Every breastfeeding journey presents a different set of challenges, and figuring out the best way to store and transport your milk can be a headache all on its own. Luckily, freeze-drying technology now offers a better alternative to freezing breast milk – breast milk powder! Freeze-dried breast milk powder retains the healthy properties of breast milk while providing convenience similar to powdered infant formula. For some moms, the implications of being able to store their breast milk as powder can have far reaching effects on their baby’s health and wellness. However, having breast milk powder on hand can also affect the mental well-being of mom, dad, and other caretakers.
2020 has presented a new set of challenges for all parents, from the pandemic changing the way we work and many aspects of our daily lives, to wildfires and hurricanes changing the landscape of where some of us live. Since every journey is different, moms have used their freeze-dried breast milk in different ways to help them overcome their own unique set of barriers. As the year draws to a close, we’d like to highlight the top 10 reasons why moms were freeze-drying breast milk in 2020 – some might surprise you!
#1: Freeze-drying eliminates the bad taste in high-lipase breast milk (even after freezer storage!)
A common problem encountered by breastfeeding moms is high lipase. Lipases in breast milk can remain active even during freezer storage, and break down the fats in the milk, causing milk to taste soapy or sour. Infants can begin refusing frozen milk that has been stored frozen due to the altered smell/taste. Freeze-drying removes the water from the milk, which inactivates the lipase enzyme. No lipase = no freezer taste! This means that freeze-dried breast milk powder can overcome this breastfeeding barrier for many women, enabling them to continue providing stored breast milk to their infants, who would otherwise refuse it.
#2: The breast milk stash has taken over the freezer.
Some women just produce a lot of breast milk. It’s a good problem to have…until you run out of freezer space. Faced with buying a deep freezer for their accumulating stash, or tossing out their liquid gold, many women sadly have to resort to the second option. Freeze-dried breast milk powder, when sealed in high barrier mylar bags, is shelf stable for 3+ years – no refrigeration needed. This was especially important for moms in 2020, as there were several months during the year that you couldn’t buy a deep freezer, even if you needed to.
#3: Freeze-drying the stash of breast milk ahead of time makes mom a little less crazy on moving day.
Ah moving day – need we say more? Uprooting your entire family is literally on the list of most stressful life events, and the to-do list before a move can be miles long. One of the most often overlooked aspects of moving is what to do with everything in the fridge/freezer. This question can be especially anxiety-inducing when that includes your breast milk stash. Freeze-drying the breast milk stash ahead of time can help empty out the freezer before the big day, which can alleviate some of the cognitive load associated with planning a move. This was an important trend seen in 2020, with so many people moving due to changed circumstances during the pandemic.
#4: Freeze-drying breast milk protects it from loss during a power outage or natural disaster.
When the power goes out, the clock starts ticking. If your stash thaws prematurely, it can cause harmful levels of bacterial growth, and the CDC recommends that after frozen milk is thawed, it should be used within 2 hours or discarded, and should never be refrozen. Losing your breast milk stash due to an electrical outage is a horrible feeling. Consider this – for a stash size of about 100 bags, that is over 30 hours of pumping gone to waste. With wildfires and hurricanes a concern for many women across the country (especially in the year 2020), freeze-dried breast milk was an insurance policy of sorts against this loss.
#5: Breast milk powder gives solid foods a nutritional boost.
With a 3-year shelf life, breast milk powder can be incorporated into your baby’s diet for years to come. Since breast milk powder retains the nutritional, immunological, and probiotic benefits of breast milk way past the 1-year mark of frozen milk, moms love freeze-drying as a great way to continue providing breast milk to their infant post-weaning. Some women have even come up with some great recipes for incorporating breast milk powder into their toddler’s diet (stay tuned for future blog posts about these recipes!)
#6 Freeze-dried breast milk makes travel more convenient.
We have heard horror stories of some women’s attempts to get their frozen breast milk through airport checkpoints. Likewise, a 6-hour road trip also presents a unique set of challenges for moms, breast milk transport aside. Breast milk powder is travel-friendly and TSA-safe - no probing, no test strips, and no coolers needed. Travelling this year was a difficult and stressful experience on its own, and many people tried to avoid it altogether. Even still, the appeal of having breast milk powder on hand just for this purpose was #6 in 2020.
#7 Breast milk powder is easy for caretakers to use when mom is away.
Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months (as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)) isn’t easy to accomplish, and many nursing moms rely on help to make it to this mark. Breast milk powder can help make it easy for a partner or caretaker to provide breast milk during night feedings or working hours, or just when mom is away from baby.
#8 Transporting and saving breast milk from a surrogate/donor is easier in powdered form.
Donor milk can be life-saving for some infants, but the U.S. has very few breast milk donor banks relative to its population, and the milk is in high demand. If a mother is struggling with milk production, or if a surrogate was used to conceive, any milk that they can get is precious and they want to save every last drop. Since breast milk powder requires no refrigeration, transporting it across the country is much easier and less costly.
#9 Freeze-drying is a better way to preserve the nutritional, immunological, and probiotic components of breast milk.
This is a little-known fact about freeze-dried breast milk – it is actually better than freezing for preserving the nutritional, immunological, and probiotic components of breast milk that make it the gold standard of infant nutrition. Recent research has shown important and significant decreases in nutritional quality in frozen breast milk, long before the 1-year mark. Since breast milk freeze-drying services are relatively new, this fact is not yet widely acknowledged, but as more research support accumulates, we expect that this reason will move up the list.
#10 Freeze-drying breast milk as you pump is a great way to stockpile in preparation for transitioning back to the workplace.
With so many people working remotely, and/or on hiatus during the pandemic, this reason was the least popular in 2020. However, as more people gradually transition back to working outside the home, this may change. Stockpiling breast milk in order to ease the transition back to the workplace, can be made a little easier with the help of freeze-drying technology for many of the same reasons mentioned above (freezer space, ease of use, etc.)
All-in-all, moms love freeze-dried breast milk for many reasons. We expect that this list will grow and change going into a new year, as we all face new and different challenges. If you have a personal reason that didn’t make the list, let us know! For more information about the benefits of freeze-drying your breast milk, see the resources available at www.milkify.me or contact us today.