In times past, the nursing mother had a lot of work to do. One of them was breastfeeding their lovely baby. Breastfeeding is an activity that requires a lot of commitment from the nursing mother.
You have to be there to connect with your child as she sucks your breast. Although breastfeeding improves the bonding between mother and child and all mothers want this type of experience, it can be difficult to breastfeed your child in some situations.
Pumping breast milk into a container for your child to be fed is the best alternative if you don’t want your child to be fed the infant formula. It has now become popular among nursing mothers.
But with the popularity of pumping breast milk with breast pumps comes another challenge: to preserve milk. Normally, breast milk in a container will usually go bad after about 6 to 8 hours if kept at room temperature. There is need to keep it at a lower temperature to keep it from going bad.
It is easy to preserve your pumped breast milk when you’re in your house. Just open your freezer and place your bottle inside it. And take it out when you need to use it.
But what if you have to travel and you need to preserve your breast milk throughout the journey? Well, you can’t pack your refrigerator into your car. But you can preserve your breast milk throughout the journey.
In this post, you’ll learn tips you need to preserve your milk till you get to your destination. Your breast milk is liquid gold and you don’t want to pour it away. However, if you get your preservation wrong, your precious breast milk may end up useless at the end of your journey.
You hate that thought — I hate it too. No one should have to waste breast milk just because they lack the right information.
Generally, the temperature you keep your breast milk will determine how long you can preserve it. For instance, if you leave your breast milk at room temperature, it will get spoilt between 6 to 8 hours.
However, if you keep your breast milk in a refrigerator at a temperature of about 4-degree Celsius or 40-degree Fahrenheit, it can be kept for 5 days up to 7 days. If you keep your breast milk freeze in a freezer at a temperature of -18 degree Celsius or 0-degree Fahrenheit, it can be kept for 3 months up to 6 months.
If you keep your breast milk freezed in a freezer at a temperature of -20 degree celsius or -4 degree fahrenheit, or lower, you can keep your breast milk for a period of 6 to 12 months.
There are methods to preserve your breast milk but the method you choose may largely depend on the distance you’re moving in your car.
For some people, traveling by car may be an activity they take part in once in a while. However, for some, they probably travel weekly to their workplace if they live far from their workplace. For these nursing mothers, it is crucial to know how to preserve your breast milk during your journey.
But before you even think about preserving your breast milk, have you thought of the process of collection of your milk? Expressing your milk properly is the first step to preserving your milk.
What are the steps you need to take to express your milk properly?
Before expressing breast milk you must wash your hands well with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
You must wash the breast pump parts that touch your breasts or milk and the collecting bottles that will hold the milk. To get the best cleaning effect, it is important to use hot soapy water to wash these things or a dishwasher. If your baby is ill or immature, you may also have to sterilize the pump parts.
Read the instruction manual that comes with your breast pump to know how to operate it and get the manufacturer’s suggestions on how to sterilize the pump parts. Follow these instructions to get the best usage of your pump.
Pump your breast milk when you’re relaxed, rested and your breasts feel full. Find the right size breast shield and use it so that your nipple fits comfortable while pumping.
You can pump breast milk every 2 to 3 hours for 10 to 15 minutes during a day. You can start doing this few days before your journey so that you can have enough milk supply by the time you embark on your journey.
You can breastfeed your baby in the evening to maintain your milk supply and also to build the bond with your baby.
If you’re pumping breast milk that will be taken along for your journey, it is advisable to pump into plastic disposable bags that are designed for breast milk.
You can keep your breast milk in 4 to 6-ounce portions since you’re preparing the milk for a journey. Although a small amount of milk will thaw quickly, that may not be your worry if you’re preparing your milk for a journey. You want to utilize each bag as well as possible. This does not mean you should fill your bag to the brim. With aqueous liquids like breast milk that expands when frozen, the bag may burst if you fill it to the brim before freezing.
When you pump your milk, you can find that breast milk can vary in color, consistency, and scent depending on your diet, smoking, or exposure of milk to light. In most cases, however, babies don’t mind the change in odor or taste of breast milk.
Seal the container tightly. Write date or number on each bag to separate according to how long they have been pumped. To make sure some of the breast milk does not go bad, the oldest milk when you travel will be the first to be used when you get to your destination and the latest to be pumped will be used last.
