Friday 6 January 2012

Milk Dumping - How to Look After Your Milk

This picture appeared on my Facebook news feed today, and it prompted me to blog about this important issue. For the mum of a baby in NICU, milk is very precious, every drop of it.

Like many mothers of premature babies, I expressed milk for Joseph. It was very important to me to breastfeed him, and when he was born early I knew what I would have to do.

One evening I was told by a nurse that all my milk was to be thrown out. I had expressed about 6 pots by that time. I had stored it in the fridge for 48 hours, then transferred to freezer when I realised how much he was on. I was told this was dangerous, so I tipped all that precious milk out.

I didn't think to question it, until I saw another nurse telling a mother to store it in the fridge first then transfer. Then I realised there were no hard and fast rules and every nurse had a different practice. It was incredibly frustrating and heart breaking.

Another time I saw a nurse with a pot of my milk about to tip it down the sink. I managed to fly across the room and stop her. She said it was out of date. We checked the date, she hadn't read the calender properly and in fact it was fresh milk from that day.

The way our unit worked was that we had a communal milk fridge and a milk freezer. Each mum got a certain amount of space in which to store their milk. As Joseph was on restricted feeds for a long time due to NEC (necrolitising enterocolitis) I had oodles. I found it was safer to keep it at home. Unfortunately I didn't own a freezer that was suitable (it is recommended you don't use a small freezer on top of a bar fridge. My neighbour Rita came to the rescue. She gave me a key to her house, and I'd run in there and pop my milk in, and then grab it in the morning.

The best piece of advice I got was from an agency nurse. She said "no one cares about the milk as much as you do, it is your job to take responsibility, keep an eye on it, and make sure it is being used correctly". I have heard horror stories of babies being given wrong milk, of milk going missing or being thrown out if the baby leaves the ward or moves hospital.

Nurses are very busy with a lot to manage so its in your interests to take care of your liquid gold as if it was indeed gold.

1 comment:

  1. I remember crying over spilling a couple of mls of freshly pumped milk my OH thought I was mad but you're right it is liquid gold especially if you are having trouble keeping up as many mums do. I'm sure you have already heard of my story when all of my milk was destroyed due to a mix up when Janey was transfered between hospitals. From that day on I only ever kept a couple of days worth at the hospital and the rest at home.