There are a few terms that deal with breastfeeding that you might not be so familiar with. Actually, there are some that are confusing and you don’t know who to ask, because none of your friends have had babies or dealt with breastfeeding and you just don’t have anyone else to ask. Luckily, there are a lot of answers here on what expressed milk is, how to store it, how to heat it and when it is time to simply get rid of it. Let’s get started on the learning…
- Expressed milk simply means that it is breast milk that has been collected by a means other than baby. It can and usually is collected with a breast pump and stored in bags or bottles for future use. However, milk can also be expressed by hand in a few instances. When there is a case of mastitis or a plugged duct, sometimes the pain of a pump is too much and it is a little less painful if it is done by hand. The warmth of the hand can also be soothing to a plugged duct and it could trigger a release, therefore eliminating the problem too.
Handling Expressed Milk
- For breast milk that is expressed with a pump and collected, it needs to be handled properly. Once you have emptied one breast or both and get about the amount of ounces that your baby will take in a feeding, then the bag needs to be labeled with the time and date. domain archive If the milk will be used in the next 12 to 24 hours, it can be placed inside the refrigerator. However, if you are building an emergency supply and don’t plan on using it for a few days or even a week, then it gets placed in to the freezer so it can last longer.
Use Sterile Bags
- Place any milk collected in the sterile bag and seal it up immediately. Sealing it will keep any airborne germs from floating in and possibly contaminating the milk. Once the bag is sealed up, then it needs to get placed inside of the refrigerator or the freezer right away. It does not need to sit on the counter and get to room temperature. Place it immediately where it will be stored so it stays fresh and sanitary for your baby.
- It is possible to get more ounces than what your baby will take in a feeding, so fill up as many bottle bags or containers as you can. The more frequently you empty the milk ducts, the larger the milk production will be and the longer it will last. When the ducts get emptied regularly, they get in the habit of working to produce more milk and keep the supply flowing. And even if you have to quit nursing, then there will still be some in the freezer where you can use to help baby ease in to formula or to continue on with the breast milk.
Do NOT use a microwave to thaw expressed milk!
When you are thawing expressed milk, it should not be microwaved unless it has to be. Place the plastic bottle bag in a cup of hot water so it thaws. There are also special machines where the milk can be placed inside and it will automatically heat it up so it is the right temperature for the baby to drink it. These machines are called bottle warmers and will usually heat the milk up safely in a matter of a few minutes, so you don’t have to worry about a hungry and screaming baby in the background. Any expressed milk that is not consumed during a feeding should be thrown away and not frozen or refrigerated a second time.