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Let’s be honest, my days of breastfeeding are long over. Unless we surprisingly end up having another baby, but I digress. After ended my breastfeeding journey I had quite a bit of breast milk left over and one option that popped up instead of donating it was to make freeze dried breast milk.
Now, I know you’re thinking — what in the world is freeze-dried breast milk and how does it even work?
Don’t worry, we’ll cover ALL the details below. Just know that if you’re a breastfeeding mother who has some leftover milk you don’t want to go to waste, freeze-drying can be a pretty neat option to consider!
What exactly is freeze dried breast milk?
The question you’ve all been waiting for: what in the world is freeze dried breast milk?! Well, as you can imagine, it’s a powder form of your own milk known as, lyophilization.
Once in powder form, you can then use it to mix into a variety of foods for your little one or mix it back into liquid form for bottle feeding.
In some earlier studies, freeze dried breast milk has been dated back to the 1950s, as an easier way to store and preserve nutrients.
Since the nutritional value of breastmilk is known to be the gold standard, why not be able to have it conveniently in powder form too?
In fact, freeze-dried breastmilk has been shown to retain more of its nutrients than milk frozen in the freezer.
How does freeze-drying breast milk work?
This is one of the most common questions moms have about this lesser-known option. And depending on the company you use, because they all have slightly different processes, the overall gist is the same.
In a nutshell, the water is removed from your breast milk and thus turned into powder form. In the first phase of the freeze-drying process, your breast milk is cooled to a very low temperature (~40 degrees celsius). Then the milk undergoes a process known as sublimation where the water is removed from your milk.
Below, you can find the steps from two of the more well-known companies that freeze dry breast milk:
- Freeze your breast milk in a chamber to -40 degrees celsius.
- The chamber is then placed under a deep vacuum to remove the air.
- A small amount of heat is then added to the low pressure, so the ice turns directly into water vapor and is removed from the frozen milk, thus leaving it as a powder. This process takes around 2 days to complete.
- The powder is then sealed in high-barrier mylar bags that protect it from moisture, oxygen, UV, and contamination. It is shelf life-stable for 3 years.
Booby Food — Freeze Dry Process (process from their website):
- First, the Deep Freeze. Where your frozen breastmilk is placed inside a chamber where temperatures drop to below -40ºF.
- Than the Pressure Drop. When air inside the chamber is removed using a pump, dropping the pressure and creating a vacuum (the low pressure turns the solid to gas)
- Time to dry. Cycles of warmer and cooler air cause ice crystals inside the frozen breastmilk to vaporize (without thawing the breastmilk) leaving behind your nutrient-dense, superfood breastmilk powder, a.k.a. Booby Food!
- Package. Your freeze-dried breastmilk powder is then packaged into convenient, resealable bags and ready to use, whenever, wherever! Our (Booby Food’s) specially designed Booby Food bags protect against air, light, oxygen, and moisture. We place a moisture absorber in every package to further protect your Booby Food when traveling to more humid areas.
- Triple Clean, Disinfect & Sanitize. Booby Food follows stringent health and safety guidelines set forth by Alberta Health Services and goes above and beyond to prevent cross-contamination. This triple-cleaning procedure is performed after every single batch, even if the same client has multiple batches to freeze dry.
As you can see, both of these companies follow a nearly identical freeze-drying milk process, with some small differences.
So if you have questions about the process, it’s best to reach out to the companies that make freeze-dried breast milk powder directly.
What are the benefits of using freeze-dried milk?
This is my favorite question because there are actually some pretty cool benefits. Some of the more common reasons moms will have their breast milk turned into a freeze-dried powder are to:
- Take it with them on the go as traveling with small bags of powder are significantly more convenient than traveling with frozen breastmilk (especially on long distances).
- Another reason is that you can clear up your freezer space! If you’re an exclusive pumping mom and your kitchen freezer is packed full of breast milk, free up some space by getting it turned into powder!
Now, these aren’t the only benefits of using freeze-dried breast milk, here are some others:
- Can help moms with high lipase milk — breast milk contains the enzyme lipase, however, some moms have more than others which can make their breastmilk taste or smell different (many women report a fishy or soapy smell). Freeze drying milk helps by removing the water from the milk, thus reducing the activity of the enzyme (and thus lipase activity).
- It’s an awesome way to add more nutrients to your baby’s solid foods.
- Freeze drying your breast milk can help you keep a backup stash of milk without taking up space or potentially going to waste.
- Freeze-drying breast milk helps preserve the nutritional, immunological, and probiotic components of your milk.
- Also, a great option for surrogates to consider.
How can parents use their freeze dried breast milk?
Parents can use freeze dried breast milk in a variety of ways! It can be used as a supplement to formula, reconstituted as breast milk again, or even mixed into your little one’s day-to-day meals.
For instance, if your little one goes to daycare, simply send them with the pack of milk you want them to use and just like that, baby has their meal ready to go.
It can also be used to make foods like oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies.
Freeze dried breast milk is a great way to ensure that your child is getting all the essential nutrients they need in a convenient way.
Where to find companies that freeze dry breast milk?
So you’re thinking you probably want to give freeze drying breast milk a chance, but where can you get this done?
While doing research, I was able to find some well-known companies that offer a freeze-drying service for breastmilk:
Between these 4, you’ll be able to decide which is best for you. If you happen to be local to any of them, it could also help save on cost as many offer milk drop-off locations so that you don’t have to worry about shipping your breast milk to them.
Can you freeze dry breast milk at home?
The answer to this one is, no, you shouldn’t
As you’ve read above, the process is quite intricate. From utilizing specialized chamber machinery and expensive equipment to needing to have precise low & high temperatures, one small DIY mishap could result in your breast milk getting contaminated or not being shelf-stable.
That said, ensuring the integrity of your milk for your child’s safety should always be the top priority. Because of that, it’s not recommended to freeze dry breast milk at home.
Freeze-Dry Breast Milk FAQ
How much does it cost on average?
The price will be dependent on who you use and the process they utilize. On average, when I was looking into it, I noticed some charged as little as $2 and others up to $4 per ounces of milk.
Some of these places also charged a lesser fee if you’re local and are able to drop off your milk (rather than mailing it in).
All things considered, it will be an investment to have your milk freeze dried, but know it will be well worth it if you can’t find any reasons not to do so!
How can you ensure your milk doesn’t get mixed with others?
One of the things I noticed is that throughout the entire process, all of these companies do a great job to ensure that the mother’s milk is actually her own.
The best way to ensure your milk doesn’t get mixed with others is to opt for a company that only processes one batch of milk at a time. This means all the contents of your milk stay together, goes through the freeze-drying technology, and then it returned to you.
Another great way is through the ID numbers that your milk will likely have assigned.
If you have questions or still aren’t feeling confident about the process, give the company a call so they can answer any questions you might have. This is especially true if you’re a mom of a baby with milk sensitivities. The last thing anyone needs is contamination.
How do you reconstitute your milk?
If you’re wanting to reconstitute your milk, you’ll want to follow the instructions on the milk bag to ensure the water content is precise.
Following the instructions on the back of your milk bags is important because the amount of water you’ll use to reconstitute will be highly dependent on the amount of water that was removed from your milk and how much milk you’re trying to rehydrate.
Lastly, it’s always recommended to use purified water or reverse osmosis water when rehydrating your milk (and even for reconstituting baby formula, too).
Look, I know the idea of sending your hard-pumped breast milk might feel a bit nerve-wracking. But, if you have milk expiring soon or need a better way to use or travel with your milk, I definitely suggest looking into freeze-drying your breast milk.
If you do, let me know how the process goes by leaving a comment!
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