FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Here are answers to the most common questions we get about Milkify. Please reach out to us if you’ve got one that isn't on this list, and we will get it answered for you asap!
ABOUT THE SERVICE
WHAT IF MY MILK IS...
SHIPPING / GETTING YOUR MILK TO MILKIFY
USING YOUR FREEZE-DRIED BREAST MILK
OUR FREEZE-DRYING PROCESS
ABOUT THE SERVICE
Q: What is Milkify?
Milkify provides a freeze-drying service specifically for breast milk. Freeze-dried breast milk powder in our packaging is shelf stable for 3 years, with no refrigeration needed. Milkify does not currently help match donors, we do not function as a ‘milk bank’, and we do not in any way, shape, or form sell or distribute breast milk. Our service is meant for those who already have a supply of frozen breast milk that they would like to have freeze-dried for longer, more convenient storage.
Q: How does the Milkify service work?
Here’s how it works: 1) Milkify sends you a specialized shipping cooler (or packing box for Houston, TX residents). 2) You pack your frozen milk into the cooler and ship it back to Milkify using the pre-paid shipping label. 3) Milkify uses a contact-less and 100% chemical-free process to remove the water from the milk, then packages and vacuum-seals the breast milk powder in high-barrier mylar bags. the way our process works is bag-to-bag: meaning that each lactation bag you send is freeze-dried in-bag, and the powder from that bag is packaged individually. Our service is designed to be as easy as possible – so the prices listed for the service and the shipping are all flat-rates. This means that for the price listed, we will freeze-dry everything in the cooler you send for one flat rate. We have several sizes of shipping coolers, designed to accommodate various stash sizes. We can usually accommodate special requests – if you have any questions or requests, please contact us.
Q: How long does the process take?
Our turnaround time depends on the size of your order. On average, an order size of 250 oz. or less is shipped back to you within 7-10 business days of receiving your milk unless otherwise noted. Please allow extra processing time for orders larger than 250oz. We are also happy to work around travel timelines or to help when moving (different shipping addresses) are a concern - just let us know via email at email@example.com or contact us prior to placing your order if timing is a concern.
Q: Where is the Milkify service available?
We are available worldwide! If you reside in the United States (lower 48) we have in-house shipping logistics to help you get your milk to us. If you live in Houston, Texas, we offer a free courier pick-up service. If you live near Houston (in a surrounding city or state) we offer discounted shipping options (contact us for a quote).
WHAT IF MY MILK IS…
Q: What if I have information written on my breast milk storage bags – is that saved?
Yes! We track each bag that comes through our facility individually for quality control purposes. Any information that is written on your bags can be transferred to the final packaging bags. We record the expression date on each label for you (you can see more about this here). We do this to help you know from when in your breastfeeding journey that specific milk was from. It is also perfectly fine if the volume or expression date are not written on the bag- we weigh each bag during our receiving process, so you will still know how much water to add back. If there is other information written on the bag (such as milk from when your child was sick or special notes regarding your diet that day), we can also record this for you by special request. Just contact us with your instructions, and we can tailor our service to meet your needs!
Q: What kind of breast milk storage bags are accepted? What if mine is not on the list?
Your milk must be stored in a pre-sterilized bag designated as a lactation bag or breast milk storage bag. Per FDA regulations on packaging that contacts infant food, we are not able to accept milk stored in bags not specifically approved for use as lactation bags. Approved bags include those made by: Avent, Ameda, Baby Lemon, Bumblebee, Dr. Browns, Eccomom, Evenflo, GoGo Pure, Idaho Jones, Kiinde, Lansinoh, Medela, Milkies, Mommy’s Precious, Motif, Nanobebe, Nuk, Spectra, Papablic, Parent's Choice, TDWOW, Tommee Tippee, Unimom, Up&Up, Willow. (There are many new brands on the market that are also accepted – if you do not see yours on the list, please feel free to contact us.) The bags you use must be intact (no rips or tears) and must be clean on the outside.
Q: Is there a minimum/maximum volume per bag that I can send?
We generally accept any volume, however we ask that the majority of the bags you send have at least 2 fl. oz. and no more than 9 fl. oz. We are happy to make exceptions – please contact us if you have a special request.
Q: Is there a time-limitation on how long milk can be stored in the freezer prior to freeze-drying?
We will freeze-dry any milk that you would like to save. It's your milk, and your choice! We advise following the CDC recommendation of 12 months max freezer time from a safety standpoint. For nutrient preservation however, the two biggest things that affect the decrease in nutritional content of breast milk are the length of time that it is frozen, and the thawing process.
