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Breast Milk Storage Hints

My daughter Meghann, now 32w5d pregnant, will be going back to work after her daughter Gabriella Grace is born, so asked me to ask my Facebook mamas for helpful hints about bottles, bags and storage of breast milk (we’ve previously had a discussion of breast pumps). Here are the comments. Nana (me!) thanks all who participated. And if you have more to share, please do. 

C: If you use bags, freeze them flat to save lots of space. 

R: Avent bottles and reusable breast milk storage cups with screw lids. My Medela Pump in Style double electric pump has lasted 5 kids and still going! 

R: Did not like Dr Brown’s bottles... way too many parts to clean. Such a pain. 

A: Freeze milk in ice cubes trays; each compartment should be 1oz (check beforehand). Then you can thaw as much as you need, without waste. 

M: Find a system that is versatile. Bags are awesome for freezing milk! Depending on when you will be introducing the bottle (please wait!), you may also need some other items to help feed baby in the meantime. And, your mom is pretty awesome at giving advice about these things, too. 

E: I use donor milk and my favorite pumpers freeze the bags flat -- much easier to defrost that way! 

A: You can transfer from the tray to a bag too, and then thaw as many cubes as needed. 

M: Bags are way easier than bottles, even if they are less environmentally friendly. Medela makes them so they hook onto the pump too.

Also - bring a Sharpie and label them when you pump, rather than when you get home and put them in the fridge/freezer. And smell/taste is the best way to determine freshness if it's been in the fridge a while. 

L: I used Milk Trays; food-safe trays that hold milk in 1 ounce, finger-sized portions, that are easy to store and you can drop into a bottle for thawing. After the milk is frozen, you can pop a batch of them in a freezer bag and keep storing! 

A: For sure a Medela pump and I used the Medela bags as well. I was too nervous to freeze them sideways ‘cause I didn't want to risk a leak. 

K: Don't try to clean the "horns" after each pump. Put them in a gallon size reusable baggie and put that in the fridge with your milk. Wash them at home that night... big time saver. Also for flat bags, I believe "The First Years" makes a storage unit that is spring loaded to flatten the bags for you. 

E: I like the Lansinoh bags laid flat to freeze and the stored upright in a bin. We always used Avent bottles because of the slow-flow anti-colic nipples. 

J: I prefer the Lansinoh bags over the Medela... they are less expensive and lie flat frozen and unfrozen. My son used Dr. Brown's bottles but they have a lot of parts. I'm researching bottles myself at the moment. I might go with the glass Evenflos... inexpensive and simple. 

K: My advice, contrary as it may seem, is to introduce a bottle early. I only know one person whose kid suffered from nipple confusion, but many, many (including my first) who refused bottles under most or all circumstances. Lillian got her first bottle at 3 months and only took it if she was screamingly hungry and never if I was in the house. Alden got his first bottle at 3 weeks and will happily take a bottle from anyone. 

I use Lansinoh freezer bags and freeze them flat. Then I stack them in a shoebox like recipe cards, with the newest ones in the back. The flat form-factor means they thaw much more quickly, too!

J: Lansinoh bags, laid flat in the freezer, and labeled with a Sharpie (label does not touch the same part of the bag as the milk). I freeze in 4 oz. increments (that's a feeding for her). I've got about 300 oz in my freezer right now which wouldn't work so well with ice cube trays. Also, I use Tommee Tippee bottles. I used Avent bottles with my first and they worked fine, but my second refused that bottle and the Tommee Tippee has a wider mouth nipple so I think it mimics the breast better.

A: We used Dr. Brown’s Bottles when my son was small, but they leak like the dickens when the kiddies start trying hold their own bottles. We switched to cheapie Gerber bottles when he started hold his own and they worked great. Pumping at work is hard - try looking at photos of your kiddo to increase what you get for milk; that always helped me. 

E: Also I was never a super pumper, just enough for the next. I was lucky enough to have kids who saved most of their appetite and activity for me. 

K: I really like the Honeysuckle bags because they're biodegradable. Find them on Amazon, of course! 

T: This helpful tip was recently shared on Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network & it is really amazingly simple. I really wish I knew this trick when I was pumping – A Simple Idea to Store Your Breastmilk.

