leftover breast milk

What To Do With Leftover Breast Milk So It Won’t Go To Waste

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Ask any breastfeeding mom who has dedicated countless hours to nursing or pumping for her baby and she will tell you the same — we don’t waste breast milk!

It’s the unspoken “rule”. Why? Well for one, it’s a pretty darn challenging task.

And for another, breast milk has some pretty amazing properties that make it excellent for more than just “breastfeeding”.

If you have an extra stash of leftover breast milk that you’re unsure what to do with it, check out these awesome tips so you don’t have to waste it!

Reasons some moms have leftover breast milk:

Before jumping into all the other ways to use extra breast milk you might be wondering, why do some moms have so much left over milk?

Here’s a few reasons why some moms ends up with lots of extra breast milk:

  • Mom has an oversupply of breast milk.
  • Baby weaned earlier than expected and you still have pumped milk stored in the freezer.
  • Baby has an intolerance to specific foods in your milk that’s already been frozen or stored away.

As you can see, there’s quite a few reasons moms could end up with extra breast milk.

Regardless the reason, there’s always something you can do with it!

pumping extra breast milk

What to do with extra breast milk without wasting it?

Because breast milk has some pretty awesome traits to it, there’s a variety of uses you can do with it.

Some moms are die-hard advocates of milk baths because breast milk is known to have some pretty cool benefits for the skin (especially baby’s delicate skin).

While other moms may prefer using leftover fresh milk to create breast milk teething popsicles.

Whatever you choose, just remember, your milk won’t be going to waste today!

1) Become a breast milk donor & make a breast milk donation

My first baby ended up in the NICU for a few days and was unable to breastfeed right away.

I rigorously pumped for him every 1-2 hours, but my body wasn’t responding well to the pump stimulation. With minimal support to latch him to my breast, we made the decision to start formula so he could start getting the nutrients he needed until I was able to express colostrum and get some milk in.

That “slow-start” to our breastfeeding journey impacted my entire experience. I struggled with a very low breast milk supply for the ENTIRE duration of our journey (15.5 months).

When I became pregnant with my 2nd, I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I was extremely worried I’d have the same issues.

Fortunately, we had quite the opposite experience. My 2nd baby boy latched on just minutes after being born. My milk came in within 2 days and I became extremely engorged.

I began pumping to keep up with the engorgement, but also without overstimulating my body to make any more milk because it was making a TON.

After experiencing such an oversupply of milk, I decided I wanted to try to give back and do something meaningful with it — that’s where I learned about breast milk donations!

Fortunately, a local Milk Bank had just opened their doors to accepting donors and I didn’t hesitate to contact them and get the ball rolling.

I was thrilled to make my first donation after going through their detailed screening process (which I promise, is for a great reason explained below) and was able to eventually drop off over 200 oz!

If becoming a breast milk donor is something you’d like to consider (which I highly encourage you to do), you can read all about the process thanks to the generous UC MIlk Bank who provided the donation information below:

What are the Benefits of Donor Milk?

Each ounce of breastmilk donated feeds fragile newborns and improves their health outcomes. 

Indeed, a premature baby who receives only human milk has a 95% lower chance of suffering from Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), an intestinal catastrophe that can lead to infant death.

Epidemiologic studies have shown that infant death rates due to NEC are higher for black babies than white babies.

Donor milk can greatly improve the health outcomes for premature infants and significantly decrease the risk of NEC.

We are committed to improving accessibility to donor milk for those infants in the greatest need in our community.

Who Uses Donor Milk?

Hospitals that care for premature and ill newborns and infants are the largest users of donor milk.

Research has shown that premature infants fed mother’s own milk or pasteurized donor milk have better outcomes than those fed cow’s milk formulas.

Children with digestive problems, growth problems, or immune defects may also benefit from the gift of mothers’ milk.

Families who are unable to breastfeed their babies due to adoption, surrogacy, maternal illness, or mothers who don’t make enough milk for their baby’s needs may also give their infants donor milk.

UC MILK BANK
Photo provided by UC Milk Bank

How is Donor Milk Processed?

A frozen milk donation is kept in a freezer until donor is approved.

Once approved, milk is thawed in a refrigerator and undergoes a nutritional analysis (fat, protein, and carbohydrates).

Depending on the nutritional information of each donor, milk from 5 mothers is pooled together to create the desired nutrition levels. Then, a sample of the pooled milk is analyzed. The nutrition analysis determines if milk is allocated to tiny babies, term babies, or outpatients

Bottles are then filled and capped and milk is heat pasteurized for 30 minutes using the Holder Method of pasteurization. Labels with bar codes and calorie/protein content are applied to the bottles and then frozen.