For the length of time component - the sooner you use frozen milk or freeze-dry it, the better. Most milk banks discard any unused milk after 3 months for this reason. The guidelines put out by the CDC (freezing up to 12 months) are to ensure safety from a microbiological standpoint, but in our opinion - this is not the best advice for retaining the nutritional value of the milk. So when deciding on whether to send the oldest or the newest milk in your freezer, if you send the older milk, you can stop the clock on any further degradation. Then, if you like the service and the result, you would still have the option of freeze-drying your fresher milk in the future if you wanted!
For the thawing component - the freeze-drying process actually requires the milk to be frozen as the first step - but it is never thawed. The process that removes the water is called sublimation - so the water goes straight from solid (ice) to gas (water vapor), bypassing the thawing step. This is important because it is the thawing step that can cause many changes to the quality of the milk (similar to how ice-cream is just never quite the same after it has been thawed out once). So while the freeze-dry process requires the milk to be frozen initially, it prevents some of the changes in quality, taste, and nutritional degradation that happens when milk is thawed from a frozen state.
Q: What if my milk is in bottles/NICU tubes?
We can accept bottles and NICU tubes, but the milk does require special handling. To freeze-dry the milk in your bottles, it must be transferred into a food-safe bag for processing. We perform the transfer to the other bags within a sterile area, and after that the process works the same way - in-bag without contacting our equipment, then vacuum-sealed in individual barrier bags. Please be advised however that we are not able to return the tubes to you – they are discarded after processing.
Q: Can you freeze-dry colostrum/transitional milk?
Yes, our process works the same for colostrum and transitional milk.
Q: My milk has high lipase / my infant refuses frozen milk, will freeze-drying help?
Freeze-drying can help in many situations with milk that tastes different after freezer storage. However, it is hard to predict whether the process will for sure make the milk palatable again because it depends on how much lipase activity has already occurred in the milk, and your infant's taste preference also plays a role! The lipase enzyme can remain active during freezer storage, but it is inactivated by the freeze-drying process. For moms concerned about high-lipase, freeze-drying may stop any further lipase activity, but it cannot undo any degradation that has already occurred. If your infant refuses milk that was previously frozen, that does not necessarily mean your milk had high lipase. The freeze/thaw process is also hard on milk, and that process alone can change the quality and taste of the milk. Freeze-drying can also help in this regard, because in the freeze-drying process, water goes directly from the solid (ice) to the gas form (water vapor), bypassing the thaw step and preventing some of the changes associated with that step. If your infant refuses your frozen milk, freeze-drying may help - but we recommend doing a small 'test' batch first, if this is a concern.
Q: I placed my order, when will my cooler arrive?
If we have the cooler size you ordered in stock, it will be shipped within 24 hours. If we do not have the cooler in stock, you will be notified via email within 24 hours of placing your order and given an expected ship date.
Q: Do you offer discounts?
Yes, we are happy to offer discounts for military, first-responders, and educators. Please contact us and we will provide you a discount code to use at checkout.
Q: What if I have more than 250 oz.?
Our largest shipping coolers hold up to 250 oz. For orders larger than this, we must send multiple coolers. The max that you could send at any one time is only limited by the availability of the coolers. We also offer discounted per ounce pricing for orders over 250oz.
Q: I already placed an order – how can I update the address for shipping?
Q: What if I need the powder shipped to a different address?
We are happy to accommodate requests for coolers to be sent to one address, and your breast milk powder shipped back to you at a different address. Contact us to give us instructions.
Q: Will I receive updates regarding my order?
Yes, you will receive updates when your cooler has shipped, when Milkify receives your milk, when your order is being processed, and when your milk powder has been shipped back to you. You will also receive tracking updates directly from UPS while your shipments are in transit.
SHIPPING / GETTING YOUR MILK TO MILKIFY
Q: How is my milk shipped to Milkify?
We include a pre-paid UPS Next Day Air shipping label with your cooler. We track every shipment while in the air, and are available to receive packages on Mon-Sat (UPS does not deliver on Sundays). You will also receive tracking updates. You should plan to ship on Monday - Wednesday to avoid any potential shipping delays or weekend delivery complications. PLEASE DO NOT SHIP ON FRIDAY! As soon as your milk is received, we perform an initial quality control check to ensure that your milk is still frozen solid and has no rips/leaks/tears. We then send you a notification that your milk was received and passes our initial QC check.
Q: How do I use the shipping cooler?
No dry ice is needed with the specialized shipping coolers that we use. You can see detailed instructions about using the coolers here. Pack your insulated shipping cooler immediately before shipping and ensure that your milk is frozen solid when it is being packed. The cooler will keep your frozen milk frozen for up to four (4) days, but to ensure a successful shipping experience, your milk must be frozen solid when packed, and then shipped as soon as possible after packing.
Q: How much milk will fit in each cooler?
