How to Save and Store Your Breast Milk During a Power Outage

Storms in the Pacific Northwest are inevitable during the winter. If you are a pumping parent and live throughout Washington, King County, or even on one of the islands off the coast, you can probably relate to the worries about stored breast milk and how it will be affected.

They don’t call it “liquid gold” for nothing—you work hard to make and store that milk! When storms and power outages loom, that stress level goes through the roof. It doesn’t have to! Let’s dig into how to prepare for the storms and work through them to protect that precious milk you work so hard for.

Using the Freezer? Here are the guidelines for freezing breast milk.

Freshly expressed milk can last up to four days in the fridge, but it can’t last five hours when the power is out. FoodSafety.Gov explains that a full freezer can safely store food for up to 48 hours after a power outage, and that’s the key to keeping your expressed breast milk safe.

Keeping your freezer closed with minimal openings is key for preserving the temperature of your stored breast milk. Air circulation can cause the temperature to drop, so avoid opening the freezer unless necessary.

The colder the environment, the better chance that your breast milk will survive. If you open your freezer to check on it, minimize how long you keep it open, closing it quickly.

Dealing with dead breast pump batteries

There’s nothing quite like knowing you need to pump, sitting down to press power, and having a dead pump. Always give yourself a safety buffer by having fully charged batteries when the power goes out.

However, you may need to get creative if your batteries die while the power is out. A car adapter will allow you to keep the pump functioning without power. As a last resort, consider using a manual breast pump or hand expressing to maintain your baby’s nutrition. Need tips on self-expression? Reach out; we’re happy to help teach you!

Have snow or ice? Use it to your advantage.

Power problems and winter storms often coincide, but you can use this to your advantage if your fridge is full of milk. It might be impossible to keep the milk cold for days or hours in a hot house after a power outage, but why not use the snow?

Collect the freezing snow to store your expressed breast milk. You may have to keep replacing the snow, but it can be a helpful solution to preserve your milk while the power is out.

Phone a friend that still has electricity

People in your local area are probably dealing with the same power outage, but some families may have alternative power sources like a generator or even still have power. This can be a huge help during an outage!

Your friends or neighbors can provide a freezer to keep your expressed breast milk cold during the outage. Who knows, maybe you can return the favor when unexpected power outages happen in their lives.

Looking to expand your neighborhood of friends? Join us at one of our upcoming groups with parents with littles maneuvering their breastfeeding and pumping journeys.

The Bottom Line

It takes tremendous effort to produce and store enough breast milk for your baby. The last thing any parent wants is to jeopardize their breast milk during a power outage. At Nurturing Expressions, we understand your concerns and want to provide the best tips and tricks to ensure your breast milk is safe.

Do you need any support on your pumping journey? Reach out! We’re here to help. Looking to donate? We accept breast milk at all our locations in Poulsbo, West Seattle, and Tukwila for Northwest Mothers Milk Bank.