Never Waste Breast Milk
It takes time and precious, limited mama energy to produce milk. So do not waste it!!!
*First and foremost: if your baby doesn't finish a bottle of breast milk REFRIGERATE it and offer it at the next feeding. (Formula must be discarded one hour from baby drinking from bottle--not breast milk!) Breast milk not finished in the feed can be refrigerated for 4-6 hours and used at next feed.
If you have a surplus of breast milk, here are some alternatives:
Your milk could literally save a life.
*Immune Booster for your kids
Where else can you get stem cells and more white cells than blood??? Save your frozen milk for when your kids get sick or exposed to colds or illnesses. Mix it in a smoothie, add a little cocoa powder, call it 'coconut milk,' but your milk can help your kids at any age.
*First Aid Remedy
Antiseptic, antiviral,,,,literally liquid gold. It can be applied directly into the ears to fight infection, treat burns, rashes, eczema. (Many people also use it to treat pink eye, but I was unable to find evidence to support the efficacy.)
Add your milk to your baby or kid's bath. All over skin treatment for rashes or just moisturizing.
Great alternative to cow's milk, you can use your milk to enhance the nutritional value of pancakes, muffins, or other baked goods, macaroni and cheese......
Did I mention stem cells? For maximum benefit, steam your face for 5-10 mins. Mix milk with ground oats and apply to face until it dries. (about 20 mins.) But, even applying breast milk directly to your skin and letting it be absorbed for 10 mins is beneficial.
Why not use a little milk to make a keepsake?
*Pets and Plants
Your pets and plants can also benefit from left over milk. I'd rather see some living thing benefit from your efforts than ever see it go down the drain!
Keep in mind that properly collected breast milk doesn't go bad after "xx" amount of time in the freezer....But it's immune-enhancing and nutritional benefits can begin to deteriorate.
I'm always looking to help moms find purpose for surplus milk....If you have an idea, please share it with me!
When to Pump & Dump
I hate that "pumping & dumping" is a thing. (As in, making milk and literally dumping it in the trash.) It's often UNNECESSARILY recommended and that's what drives me crazy.
Women are usually told to get rid of their milk due to medications. The majority of medical professionals who are recommending this are getting their information from the PDR. (The Physician's Desk Reference states most medications aren't suitable for breastfeeding.) Pharmaceutical companies don't want the liability--it's just easier for everyone to agree it's not safe.
Before you dump your milk, do some research! Dr. Thomas Hale is the best authority on this subject. He meticulously categorizes drugs by whether the medication will enter breast milk, be able to be absorbed by the baby and in what ratio. For more specific and detailed information get Hale's book or app. Kellymom has a great searchable database. If you need help, contact your local La Leche League or an IBCLC.
Often, there are more compatible alternatives. If there isn't a better option, consider alternative and complimentary treatments. (i.e. if you have a cold, you can use a nettie pot, steam, take echinacea and vitamin c, etc.)
The other common cause for pumping and dumping is alcohol. Here, moderation and timing are everything. When dealing with a newborn, keeping it to one occasional drink is reasonable.
As your baby gets a little older, if you plan to have more than 1-2 drinks, try to feed or pump immediately before. Alcohol enters and EXITS your milk as it does your bloodstream. To read more about safely consuming alcohol and nursing, visit:
When in doubt, you can always pump and refrigerate your milk until you can find accurate information on your specific situation. Ideally, you want to be able to work with your health care provider to find treatments that support your breastfeeding situation and the health of everyone involved. Stay tuned for Part 2: Re-Purposing Breast Milk!
When Breast Milk Thaws....
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many mamas face the additional stress of losing their stash of frozen breast milk. If you have lost power, please don't dump your milk....At least not yet.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of research on safety of previously frozen breast milk. But, here's what HAS been studied so far:
*Breast milk that is still slushy or has crystals is still considered frozen. Simply re-freeze it as soon as possible.
*Breast milk that has been thawed and un-refrigerated for up to 8 hours can be refrozen.
If your frozen milk thawed, but is still cold, consider refreezing. A study in Breastfeeding Medicine (Rechtman, Lee & Berg 2006) measured bacteria levels, Vitamins A & C, as well as Fatty Acids in thawed breast milk in various conditions. The study included milk that was thawed and refrozen repeatedly....And guess what? That milk was still safe to use!
In determining the fate of thawed milk, use common sense. Smell it. Breast milk will separate (it's unpasteurized!) that's not an indication of whether the milk is still good to use.
To all the parents who are dealing with power outages and property damage in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, your family will be in my thoughts.
Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Mother of Three.