Each cooler will hold up to the volume of milk advertised for each size (Milkify Mini: 30-40 oz., Milkify Medium: 100-120 oz., Milkify Stash: 220-250 oz.). The exact amount of milk that you will be able to fit in the cooler may vary by 15-20%, and is largely dependent on several things: the volume of milk in your bags, the type of bags you use, and how the bags were frozen. In order to maximize the space in the cooler we have found that the most efficient packing is done with bags that are frozen completely flat and filled with 5 oz. or less.
Q: I’m in the Houston regional area and want to drop off some milk. How do I arrange a time?
You can schedule a time to drop-off your milk using the booking system here.
Q: I live within the Houston city limits – how do I schedule a courier pick-up?
You can schedule a courier pick-up using the booking system here.
USING YOUR FREEZE-DRIED BREAST MILK
Q: How do I use my freeze-dried breast milk?
Your freeze-dried breast milk powder is sealed in individual, flat and light-weight mylar bags, that are easy to take on-the-go, or to provide to a caretaker. When ready to use for a bottle prep, just mix the powder with warm, purified water and it turns into milk.
Here are some tips for bottle preps:
Use warm, purified water to rehydrate your milk
Swirl bottle to mix - do not shake, to avoid formation of bubbles.
If clumps remain, gently heat the bottle under warm running water or place back in warm water bath for 1-2 minutes, then swirl bottle again.
Depending on the fat content of the milk, it make take a bit longer for the fats to dissolve. For high fat content milk, stirring for up to 4-5 minutes may be necessary. Be patient, as this will ensure your baby gets all of the nutrients from the milk.
See detailed instructions and a video here.
Breast milk powder can also be incorporated into solid foods for a nutritional boost anytime. See more about ways to use your freeze-dried breast milk as a super food for your toddler here.
Q: How much water do I add back to the breast milk powder I get back?
The powder from each lactation bag of frozen breast milk you provide to Milkify is sealed in its own individual high barrier bag. When we receive your milk, the starting volume of frozen milk in each lactation bag is recorded. The instructions on the back of each barrier bag of powder you receive will indicate how much water to add back to the breast milk powder. This rehydrates the milk to its original consistency. For example, if you send in lactation bags with 5 oz. of frozen milk in each - the packets you receive back would have the powder needed to make up one 5 oz. bottle per packet. You can see more about this here.
Q: What if I need to make a bottle of a different size? What is the ratio of breast milk powder to water that I should use?
You add about 1-2 fl. oz. of water to 1 Tbsp of freeze-dried breast milk. This is an approximation to give you about the same consistency as the original milk. Keep in mind you can always add a bit more or a bit less water as needed. The milk will still taste the same, it will just be more nutrient dense with less water, and less concentrated if you add more water. If you want to keep the exact original consistency, you can add back the amount of water listed on each bag label.
Q: Can I use my freeze-dried breast milk as a fortifier?
Yes, your freeze-dried breast milk can be used to fortify your own milk. We recommend doing this with guidance from your baby’s doctor. Here is an example calculation for determining how much breast milk powder to add to your milk for fortification: Each ounce of frozen breast milk (average 20 kcal/oz.) is approximately equal to about 1 Tbsp of breast milk powder. Therefore, to increase from 20 kcal/oz to 24 kcal/oz:
5 fl. oz fresh milk = 100 kcal
(100kcal/5 oz. = 20 kcal/oz.)
5 fl. oz fresh milk + 1 Tbsp powder = 120 kcal
(120kcal/5 oz. = 24 kcal/oz.)
Q: How much powder will be sent back?
During the freeze-drying process, the weight of the milk is reduced by about 90%, and the only thing that freeze-drying removes is the water. Therefore, if you send in a 5 oz. lactation bag of frozen milk, the powder from that bag weighs about 0.5 oz. The instructions on the back of the bag you receive back would tell you exactly how much water to add back to get the same approximate consistency as the original milk. You can see an example of this here.
Q: Once you mix the freeze-dried milk with water, how long do you have to use it? Can I store the packets once opened?
Once the milk is rehydrated, we recommend to use or refrigerate within 2 hours (just like using thawed milk).
After you open a bag of your breast milk powder, remember to seal the zipper and refrigerate any unused powder. The powder will rapidly start to attract moisture if left unsealed, which can lead to bacterial growth as your milk was not pasteurized during the freeze-drying process. For this reason, once the bag has been opened, it should be re-sealed, refrigerated, and used within 3 days.
Q: Can I travel with freeze-dried breast milk?
Our packaging is TSA-compliant, so you can take your powdered breast milk through airport security in your carry-on without worrying about tests or probes! Since no refrigeration is needed, you do not need to bring a cooler. Having breast milk powder on hand for travel is really convenient, but keep in mind that it usually does require warm water to fully rehydrate and avoid clumping of the fats in the milk.
OUR FREEZE-DRYING PROCESS
Q: Is freeze-dried breast milk safe? Do you add anything to it?
