Creating a breast milk stash in your freezer is a great way to ensure you always have milk on hand for your little one, but there are a few things that can go wrong when you freeze your breast milk despite your best intentions. And I don't just mean losing all of your freezer space.
As a work-at-home, breastfeeding mama, I didn't have to do a lot of pumping, but I tried to do it at least once a day during those early weeks of my daughter's life. My supply was great and I had no problems with my little one latching, but I was determined to build up a freezer stash so I could leave her with a family member for a few hours and make her own baby food by pureeing fruits and veggies with my milk. I pumped, filled up my milk storage bags, and stacked them neatly in little plastic boxes in my freezer, eager to watch my collection grow.
Seems pretty simple, right? Especially when you consider that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that a standard freezer in your refrigerator (the kind with its own separate door) can keep your breast milk safe for three to six months. You put the milk in containers, you stick it in the freezer, and everything's good, right?
Well sure, for the most part. But it turns out there are nine things that can go wrong when you freeze your breast milk. It doesn't take much to avoid these mishaps, but it's worth keeping in the front of your mind so you don't lose your precious breast milk or your sanity.
1Your Storage Bags Can Leak
Especially if you're not using proper storage bags and instead choose to keep your breast milk in disposable bottle liners. Lansinoh noted that if you don't use the correct bags, ones that are actually intended to store milk, you may find that your choice is less durable and they can leak all over your freezer. Not only are you wasting milk, but now you have a terrible mess to clean up.
2Your Storage Bags Can Bust Open
According to the Mayo Clinic, breast milk expands when it freezes, so if you filled your containers to the brim, they could bust open, turning your frozen breast milk into a contaminated, milky popsicle.
3It Can Develop An Off-Odor Thanks To Liapse
Medela noted that some mothers may notice that their frozen breast milk has an unpleasant odor and tasty, often described as rancid or soapy. This can be the cause of a breast milk enzyme called liapse and it doesn't mean your breast milk has gone bad, but your baby may reject it because of the taste and smell. Medela recommend scalding your milk before freezing it to solve this problem.
4It Can Partially Thaw If Not Stored Deep Within The Freezer
Don't store that milk in the door of the freezer or right at the edge of the shelf. The CDC recommended storing it in the back of the freezer so that the temperature is consistent and it doesn't partially thaw with the opening of the freezer door throughout the day.
5You Panic During Power Outages
Power outages used to be no big deal to you, but now you're freaking out thanks to freezing your breast milk. Where are you going to put all that milk? How will you keep it cold while you wait for the power to come on? Was all of your pumping in vain? This kind of panic is normal, but totally the fault of your frozen breast milk.
6Nutrients Can Be Destroyed By Plastic
Again, be careful about what type of storage you use. La Leche League International noted that certain plastics can destroy the nutrients in your breast milk as it freezes, so you want to be sure and use proper containers that won't contaminate your milk.
7There's No Room For Ice Cream
You've become obsessive now thanks to your great frozen breast milk stash and now there's no room for ice cream. Don't you dare suggest a breast milkshake to your family.
8Your Breast Milk Can Lose Vitamin C
There's a reason why you should use the oldest milk in your freezer first. According to the Mayo Clinic, the longer your breast milk is stored, the more vitamin C it loses, so try not to keep it past the recommended guidelines.
9You Can Lose A Toe When A Frozen Bag Falls Out
This is without a doubt the worst thing that can happen when you freeze your breast milk. Look, you don't know pain until a frozen bag of breast milk falls squarely on your toe, OK? You should always wear steel-toed boots when opening the freezer.