Breast milk Stored in a Freezer
If you have stored pumped breastmilk in your freezer or refrigerator and want to know if it is salvageable,
use these guidelines;
- If frozen breast milk is slushy or has any ‘ice crystals’ continue to store it in the freezer. It is still considered frozen.
- If the milk it totally liquid, it is considered defrosted and should be kept cool and used within 24 hours and not refrozen.
Source: Univ. of WA Med. Ctr; Lactation Dept., 2006; Human Milk Banking Assoc. of North America, Best Practice, 2005.
Other Tips and Information
- If using someone else’s freezer while your power is out, be sure to label your breast milk with your name, date and contact information.
- Avoid opening your freezer. Keep breast milk in the middle of your freezer, away from the walls of the freezer. Items in the center will stay frozen longer.
- Contact your refrigerator/freezer manufacturer to find out how your particular make and brand works during a power outage.
- Don't be concerned if your milk smells "soapy" once it is thawed. This smell is attributed to changes in the milk fats.
- To warm thawed breast milk before feeding your baby, place in warm water. If warm water is not available, place bag/container of breast milk in your bra, under your arm, or somehow next to your skin to bring to body temperature. Never microwave breast milk.
- If you are breast-feeding, continue to do so. If you are breastfeeding and bottle-feeding, breastfeed as much as possible in place of bottle-feeding (especially if no access to hot water for washing).
- If using formula, it must be refrigerated and used within 24 hours. If no refrigeration is available, mix the formula each time your baby needs to eat and discard the leftover.
- Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10 cubic foot freezer (upright or chest-style) below freezing for three to four days. Be sure to wear heavy, dry gloves when handling dry ice to avoid injury. Keep dry ice away from children. Never transport a cooler of dry ice in a car because it gives off carbon dioxide.
- Freezer/Cooler/Ice chest tips: Make sure the door/lid remains tightly closed during the outage.
- Routinely (before an outage) fill any unused space with crumpled paper or bottles/empty milk cartons filled with water. Place blankets over the freezer/cooler/ice chest to help keep cold.
- Chest- style freezers stay cooler longer than upright models.
If your baby is hospitalized, check with your care provider for more guidance.
- If you rely on an electric breast pump for expression don’t forget you can express manually as well.
- For techniques on how to do this: http://www.breastfeeding.com/helpme/helpme_images_expression.html
- If you don’t have access to the Internet, call a Lactation Consultant who can walk you through this.
- Some electric breast pumps can be converted to manual or have an adapter for use with a car battery.
Breast milk Storage Guidelines
Room temperature (at 60° for 24 hrs; 66° for 10 hrs; 79° 4-6 hrs)
Refrigerator; fresh milk (32°-39° F or 0°-4° C) Up to 8 days maximum
Refrigerator; thawed milk (32°-39° F or 0°-4° C) 24 hours
Freezer compartment inside refrigerator 2 weeks
Freezer compartment above, below or next to refrigerator 3-6 months
Deep freezer less than 0° F 6-12 months
Insulated cooler / ice packs (60° F or 15° C) 24 hours
For lactation information and referral; contact the Family Health Hotline: 1.800.322.2588.
SOURCE: Power Failure and Frozen Expressed Breastmilk
The Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington, 2006
What to do now
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact FEMA or the American Red Cross.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources.
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
Prepare for next time
- Determine what type of disaster, follow local authority guidelines
- If need be, be ready to move quickly
- Make a plan to go somewhere (relatives, friends, help center)
- Pack a travel bag containing: official documents, identity cards, passport, medications, water, baby supplies (food, diapers), basic toiletries (travel size: soap, toothpaste, face cream, shampoo/conditioner)
- Wear a light weight, water-proof, insulated coat, water-proof boots and a change of underwear
- If you can take a car, pack warm blankets, water, cans of gas, sleeping bags, water purifier, and at least 3 months of dried food