Yes, freeze-drying is used by human milk donor banks around the world to preserve and store breast milk in a better way. Your milk is kept frozen during transport and with Milkify's proprietary freeze-drying process, your milk never contacts our equipment. Freeze-drying is a gentle process in which absolutely NO chemicals, additives, or preservatives are added to your milk. Milkify follows all safe handling guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), and complies with the packaging regulations for infant food set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition, Milkify's own robust set of Quality Control procedures regulate our processes, facilities, equipment, personnel, and packaging in order to assure consistent quality and safety of our service. See more about our quality assurance measures here.
Q: How does the freeze-drying process work?
Water is removed from your breast milk using a process called freeze-drying (or lyophilization). This process occurs in a freeze-drying chamber, and involves freezing the milk to very low temperatures, lowering the pressure, then gently heating to cause the ice crystals in your milk to turn into water vapor. The water vapor is removed from your milk in this low-temperature, low-pressure environment, and the resulting breast milk powder retains the nutritive components of breast milk, without the water. Controlled freeze-drying keeps the temperature of the milk low enough during the process to avoid changes in the characteristics of the milk. It is a well-known process in the food and medical industries as it an excellent method for preserving a wide variety of heat-sensitive materials such as proteins, probiotics, & pharmaceuticals. See more about the freeze-drying process here.
Q: What happens to breast milk that I store in the freezer?
Freezing is the current standard for long-term storage of breast milk. However, freezing breast milk results in a decrease in quality of the milk over time. In a 2012 study, researchers found that both the fat and calorie content of frozen breast milk decreases with freezing time. In fact, there was a significant reduction in fat concentration of the frozen milk after just seven days of frozen storage. In comparison, a 2014 study found no significant difference in fatty acid composition after 90 days of freeze-dry storage. These studies and other recent research have shown that freeze-drying breast milk is a safe and more effective way of preserving the nutritional, immunological, and probiotic properties of breast milk that make it the gold standard of nutrition.
Q: How does your freeze-drying process affect the nutrients in the breast milk?
Freeze-drying is a very gentle process, and results in retention of the nutrients in breast milk. Various human milk donor banks world-wide are implementing this process as an improved method of storage for donated breast milk. We have more information about the research of how the freeze-drying process affects various components of breast milk here and here. From preliminary testing of our process, we have seen similar results to what is published in the research cited on our site – retention of 80-90% of both the macronutrients and micronutrients. We don't currently offer testing, but are hoping to have this option available as an add-on soon!
Q: What kind of quality controls do you have in place?
Your milk is handled with extreme care at all times in the Milkify facility. When your milk is received, it immediately undergoes a QC check to ensure safe temperatures were maintained during transport, and that no bags have been damaged. We track each individual bag of frozen breast milk we receive from start to finish. Each unique Bag ID identifies your bags of milk, and each is processed individually. Your milk is never in direct contact with our equipment and we follow strict quality control procedures to ensure that cross-contamination is avoided during the process. The freeze-dried powder from each lactation bag of frozen breast milk provided to Milkify is sealed in its own individual high barrier mylar bag. Each barrier bag is vacuum-sealed to protect the powder from oxygen, moisture, UV, and contamination during storage. After freeze-drying, your milk is packaged into the high barrier bags under a sterile, hooded area that is fed with HEPA-filtered air and sterilized by UV light between orders.
As part of our final quality control checks, we measure the exact water activity (“dryness”) of the breast milk powder using a laboratory-grade water activity meter. This final QC check ensures that the freeze-drying process removed water from the milk efficiently. This is how we know that your breast milk powder, which has been vacuum sealed in our high barrier bags, will remain shelf stable for up to 3 years with no refrigeration when stored properly in a cool, dry place. By doing this test, we avoid the necessity of adding a moisture absorbing packet (silica gel or similar) to your bags, and ensure the expiration date printed on your bag label is accurate.
Q: How can I be sure that the breast milk I receive is my own?
We have several quality control checkpoints in place to keep the milk separated. First - each customer's order is processed one at a time. This includes the receiving, the freeze-drying, and the packaging steps. Second - we track each bag individually. Each bag you send in is labeled with a unique tracking code, and we use this to track each bag of your milk from start to finish. With this system, we can also track the expression date and any other metadata you would like (if it is written on the bag), and transfer this to the instructions label on the bag your milk powder is packaged in. You can see an example of this here at the bottom of this page.
Q: Can I use the information on this site for medical advice?
We are here to help you store your breast milk safely and conveniently; however, we are no substitute for medical professionals. Any advice or information provided on the Website is for informational purposes only and does not create a professional relationship, is not an aid to making medical decisions, and is not marketed, promoted or otherwise intended to be used to diagnose any disease or other condition, or to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease. The Website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Website. Powdered breast milk is not sterile and should not be fed to premature infants or infants who might have immune problems unless supervised by your baby's doctor.