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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Freezing Tips from a Pumping Mama

For August, our guest post was written by Benz Rana, owner of Weddings@Work. Early in her nursing career, Benz had doubts about being able to provide enough milk for her newborn Laya. But with perseverance and determination, she consistently nursed and expressed milk, allowing her to store more than 300oz. of milk in her freezer. Due to the numerous emails she received asking her how she organizes her frozen milk, she came up with a step-by-step guide on freezing and thawing milk.

August Guest Post by Benz Rana - Part I covers Freezing Tips. Part II covers Thawing Tips

What you need:

Sealer – P690 (I got mine from Office Warehouse, saw the same model at National Bookstore for P1190)

Playtex Pre Sterilized Disposable Liners – P449/box of 125 pcs (available at all leading department stores)

Glad Freezer Ziplock Bags – 26.8cm x 27.3 cm 15pcs per box (I assume they are

available at all leading supermarket I got mine at SM Hypermart)

Expressed Milk

When using the sealer there are heat settings ranging from1to 8, 1 being the least hot to 8 being the hottest. I tinkered with it and found my setting to be 2.5 where I press it at roughly 2 seconds, with my daughter (Benz has an 11 year-old daughter, Kite) she presses longer so I put the setting at 1.

Do play with it before you actually use it for your milk. I suggest putting water in the disposable liner so you get an actual feel of sealing it. I tried filling the liner up till 7 oz and I cant do it, it fills since it seals horizontal.

I prefer Playtex Liner over the sealable bags as this is way cheaper also trying to achive a flat frozen bag is not possible with the sealable bags.

To start storing I pull the number of bags I need depending on how many oz. of milk I am going to pack and seal for that batch.I also tried the 4oz bag but they come out bulky thus it wastes freezer space so I use the 8oz bag even when I just fill it up to 2 oz. I know I am wasting the bags by not filling it to the maximum and thus leaving more carbon footprint but I figured my milk is more precious.

I usually store freshly expressed milk in feeding bottles and let them stay in the ref until I have time to pack and freeze or until I gather enough for a batch. A batch for me is between 6-14 oz. or 3 to 7bags.

The reason I do not pack and seal them immediately is because I want expressed milk to be available in our ref for darling daughter anytime. (I read that milk hierarchy is breast, room temperature, ref milk then last is frozen milk – meaning breastmilk has most nutrients and antibodies and it depletes as you go next level, but frozen milk is still better than any other formula milk)

Tip: do not allow having too much milk in a batch as it is quite difficult to freeze several bags at the same time unless you have spacious/strong freezer.

I write down the date on the bag before pouring the milk. It is very hard to write on it once the milk is in. If a batch were expressed on different days (say, 4 oz was expressed today and the other 4 oz were expressed yesterday), I indicate the date yesterday.

I decided on a 2oz milk partition as 2oz thaws faster, besides I am usually out for a short period of time only. Although packing them in 4-6oz may be wiser for a mom who’s regularly out a long period of time. Adjust milk partition to suit your lifestyle and/or your baby’s drinking pattern.

Then I seal it.

I let it rest on something after sealing as the top part is quite hot, though it cools very quickly.

This is the sealed pack.

If I wasn’t able to take of all the air then there will be bubbles in the pack. Those bubbles are not harming they just eats space so no problem about that.

After sealing, I place the new batch in the freezer. I just place them on top of our ice trays.

There’s also another tray that I use, if I have several packs to freeze.

Once frozen,

I place the batch in a small plastic bags first, then move them in 1 Ziplock bag when I reach 25 packs, for easier


25 packs of 2oz milk bags fits perfectly in this Ziplock bags if flat. Do not forget to mark and date the

Ziplock bags so you know which

pack to use first. FIFO (first in/first out) rules apply.


Miss Manila-Dy said...

This is such an informative post especially for first time moms like me :)

Unknown said...

a brilliant idea. Its so well arranged and order. in quick look, its like a cheese.. huhuh

~currant7 said...

this is great!
thank you for this informative post. :)

Jenny said...

thanks for visiting. yes, it takes practice to get the hang of a storage system :D benz is very organized and i was very happy that she agreed to write down and share her tips :D

Gem said...

hi i didn't know i have to remove the air inside the plastic storage bag and i have tons of milk thats already frozen for a few weeks and they have air, is that okay? will it harm my breastmilk? i use 4oz liners and my milk usually spills :( im going to use 8oz next time.

Jenny said...

milk is of even if you didn't remove the air. reason for removing air is to remove air spots which are more prone to puncture. just be careful with the frozen milk bags so they won't be punctured

Yanna Love said...

Hi! My first baby is due this October and I go back to work in 2 mos. I'm a pediatrician, training in PGH, and we're staunch breastfeeding advocates! We hold lactation training seminars, but the nitty gritty... like storing breastmilk in an organized way... has never really been discussed. We give them the shelf life recommendations, and that's all! 

I am so excited to try out your system! Just bought the sealer from Office Warehouse and the Playtex bags (i got the 4 oz bags, but thats ok i guess). Thank you for this, i would never have thought of this method :) I hope it works! More power to your blog, may you continue to inspire many women to give the gift of life!

Jenny said...

Hi Yanna! Congrats on your 1st baby.  and PGH has a milk bank! Used to be an active donor with my first baby. And it was headed my my first-born's former pedia - Dr. Silvestre.   Try the method and donate your excess to the PGH milk bank ;) Good luck!

Yanna Love said...