Store your breast milk in the freezer as you want it to be preserved for as long as possible.
Short Distance (less than 6 hours)
If you’re going on a short journey, there are many options for keeping your milk. These options depend on how you plan to use your breast milk either during the journey or after the journey.
For instance, if you only plan to feed your child with the breast milk during the journey and you pumped it before the journey, then you may keep the breast milk at room temperature as your milk is still good for 6 to 8 hours without putting it in the refrigerator or freezer.
If you plan to keep the breast milk for a few days after your journey, then the milk containers must have been in the refrigerator before the journey. The key is to keep your milk at the temperature of the refrigerator throughout your journey till you get to your destination when you can transfer to a refrigerator.
You can place a pack of ice in a cooler and place a layer of newspaper on the ice before you arrange your packs of breast milk in the cooler. This is to prevent the pack from getting destroyed. You can have another layer of newspaper on top of your breast milk to ensure there is no space in the cooler.
Then close the cooler. Use a tape to tape the cover of the cooler tightly at the point of its intersection with the cooler. The sheets of newspaper and the tape are to ensure that the temperature is kept constant during the journey.
When you get to your destination, transfer the breast milk to the refrigerator. If you have pumped the milk on different days, it is important to label the containers with the days you pumped the milk.
The breast milk you pumped first should also be consumed by your baby first and the milk pumped last be consumed last as they are going to spoil in that order.
Short journey (6 – 12 hours)
If your journey by car will take more than 6 hours, then you can’t keep your breast milk at room temperature as it will spoil before you get to your destination.
You can use a pack of ice as explained above. In cases when you transfer your frozen breast milk from your freezer into an ice pack, it is possible for the breast milk to thaw before you get to your destination. Do not refreeze this milk to preserve its quality. You can transfer to a refrigerator though.
Another option is that you can use dry ice to preserve your breast milk. This is an attractive option especially if your breast milk has been frozen in a freezer and you want to keep it that way throughout your journey.
The advantage dry ice has over your pack of ice is that it doesn’t melt to become wet like your normal pack of ice. Due to its carbon dioxide content, it sublimates. It also helps to keep your breast milk at a very low temperature which ensures your milk is frozen throughout the journey.
You must take care to handle dry ice carefully as it can lead to injury if mishandled. You must wear a glove while handling dry ice. The packs of dry ice are placed in a cooler. Sheets of newspaper are placed on the dry ice.
Your containers of breast milk are placed in the newspaper. It is important to have the sheets of newspaper on dry ice before the containers of breast milk. Due to the low temperature of dry ice, putting the containers on ice directly could tear it and spill your milk.
Sheets of newspapers are placed on top of the containers of breast milk. If there is more dry ice, it can be placed on the newspapers. Then you put more newspapers until the cooler is full.
Close the lid of the cooler and use a tape to tape the mouth of the cooler. But you must also leave a space for the dry ice to sublimate.
Long Journey (more than 12 hours)
If you’re going through a long journey, there are many options.
One option is to use a pack of ice. Another option is to use dry ice as explained earlier in the post.
One other method that is effective, especially if you’re moving a lot of breast milk, is to lay sheets of newspaper in a cooler. The containers of breast milk are placed in the newspaper. The cooler is loaded with sheets of newspaper. After that, the cooler is closed and taped to prevent an increase in temperature.
In this case, the bags of frozen milk are acting as ice packs to the next bag beside it.
When you get to your location and your breast milk is still frozen due to your preservation method, you can thaw the milk you want to use overnight in the refrigerator or put the sealed container in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes to bring it to normal temperature.
You can also hold the bottle under warm running water to quickly thaw. If you thaw your milk in the refrigerator, it can be kept safely for 24 hours. You must remember not to refreeze your thawed breast milk.
Wrapping it Up
When next you’re going on a journey in your car, whether for a vacation or work, cast out the fear that you’ll have to waste all the precious breast milk that’s inside your freezer. In fact, you can store breast milk in your freezer as part of the preparation for your journey.
Having this breast milk at your new destination could relieve you from a lot of stress as someone else can take the duty of feeding your baby, even when you’re busy with other things.
With the right methods, you can move your breast milk over to your new destination without getting it spoilt. You can enjoy your journey without the constant worry of how to pump breast milk when you get to your destination.
Follow these tips and you can enjoy your journey. Not only you but your cute baby, also.