If you are a mom who is still pumping breast milk, camping may be a daunting thought to you as it does not necessarily seem like the best or most sterile environment to be pumping and storing your milk. You may be wondering now what the best way to store breast milk while camping is.
The best way for you to store breast milk while camping is to use well sterilized equipment, pump somewhere cool and away from the sun, transfer your milk to a fridge/cooler bag as soon as you are done, and use it before it goes bad.
Let us look at exactly how to store breast milk while camping and, more importantly, how to store it safely to ensure the milk is perfect and safe for your baby to drink when you are ready to use it.
Storing your breast milk while camping may be slightly more challenging than storing it at home, but it is very achievable and not as hard as you may expect.
The steps you will need to follow in order to store your breast milk while camping is as follows:
- You will need to ensure that all the equipment that you use while pumping and feeding (e.g., breast pump parts, bottles, storage bags) are completely cleaned and sterilized.
- You will need to use your pump somewhere cool so that your pumped breast milk is not compromised by the heat.
- You will need to store your milk quickly in either a camping fridge/freezer or use a well-insulated cooler bag.
- Know how long it can safely be stored before it will need to be either used or frozen.
- How to safely travel home with your breast milk if you are not using it while on the trip.
If you stick to these guidelines when it comes to the pumping and storing of your breast milk, your breast milk will most likely keep well on your trip, and you may even be able to bring it home with you once your trip is over if you do not use it while camping.
When it comes to storing breast milk at home, the first thing that you will generally do is ensure that all of the equipment that will be used is sterile and clean.
This will still be your first step in the process, even while camping. Make sure that the bags (or containers) that you will be pouring your milk into are new and fresh. If you are using a reusable breast milk freezer bag, you will need to make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned.
All parts of the pump you will be using to pump out your milk will also need to be cleaned well sterilized.
There are two ways that you can clean all parts involved while camping. The way you choose to clean your equipment will depend on the accessibility you have to cleaning facilities and electricity.
If you will have access to electricity while camping, you can simply rinse out all of your breast pump parts and any other equipment that may be involved with a little bit of water and then put all parts in the sterilizer.
If you have access to a cleaning facility while camping, you can clean all breast pump parts and any other equipment used in very hot water with antibacterial dishwashing soap.
Ensure that you scrub well and leave all parts sufficiently clean. Washing your equipment by hand is a perfectly safe way to clean your equipment, but it does require more attention to detail.
Be sure that you take apart everything that needs to be taken apart to ensure that all parts are cleaned thoroughly.
Equipment should always be cleaned either after every single use or before and after every single use.
Do not leave your pumping equipment uncleaned overnight. This will allow for bacteria and other unwanted cultures to grow in the uncleaned parts as breast milk is fresh, and it will not have any preservatives in it to help prevent the growth.
Camping can be extremely hot, especially if you spend most of your day in the sun having fun and catching a tan.
This may be great for many activities; however, pumping breast milk is not one of them.
When you are ready to go pump your breast milk, make sure that you find a nice cool area or room to do it in to prevent your milk from being compromised by the heat.
Your breast milk should only ever be exposed to temperatures that are room temperature or colder, as anything warmer than this can start to make your breast milk go off or even away bacteria to start growing.
This only applies to the pumping and storing of breast milk; it does not apply to when you are heating up your milk to give to your baby; this is usually done at a controlled heat and in a sterile manner at any rate.
The ideal condition to pump your breast milk in would be for you to go and find some shade under a tree or if you have a camper to go sit inside with a fan on and pump your milk.
Never let your breast milk be exposed to direct sunlight, or your milk may become compromised. The danger in your milk becoming compromised by the sun is that you very often are not able to tell right away.
Since there may not be any clear indicators of if your milk has been compromised if it was exposed to the sun, it should be discarded for your child’s safety.
Breast milk is very often referred to as liquid gold for how good and valuable it is for your baby, and so to avoid having to throw out any of this precious liquid, it is best to remain in a cool environment as much as possible while pumping when camping.
