What You Need to Know About Breastfeeding and Weather Emergencies
By Nicole Kekesi, Virtua Board-Certified Lactation Consultant
As the summer ends and we move into fall, a few things come to mind: mild weather, falling leaves, the first day of school, and, well, hurricane season. You may have just done a double-take—is the lactation consultant a wannabe weathergirl?! But here’s the connection: a power outage presents many problems to a pumping mother.
In recent years, there have been plenty of power outages during storm season, some lasting several days. Having a plan in place and knowing what to do in these circumstances can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
Pumping and No Power
- Learn how to hand express; this is something I teach all mothers. If you are unfamiliar with the process, there are some great YouTube videos on the topic. Hand expressing is helpful when there's no electricity, but also useful when a pump isn't within arm’s reach.
- Keeping a hand pump in the house is a reliable Plan B too.
- Many pumps come with battery packs or are compatible with car adapters. If you live in an area that tends to lose power, this would be a good investment.
Saving the Freezer Stash
- I often tell the mothers I work with to identify a relative, neighbor, or friend who has a generator (if you don’t have one). These can be your go-to people if you need a place to store milk for a few days.
- If the power is out and you’re keeping milk in your home freezer, open the freezer door as infrequently as possible. A full freezer can maintain its temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if half full), according to the USDA.
- If you know a storm is approaching, fill your freezer with bags of ice to help keep your stored milk chilled.
- The goal is to prevent the breastmilk from completely thawing. If there are ice crystals in the milk, it is still considered frozen and is safe to use or save.
- If your milk completely thaws, guidelines recommend using that milk within 24-48 hours; 24 hours at most if the infant is a preemie or has health issues.
Remember to plan. Many storm and power-related headaches are avoidable with a little foresight.
To schedule one-on-one breastfeeding support with a Virtua board-certified lactation consultant, call 1-888-847-8823.
Updated September 24, 2018