Pumping, Storing, & Transporting Breast Milk During Hurricane.
You’ve built your stash over a few months. Your freezer is full of that liquid gold. You turn on the news and hear about a serious natural disaster heading your way and your first thought is, “what happens to all that breast milk in my freezer if the power goes out”!? Any pumping mama would be stressed. As a pumping mom myself, I completely get it. Hurricane Dorian is heading our way. Another hurricane. Thank you, Florida. And all I can think about is what am I going to do with my frozen breast milk? So, I put together some tips to help relieve the stress and wanted to share them with all of you. If you’re going to be evacuating, I’ll throw in some tips for that as well.
Pumping and storing tips:
Get a hand pump
Get a car adapter or battery pack for your pump
Have milk storage bags handy
Label the bags with date, time and oz.
Do not open the freezer
Fill empty freezer space with ice, ice packs and frozen bottles
Keep milk in the center of the freezer and away from the walls
Get a smaller cooler if needed
Feed baby stored milk and continue to pump and store fresh milk
Hand pumps really come in handy for situations like these, but if you don’t have any access to one, make sure you look up some videos on how to hand express.
What about the milk you already have in the freezer? The good news is that, according to the USDA, items usually stay frozen in a freezer for about 48 hours. Keep in mind, it’s important that your freezer remains full and packed so the items are insulated (see tip #6 above). If the power is still out after 48 hours, you can try to move your milk stash to a freezer that has power. That might not be possible for some so just remember, as long as your milk has any ice crystals in it, even if parts of the milk has thawed, it is still considered fresh and can be fed to your baby.
A study from 2016, published in Breastfeeding Medicine, found no bacterial build up or significant changes in breast milk nutrition that had been refrozen. Of course, if you’re pumping for a preemie or immune-compromised child, you should run this by your child’s pediatrician.
Evacuating mamas, it’s not the end of the road for all of your precious mother’s milk! What should you do if you’ve been evacuated or decide to leave your home? First and foremost, make sure your destination has empty freezer space available for you. Then, you just have to keep the milk frozen well enough until you get there. How do you do that? Get a portable cooler (see tip #8 above) that is small enough to hold all of your liquid gold tight and compact. This will help keep the milk colder/frozen longer. Fill any empty space with newspaper. Another consideration is to store your pumped milk bags in sealed storage bags to avoid leaks. Use ice packs to keep it cool.
The most important thing to worry about though, is keeping your family safe. Make sure you take all precautions and plan ahead. Wishing you all a safe journey into this unpredictable weekend.
This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.