To keep your milk safe from harmful germs and bacteria, the best thing to do is store it in your fridge or cooler box immediately after you are done pumping.
This avoids any room for your milk to spoil, go bad, or grow unwanted cultures while you are away in an unfamiliar environment.
You will ultimately have two storage options when it comes to the cool place where you will store your breast milk. You can either use a camping fridge or a cooler bag that you constantly top up with more ice.
There are many different camping fridges that you can choose from, and your choice will need to be based on what you will use the fridge for.
If you are using the camping fridge exclusively for breast milk, you may want to consider buying a camping mini-fridge.
This will be big enough for you to store all your breast milk in, and the benefit to this is that you can adjust the setting to be specifically the right temperature for your milk without needing to consider other items that may be in the fridge.
If you are using the camping fridge for your breast milk as well as other food and refrigerated items, you will definitely benefit from getting a larger fridge.
Some larger camp fridges may even come with a freezer compartment, and that will be the perfect solution as freezing your breast milk will be safer than just storing it in the fridge as it takes the guesswork out of if it will still be fine to use if it is stored longer than a day or two.
If a camping fridge is not an option for you, you can always use a cooler bag instead.
You can use a regular, well-insulated cooler bag (or cooler box,) or you can get a breast milk cooler bag that is specifically designed for storing breast milk in it.
Using a cooler bag or cooler box will take a lot more diligence than using a camping fridge, though, as you will need to ensure that there is constantly new ice being put in the cooler to keep the breast milk cool and fresh.
Breast milk can be safely stored in a breast milk cooler bag with an ice brick for roughly 24 hours as long as the ice brick stays frozen. After this, you will need to continue to top up your cooler bag with ice as soon as most of the ice is melting.
This can be a tedious and sometimes frustrating job to do, especially if you are camping somewhere where it is extremely hot, but if you do not have a fridge as an option to store your milk in, it is, unfortunately, your only option.
Hopefully, while you are camping, you will be able to find a way to store your breast milk in a safe way for as long as you are on your trip, but if you are unable to do this, there are alternative ways that you can use your spare breast milk.
An alternative to storing your pumped breast milk while camping is to do the very sad “pump and dump” that moms hate to think about.
What “pump and dump” means is that you pump your breast milk as you normally would, but instead of storing it, you discard it.
This is a sad thing for any breastfeeding mom to think of doing, but if you do not have a safe way of storing your breastmilk for an extended period of time and you do not want to stop pumping as it may affect your milk supply, sometimes you will sadly need to do the undesired pump and dump.
Before you throw out all your precious milk, though, you may consider first using some of this spare milk for alternative uses.
Some ways that you can use your breast milk for things other than feeding your baby are as follows:
- Sunburn – Did you or your baby get a little too much sun while camping? Try applying liberal amounts of breast milk to your burnt skin throughout the day. Breast milk helps heal sunburn fast and soothes the affected skin at the same time.
- Diaper rash – Does your baby have a diaper rash? Use some spare breast milk on the rash with each diaper change and watch the rash disappear!
- Bug bites or stings – If you or your baby have gotten any bug bites or stings while away, breast milk can help heal and ease the symptoms of your bite or sting. Put some spare milk on the bite or sting as much as possible throughout the day.
- Chapped lips – Being in the sun a lot very often causes chapped lips, and this is just another thing that breast milk can help with. Dunk your finger in the breast milk and apply the milk to your lips. Do this as regularly as you need until your lips are no longer chapped.
So if you are unable to find a way to store your breast milk while camping, you can still find a way to use that precious liquid gold.
The best way for you to store your breast milk while camping is to store it in a well-sterilized bottle or bag and make sure that you transfer your milk to either your cooler bag or camping fridge as soon as you have finished pumping or expressing it.
If you are unable to store your breast milk while camping, remember that not all of it will need to go to waste. Use your spare milk on your cuts, bumps, bruises, burns, and bug bites for fast healing and soothing of any irritations on your skin.