E: Two of my pumpers use the Limerick PJ's Pump. I'd never heard of it, but they swear it's more comfortable than the Pump-in-Style. It helps create let-down and it's gentle, with soft horns. 

M: Lansinoh freezer bags are a must. They have a double zipper lock top to prevent spills, an extra sterile tear off top and freeze wonderfully flat for easy stacking and storage. I did 8 months of pumping with my first and am on month 5 with the second and I haven't had a torn, burst or leaky bag. I labeled them with a Sharpie and put them in 4 oz batches. 

For bottles, we do the Playtex Drop Ins. The silicone Playtex nipples came highly recommended by our lactation specialists. And personally, I love the sterile plastic bottle liners that make keeping things clean extra easy. The nipples come in slow, medium and fast flow to adjust to your kid's needs. 

I also really liked the Medela microwave steamer bags (Quick Clean Microwave Bag) for periodic sterilizing of nipples, pump parts, etc. I even gave some to the daycare so they could sterilize things that might need it (if the item can stand up to the heat).

K: Lansinoh freezer bags are awesome (knowledge from my first baby) and Breast flow bottles are awesome. I use a 40 buck pump that works awesome. I can't afford a 300 something dollar pump, so I stick with the one I have. 

K: I store in glass (old baby food jars or spice jars) because I don't like how the breast milk sticks to the plastic of bags (but we never ended up with a huge stash in the freezer). They stack in the freezer fine. We also like the Born Free bottle - the nipple is a pretty good approximation of a breast's nipple/areola shape… it's glass and can get totally cleaned and the nipples have slow flow for tiny babies and increasingly large holes available as baby gets older. Some insurance plans will pay for a pump. I have a Medela Pump in Style that was $50 co-pay, and it's been a workhorse for over three years now.

G: I worked full-time and pumped at work from 6-12 months of age (teacher; home and nursing on summer vacation now). My baby stayed home with my mom 3 days and went to daycare 2 days. I bought an extra set of bottles for my Ameda pump and stored in those at home. I froze and sent the milk to daycare in Lansinoh bags. We used Born Free glass bottles at home and BPA-free plastic Born Free bottles at daycare. 

C: Used wide mouth Avent bottles (not WHO compliant) - the babe liked them and they were big enough to hand express into if just needed quick relief. 

Lansinoh bags in a "The First Years" milk holder. We flipped the lid over so that we could freeze the bags flat and they took up less space. My son had no tummy issues but my cousin would write her most recent meal on the bags to see what was causing tummy issues with her daughter.

Keep some cloth wipes or cut up receiving blanket scraps in your pump bag -they dry without leaving any fuzziness behind that prevents you from getting good suction.

M: Is Limerick WHO compliant? 

NgM: No. From what I can find, only Hygeia is totally WHO-compliant. Finding this list has been extremely frustrating.

S: I have fallen on love with Lansinoh storage bags for storing milk. Freeze flat and they don't take much space at all. Make sure you mark how much milk is in the bag though. Once frozen it is hard to tell. 

A: I've been using Nuk storage bags, they are a lot like the Lansinoh storage bags, and I also lay flat to freeze and then keep it standing upright in a big Tupperware. I LOVE the gift bag idea, but I'm pumping my milk for another baby, so I'm not the one using it. 

The Medela double pump is really super awesome. 

J: I have both a Medela Pump in Style and a Hygeia Enjoye. I like the Enjoye better. It is more comfortable for me and has an internal rechargeable battery so I don't have to worry about being plugged in. Also, the Medela pumping kits work with it. I freeze flat in Lansinoh bags and store them upright in the freezer in a shoe box. Still working on getting her to take a bottle, but we still have another month. 

T: I used bottles for storage in the fridge; since my son went to daycare it was easier that way. I had a shelf dedicated. When I came home with that day's supply, I moved the older ones forward and put the newer supply in the back. That way it was easy to remember what we needed to use next. I also used the storage bags in the freezer and froze them lying flat to maximize storage space. 

NgM: I learned so much! Thanks to everyone for sharing their ideas and experiences. I know Meggie will be able to use much of what you said. Thanks again!

Meghann & Brian at their Baby Shower, July 9, 2011 (32 weeks 4 days).