In order to keep expressed breast milk safe, there are several steps that need to be followed. If the breast milk isn’t collected and stored in a sanitary way, then it could spell trouble for the mother and even the baby down the road. Germs, airborne pollutants like dust, pet dander and smoke can get in to the milk or even other food contaminants. You wouldn’t want to drink products with that stuff in it, so why would you want to feed it to your baby either? You wouldn’t! Breast milk storage bags need to be properly handled and stored so that any and all milk collected is safe and pure for baby to drink in the future.
- Breast milk storage bags will be made specific to the model of breast pump or bottle system you purchase. If you have a closed system breast pump, then it will probably come with hard bottles to express directly in to or even bags that can be added underneath so they are collected directly to a sterile bag. Only in certain cases can you use a generic bag where it will match with a model of breast pump.
- There are some tips to handling the sterile bags when you are attaching it to the breast pump or even pouring the expressed milk in to it.
Make sure to wash your hands!
- Wash your hands. Even if you are uber busy and just want to get this task crossed off your list, don’t skimp on cleanliness. Wash your hands so that nothing from them will get on to the clean and sterile bag.
- Do not allow others to handle the bags if they have not washed their hands. Children might want to help, but allow them to help in other ways. For example, have them open the freezer or the refrigerator door, have them count the ounces or some other task where they are not in direct contact with the storage device or the milk itself. They mean well, but their germs don’t!
Do Not Re-Use Bags
- Only use sterile bags. Do not reuse bags if they have already been used once. Throw them out and start only with fresh and clean bags from the box.
- Seal up the bags full of milk immediately. Do not leave a bag open on the counter thinking you will add more milk to it later. Dust floating around can land in the bag, not to mention flying bugs, dirt or germs. Once a bottle bag is full, seal it and place in the freezer or the refrigerator so there is no chance of anything to get inside.
Make Sure the Bag is Closed
- Do not leave bags open in the refrigerator. Even though the temperature is cool, an open bag is a magnet for germs to enter in to. A sealed bag will be kept safe in the cool temperature, but you don’t want to risk it with an open bag.
- Write on the bags when they are entering the fridge or the freezer. Include the time for bags going in the fridge. Breast milk only lasts so long in the fridge, so it should be thrown out after 24 hours if it is not used or stored in the freezer. Milk placed in the freezer can last for several weeks. When you add new milk to the freezer supply, place it at the back. When you need to use milk from that supply, pull out what is in the front because it will be the oldest.
Only use milk that you have collected and where there is a date written on the bag. If you have forgotten a date, then throw the bag out. It is better to be safe than sorry!