How to Store Your Breast Milk?

Breast milk is the most optimal source of nutrients and an unmatched source of indispensable anti-microbial and other protective substances for infants. Since its content related to the storage method before distributed to baby, storage of breast milk is becoming important thing to know for mothers particularly.

Storage of human breast milk by freezing or refrigeration of milk with and without heating had been recommended. This can hardly be avoided because of the social circumstances of most mothers who are regularly separated from their baby because of work or schooling as well as the particular needs of some pre-term or sick babies to be fed with expressed breast milk. The greatest fear that has hindered the storage of breast milk for any considerable period of time is the possibility of bacterial contaminationand growth of infectious pathogens in the stored milk, thereby rendering them unsafe for human consumption.

The fresh collected breast milk is rarely sterile and normally contains bacteria originating from the mother’s skin and also nipple duct micro-flora, event it sometimes contain potential pathogen. However, the ability of these microorganisms to infect the suckling baby is uncertain and probably minimal. Pathogen contamination of breast milk would be undesirable and should be avoided. But, the bacterial contamination would increase due to delay of distributing breast milk to baby. Therefore, we should store breast milk using appropriate method in order to avoid decreasing of breast milk quality due to loss of essential component in it. The affordable of milk storage at home for short periods is by refrigeration.

From studies conducted under tropical condition known that unheated breast milk could be stored for at least 8 hours at room temperature and up to 4 Celcius degree in the refrigerator before bacterial multiplication occur beyond unacceptable level. Breast milk, once more, shows significant difference from cow’s milk in the term of the ability to suppress bacterial number during both refrigeration and room temperature storage. There is no evidence of bacteriostatic activity (it means impede bacterial growth and activity) in cow’s milk instead of human breast milk.

Human breast milk contains anti-microbial components which comprised of anti-viral antibodies, antibacterial antibodies, non specific Immunoglobulin-G (IgG), IgA, IgM, lactoferin, glycoconjugates, oligosaccharides, lymphocites, cytokines, et cetera. Enzymes that contained in the breast milk, such as lactoperoxidase and lysozyme, had been also known to posses bacteriostatic effects. These anti-microbial are responsible to protect breast milk component from bacterial contamination. However, the availability of these antimicrobial components was greatly influenced by the method of human breast milk storage.

Bacteriostatic activity of human milk against bacteria of different strains has been shown to be highest in fresh refrigerated or fresh frozen (at -70 Celcius degree) and thawed milk. On the other hand, bacteriostatic activity of frozen milk (at -20 Celcius degree) tends to deteriorate after 1 month of storage. It is suggested that if we intent on store breast milk for longer than 3 days up to 1 month, freezing at -20 Celcius degree could be recommended and fresh-freezing at -70 Celcius degree is intended on longer-term storage.

I believe, if we applying the appropriate method for breast milk storage, our baby will get the optimal nutrients to maintain and improve their health.


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