Returning back to work after the baby is born? Sure you are wondering how to store pumped breast milk at work. After your baby is born, you try to get into the routine of feeding, cleaning, rocking and taking care of the baby. It is hard to snap out of that cute blissful pattern and get back to work, especially when it may entail leaving your baby without breast milk. However, with the increasing popularity of breastmilk pumping, leaving your baby behind while you reclaim the world isn’t so scary anymore.
Nevertheless, pumping the breast milk is only half the process. You need to be able to store it properly to make it viable for long. You want your baby to have a stack of the expressed milk for an appreciable amount of time and for it to remain uncontaminated. This can be tricky but will prove even more so when you are at work.
To ensure that the milk remains fresh and that you can still feed your baby even at work, here are some tips that will enable you to store pumped breast milk at work:
Pick an appropriate storage container
The first step to having a good amount of stored milk is to have an appropriate storage equipment. You could lose the result of a fruitful pumping session to a shabby container. Therefore, you should be prepared beforehand, you could get:
- Special plastic bags designed specifically for milk collection and storage. They have a good seal and would not allow contamination from any source as long as they are properly handled.
- You should also have a glass cap to cover your milk container which will close it off properly.
- Whatever container or bag you want to use must be BPA-free. BPA is a common constituent in plastic and plastic-based products which are now being discontinued because of the risk of long-term side effects.
Choose your bottle wisely
Choosing the right storage container is key to your feeding success. Choose bottles that do are not marked with (7) recycling symbols or the letters PC. They are likely to be BPA, which is a definite no-no for your baby.
In preparation for your morning post nursing milk pumping session, get a portable cooler *as shown above) in which to store the breast milk on the go. Also, make provision for an adequate amount of ice packs which will help to keep the milk fresh for your baby. Using this method, stored milk could last for twenty-four hours, which means whatever you pump during the day can still be stored in the cooler.
Prior to your workday, a good refrigerator can help you preserve all expressed milk. Milk stored in a freezer could last and remain healthy and viable for four months. To get the best out of your refrigerator for you stored milk, ensure that:
- Do not store in the door compartment of the refrigerator: this also applies to work, in a flexible workplace where you can use the refrigerator in the lounge or if you have a personal one in your office. Avoid storing your milk in the door compartment. This could lead to defrosting and hence a warm-up.
- Keep the milk in the coldest part of the refrigerator (preferably the back): Do not have your milk where it is in the way of everyone with access to the refrigerator. You want it hidden away from excessive handling and tucked away where it can remain frosted.
- Room temperature of within the range of 19°C-22°C (66°F-72°C) can enable the milk to stay cool for 6-10 hours.
- A noteworthy appliance you could also try to keep the milk cool and viable is an insulated pump cooler case or a cooler bag.
Use Small Quantities
As some say, the secret sometimes is to go smaller! When storing the milk, keep in small quantities to give room for expansion during the freezing process (milk expands when frozen!). Therefore;
- Leave some space between the milk level and the inside lid of the milk cover to allow room for milk expansion without compromising the milk or the container.
- It will also help to store in serving quantities; that is the approximate quantity you think your baby will consume per feeding. This not only allows you to calculate how much milk you need for the day, but it also helps to separate fresh milk from leftover milk which should not be mixed. This is because each time your baby feeds, the milk could be exposed to bacteria which then contaminate what is left. Storing in small quantities eliminates this leftover problem.
Label your Milk
If your baby is in a daycare or creche while you work or are being taken care of by a caregiver, it helps to put a clear label on each milk bottle. The label should contain;
- Your baby’s name in case it’s large daycare where other babies are also being cared for
- Time each milk bottle was expressed: This is very vital information to your caregiver. It allows them to know which milk is oldest and informs them to feed the baby that one first. It also gives them an idea of how long the milk is likely to stay fresh so they can also store properly.
- Indicate leftovers: if any of the milk is a leftover, you would do well to indicate it. The leftover milk would obviously be used for nursing first and would also not be mixed with other fresh milk bottles or containers.
Adding Fresh Milk to what you’ve stored
If you are thinking of mixing freshly pumped milk with what you have in storage, then go right ahead. However, it is ill-advised and counterproductive to directly add you pumped milk. Therefore, ensure that what you have freshly pumped is also pre-cooled before being added to the stored milk.
Also, you notice that the milk separates into a fatty layer and a liquid layer when it has been left to stand awhile. Don’t panic, it’s perfectly normal. What you need to do is swirl the milk until you have a homogeneous mixture again (it is better to swirl than to shake)!
With these tips in place, you are well equipped to store pumped breast milk at work. You’ll be ready to go rocking back to work with your little baby well taken care of without having to go into panic mode because you’ve covered all angles from which surprises may arise!