One bottle of each batch is cultured to ensure sterility. If the culture is negative for bacteria, milk is approved for distribution, and milk is then delivered to NICUs and families in need of donor milk.

Why Not Just Milk Share or Give Milk to a Friend?

At a time when many women are sharing milk with friends and family, it is good to know the facts. Mothers’ milk is a live biologic fluid, like blood. It has millions of live cells, stem cells, bacteria, and viruses.

These factors are for the protection of the infant most of the time, but there are some viruses that cause serious illness, like HIV, and can be transmitted in mothers’ milk. This is why HIV+ mothers in North America do not breastfeed.

There are other viruses, like CMV (cytomegalovirus) that have lived in humans for millennia. Most of us first get exposed to CMV in our mother’s milk, but because the mother passes baby antibodies to the CMV, the baby becomes colonized and rarely gets sick.

Giving milk from one mother to another’s baby can complicate the normal process if the baby has no protective antibody.

Lastly, milk bought over the internet or from strangers may be contaminated, may contain other types of milk (like formula), or be shipped improperly, putting the baby at risk of infection.

Because of these concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers not share milk, and that families who wish to purchase breastmilk do so from an accredited milk bank.

How Does Someone Become a Donor?

Donors MUST be pre-approved to donate breastmilk.

Most of our approval process is online at ucmilkbank@health.ucsd.edu 

 Once approved donors schedule an appointment for milk drop off and blood draw.

Contact UC Health Milk Bank at 858-249-MILK (6455) or ucmilkbank@health.ucsd.edu

2) Use Breast Milk for Diaper Rash

Since breast milk contains properties known to soothe the skin, it’s no surprise some moms have great success using it to treat diaper rashes!

In fact, this study done in 2017 states, “Breast milk can be an effective, safe and convenient remedy (against diaper dermatitis)“.

If your little one is more prone to diaper rashes and buying creams is eating up your bank account, you might consider giving it a try!

There are a few “breast milk diaper rash cream” recipes online, but I personally would use dampen a cloth with breast milk & dab it onto your little ones’ skin so long as your doctor approved it.

3) Use Your Breast Milk to Soothe Sore Nipples

As much as your breast milk can help soothe baby’s skin, it’s also GREAT for soothing irritated breastfeeding mom nipples!

Simply rub in a little breast milk onto them before and after a pump session or nursing session.

I like rubbing on a little bit of my earth mama nipple butter first and then rubbing on some breast milk and I swear I’ve never experienced the dry or cracking issues since implementing this little hack!

4) Make A Breast Milk Bath

Breast milk baths (also just termed “milk bath”) have grown a lot more popularity in recent days.

One of those reasons is because it has incredible properties that benefit the skin.

For instance, breast milk contains a fatty acid called “lauric acid“. Lauric acid helps the skin stay moisturized, reduces inflammation, and also contains anti-bacterial & anti-aging properties.

To give your baby a milk bath, simply add enough milk so the water appears “cloudy” but is faint enough where you can see your baby’s body through the cloudiness.

5) Breast Milk Jewelry

Because I had such a low supply breastfeeding my first, I made sure to express a little extra milk to save to have some breast milk jewelry made!

I spent a lot of time trying to find a piece that represented the simplicity of breastfeeding along with the “specks” to challenges I faced which is when I came across Mama Bear Milk Keepsake Jewelry.

She creates some of the most gorgeous milk jewelry I’ve seen, without the giant price tag.

Plus, she can pretty much turn ANYTHING into a keepsake piece, not just milk!

However, if you don’t find anything you like at her shop (which I know you will), here’s 2 other’s I saw on Etsy that also create gorgeous & heartfelt breast milk jewelry:

Other ways to use leftover breast milk:

Besides the ways we already discussed, here’s a list of an additional 7 ways you can use extra breast milk so that it doesn’t go to waste:

  • Save your milk to use if your baby ever develops eczema.
  • Give yourself a breast milk facial (plus, it’s great for getting rid of acne!).
  • Use it to help relieve sunburns.
  • Cook up some baby meals using your breast milk.
  • Grab a toothbrush and use your breast milk to get rid of that cradle cap.
  • Use your breast milk as chapstick (it really does help!).

Now that you have all these ideas on how you can use your leftover breast milk so it doesn’t go to waste, which one will you try out?

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