now and be sure to use it within one or two hours and some sources will even say up to four. If you are that mama who thinks that reusing breast milk is the only way to avoid not having enough to feed your baby while you’re away, then I encourage you to read that article for more detailed information on the kind of mama that I think that you have as one of my resources.

I will say that, “Breast milk is pretty amazing.” It’s staying safe for babies and most guidelines are likely to be conservative for the average conservative healthy baby. I wouldn’t make a habit of stretching them out too much or too often and I certainly don’t recommend stretching those guidelines for your hospitalized baby.

ROBIN KAPLAN: The Kelly Mom, I remember looking at it. They are like four different research articles that some of them say an hour, some of them say four. One of them says, “Up to 24 hours” and I remember attending a conference a couple of years ago and they were saying, “No one’s actually really looked at when this – this mean. You have to absolutely have to throw it away.” Because like you said, “Breast milk is so amazing. It’s alive.”

So, definitely the Kelly Mom articles are great when to look at but I think that you did a great job outlining that as well because it really just comes down to, “Was is it fresh? Is it in the fridge? Is it frozen?”

MICHELLE MILLION: It’s kind of case by case.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Yeah, absolutely.

MICHELLE MILLION: Know your info and kind of gauge

ROBIN KAPLAN: Sound and smell it

MICHELLE MILLION: Smell it, that’s a very good point.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Perfect. Well, Michelle – Cindy posted on our Facebook page, “What’s the real story between shaking versus swirling express breast milk? It seems really implausible that shaking destroys my milk.”

MICHELLE MILLION: She’s very right that it doesn’t destroy it entirely – shaking the milk doesn’t mean that you’ve turned your miracle substance into something inedible but remember that your breast milk is alive. We shouldn’t shake living things. This is a good principle in general. Shaking will break up the perfectly formed proteins. These proteins works best as a chain although the individual bits are so quite use form their own and still kicks formula’s butt any day of the week.

There are also many living cells in the milk and shaking them kind of leaves them kind of battered and bruised. So, swirling is much nicer. The proteins and cells can go for a nice little ride around the whirl pool but they won’t get repeatedly shove up against the sides of the container.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Awesome! All right, sounds good. Well, when we come back – we will discuss with Michelle and our panellists, “Breast Milk Storage and Transportation.” We’ll be right back. All right, well welcome back to the show. We’re here with Michelle Million a RN and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in San Diego.

We are talking about, “Breast Milk Storage and Handling.” Michelle, Stephanie posted this question on our Facebook page. After moving express breast milk from the freezer to the fridge to defrost, how soon do I have to use it?

MICHELLE MILLION: 24 hours per when it’s completely thawed. So, again – that’s when there are no more ice crystals in there. It’s usually about 12 hours in the fridge kind of overnight. As when you stop seeing those ice crystals.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay and what tips do you have for saving and storing express milk at work?

MICHELLE MILLION: Well, people can kind of get weird out when they see your breast milk next to their sandwich. Although, if they knew any better they would ask you to put in their coffees for like a little immunity boost. But, I would put it in the back of the fridge where again which is best practice anyways because that’s where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate.

Then like Elizabeth mentioned, the non-transparent bag. So, if you have your little insulation bag, you can kind of put that in the back and then people won’t have to be staring at your breast milk and be weird out. They don’t usually ask what’s in the breast feeding woman’s bag in the fridge.

Another tip is to kind of attend to minimize handling by pumping straight into the container. That you plan to store your milk in so you don’t have to pour and if you could just close it up and be done.

ROBIN KAPLAN: All right, fantastic. Ladies, so we have pump and moms even though Stacy I know you work at home – but you obviously pump as well. How do you save and transport your express breast milk from home and what are you saving even if you’re not transporting it too much. Elizabeth, let’s start with you.

ELIZABETH FLANDREAU: Well, I use the little cooler that came with my pump and I pumped directly into the bottles and then, now that I’m making a little bit less milk – I do pour them together. So then, that whole bottle is what I’ll give my baby the next day. I try to avoid pouring any in later and I definitely don’t add warm breast milk to already cold breast milk because I feel like that would change the amount of time.

I also you know, with the guidelines that we were given. I think it’s important to know that if it’s already done at room temperature for four hours then I don’t think it’s still going to last for seven hours in the fridge. If it’s for seven days in the fridge and if it’s already been in the fridge for seven days, I don’t think it’s going to last for the full six months in the freezer. So, I try to pay attention to that.

If I’m not able to store my milk in a refrigerator – so, if it’s just on the cooler all day then I’ll make a note when I put it on the fridge or in the freezer just to say that, “It was at a room temperature for a while or something.” So, that I use that. I put it up on the front of the stash instead of the back.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, cool. How about you Marie?

