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Power outage? Here’s how to express and store breast milk

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With the onset of winter, breastfeeding mothers face a new set of concerns: the potential for power outages. If you are a breastfeeding parent who needs to maintain a pumping schedule for milk production, as well as ensure that previously frozen breast milk is stored, it is very important to have a plan in case of a power outage.

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While it’s always a good idea to invest in a backup generator if you live in an area that’s particularly prone to power outages, the good news is that most power outages come with some sort of warning so you can take steps to prepare even if you don’t. . Available.

Making sure you have everything you need to safely store your breast milk is the key to getting through power outages stress-free.

1. Charge your pump and schedule backup power

As a general rule, make sure all items are enabled between sessions; especially your pump.

If your pump can run on batteries, keep them handy. Make sure you have enough batteries of the right size to power you through several pumping sessions.

You should also have a pump power cord that works in your car in case the power outage lasts longer than you expect. Because your car’s power supply is battery powered, you can enjoy peace (and warmth!) in your car.

2. Buy a hand pump

While it may take a little longer to express milk with a manual breast pump, it is a good backup to keep handy.

If you’re an exclusively pumping mom, emptying your breasts completely is key to preventing discomfort, or worse, an infection like mastitis. Don’t risk not being able to pump milk because your electric pump is dead.

One simple solution is the hand pump, a relatively inexpensive and absolutely priceless item. The Medela Harmony is a reasonably priced manual breast pump recommended by Torrey Potter, RN IBCLC, with “two different handle positions to help control speed/sucking.”

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3. Prepare your freezer

Clean up your freezer before a thunderstorm. The goal is to store all existing frozen breast milk in the center of a fully stocked freezer. “The key to keeping food frozen is having a full freezer. A full freezer should stay frozen for up to 48 hours without electricity. A half-full freezer is only safe for 24 hours or less,” advises Dave Ellerby, Chief Scientist Reviewed.

If you don’t have enough food in your freezer to pack your milk, IBCLC’s Chrissy Rosenthal offers this idea: “Fill plastic bottles with water and put the bags in their own tightly surrounded place.” You must not see milk.

Remember to open the freezer after a power outage, as closing it helps keep the temperature cool. Attach a Do Not Disturb sign to remind yourself and other family members not to open the door.

4. Get a fridge and ice packs

An insulated cooler is the key to keeping freshly expressed breast milk fresh. Filled with plenty of ice packs (or just ice packs), the refrigerator will serve as a temporary cooler for your milk and a place to safely store your breast pump parts until you can completely clean them.

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5. Stock up on supplies

Keeping patient care supplies close at hand can help you calm down in the event of a power outage.

You will need many milk bags and a marker to label them for any milk that is expressed during a storm.

Keep spare parts on hand for any other equipment that is part of your pumping routine. That means plenty of clean bottles, pump supplies, cleaning wipes, and everything else you need to pump comfortably.

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6. Stock up on healthy snacks

Sufficient milk supply requires the parent to be well hydrated and nourished. Make sure you have plenty of bottled water on hand, as well as a selection of your favorite non-perishable foods and snacks that encourage lactation. A pack of lactation biscuits will satisfy your sweet cravings and also help your supply.

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7. Dress comfortably and practical

The Dual Access Nursing Bra allows you to use the same bra for both pumping and nursing. Ingrid and Isabelle make a super-smooth, cool pumping and nursing bra that’s perfect for extended power outages. Buy a few so you have a backup in case of a leak.

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How to manage pumping breast milk during a power outage

Alternate pumping, breastfeeding, and using expressed milk during thunderstorms. The exact formula will vary between parent and child depending on the age of the child, the amount of milk the parents have, and how much breastmilk the child is receiving, Rosenthal said.

In general, it is recommended to rely on breastfeeding as much as possible. By focusing on breastfeeding, you will increase the time before you need access to your milk supply.

Keeping a regular breastfeeding and pumping schedule is important to ensure your nutrition doesn’t drop after a power outage.

How long can frozen breast milk be stored?

Freshly expressed breast milk can be safely stored in an insulated refrigerator with ice packs for up to 24 hours.

Thawed, pre-frozen breast milk can be stored for up to 24 hours. Never refreeze breast milk after it has been thawed, as this increases the chance of bacterial growth.

If you freeze freshly expressed breast milk, it will last for 6-12 months, although it is recommended to use it as soon as possible.

How to thaw frozen breast milk

Always use the oldest breast milk first. You can thaw frozen breast milk by placing it in the refrigerator overnight, by placing it in a bowl of warm water, or by simply holding the bag under warm running water. Once breast milk has been brought to room temperature or warmed up, use this milk within two hours.

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