In light of Hurricane Florence, The Washington Post contributor and founder of It’s Working Project and Forty Weeks, Julia Beck, asked our in-house IBCLC Barbara Zimmerman, for advice on what breastfeeding moms can do to protect their milk during severe storms or in the event of power outage and evacuations.
* How can you safely store breast milk during a power outage?
Pack that freezer - full! Place your breastmilk in the center of the freezer (temperature is more stable) and place other frozen foods and or containers of frozen water around the breastmilk.
Do not open the freezer door - even if you are tempted to check! A full freezer should keep milk frozen for 24-48 hours without power.
* Can it be refrozen? After how long?
If some of the milk is defrosted - slushy or has ice crystals it is still considered "frozen" and can be "refrozen". Mark it with the date so you have the information.
If milk has totally defrosted - the experts recommend that defrosted milk be used within a 24 hour period. Give what you can to your baby. If you have a lot of milk, you may be able to donate it - contact the local milk bank. BUT No one wants to see their precious milk go to waste. Think outside the box - such as a family dinner with moms milk macaroni and cheese or make a special milk bath - so good for baby's and/or family members skin!
* What can a breastfeeding mom who usually pumps do if the power is out (and the child is not present)?
If power is out and mom needs to pump use a
- battery adapter
- manual hand pump
- hand express
It is possible a neighbor might have a generator and be open to storing milk in her freezer.
* What to do if you have to evacuate?
If evacuation occurs keep mom and baby together. Make sure milk is readily available, perfect temperature, and safe (no concerns of formula and possible unsafe water.) Mother should stay well hydrated. In a stressful situation the normalcy of breastfeeding can be comforting to both mom and child.
Please download the Red Cross Mobile App for up-to-date info on Hurricane Florence, shelter locations in your area, and to mark yourself safe.