You may find a wide spectrum of guidelines written about the safety of breast milk at various temperatures. It can be confusing to try to figure out which source is correct. Why is there so much variability? The simple answer is that research is conducted in controlled situations and different populations have different needs. For example, pumped milk will last longer in a refrigerator that is never opened. A hospital environment with fragile, premature babies requires that milk be handled much more carefully than a home environment with a healthy baby.
What follows is a middle-of-the-road approach that considers the research as well as the less than perfect conditions that are found in our homes. The guidelines below assume that your baby full term and healthy.
Room temperature: 4 hours or until the next feeding. (No need to warm it up!)
Refrigerator: 5 days
Freezer: 3 months
Deep Freeze: 6 months
Whenever possible use fresh, refrigerated milk. Just as a freshly picked apple is more nutritious than an apple that’s been in cold storage for 3 months; your milk is most nutritious immediately after it’s been expressed. In addition, freezing destroys some of the live cells in your milk. So, if possible, store your precious milk in the fridge, leaving the frozen stash for emergencies.
If you are having a hard time figuring out a system for storing your milk for your return to work, our lactation consultant is happy to help! Contact Renee Beebe at www.second9months.com
One of the first things they told us before we left the hospital with our newborn was to wait to introduce the pacifier. Perhaps the most important task of the newborn is to learn to be a good eater. If you are breastfeeding, introducing the pacifier too early can burn too many calories leaving the baby too tired to eat. The concern being that the baby may become overly dependent on the pacifier initially at the expense of healthy suckling on the breast and weight gain.
Another concern is that new mother’s may miss feeding cues if the pacifier is always in the baby’s mouth. Since baby’s generally lose some of their birthweight in the initial few days, intensive feeding sessions at the breast are important in helping to increase the mother’s milk supply. I remember wondering if it was at all possible that a tiny little baby could eat so much. That’s when our lactation consultant Renee Beebe explained to me the art of cluster feeding. Just when you think you’ve mastered your little ones schedule they begin to feed frequently and tirelessly to expand their little bellies and make more milk.
Around six weeks, we identified that our little one was having a hard time soothing away from the breast. Not that I minded, but it was becoming difficult if not impossible for anyone else to soothe the little one. I wasn’t sure about the pacifier to begin with because I had heard it could lead to orthodontist work, but I read in Dr. Sears bible The Baby Book that it was in fact sucking on the hand or fist that could create buck teeth down the road. At around six weeks, we gave the Ecopiggy soother (chemical free) a try and it was a shoe in allowing dad to comfortably hang out with the little guy and mom to have free hands for more than moments at a time.
Another key point I read in Dr. Sears book is not to use that pacifier to soothe the baby in lieu of the human touch. So we always make sure the baby is well fed, happy and held while he is using the pacifier as opposed to using the device to stop cries and appease him. Our baby loves to eat so he never accepts the pacifier if the least bit hungry, but his intense sucking needs between feedings have been greatly helped by this little device. As Dr. Sears says “pacifiers are for the comfort of babies, not the convenience of parents.”
The doula looks at the family as a whole entity. Her perspective is, “What is going to help this new family with their new addition and also make the postpartum time the least chaotic as possible? “
Remember, this is a new world for the family. They instantly need to incorporate a new little member. How do they do this? The doula will make suggestions in a non-threatening way including hands-on teaching, help with lactation, and many more things.
The other thing a doula does is to support and empower this new family. Since the doula is not a relative she will see things from the outside and will offer non-threatening suggestions. In my practice there have been many times where the new mother would not listen to her own mother or mother-in-law but would listen to me.
For example, one client had postpartum depression. In talking to the new mom she said that she felt unappreciated by her husband. I asked her what would make her feel better? She replied that if he would kiss her before he left for work in the morning it would “make her day”! I suggested that to him. The next morning he gave her a “tango drop” and a big kiss. That is all she needed to help her through the day with a newborn!
My job was to get the family on track and I did that listening and taking action on what I heard.
Feel free to write me (email@example.com)with any (non-medical) birth or postpartum questions to get a doula’s perspective. To find out about my services, please visit my website at www.janmartinka.com.