After realizing I was a little short on expressed breast milk, I decided to grab some milk out of the frozen stash. I was looking to thaw about three ounces, so I picked through the bags in the freezer. I suddenly realized that all of the expressed milk in my freezer was over six months old.
I’ve been using freshly expressed milk since I went back to work in September. Somehow, I never thought about rotating my reserves. I could have thawed milk from my stash to send with Joshua and frozen my freshly expressed milk. But I didn’t do that, and now it’s too late.
Both La Leche League International and the CDC guidelines for storing breast milk indicate that after six months in the freezer, the quality of the milk is reduced. I choose to err on the side of caution and not use expressed breast milk that has been frozen for more than six months, but I’m pretty annoyed with myself for forgetting. I’m frustrated about all time I spent expressing milk over the summer, which is now wasted time and wasted milk. I didn’t have a huge freezer stash, but now I have none.
So what can I do about it now? I’m expressing just enough milk for Joshua each day and there’s nothing left over to freeze. I’m hoping for no more wasted milk going down the drain. The good news is that Joshua will have his first birthday in just over a month, at which point I’ll be able to give him some cow’s milk if I haven’t expressed enough breast milk. I’ll probably begin to mix my own milk with cow’s milk after his first birthday and gradually decrease pumping until he’s taking all cow’s milk when we are separated. I just hope there aren’t any major milk disasters before he turns one!
I’ll be comfortable transitioning away from expressed milk to cow’s milk because Joshua still nurses frequently when we’re together and multiple times throughout the night. He’ll still have plenty of opportunities to get the good stuff from me.
Working mommas: At what point did you stop expressing milk, and what did you give in its place?