MARIE BISHOP: I actually lost the bag that came with my pump between kids. So, I have an insulated tiny bag that I every morning I put several ice packs in. I do pour into bags after I pump because I donate my milk at split between my child and another child. I combine the bottles. I found one brand of bags that holds a lot so I may little put about seven to eight ounces in the bag at a time and sandwich it between two ice packs.

I do leave it in my pumping room just because the pumping room and the kitchen are really far away from each other at my office. When I take it home, it immediately either goes in the fridge or the freezer depending on how much I have in the fridge. I try and cycle the newer stuff into the fridge for my daughter to use and anything that’s been in the fridge for more than two days. I try to freeze that to go to my donor baby.

I find that it doesn’t make a really big difference if it’s been in the fridge a couple of days first or if went directly in the freezer. My husband uses fresh only when he has our daughter. So, I’m not certain with the frozen stuff. I’m certain my recipient mom knows what she’s doing.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Stacey, how about you?

STACY SPENSLEY: Well, I’m lucky again that I work at home so I do have my setup kind of permanently in my office at home. I just have to make sure that I lock out my cat instead of my co-workers. My co-workers probably hopefully don’t chew on your pump. But, with my cats do. I do the challenge of pumping at home for me because I do have an oversupply and I have so much milk to deal with.

I pump twice a day that I have to make sure that either my husband’s home so I have enough time to put my milk away. So, it’s not sitting out for a long time in our un-air conditioned house right now in the summer. Also to make it really easy for the moms that I donate too – so that I make sure I date everything. I do because I pump so much; it’s hard for me to pump directly into the bags because they fill up so fast.

So, making sure that I date everything clearly to make sure that I save everything that I’m very clean to make so I’m giving it to these other babies who luckily are healthy and generally aren’t preterm but just to make this convenient for those moms as possible who already have enough problems with an under supply.

ELIZABETH FLANDREAU: The other thing I wanted to mention is – like I said my baby was in day care full time and so, to bring the milk to day care, we actually use like a picnic cooler and put it in a ridiculous number of ice packs. So, that if there was milk leftover at the end of the day, we were bringing it at home and what was leftover of the ice packs of the day care we were at originally was a big Sand Day Care and so, they have really strict rules that if it by heated off – it have to be used within an hour.

We couldn’t leave any milk there so I have to put exactly the amount in the bottles. So, I thought she was going to drink – so, it was really stressful for me. I did printout a lot of those Kelly Mom articles. But, yes – so, we bring this cooler full of ice packs with the milk in the morning. Then if there was milk at the end of the day, bring it home again in that same cooler full of ice. So, it’s never just sitting at the hot car.

ROBIN KAPLAN: That’s a good tip for especially for families who are in larger day care situations.

ELIZABETH FLANDREAU: We were fortunate that our day care allowed us to leave this huge you know – this kind of cooler full of ice packs.

ROBIN KAPLAN: That’s such a great idea. Michelle, what are some ways that moms can store their milk in the freezer? We’ve mentioned some bottles that have tops on them. We’ve mentioned some bags. Are there any additional things?

MICHELLE MILLION: Yeah, you can kind of use if anything has a good twist on cap, you can pretty much use that as long as

ROBIN KAPLAN: Like Mason Jars?

MICHELLE MILLION: Yes, as long as you’re confident in the cleanliness of them. I would recommend things that as far as you know a zip lock bags and those kind of leak a little bit too much because they only have the one seal top. Usually, if you see the breast milk ones have two so sorry – have two separate what is it called?

ROBIN KAPLAN: Zipper things at the back.

MICHELLE MILLION: Zipper things. So, there’s a couple of different ways that you can do it. If you do choose the breast milk storage bags, they can affect your the fat content in your milk. Sometimes it can bind a little bit to self-plastics. So, there are considerations as far as what you choose to store your breast milk in. But, in general if you do go for the soft plastic – I would say double bag is always a good idea because that will minimize some of your breaks and your leaks.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Yeah, I know I’m just thinking about a story. I used to store chicken broth in a zip lock bags in my freezer. Every time I would defrost them, you’d think I would learn – I’d leave it on the counter and then come home and then the entire counter was covered in chicken broth because the little shards of ice mix bag and then it went all over the place. So, I know those breast milk storage ones or thicker.

MICHELLE MILLION: It still happens.

ROBIN KAPLAN: But, it still happens. That is – my goodness and then I heard also about this little trays that you can also save them in one ounce little increments that have a cover on top too. So, which can be really cool as well – Michelle, how important is it to sterilize your pump pieces beyond the first time you’ve used them?

MICHELLE MILLION: Warm soapy water or a dishwasher should be sufficient. However, if you’re having a milk spoiling early problems or if you’re instructed to do so for a special considerations for you or your baby then go ahead and then sterilized after the first use; certainly, not the wrong thing to do.

