tips on transporting frozen breast milk? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 10-08-2008, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
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We are going up to Philadelphia to pick up our first breast milk donation (yay!), which will be frozen. We will have about a 2 and a half hour drive back...we have a cooler but don't know what kind of icepacks to get and where they can be found..any tips? Thanks!

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#2 of 6 Old 10-08-2008, 12:30 PM
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During the recent hurricane (where we lost power for several days), the thing that really helped our freezer was a big flat of water bottles (the individual sized ones) that we froze beforehand (allow several days so that they can freeze solid). They stayed cold well and are small enough that they can be re-arranged around whatever else is in the freezer (I was going to freeze full gallons of water at first). We poured off the first inch or so of water to make sure there was enough headroom for expansion in the freezer.
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#3 of 6 Old 10-13-2008, 02:43 PM
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Please note the following information if some of the milk is partially thawed, or worse yet, fully thawed once you get home.

I just posted this elsewhere and noticed you question. I hope you don't need the info but in case you do ...


Here is some info on when you can re-freeze thawed milk. Sorry for the length but I think all of this info is necessary for making an informed decision and for trying to figure out if the milk is still good when you actually go to use it.

If anyone thinks this should be posted as a separate "sticky", let me know and I will look into that.

Some day I will try to find the link to Dr. Newberg's opinion. I think some would find it more reassuring to see the original email from him to a Milkshare member which was posted on their site.

The first link is to the Kellymom Guidelines (for healthy full-term babies, there are different guidelines for Preemies). As with most guidelines, it says you shouldn't re-freeze thawed breastmilk, without commenting on fully versus partially thawed. These guidelines are pretty widely accepted and comparable to any other reliable guidelines that I've seen.

They do mention the sniff/test taste (in general, not specifying refrigerated or frozen). Keep in mind that frozen milk can smell and possibly taste a little "off" anyway, so comparing it to fresh or refrigerated milk may mean throwing away milk that you might not need to; but unless you are familiar with what your frozen milk usually smells and tastes like you might want to err on the side of caution. On the other hand if it doesn't seem too bad you might take a calculated risk and try giving a small amount to baby --who is more familiar with it-- and see if he balks.

The second link is to a recent Mothering article that implies that you can re-freeze fully thawed milk.

The third link is to an article on food storage in general. The rule of thumb it gives is that you can re-freeze most anything that hasn't fully thawed.

Additionally, I found a MilkShare posting with an opinion on this topic from David S. Newburg, Ph.D., Director, Program in Glycobiology, Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition, Massachusetts General Hospital: “My opinion is that if they are only partially thawed, there should be very little if any change to the milk upon refreezing, and that it will be fine for consumption.”

I think what seems to be the new rule of thumb combines the principles from the second two links. So it would seem that it is ok to re-freeze milk that hasn't fully thawed. If you really, really need the milk I would suggest re-freezing it all ASAP and put a special note on the milk that seemed fully thawed. When you go to use the milk I would give it the Kellymom sniff/taste test, especially the milk that seemed fully thawed.

When I had supply issues with DD1 I occasionally used the sniff/taste test with refrigerated milk that looked a little funky; and several times I did give her milk that seemed a little off but that she didn't seem to balk at (at least not too badly ). The alternative would have put me dangerously close to needing to supplement with formula at some point.

You don't have to decide now unless you are really tight on freezer storage. I would suggest marking the bags (F.Th = Fully Thawed and P.Th = Partially Thawed) and then see how you do pumping in the next several weeks.

If you take this approach there is one more point to consider, how to balance the possibly older questionable milk against the newer frozen milk. If you think that you are probably going to need the questionable milk then I would start using it now to increase the chances that it will still be "good" (rather than letting it age any longer than necessary).

Breastmilk Storage & Handling
Traveling With Breastmilk
“The researchers took frozen breastmilk and thawed it, refroze it, refrigerated it and left it out at room temperature. Essentially, they beat it up. What did they find? Breastmilk is fairly robust and does not grow bacteria easily nor lose vitamins A and C or free fatty acids (FFA) to any degree that would harm a full term baby.”
Quality for Keeps: Freezer Problem Solver EXCERPT "Refreezing: In general, food can safely be refrozen only if it still contains ice crystals or if it has been at refrigerator temperature (40 degrees Fahrenheit) for no longer than two days. In addition, use the following guidelines: If foods are completely thawed and have warmed above room temperature, foods should not be refrozen. Discard these foods. …”
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#4 of 6 Old 10-13-2008, 04:11 PM
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Get some dry ice. My dh used to drive an ice cream truck and they used it to keep the ice cream frozen all day. We used it to transport my milk when when I brought my last baby home from the NICU and it did not thaw one bit.
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#5 of 6 Old 10-14-2008, 09:47 AM
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Dry ice is recommended by MilkShare for thos shipping bm:

# f using dry ice, you will need about 5-9 lbs. of dry ice for a coolers worth of milk. Base your decision on how much ice to use by the quantity of milk that is being sent, how the milk was previously frozen, and by the shipping method that will be used. For example, you can use less ice if you are shipping overnight instead of 2nd day and if you are shipping milk that was previously deep frozen (stored at a very low temp) or you might even decide to forgoe ice altogether if the milk was very deeply frozen..
# If handling ice, wear gloves!!! Break up the dry ice up into a few chunks with a hammer or something hard (not your hands!) and put ½ of it in a layer in the bottom of the cooler. You don’t have the break the ice into TOO small of pieces – nothing smaller than a silver dollar. Donating moms may need to save their receipt to be reimbursed for the cost of ice. Put several layers of newspaper over the ice.
# Breastmilk should be packed into Zip-lock bags and those bags should then be wrapped in newspaper. Make the outside Zip-locks are as airtight as possible – in case there is a leak the bags will keep the milk contained. You will want to keep any dry ice from touching the Zip-locks or they will break due to the extreme cold.
# Put several more layers of newspaper over the newspaper wrapped milk. Then, put the remaining ½ of the dry ice on top of the newspaper and if there is space left over stuff it with just enough newspaper to keep everything from shifting around in the cooler.

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#6 of 6 Old 10-15-2008, 05:19 PM
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a good cooler packed with the milk, newspaper and those blue gel ice packs works well I have had donor milk shipped to me from Texas this way with no thaw.. in the summer!! (overnight ship) so driivng it ina cooler.. no prob... also a cooler full packed this way stayed frozen in a parked car in sept for about 7hrs...

you will be fine

I live in Philly!! funny..

the key is no air space.. fill with newspaper or styrofoam.. and leave the lid shut .. don't keep opening it to check them!

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