As a nursing mom, going to a traditional workplace presents some unique challenges — but, thankfully, your employer is required to provide breaks and space to express milk privately during the day. According to 2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, businesses must provide breastfeeding employees with private, non-bathroom places in which to pump for their babies who are under a year of age. Thanks to this law, it’s becoming increasingly common for employers to create lactation rooms — dedicated spaces with chairs, electrical outlets and/or small refrigerators for storing milk.
When you’re pumping and storing milk at work, what do you need to know? What is the best solution for breast milk storage at work, and what tools or tips can help you make the most of it? To answer these questions, here’s a look at how to store pumped milk at work.
1. Get quality containers
Step one for how to store breast milk at work is finding reliable, food-safe, transportable containers. Go ahead and invest in a set of these storage tools upfront, so you’ll have a good place to keep your breast milk. Make sure they’re free of bisphenol A (BPA), especially if you’re using plastic. The packaging should say “BPA-free.”
2. Freeze in small amounts
No matter how much you pump at each session, always store your breastmilk in small amounts — maybe two to four ounces. If you save larger portions, you’ll end up thawing more than you need for each feeding. Then you’ll have to figure out what to do with the extra milk that’s no longer chilled. If possible, use freezer-safe, single-serving bottles, so you’ll always have the appropriate amount of milk ready and waiting to be thawed, warmed and used. This saves you and other caregivers extra hassles, and it makes feeding your baby as convenient as possible.
3. Leave some space at the top of each bottle
Whether you’re using bottles or bags, always leave a little empty space if you’re planning to freeze them. Milk expands when it chills, so leaving space ensures you don’t break your containers. If you’re freezing the milk immediately, wait to tighten the top of the bottle until the liquids are totally frozen.
4. Label everything
When you’re pumping and transporting milk regularly, it’s important to keep track of which bottles are freshest. Always label each new supply of milk with the date and time you pumped it, so you can know what’s what. Likewise, if you’re sharing the fridge with others, be sure to label your milk with your name or your child’s name to avoid any mix-ups. This is especially important if you’re storing your milk in a communal refrigerator.
5. Check the work fridge temperature
Breast milk stays fresh in a refrigerator for about five days, provided the temperature of the fridge is appropriately cold. Make sure the fridge at work is set to 39 degrees Fahrenheit (or 4 degrees Celsius) to protect your bottles.
6. Use a cooler for short-term storage
If you don’t have access to a fridge for storing breast milk at work, use a small cooler with ice packs. Chilled in the cooler, your milk should be fine for up to 24 hours. In a pinch, you can even store milk at room temperature for up to four hours.
If your employer is interested in creating a lactation station in the workplace, Nestl offers the perfect solution. Our products convert any room into a clean, comfortable, hygienic place to pump. Learn more about our lactation space online, or reach out anytime to learn more!