Storing your pumped breast milk properly is key to keeping it safe and healthy for your baby. Many breastfeeding moms use plastic storage bags to refrigerate and freeze their expressed milk, and there are numerous brands and styles on the market that serve this purpose. While the brand or style doesn't really matter, there are a few specific considerations to keep in mind when choosing how to store your breast milk.
Benefits of Bags
The sole purpose of a breast milk collection bag is to store your milk until your baby is ready to drink it. The bags give you a convenient place to store expressed milk if you don't plan to use it right away. Breast milk storage bags are heavy-duty and are designed to withstand the cold temperature of your refrigerator and the frigid temperatures of your freezer.
They've Gotta Be Clean
Most retail stores that stock baby gear sell breast milk storage bags. While the brand or style of bag shouldn't be of concern, sterility should. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you must store your milk in sterile collection bags. Bags sold specifically for the purpose of storing expressed breast milk are sterile and safe for you to collect your milk in. Other sterile, sealable bags can serve the same purpose, according to FamilyDoctor.org, but you must ensure they are sterile before using them.
What Not to Use
It may seem like any old sealable bag would work to store your milk, and that's true, but it doesn't mean it's safe. Don't store your milk in zip-top food storage bags because you can't be sure they're sterile. They also don't all seal tightly, which means you'll could have leaky bags on your hands. The same goes for formula bags used in baby bottles. While these are sterile, they don't seal as tightly, which can cause leaking in your refrigerator or freezer.
More to Think About
Bags tend to take up less space than bottles and other storage containers, which is a benefit if you're short on space to store your expressed breast milk. Breast milk storage bags aren't designed for long-term use, however, according to MayoClinic.com. If you plan on storing your milk for weeks or months, consider using sterile bottles instead. At the very least, place the bag of milk in a storage container because it's likely to stay fresh longer. The nutrients in breast milk tend to stick to the sides of plastic bags if they're stored for a long time, which means the milk won't be as nutritious for your little one, according to MayoClinic.com.
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