July 19

A Look Back On My Breastfeeding Journey

Last July 4, this photo of my little preemie going home after his 111-day stay in Neonatal-ICU (NICU) appeared in my Facebook memory,

Memories of his journey home flashed back at me. It is amazing how 5 years flew by so quickly.

Nothing about my whole birthing experience with Little H can be called conventional, even when it comes to feeding. When he was born 14 weeks before his due date, none of us were prepared. Even my body was not prepared. Two days after giving birth, I had to produce at least half an ounce of milk so they have something to feed my son for the day. However, I was not producing any, not even my colostrum is coming out. I was worried, stressed and anxious. I was desperate for milk. It was an answered prayer when my son’s neonatologist helped by giving me a massage similar to what lactation consultants do, and in a matter of minutes, my milk started to flow, not so much yet but just enough. I literally cried buckets when we delivered his first milk to NICU.
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June 27

Storing Frozen Breastmilk

It is not all the time that babies can drink directly from mom’s breast such as when mom is at work or baby can not feed on his own yet. Aside from regularly expressing milk to continue your supply, storing and keeping it fresh is equally important. I’ve been expressing and storing milk since I gave birth 3.5 months ago. Here are ways on how I store my expressed breastmilk.

Cleanliness is a priority. I always wash my hands and rub alcohol or hand sanitizer prior to expressing my milk. Containers and pump must be clean as well to avoid contamination of milk. If I have even just a single doubt that the milk is not free from contamination, I immediately discard it.

Milk containers must be clean and sterilized. Initially, I used my baby’s feeding bottles. However, since his consumption is significantly lower than what I produced everyday, I eventually run out of feeding bottles to use. I later used disposable milk storage bags and reusable milk containers.

Milk storage bags are reasonably priced and is available in department stores. The brands I’ve used so far are Ai-Non and Precious Moments. It can hold up to 8ounces of milk per bag. I like Precious Moments more because its measurements are accurate. Equally popular is Nanny brand. In the Philippines, each box costs P300 ($7) each which contains 25 bags. It is pre-sterilized so I can use it immediately.

I also used the Medela Milk Containers. These containers, however, are not available in most department stores. I purchased it from The Medela House and can hold up to 2.5ml of milk each. It may seem expensive at first (P700 for 10pcs or $16) but it can be used several times. It can also be used later to store baby food. Since I’m using a Medela pump, this is a good buy as well since it fits perfectly into the assembly of the pump.

Afte the containers, the next thing to consider is the actual storing of milk. My son’s doctor told me that I should not immediately freeze freshly expressed milk because it’s wam. So I let it stand for 5-10 minutes to cool it down a bit then put it inside the fridge.  Also, to maximize the use of my containers, I add up the milk that I expressed. Each of my bag contains 5 to 6 ounces each or equivalent to two rounds of expressed milk. This is safe for as long as they are of the same temperature when combined. I put them inside the fridge first then later when they are of the same temperature, I transfer it to the containers. Never combine freshly expressed milk with the one inside the fridge and most especially do not combine it with the frozen ones as this can spoil the milk. Also, milk inside the fridge can last up to 24 hours only, otherwise it must be frozen , used or discard. Always remember to label each bag with the date of storage. Consumption must be on a first -in and first out basis.

For most of us who do not have a separate freezer for breastmilk, we freeze our milk together with ice and meat. To protect milk from contamination, I put my containers inside plastics and seal it to ensure that it will be free from odors and germs from other frozen items most especially meat and poultry products. I use plastic food plastics and place it together with ice.

I do hope I was able to help you with my tips above. If you have something to add, let me know so I can also improve the quality of my frozen breastmilk!