Breast milk stash and Loadshedding

Protect your milk stash
By C Haupt
Created: 27 March, 2023

Loadshedding and Breast milk

 

Loadshedding has a massive impact on our daily lives and as a pumping mom with a breast milk stash this can be very scary. When the power is off there is always a risk that your breast milk might thaw and may even need to be thrown away. This would be such a waste of effort and time. So My Breastpump has some tips and tricks for you to help you to keep your breast milk stash safe during load-shedding.

 

Luckily most of the load shedding is just a 2-hour intervals however as we go down the levels they do become longer. The good news is that your freezer should not defrost in the 2-to-4-hour time period however you may need to add freezer packs to your fridge to help keep it cold during this time. The Power outages are the real risk to your freezer stash of breast milk. Power outages are unpredictable and can last for extended periods of time.

Here are some tips and information to help you with power outages:

  1. Keep your freezer doors closed.

The more times that you open your freezer doors while there is no power the quicker your freezer will warm up and defrost it contents. Only open your freezer if you absolutely need to. Plan and remove all the milk that you need the evening before so that it can defrost in the fridge during the day. While you are there remove any meat or foods that you will be needing the next day, so that it can also defrost.

  1. Know how long your freezer will stay frozen

The contents of your freezer will also help to keep the freezer cold. In general, a fuller freezer will take longer to defrost than an empty one. The guidelines are that a full freezer can take up to 48 hours to defrost while a half-full freezer can take 24 hours to defrost.

 

  1. Keeping your freezer colder for longer

You can use Icepacks or frozen salt water to help you keep your freezer cold. As they are not food items they can stay in the freezer at all times and there is no risk of them spoiling when warm. Pack as many ice packs/freezer elements as you can in the freezer. The saltwater freezes colder than normal water which is beneficial for keeping the freezer colder for longer.  Place the extra freezer element or frozen water in the same tray as your breast milk. Add as many of them as possible to keep the focus of the cold near your breast milk stash.

 

You can also use the freezer element/ frozen water in your fridge to help keep it cold when there is an extended power outage. You also need to keep your defrosting/ defrosted milk at a cold temperature of around 4⁰C.

 

  1. Check your milk

Keep a close eye on your breast milk. If you have had an extended power outage, make check to see if it is still frozen. This way you will prevent any nasty surprises when you defrost the milk at a later stage to realize that it has gone off and you are not able to use it.

You can refreeze breast milk if it still has ice crystals in it even if there are some watery sections.

The ideal temperature to store your breast milk according to the CDC is as follows:

25°C or cooler for 4 hours

Fridge 4°C (not in the door as this is warmer than the back of the fridge) for 4 days

Freezer -18° for 6 months

 

  1. Donate to a Milk Bank

 

If you have expressed breast milk and are worried about being able to keep it frozen, consider donating it to one of our country's breast milk banks. They supply breast milk to the most vulnerable of premature babies to both the public and private sectors. The two main breast milk banks are The South African Breast Milk Reserve (https://www.sabr.org.za/) and Milk Matters (https://milkmatters.org/)

 

  1. Store your breast milk in breast milk containers.

It is important to store your milk in strong and sterile breast milk containers so that they do not leak or increase the chance that your milk will spoil during the storage time.

Use containers that are designed to hold liquid breast milk. Containers that are safe to store breast milk in are Glass, plastic (food grade, pre-sterilized, and BPA free), and hard plastic cups. All three suggested items have advantages and disadvantages. Glass containers are great because they are reusable, but they can break if dropped or overfilled before freezing. Food grade plastic can either be breast milk storage bottles like our Hygieni breast milk bottles, https://www.mybreastpump.co.za/product/ameda-hygieni-milk-bottle they are reusable and you can pump directly into the bottle which is a great time saver as you do not need to clean extra bottles. The disadvantage is that they can take up a lot of space in your freezer. Breast milk storage bags are ideal for storing large volumes of breast milk in a freezer as they can be frozen flat to save space in the freezer. If you are looking for Breast milk bags consider using the My Breastpump breast milk storage bag which can hold 250ml and is medically sterilized before packing. It can be found on our website’s storage page https://www.mybreastpump.co.za/product/category/breast-milk-storage, Takealot, or Macro online.

Storage containers that are not recommended to store breast milk in are plastic that contains BPD, disposable bottle liners, steel containers, and food ziplock bags (they have not been sterilized for breast milk storage and can split easily).

 

Please share with us your power outage and load-shedding tips on how to keep your breast milk frozen.