When my son was a baby, I have to use my pump while I work in the hospital as a nurse – you can bet I sterilize those pump parts a little bit more often because hospital bacteria is gross. But in general, hot soapy water and a good rinse and a good dry should be sufficient from those.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, ladies how do you clean your pump pieces? Stacey, what do you do?

STACY SPENSLEY: I do hot soapy water. Again, I pump twice a day. So, I did learn the trick that’s really sneaky – so again, I do kind of very carefully hand wash and everything because I’m giving these away. But, I do if I’d fill up half a bottle; I keep the flange on and stick everything on the fridge. As long as I pump again within 12 hours which I have to then, it’s still pretty good. So, then I boil everything about probably once a week.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, cool. How about you Marie?

MARIE BISHOP: Everything down and then I keep the between the flinch and the bottle, there’s that little valve piece – I throw that in with the freezer parts because it’s hard to get inside that clean and I do leave my pump stuff out at work and on the weekends, I run it all through the dish washer. But, I give it a good wipe down each time I use it and I pump two to three times a day at work.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Okay, cool. How about you Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH FLANDREAU: When I’m at work depending on where I am – some of my lactation rooms have a mini fridge there – if that’s the case, I put all of my pump parts in the refrigerator also and I’m only pumping like twice a day now. If I’m using a lactation room that doesn’t have its own fridge then I just rinse out my pump with hot water. Then, at the end of the day when I get home, I’m getting all put away I turn on the hot water and let all of my pump parts and whatever bottles that are dirty soak for hours.

I don’t scrub it until after the baby’s already put to bed. So, it’s been soaking and hot soapy water for a long time and then I scrub everything with the brush. I sterilize kind of when I get around to it not very often. If I had seen the cats sitting by the dryer, by the drain rack thing then I inclined to sterilize it.

But, for the most part – I live it out to dry and then I pack it back up so it’s not cat accessible for too long.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Nice. Michelle, what are your tips for warming breast milk?

MICHELLE MILLION: The one in bold is, “Never microwave.” I think most people have heard this but please don’t ever microwave your breast milk. It is also really a heating over the stove top like over up in flame probably not a good idea either. Stick with run in cool or warm water over it. You could just pour or run it over the bag or you can submerge things in warm water. But, basically plan ahead.

Waiting to thaw frozen breast milk feels like forever if the baby is screaming at you while they’re hungry. If the baby needs to eat the milk the next day then try thaw it over night in the fridge. If you don’t want to primarily use plastic bags, then maybe just have a couple of them laying flat frozen in your freezer in case they are unplanned situations where you do need to freeze it quickly just because it does freeze a little, thaws a little bit more quickly when it’s frozen flat.

ROBIN KAPLAN: Cool! Can you combine express breast milk from different days into the same bottle or cup?

MICHELLE MILLION: Yes, you definitely can. You can just make sure if you’re – if this is for storage, then you mark in the date of the oldest express breast milk. There are some debates also and Elizabeth you have mentioned it about mixing fresh milk with frozen milk. They have an exactly proven that it’s a problem. The idea is that it could thaw in your frozen milk a bit. But, best practice is probably mix similar temperatures.

ROBIN KAPLAN: So, once they boast in warmed up then combine them in. Or if they are coming from like you would have said it – Elizabeth and I did the same thing, I would pump into bottles when I was at work and then I come home and then I pour them into different bags depending on how much my child was taking at that time. So, different pumping but pump on the same day and they were still both cold because they were in the same bag together.

All right, well thank you so much Michelle and to our panellists for sharing these incredibly valuable information about breast milk, storage and handling. It was so nice to have you on the show. Great and for our Boob Group Club Members, our conversation will continue after the end of the show as Michelle will discuss what you can do with expired breast milk.

For more information about The Boob Group Club, please visit our website at

Julie: Hi Boob Group. This is Julie from Kansas and I want to send the most heartfelt thank you for all of the efforts that you put in to The Boob Group. I am proud to say that I’m only a few days away from breast feeding my sweet boy for an entire year. They’re been many and I repeat many challenges and road bumps along the way such as low milk supply, going back to work and highlight days.

Many days where I didn’t know if I’d make it but thanks to The Boob Group and the amazing information that you provided, I’ve been able to be a working, pumping and breastfeeding mom for almost a year. I wouldn’t have made it without The Boob Group. You guys are the best and also, I’m pretty sure my son knows your voices from listening to you in the car all the time. Have a great day Boob Group and thank you so much for all that you do.

ROBIN KAPLAN: This wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to The Boob Group. Don’t forget to check out our sister shows, “Preggie Pals for expecting parents” and our show, “Parent Savers for moms and dads with newborns, infants and toddlers” Thanks for listening to The Boob Group, your judgement-free breastfeeding resource.”

This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.


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