Oh yes, milk runs out fast at the Milk Bank! I know Dr. Silvestre, she facilitated our training for Unang Yakap :) Love her advocacy and I support her 100%. Thanks again, I just started recommending your site and Kellymom to my patients a few weeks ago. There's plenty of work to be done! I can never thank you enough for the wealth of information you provide for mothers! 

Emy Saguinsin said...

Great post! I'll be back to work by december and by this time I am already thinking of storing milk for my baby.

Emy Saguinsin said...

Just want to ask, if i expressed 2oz milk by 10am, and 1oz at 12pm, can i pour the latter in the same bottle and eventually use one bag for both? Thanks!

Jenny said...

yes but you have to cool down the freshly expressed milk first. you can also check this link -

Emy said...

Tnx Jenny! Will start pumping soon, since I need to go back to work already and this info really helps.

Neri Ustmba said...

Thank you for this informative blog, nothing beats learning from first hand experience.. I didn't know that you can still put in the freezer the milk stored in the ref, may I know what is the maximum days that you can put the milk from the ref to the freezer? Also another question, when we are going out (I normally drive and the baby is with the yaya) I feed my baby with expressed milk stored in the ref, but I put it in a coleman (with no ice) during travel, is this ok? How many hours is safe to use it once it was taken out of ref and is in the coleman?Thank you so much! :)

Jenny said...

Hi Neri! Freezer life will be shorter. For instance, if my milk has been in the ref for about 3-4 days and I move it to the freezer, I store it for just about 1 month.  if you take out expressed milk from ref, i would suggest that you put it in a coleman with ice for travel.  otherwise, i go by the 1 hour rule - use in 1 hour.  Treat it as you would treat other types of milk.  Especially on a hot day, plus hot car, keeping it for long without some sort of cooling will turn it rancid quickly! Hope this helps!

Neri Ustmba said...

Thank you for the reply Jenny! I dont put ice in the coleman so it wont be as cold when I give it to my do you suggest to warm it when its feeding time and we're on the road? Is it ok to give a cold milk (from the coleman with ice) to the baby?
Also if I put it in the coleman with ice, how many hours is it still safe for feeding from the time I take it out of the ref?

Very much appreciated..

Jenny said...

yes, it is ok to give cold milk for baby. for warming, you can bring a thermos of hot water and a cup. then when it's time to warm, soak the bottle in the cup with hot water.  for this question - "Also if I put it in the coleman with ice, how many hours is it still safe for feeding from the time I take it out of the ref?" it is a bit tricky.  usually, as soon as i take it out of the ref, i feed to baby in an hour. rule of thumb will be to smell the milk if it is already sour or rancid

Anonymous said...

Hi. Thank you for this post. I'm starting to pump milk since I'll be returning to work soon. Is it ok to feed baby using the same container where breastmilk was collected/stored or does it have to be transferred to a new container/feeding bottle? Thanks in advance.

- Lethel Mejia

Jenny said...

Question from a reader - Hi. Thank you for this post. I'm starting to pump milk since I'll be returning to work soon. Is it ok to feed baby using the same container where breastmilk was collected/stored or does it have to be transferred to a new container/feeding bottle? Thanks in advance.

- Lethel Mejia 

Yes, you can.  But once you feed baby in the same container, the milk must be used up to prevent spoilage.  If you are not sure baby can use up all the milk, then transfer the milk (just enough for baby) to another feeding container and just add more if necessary so you can still store the excess. 

Lethel Mejia said...

Thanks for the reply.

Denise_villadolid said...

hi mommies out there who have extra breastmilk to share, please inform me.My premature baby needs continuous supply of breastmilk and my supply is zero even with all the supplements I'm taking.He has been in the hospital for more than two months and I was advised to give him breastmilk until his six month.Please get in touch with me thru this number 0933 640 0579.Thank you and godbless

Jenny said...

hi denise! try posting also at human milk for human babies the philippines.  also, to build up milk supply, you have to express milk every 2-3 hours to simulate the baby's needs. 

jo_domingo said...

Hi Jenny! I'm happy I found your blog today. It helps me fight the anxiety I am feeling right now. I am returning to work on Monday but have not yet stored enough milk. Anyways, my question is how long can I keep the breastmilk in the fridge? I usually keep it for 24 hours only and if unused, discard it already. But from below comments, you can keep it longer. Thanks and more power to this blogsite. very useful for moms like me. God Bless.

Jenny said...

Hi Jo! thanks for visiting. Here's my post on milk storage - which lists down storage times.  hope it helps!

Bessie Colet Campillo said...

I super love this entry.  This is how I pack, freeze, and store my milk now. Thanks for sharing.

Brenda Barrientos-Vallarta said...

Hi Jenny, i love this article on freezing breastmilk.  It really does help to have a step-by-step guide for new mothers like me, with pictures pa! 

I was wondering if you also have tips on better management of one's freezer stash. I mean aside from donating some of it, how can i better manage my frozen milk? I used to automatically freeze my milk after pumping and give frozen milk to my baby when i'm at the office. But i read in your blog that it's better to feed baby refrigerated milk rather than frozen milk. Now i'm giving my baby refrigerated milk which i pumped the day before. 

 So i'm wondering what are wise uses of my freezer stash? 

A lot of thanks here! 

Jenny said...

Hi Brenda if you have a lot of freezer stash, you can use it as ice-pops for your baby. it is especially helpful for teething babies and you can put breastmilk ice cubes in a net feeder for chomping.  I give refrigerated milk from monday-friday. whatever is left over on friday night, we freeze, save for what i pumped on friday for monday's feeding. 
The author of this post is actually benz rana of W@W. :D

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