Important Facts to Know About Breast Milk
Ever wonder why your breast milk freezer bag makes you add, not only your name and date but also the time?
This is because breast milk has different nutrients at different times of the day. You’ve probably heard the saying that breast milk contains the perfect blend of nutrients for your baby, well… it does! That saying is truer than most people even realize.
So What’s Really in Breast Milk?
- Breast milk has 2 types of protein which will help with your baby’s digestion.
- Fats, this is where your baby will get a majority of their calories. The fats in breast milk also help with brain, retina, and nervous system development.
- It’s important that Mom maintains a healthy diet and/or continues taking prenatal vitamins so that all the necessary vitamins are being passed to your baby during feeding sessions. Your baby needs vitamins A, D, E, K, C, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. All of these are essential to your baby’s health.
- Carbohydrates, the primary one being lactose. Lactose fights disease and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria.
You might be thinking, formula contains all of those things, what makes breast milk so much better for a baby?
Breast milk contains actual living cells that are helping to fight off disease. Along with the perfect combination of nutrients the living cells, enzymes, antibodies, and hormones are what make breast milk the most ideal food for feeding your baby.
Why Does the Time of Day Make a Difference?
Now, back to why breast milk freezer storage bags want you to write the time of when you pumped the milk.
Depending on the time of day different amounts of nutrients are being released. Morning sessions are different than nighttime sessions.
- In the morning, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and sodium will be at the highest level to promote alertness.
- During the day, the immune system concentrates will be higher than in the evening.
- During the night, melatonin will be higher and peak around midnight. Melatonin promotes sleep and digestion.
This is why those storage bags want you to write the time on them. You want to be sure you’re giving your baby pumped milk around the same time it was actually pumped.
Even just sorting out day milk from night milk will make a difference in your baby’s sleeping patterns, and we all know how important sleep is!
How Long Can I Store Breast Milk?
There are so many rules when it comes to how you can store breast milk. Sometimes it can be hard to remember all of them, so here is a simple breakdown.
Freshly Pumped or Expressed Breast Milk (Think of the number 4)
- Can be left at room temperature for up to 4 hours
- Can be left in the fridge for up to 4 days (Remember the back of the fridge is always colder and therefore the best place to keep the milk.)
Thawed or Previously Frozen Breast Milk (Think 1)
- Can be left at room temperature for 1-2 hours
- Can be left in the fridge for 1 day (24 hours)
Frozen breast milk is good for up to 12 months, but 6 months is the recommended time frame.
It is also recommended to not store your breast milk in the door of a freezer because when you are opening and closing the door it affects the temperature of the milk.
Remember to NEVER refreeze frozen breast milk.
Why You Should Never Refreeze Breast Milk
Studies have been conducted on the effects of freezing breast milk, and what has been learned is that when breast milk is frozen it does indeed lose some antioxidants. However, it is so minimal that it does not affect the overall health of your baby and is still considered mature breast milk.
What you do not want to do is refreeze breast milk. When breast milk is refrozen the nutrients may breakdown, even more, increasing the chance of bacterial growth.
This is why you should never refreeze breast milk. You wouldn’t want to risk giving your baby a bacterial infection.
How to Thaw Frozen Breast Milk
If you are storing and freezing breast milk it is also so important to understand the safe way to thaw it out. Also that it is best to use the oldest milk first. The first one in the freezer should be the first one out.
- First things first, never use a microwave! Not only does microwaving destroy some of the nutrients but it can also create hot spots in the milk that will burn your baby’s mouth.
- You can put frozen breast milk in the fridge overnight and let it thaw.
- You can also place the frozen breast milk in a container of lukewarm water or under running lukewarm water.
How to Warm Breast Milk Before Feeding.
Serving breast milk warm is definitely the most common practice because most babies prefer it to be warm or room temperature. However, it doesn’t have to be warmed up. It is perfectly safe to serve breast milk cold, but if you want to warm it up a bit for your little one use these tips!
- Always keep the container sealed when you are heating the breast milk.
- Put the breast milk in a container of hot water to heat it up. I prefer to use a bottle warmer.
- Test the temperature by placing a few drops of milk on your wrist. You want it to feel warm and not hot.
- Lastly, swirl the breast milk around to mix the fats that may have separated from the rest of the milk.
If your baby doesn’t finish their bottle, rest assured that the milk will still be safe for up to 2 hours.
Breastfeeding is For Mom and Baby
It may seem like there are a lot of rules and guidelines to breastfeeding, but you’ll get the hang of things quickly.
Thank goodness for the internet to help us remember things when our “mom brains” are having trouble keeping things straight.
Breastfeeding benefits your baby so much, even if you can only do it for a few months. It not only benefits your little one but also benefits mom!
Breastfeeding has helped create an even stronger bond between my little girl and I. It may have been a struggle in the beginning, but it was all so worth it!