Tuesday, July 04, 2006

To freeze or not to freeze

There is a lot of conflicting information out there when it comes to the best way to store breast milk.

When I was sent home from the hospital with Darth D., I was given a manual (of sorts) from the American Academy of Pediatrics, on how to breastfeed. I believe that the actual name of the thing was "A Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding." In it, the AAP stated that breast milk that won't be used within 24 hours should be frozen. It also said that any breast milk in the fridge should be thrown away after 72 hours. Link here.

The La Leche League, however, has a completely different set of guidelines. They state that breast milk can be stored in the refrigerator for at least five days. Link here.

Now, this makes a huge difference for the mom who is pumping. Let's say you already have a two day supply of milk in the fridge; do you keep refridgerating, or do you freeze? Freezing the breast milk does decrease it's ability to inhibit bacterial growth, but I haven't found an article that clearly states how much. Like this article: it states that "antioxidant activity at both refrigeration and freezing temperatures was significantly decreased. Freezing resulted in a greater decrease than refrigeration, and storage for seven days resulted in lower antioxidant activity than storage for 48 hours." Therefore, "to preserve the antioxidant activity of human milk, storage time should be limited to 48 hours. Refrigeration is better than freezing and thawing. " But is this still true after the 48 hour mark? What about 72 hours?

And what if the milk has been in the fridge for three days? On the fourth day, can you still give it to the baby? Can you freeze it? Or do you have to throw it away?

It is so frustrating when reputable sources conflict with each other, especially when it comes to something like how to feed your baby.

Here's what I do: I keep a two-day supply of pumped milk in the fridge. Anything beyond that, I freeze. But I only freeze milk that has been pumped within the last six hours. (This article states that you can freeze milk that has been refridgerated for 48 hours, while this one says freeze within four. Uch.) Once frozen, I use within two months. (I haven't had to use a lot of frozen, though, since Darth D. is only three months old.)

I wish the AAP and the LLL could come to some kind of consensus on this. I'm sure a lot of moms out there are throwing away three day old breast milk, instead of feeding it to their baby. And frankly, I'm not sure they're doing the wrong thing. The AAP would certainly agree with them. But LLLLeaders would probably say they're wrong.


Blogger akeeyu said...

Did you ever read The Trixie Update? He did a short piece about feeding expressed breast milk and storage and rotation.


11:34 PM  
Blogger JK said...

I follow the rules that our milk bank gave me 'cause I donate extra that I've pumped. I pump and I breastfeed. My hat is off to you for exclusively pumping and feeding. I read another Mom's blog who did this... I'll dig and see if I can find her again. I am most impressed.

Anyway, here is what my milk bank told me.

1. Freeze within two days of pumping.
2. It's good for 4-6 months in a freezer that is not a deep freezer. I myself haven't used anything older than 5 months frozen.
3. My milk bank will take it even if it's older than 6 months 'cause they will do research with it.

I feed breastmilk that's been in the refrigerator to my baby if it's 5 days or less old. (However, I'm sure at times she's drank stuff as old as a week 'cause sometimes I do forget to label the stuff I'm planning to give my baby and not freeze 'cause I think I'll remember. And then I get confused... 'cause sometimes the nanny or my husband moves the bottles and disrupts my system... ARGGH!)

Also, as a show of solidarity, I pumped 9 oz. while writing this comment ;-).

4:59 PM  

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