Last night, my entire neighborhood lost power for no apparent reason. No storm, no planned outage - it just flickered once and then went out in the middle of dinner. I talked to my kiddos about what it means when the power is out and what all is impacted (they are 4 and 7). Since we were eating, I explained that we couldn't heat up any more food in the microwave because it's run on power (don't judge - it was leftover night and we are fancy!). I also talked about how I didn't want them opening the refrigerator and just standing there - I don't really know anyone's child who does this, right?! Anyway, it got me thinking -- what if I were a breastfeeding mom and had milk stored in the refrigerator or freezer? Yikes!
I thought I would outline a few basic guidelines regarding current breastmilk storage and what to do if you unexpectedly lose power.
*Please note that these guidelines are for healthy, full-term babies.
Freshly pumped milk - up to 8 hours. Typically, you will hear 4-6 hours, but up to 8 is considered safe, especially if the container is sealed and room is cool.
Refrigerated milk - up to 7 days. Commonly you will hear to use within 3-5 days, but again up to about 7 days is acceptable.
Frozen milk - up to 12 months in a deep freeze, and in a standard freezer up to 6 months.
Always label your expressed milk with date and time so that you can use the oldest first.
If your power goes out and you have pumped milk, minimize the opening of the refrigerator or freezer doors. If you have easy access to a cooler and ice, you can quickly load a cooler full of ice and place your milk in there. Of course, this requires you to open your refrigerator/freezer doors, so work as quickly as you can. Milk with ice packs in a cooler is good for about 24 hours.
If it's cold outside, you can also grab your milk and place it outside. If it's well below freezing you may be able to keep the milk frozen. Or, if it's below 40, the outside temps would be similar to your refrigerator temp (ideal temp of a refrigerator is somewhere around 35).
Once the power returns, check your frozen milk - if there are still ice crystals present, it hasn't completely thawed and can be refrozen.
Just Carrie wanting a space to write about being a mom to 2, boob nerd, military wife, and food enthusiast. But mainly a place to talk about boobs and babies!
Olympia Office: 2727 Westmoor Ct. SW, Suite 100, Olympia WA
(inside True Self Yoga Wellness Center)
Montesano Office: inside Hands on Health in the Thriftway shopping center
Providing lactation consults and gentle sleep support to families in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, DuPont, Grays Harbor, Yelm, Rainier, and surrounding areas.